Medal Heads?

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re'M'ington

Well-Known Member
I have read that some land just will never sustain/spawn a medal head,and,I am intrigued as to what sort of land would be the ideal for medal heads.Most of my land is open fields with nice thick hedgelines,and,bordered or at least close to some wooded areas............Martin.
 

Bandit Country

Well-Known Member
I suspect that 'Medal Heads' result from good management of deer which have access to the right mix of food and more importantly mineral nutrients. I don't know the chemical content of antlers - perhaps Morena can enlighten us? However, I would guess calcium, potassium and phospherous are in there somewhere - all of which probably need other 'ingredients' in the right proportion to metabolise into significant antler growth e.g us humans need vitamin D to metabolise calcium into bone mass.
Get all that mix right, allow buck to mature for a number of years and voilá - a medal head!
To get the right nutrients the animal needs to be browsing and/or grazing on plants that are growing in the right soil. Or the animals need access to supplementary feed/mineral blocks - and that is a whole new thread! :lol:
 

re'M'ington

Well-Known Member
So possibly,if a number of 'Good' supplement blocks were put around the ground,then,maybe the quality of the heads might go up? Is it that easy,or,am I making very light of it?
Come on Morena,give us the benefit of your vast knowledge please,or anyone else that has some input please..............Martin.
 
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Grantoliver

Guest
Not sure this will help but I put two mineral blocks on my ground for the same reason and saw no sign whatsoever that they were being used regularly, if at all.

I guess the answer is find something they want (apple concentrates appeard to be the answer from an earlier thread) and put it on a mineral block that will hopefully make up for any local mineral deficiency.
 
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Davie

Guest
I feel that all the factors need to come together eg good managment were your big buck has little to do but get big and strong instead of chasing little bucks off his patch all day long .He needs left alone to keep his stress levels down .he needs to be carrying the right genes and the soil need to be rich in food and nutrients. With the block while i have put them out n the passed and the deer have used them . i HAVE NOT SEEN ANY MAJOR IMPROVMENT BECAUSE OF THEM.
 

ABC

Member
I am convinced medal heads has a lot to do with genetics, some grounds are renowned for medal heads ( passed on by genes ? ) and other seemingly good grounds never produce any.
 

The Mole

Well-Known Member
Although genetics do play a small part in producing quality heads, the right conditions are much more important. Good forage, shelter and low stress all combine to produce optimum conditions. Solitary deer like roe are too stressed by high densities, and even big red stags transplanted from parks to poorer areas 'to add to the quality of the gene pool' deteriorate in both body weight and antler size quite quickly. If you've got too many deer, or too poor an environment to support them, there simply aren't the resources to go round. It's all about balance.

And forget the mineral blocks - if you've got the balance right you (and the deer) shouldn't need them. OK, the continentals place great store in them but they try to keep deer densities higher than what the ground should reasonably support - which is why you don't see that many good heads coming out of, say, Germany.
 

243varmint

Well-Known Member
The one patch i have which Bandit Country has been to has roe and fallow on it. The 2 roe we have taken have had sweeping back antlers, which go into a slight 's' shape and the other we spotted the other week also had the same configuration, so perhaps it's a genetic strain???
Jonathon
 

paul k

Well-Known Member
In my view it has a lot to do with genetics but this has to be supported by the environment that the deer live in. Generally speaking you have to have good feeding for the deer combined with good genetics and for roe limestone or chalk seems to be a consistent feature of the biggest heads but plenty come from Scotland and other areas where this geology is in short supply. It is often the case that areas newly colonised by roe produce a few good heads very early on.

A good example of the importance of genetics can be seen in East Anglia where the red deer are of English Park origin including the very best genetic stock in Western Europe which is from Warnham Court. This area consistently produces some of largest red stag heads in the UK and this can be substantially argued to be a result of the very high quality genetic stock. On the other hand the roe in the area were introduced from Germany and isolated from other UK roe. These are of very poor quality compared to almost every other roe area in the UK. Both species feed over some of the same areas so geology and feeding seem less important than genetics.

