The Illinois and Indiana Sales were even bigger and better than last year. It is so great to see so many familiar faces from the industry at these events. Some of them we only see once a year and it’s hard to catch up with all the deer talk in a short amount of time.
These events are great places to talk with so many deer farmers from around the country to hear how the markets look and what we can expect for the future. I’m excited to tell you the hunting market looks even better than I could have imagined. I talked with several hunting ranch owners from Missouri, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The general consensus was they could not find enough bucks to purchase this past season. A gentleman from Pennsylvania told me some ranches even bought two year old bucks because they couldn’t find enough older bucks to purchase. Some ranches had to turn away hunters because they ran out of bucks to sell. Many people think the supply will not be able to catch up with the demand for several years and that is good news for those of us who do not own a hunting ranch and have bucks to sell.
With many Wisconsin farmers now reaching TB accreditation and 3 plus years of CWD monitoring, it will help open up the markets for our bucks to other states who will allow Wisconsin animals to enter their state. There still are several states that will not allow animals to enter their state if the animals are coming from a state that has CWD in the wild herd.
Pennsylvania requires five years of CWD monitoring, Ohio just recently moved up to four years, Iowa is currently at three years, and Missouri requires herds to have been enrolled by 2002, but will consider animals coming from herds with 3 years of CWD monitoring with certain conditions. Minnesota may be a state we can consider this year as there is a hunt ranch going up in that state. Minnesota currently requires three years of monitoring. All of the state vets I spoke with will not accept animals coming from counties that have CWD in the wild herd, which effects several farms in the southern part of Wisconsin.
Our markets in Wisconsin have not been the best ever since CWD was discovered in the wild herd, but things are looking up. We now have a monitoring status that is starting to make other states feel relatively safe about buying our animals. If we had refused to test for CWD, this would not be the case. We can start shipping our surplus of bucks out of state where there is a demand and this will help to improve our in-state markets as well. When our buck markets improve, more people may look to get into this business. Others already in the business may look to increase their herds, improve their genetics and start to buy again, which should improve our doe markets somewhat. Wisconsin markets have been stagnant for several years and many of us have hung on waiting for this day to come.
Another direction I see the markets heading is toward more typical genetics. The hunting market is going to determine where the breeding markets eventual go, and right now most buyers are saying they want to purchase big framed bucks. A few stickers and splits are nice for added score, but an overall big frame that catches the hunters attention is what they are looking for. The buyers and the hunters want to get as much as they can for their money. Several buyers are already not paying for the inches below the G1. They’re starting to pay according to the look of the animal and not just the score.
Is there a demand for the lower end deer? The answer is yes. There was a shortage of 130”-150” bucks this year which brought the prices up in this category at some of the ranches. No matter what size deer you are raising, there is a market. The prices are not as good, but they’re still sellable animals.
As we continue to improve our genetics, it makes one wonder where things will end up. We may start to sell bucks at a younger age just to fill the demand for lower end hunts. This would mean less money invested in each animal for feed and testing to get them to an older age. It also would mean less animals lost overall. We all know the older they get, the more they fight and the more losses we incur.
As for the doe market, most of us are going to have to get use to putting some meat in the freezer. In my opinion, because of semen sales and artificial insemination, our doe markets will never be the same. But that doesn’t mean we can’t make money in this business selling the bucks we raise. Manage your herd wisely and only keep the amount of does you have room for and can afford to feed. More isn’t always better.
Keep in mind, most of this article is my opinion of our future markets and others may see things differently.