The Texas whitetail breeding industry, like everything else in the 21st century, is very much driven and defined by advancements in science and technology. Things like breeding techniques, feed contents, and facility layout have all been affected in one way or another by advancements in our understanding of whitetail deer and the breeding process in general. But nothing has been affected so significantly in the whitetail deer breeding industry as our understanding of whitetail antler genetics and how it affects our ability to breed superior genetic whitetail trophy bucks.
For a long time, the whitetail deer breeding industry operated without the benefit of scientific discovery. Little was known about whitetail biochemistry, and as a result the industry suffered through many labor-intensive years of trial and error. As the deer breeding industry in Texas has surged, so has our understanding of whitetail deer.
Ideas once considered arcane and irrelevant have been found to be true and important. The impact of nutrition on antler growth and development is one such idea. We now know that deer require from 16%-18% protein in their diet to achieve their fullest genetic potential, and we are able to design deer feed that is high in protein. This is far removed from the old practice of feeding deer corn, a food high in carbohydrates but seriously lacking in protein. By changing something as simple as a small percentage of protein intake, deer breeders have been able to see the genetic antler potential of entire whitetail deer herds.
The most important contribution science has made to the Texas whitetail deer breeding industry has to do with fundamental genetics. Since the industry’s earliest beginnings in the 70s, whitetail deer managers labored under the impression that whitetail antler genetics were carried exclusively by the male deer. For many years, breeders struggled to produce trophy bucks, never knowing that without the vital component of the genetic potential of the female deer they were simply further diluting the genetics of their herds.
Now known to us is the overwhelming importance of the doe in the breeding process. Prevailing scientific theories estimate that nearly 60% of antler genetics are carried by the doe, an astounding statistic that has changed they way the whitetail deer breeding industry operates.
Subsequently, top-tier breeding facilities like the Escondido Ranch have built their whitetail deer breeding programs on a foundation of strong genetics, with equal attention given to both sire and dam. This approach gives the Escondido Ranch a strong position in the breeder market, a market dominated by a demand for proven genetics.
At the Escondido Ranch, we take genetic samples from every one of our deer and send them to DNA Solutions where they are DNA certified. The goal of our whitetail deer breeding program is not to just grow big bucks. Our goal is grow big bucks with a classic look; wide deer with more natural looking symmetry and more enhanced natural characteristics. Achieving such a specific breeding goal requires more vigilance than usual, and we pride ourselves in the effort we make to trace back the lineage of our breeder bucks and does at least four to five generations.
We are lucky to benefit from an industry that has demanded such technological innovation, and the Escondido Ranch has worked tirelessly to capitalize on the advancements available to us and to use those advancements to create the best possible whitetail herd. It’s what helps us give the Escondido whitetail buck it’s trademark classic look: high, wide, symmetrical, and natural.