The reds that are loose in South Wales are from similarly good genetic stock but live in a relatively poor area for feeding and yet there was a silver medal from the area a year or two ago.

On the other hand reds that have encroached on forested areas of Scotland from the poorer open hills often produce better heads as a result of the improved feeding and deer of Scottish Highland stock have produced huge heads in New Zealand.

I know several areas where fallow bucks from Sussex (often Petworth with the best heads in the UK) have been imported to improve antlers.

The best way to improve the quality of heads is to leave the good bucks or stags in for as long as possible and cull anything with a poor head. This allows genetics to play their full part, after that it's down to feeding and geology.
 

morena

Well-Known Member
In answer to the request of the chemical composition of antlers,these are true bone and have the same composition viz calcium phosphate with collagen mainly with little bits of other minerals.
To re'M'ington no vast knowledge a liitle more than some and a little less than others :)
To improve antlers is basically good stockmanship. Your starting point is a triangle.
.....................................Habitat

...............Genetics

...................................Nutrition

You are starting off with a population of deer about which you may know certain facts. this is where your game larder records are indispensable. More info more use. Weights up/down or steady. long term weather conditions,availability of food for previous period. more mouths less food for individual ( stocking density in nutshell). Change of plants etc.
Antler symmetry is entirely determined by genetic makeup. various parts of the country had Roe imports from continental europe and some of these were of mediocre stock, hence low genetic potential. No matter how good nutrition/habitat will hit a plateau after which no improvement.
Years ago Red stags with magnificent racks were moved to the highlands to improve the stock. those that survived reverted to typical highland stock.
Genetic potential hindered by habitat/nutrition
Highland stags moved down south had magnificent antlers.
Genetic potential maximised by habitat/nutrition.
Experts can have pretty good idea form what part of country antlers have originated.
Genetics are there in the population and all you can do is facilitate the best breeding stock. This is where I can explain the science but the art is down to the deer manager/stalker. All the experts tell us to maintain equal parity between the sexes and shoot a higher portion of yearlings equal numbers of males females. More food for the grownups. Shoot too many good heads and you are depressing the male genetic pool, which to a certain extent can be assessed visually by body and antlers. Keep the female population under control or else too many mouths.
Habitat. Is there shelter for the deer after feeding. wide open areas no wind shelter chill factor, more food to keep body temperature less for growth. Anyone been hind culling in highlands will know what I mean.
Nutrition. This is dependent on the soil. Poor soil poor grazing/browsing as the plants are struggling to grow. Hence lower food value. Some soils are deficient in micronutrients and consequently plants deficient. Excess nitrogen fertilizer incredible growth mineral value down. What is needed is a good mixture of browse/grazing with herbs which have these micronutrients including Calcium, phosphorus, selenium,copper magnesium. Protein for growth carbohydrates for energy cellulose for rumenal activity. Deer fed low protein diets experimentally have poor antlers.
First and foremost need a good body before they can grow good antlers. The calcium requirements of red deer stags towards the end of the velvet growth are phenomenal 5 grams a day and if they they can't produce this they from diet chewing bones cast antlers they resorb calcium from their rib bones to make good the deficit.
As you can see from this putting out a few mineral blocks is a waste of time unless you have a proved depressed level of them in the herbage.
 

re'M'ington

Well-Known Member
So,if you have bad heads,then would a better Habitat and Nutrition go towards making better heads on those same deer in years to come,or are they lsot forever?.....................Martin.
 
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Davie

Guest
What you can do is improve your ground manage your deer so that they get every thing they need and then see what genetics they have . You as a manager can also improve the genetics making it that only the best bucks get to covering the females and any pour looking females are removed before having there young. This is really hard on some ground i know that but give it a try and see what happens . The worst that can happen is your deer will be of better quality but still not hold medal heads but hey if the genes are there and the deer have just been waiting for the correct balance then you might get a shock. ;)
 

paul k

Well-Known Member
re'M'ington said:
So,if you have bad heads,then would a better Habitat and Nutrition go towards making better heads on those same deer in years to come,or are they lsot forever?.....................Martin.

