Managing Your Property for Healthy Deer with Dr. Grant Woods, Part 2


grant woods large buck 

Dr. Grant Woods of, shown here with an amazing hit list buck taken in 2016 they called "Handy". His size is an example of letting bucks mature. Photo by

In the first part of this interview series, readers were introduced to wildlife biologist Dr. Grant Woods, founder of who specializes in the management of deer populations and their habitat. Now, learn more about managing a property for healthy deer, along with some other points such as which deer to harvest and basic tips from Dr. Woods himself.

Fala Burnette: Grant, it’s interesting you mention being selective about your trees when managing property for wildlife. This is a great point to save select stands of timber and let them mature. Speaking of the point of maturation, could you tell us a little bit about why letting some of our bucks mature and age could help benefit the herds we manage? How do you determine which deer to harvest versus which to let age out a bit longer?

Grant Woods: I like mature bucks as a hunter and more importantly as a wildlife biologist. As a hunter, I enjoy seeing a large-antlered bucks. Age is the primary factor in a buck's antler size. I also like that mature bucks tend to weigh more than immature bucks and therefore yield more venison. When processed appropriately (deboned and connective tissue removed from each muscle) the taste of venison from a mature buck is excellent!   

As a wildlife biologist I know that mature bucks secrete some different pheromones than immature bucks. It's believed that these pheromones help synchronize when does become receptive, etc.  In addition, the presence of mature bucks and their pheromones suppress fighting among immature bucks to determine the social hierarchy. Fighting is a natural part of immature buck development and determining the dominance hierarchy. However, when there's not a clear dominance hierarchy immature bucks tend to aggressively fight over and over which can result in exhaustion and/or injuries and reduced chances of survival.

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