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Stocking Big Bucks In The Wild: Will It Work?

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Stocking Big Bucks In The Wild: Will It Work?

Huge-antlered bucks in very large numbers do not occur naturally, and you can’t change that.

The model simulated the removal of deer every year (simulating hunting and natural mortality) to keep the population in the area at 2,000 bucks. Finally, the researchers looked at antler changes in the wild bucks 10 years after the initial release. If you expected to find that releasing a number of huge bucks in an area would lead to large improvements on resident wild bucks 10 years later, you are going to be disappointed.

If you bought one hundred 200-inch Boone-and-Crockett bucks and released them in an area to replace 5 percent of the free-ranging population, 10 years later the antler size in that area would increase by 0.8 inches per buck. Are you kidding me? If you replaced 25 percent of free-ranging bucks with 500 pen-raised bucks, you would improve the Boone and Crockett score by 12 inches. One obvious factor here would be the cost to produce those 12 inches gained after 10 years.

The cost to produce a one-inch increase in score was $115,000. So, to get that 12-inch increase after 10 years, the cost would be at least $1.38 million. Thus, releasing monster bucks in an area to get a buck that would score 150 inches up to 162 inches would cost you a measly $1.4 million. And that means it would be impossible. Even if you could do it once, you would have to continue such releases and do intensive management, just to keep antler sizes at those higher levels. Again, that would not be possible.

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