Yes, good nutrition and habitat will get the most out of the underlying genetic propensity for head quality and will yield better heads than would have been the case otherwise. It will not make gold medal heads out of rubbish parents but might lift a good head into a bronze. If this were not the case there would be absolutely no foundation for the accepted deer management practice of leaving a good buck or stag in until just past his prime or ability to hold territory/females.

It's not just size, you can see the genetic characteristics of antlers passed through generations which is why typical Dorset roe heads have a different shape to a typical Sussex head. The red deer in New Zealand of Highland origin have different antler shapes to others from English park stock. As UK deer populations continue to spread, meet and merge this is perhaps going to be less true of future populations but it is the case now.

Highland red deer stock transplanted to New Zealand grew some heads that were far better than anything produced by the native wild stock on the hills. There was still plenty of rubbish but the quality of heads clearly improved over the original stock. There is no doubt that genetics are responsible for the superb East Anglian reds and also the very poor roe in the same area but the argument might be that the roe would be even worse on other ground.

So whatever the genetic capability of the deer on your ground in terms of antler size it is going to be improved by good habitat and culling out poor quality animals.
 

ABC

Member
Is there any evidence that antler size determines whether a Roe buck has prime location ? or is it body size ? the biggest buck I have shot had a poor head but huge body, in a fight I imagine body size will count.
 

paul k

Well-Known Member
ABC said:
Is there any evidence that antler size determines whether a Roe buck has prime location ? or is it body size ? the biggest buck I have shot had a poor head but huge body, in a fight I imagine body size will count.

I think you're right. I not sure with roe but I think certainly with other species the antler size of an opponent might be an intimidating factor and could avoid a few fights but once battle is engaged it has to be body weight and strength as all the antlers do is provide a contact point.

The exception would be with a "murder" buck or switch as their antlers are more dangerous and might injure a bigger opponent before it could win the wrestling match.
 
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Davie

Guest
ABC you are right and i witnessed that this year were an old buck gave a really nice antlered buck i was leaving on the ground a kicking . His larder weight was 50lb i suspect the buck i left on the ground was a good lot lighter. Like the thin ladies with the large breasts or the models with the legs that go on and on we pick what looks good to the eye not what would in real terms be best for the ground. ;) .
 

stone

Well-Known Member
ABC said:
Is there any evidence that antler size determines whether a Roe buck has prime location ? or is it body size ? the biggest buck I have shot had a poor head but huge body, in a fight I imagine body size will count.
size does matter but aggression matters more
older and experienced bucks will push out larger but immature bucks when competeing for females in or around the rut
murder bucks are diferent altogether

and if you were to stick your neck out a liuttle further you might then quote the sika
or it's plight into hybrids :evil:
 

paul k

Well-Known Member
It's interesting that the fallow in the Forest of Dean have, as far as I know, never produced a medal head, the weakness being poor palmation, but the bucks can be very large indeed in terms of body weight with bucks of over 210lbs recorded.

One estate on the fringe of the forest imported a couple of Sussex bucks to try and improve antler quality.

This is more support for the genetics over feeding argument.
 

Paul 600

Well-Known Member
I am sure genetics has some bearing but so does stress, be it territorial, disturbance or lack of food ,competition etc?

If you look at a hummel and how big they can be. They don't have to waste energy and nutrients growing a big rack. this would explain the large body weights.

If your happy with lots of grub and don't have to constantly walk round your garden keeping the hoodies of the patch and are able to just chill in the garden you get fat! Isn't it the same for deer?
 

Monkey Spanker

Well-Known Member
How would a genetic restriction on growth explain the huge Red Stag heads found in New Zealand, when the Red Deer out there are reputed to originate from here? I'm sure it must be more down to nutrition over a period of time through generations than pure genetics. The stags in Scotland are tiny compared to the ones on Exmoor, and they are smaller than the huge lowland Reds around Thetford which have better supplies of food.
 
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