I live in Tennessee and appreciate you sharing these photos? Can you tell me the advantages you have in place to grow such top end bucks in large quantities? I am interested in plots, supplemental feeding, sanctuaries, etc. Amount of ground too. Let avoid the word fence.
How many trophies die of old age because they just can't be harvested?
I am amazed at the size of the deer and their massive antlers.
My neighbor and I have a 'cooperative' of about 2500 acres in central La. Our management approach is a lot like Vince Lambardi and his Green bay Packers...intense focus on the basics....nutrition and age. Between us we have over 250 acres of ag with something growing all year round. The ag is scattered all over the farm with both small plots, large plots, clover, annuals, and anything growing we think can help the deer. One key is to have crops growing at all times of the year. For ex. right now the clover is gone, beans and peas will soon be converted to fall fields, but we have joint vetch and alyce clover doing great all around with the deer all over it. That along with chicory will be the bridge to fall crops.
Also please appreciate we have been doing this a long time.Because of the high nutritional plane we have markedly improved the genetics on our farm. Epigenetic markers respond to the environment ,positive or negative, and shifts happen. I believe we are realizing the benefits of decades of enhanced nutrition.
We also supplementally feed 20% protein pellets from Feb-August. This gets us thru pregnancy, lactation , antler growth , and rut recovery..the primary stressors down here. Even though we have ample forage the deer readily consume the pellets and they make a difference in all health markers. On my farm alone I have a feeder per 60 acres assuring that every deer has the opportunity every day.
Native forests in the deep south don't need bedding areas, sanctuaries etc. Here it is a semi tropical jungle, very thick with escape cover a few steps away. Pine plantations are a different story but I only have a couple hundred acres of that. We also do regular TSI with approximately 120 acres thinned this year. This takes place every year or two.
Deer die from lots of causes. Mostly we find dead deer form fighting. I suppose some die of old age and suspect we will see more of that as more bucks get to the advanced ages. I find deer live a long time given the chance and odds are we intervene before coyotes in most circumstances. Which brings up predator control. We do none. I like a balanced ecosystem and we use habitat management to ensure success.
Perhaps the biggest secret though is that my neighbor and lifelong friend absolutely love this stuff and are passionately committed to growing the healthiest deer herd possible. It is a joy, a lifestyle ,and a blessing. Hope this helps.