Growing Big Bucks, it all starts with the doe.
So many people think all you have to do is buy a few bags of deer minerals and the end result will be a large buck shot in the fall. It's not that simple. Many also believe that genetics is the sole factor in large antlered bucks. Here is the cycle of life. This is how it starts and factors that will tilt the table in your favor.
The 30 days before a doe drops her fawn is where the cycle starts. The does are rebuilding their reserves from the previous season. They also are feeding the fawns that they carry. There is a ramping up on the nutrient needs of the doe. This is where high quality forages in the spring are important. We need good protein and mineral levels of the forages. This is needed by the doe and also is passed onto the fawns. A healthy immune system is important. When the doe drops her fawns, the more top quality milk she produces the healthier and larger the fawns will be. Their growth curve is like most animals, dictated early on in their life.
When the fawns go into winter bigger and healthier, they are more likely to survive. They also will less likely lose as much body condition. Coming out of the winter months, the result will be less "compensatory gain." What they means is less energy and nutrition going back into rebuilding their bodies. This allows more of their nutrition to go into body gain and antler growth. Assuming you had a good winter food source and a readily available spring forage source, the year old buck will once again be at an advantage health wise. Having 365 day nutrition means less periods of stress and less compensatory gain. By the time that buck is 3 1/2 he will have the potential to have many added inches compared to normal.
A wonderful example of this would be Dave's 202" 3.5 year old buck. His sheds were large for a 2 .5 year old buck in the 140" range. From the point in time where the buck shed it's horns until when it was shot in the fall of 2016, it went to 202". Yes, it's possible and it's not rocket science. That buck had food, water and shelter near by. It didn't have to walk very far for high quality food. This results in less energy spent for maintenance. So many people also overlook the importance of top quality summer forages. Many clover plots perform well in the spring and fall but don't handle the heat of the summer as well. They also go dormant once the temps get cool in late fall. This is why mass builder performs so well. The alfalfa and chicory handle the hot and dry periods better than pure clover stands as they have deep tap roots. The alfalfa also stands more erect and even though dormant in the late fall and winter, it's easier for the deer to find this forage when the snow starts flying in the northern climates.
One last benefit of chicory. So many people realize that chicory is high in protein and minerals but most dont know that it contains worming type properties. In areas of higher deer densities, worms can become a problem area for deer.
So, think beyond the clovers. This is where balance perennial mixes that contain forages that extend the growing season and provide more tonnage. Mass Builder can provide 4-5 ton of forage dry matter per acre compared to the 2-3 ton typically provided by clover blends.