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Discussion Starter #1
I hunted with my uncle for the first time in many years this past deer season on his property in Tuscola County. While I was there, we went through the box of racks he's collected from that property over more than 20 years. I am not sure how to describe them, other than to say the majority of the racks are misshaped. By this I mean uneven points per side, poor main beam development as well as poor development of the points (e.g. inconsistent size from G2's to G3's, etc). I also met with a neighbor of his and his racks show similar characteristics. For years, my uncle and his neighbors have only shot bucks, but are getting better about taking does also the last couple years. The area has a mix of terrain, including low lands/swamps, hay fields and hardwoods. I am looking for information if others in that county experience the same scenario with respects to rack development. I am also interested on perspectives on why the rack quality is so low. My initial thought is that the habitat can't support the herd and that is leading to insufficient nutrition during rack development, however, there is an approximately 80 acre hay field next to his property that I would think would provide plenty of early spring food. I have talked with my uncle about putting in some food plots this spring to see how significant of a change that makes. Any thoughts????
 

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I can only speak from experience...but I've found the odder looking the racks, especially in yearling bucks, it seems the more potential the area has. In WI where we hunt we see some very odd antlers as yearlings..and that translates into the bucks when they mature (see my gallory with a few of the WI bucks). But, in areas where growth is slower due to the severity of winters, food, and quality of food, the racks are more even. In the U.P. where I hunt, and in PA where I hunt on public land there is the occasional odd rack, but the antlers are fairly predictable and lack much character.

If those antlers you are looking at are primarily younger bucks, from what I've seen that could actually be a very good thing and possibly indicate the quality of the habitat and food in the area.
 

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grub said:
......., however, there is an approximately 80 acre hay field next to his property that I would think would provide plenty of early spring food. ..........
grub,
As you know, Tuscola County has a lot of farming. There's plenty of quality feed for the deer herd. Young deer have small racks. Regarding the alfalfa field, they will not start greening up until roughly mid/late April. Before that time the deer will find plenty of food from the rye & winter wheat fields that farmers have planted or food ploters have put in.

L & O
 

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The farm we often hunt in Montcalm Co. also gets its share of odd racks. It seemed worse a few years back though...we jokingly referred to them as "nuclear bucks", and speculated that there was nuclear waste buried somewhere on the property :lol: Seriously though, uneven racks were very common, some of them being breaks likely due to sparring with other deer or trees, but many of them were just unevenly formed. Our theory was that in great farming country like that, the young bucks antlers develop very early and rapidly, subjecting them to lots of damage in the spring and early summer when they are first developing. Seems like the last few years though the racks have been more typical :confused:
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Without any jawbones, it is difficult to say exactly how old the deer were the racks came from. Based on general development, I assume the majority are no more than 2.5 years old. I never considered that these misshaped racks may really be an indicator of the potential the area has to produce some fantastic bucks if they are given the time to grow. Starting in 2004, the neighbors in the area have agreed in word to shoot only 6 pt's. or better. I say in word because the neighbor and his dad that initiated it shot a 3pt. and 5 pt. on opening day that year:confused: Anyway, I realize change takes time and I hope to spend more time hunting there with my uncle from now on and do what I can to encourage deer development through putting in some food plots this spring and continuing conversations with the neighbors on the value of balancing the harvest between mature bucks and does.
 
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