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musky hunter

Lots of small racks

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I just picked up my deer at the meat processor in Poplar, Wi. Poplar is about 15 miles east of Superior, WI. The interesting thing is his backlog of deer. At least 150 were laid out on five hay wagons waiting to be butchered. Another hay wagon held the heads of the previously butchered deer, perhaps another 80 or so. Bucks easily outnumberd does by 3 or four to 1. But out of all those racks, not one was remotely close to a trophy. All were spindly, lots of 6's and 8's, one or two 10's and maybe one 12. But even those were small. The biggest of them all hardly had a base of 1" in diamater. Most of the deer came from northern Wisconsin, but one or two had Minnesota tags. The conclusion I come to, based on this small unscientific visual survey, is that typical woods deer in northern Wisconsin just don't seem to grow big racks. This would not be the place to find a Boone and Crocket trophy. Their body size, however, seems to be just fine with a proportional amount that would go 200 lbs easily. I'm sure someone out there is going to dissagree with me and I hope they post an opinion regarding rack sizes, particularly about northern Wisconsin. What I really find interesting is that only 30-50 miles away, just north and west of Duluth, is that some really nice deer have been taken this year with large racks.

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Not at all scientific on my part and I have only hunted nothern wisconsin once but, having shot a trophy caliber buck I would not leave the head at the butcher. I would cape it myself or have them cape it on the spot and leave the carcass to be processed.

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Could also be the Brown it's Down mentality, many think they have to kill a buck no matter the size. To get trophys you have the let the small ones go and shoot a doe.

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Hi

I live in the Mankato area but lived in Ashland for 5 years and my wife is from the Mason area which is just a bit east of you past Iron River. In the past 25 years that I have been back and forth from here to there it has been my experience that the corn fed deer around here grow bigger bodies earlier than the northern Wi deer do. The rack size per pound of body weight seems to be greater in Northern Wisconsin but I really don't see any really large deer there either. Usually at the Mother in laws there will be an 8 and a 10 pt buck eating in her back yard and the racks are respectable but not out of the ordinary.

It seems that the diet, minerals available etc in their diet can dictate whether their racks reach the full potential.

One thing is not a matter of debate to me- I have never eaten an antler but I have eaten deer from both areas and to me the taste of corn fed venison is far superior to the pine needle feed deer of that particular area and it isn't even close.

Of course my Brother in law doesn't see it that way and he prefers the taste of the woods fed venison over the field fed variety.

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I agree with HNTNBUX

If I shot a Booner Buck, I wouldn't be leaving it at the processor with all the others.

Even if I shot a buck with a rack that I wanted to just put on a plaque, I'd cut the rack off when I dropped the deer off.

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I agree also. Even when I was young and we took our deer in we didn't leave the antlers on. I would never trust a trophy size rack to be left at a processor. It too easy for it to get "lost".

I can't speak to the overall antler quality of Northern WI bucks buts it is a known fact differnent geographical areas produce better antlers than others on a typical deer. Maybe the two situations came together to create what was seen at that processor.

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We (gun)hunt an area 25 miles south of Superior, for the past 20+ yrs, all public land. Oak ridges, swamps, etc., not a farm in sight. Another group has hunted the same area with us for almost the same amount of time. 'Small' racks/big body are the 'norm' for us to see; a booner or two show up here and there, but we know that the local hunters(us included) don't push the deer out of the thicker swamps either every year, so there are more around - how many and what size we will never know. The two wolf packs push the deer around, too - we expect boom/bust years and get it(more bust than boom), but that's hunting in NW WI. A few of us are from the Frederic area, where successful QDM plans have been in place for a number of yrs, but our preference is the 'big woods' and random size bucks it offers. We try to pass up the small bucks(6 pts or less), as does the other group, but we are meat hunters first, and will consider taking a large bodied 4-6 ptr, usually the 2nd weekend. We take out the surplus doe(s) when available (4 so far this yr), but continue to search for 'Brutus' and his brothers. Yes, we believe brown is down is the majority mentality for that area, for typical reasons: local economics, meat, lack of deer sighted, etc.

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I'll agree that maybe the big racks didn't make it to the meat cutter. And almost by definition, the trophy racks will only be produced by the top few percent of the herd under the best of conditions. But two deer struck me as indicative of the situation. One was a mature 10 point, with a large neck of unusually full proprotions and an above average body size. Had to be near his prime, but a nice but relatively small rack. The other deer had a very tall rack, almost looked like a juvenile 3x3 elk, but they were rather stick like and slender. My point is that even the older ones can't always produce big racks, and the reasons probably have to do with diet.

I think this speaks more to succes of areas that can respond favorably to QDM because they are predisposed to producing quality bucks because soils, genetics, climate, and food sources make it possible. I have dreams of bagging a 150+" buck, but those dreams might be unrealistic in some of these northern locations.

By the way, my little six pointer produced an absulutely thrilling hunt, as I'm sure all those other deer produced trophy memories for the hunters that bagged them.

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Most of the bucks in NW WI have had pretty lame racks. Lots of points but they are narrow, skinny, short, tight baskets, etc. Big bodies though.

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Also keep in mind that a majority of bucks killed every where are not P@Y class bucks really only a small fraction of the total harvest.

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