Genetically Improving Antlers In The Wild Is Difficult

Tim S. from Georgia writes to ask about an idea that was promoted in Alabama. “I read that a group of hunters in Alabama bought big bucks from a deer farm and released them on their property to improve the antler size by improving the genetics. Two questions. Is that legal, and will it work?”

Dr. Dave Samuel
Dr. Dave Samuel

Both are good questions. In most states it is illegal to purchase deer from a deer farm and release them into the wild, but apparently that isn’t the case in Alabama. Officials there were very concerned about diseases getting from domestic deer herds and into wild deer so when private citizens released game farm deer an emergency rule was passed to prevent any future releases.

The answer to your second question is rather simple. In my opinion, short-term releases won’t do much for antler size and the main reason is because there are too many smaller-antlered wild deer breeding does. If you released hundreds of very large bucks into an area and did it for many years, you might have an impact on the antler size of bucks in that area, but the financial and biological feasibility of such an experiment is highly improbable. In other words, it is very doubtful that it would happen.

Keep up with the latest tips and topics on Guide Outdoors and don’t forget to visit Sportsman’s Guide for the latest deer hunting gear today.

Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for 31 years.

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