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Old Mar 8th 2018, 08:25 PM   #1
 
  Mar 2018
  Milltown, Wi.
Smile Wisconsin beginner.

I live in western WI and have been looking for a new career direction. Iíve had many animals in my life but never a whitetail. Iím not afraid to work long hard hours and love the feeling of accomplishment after a hard days work. I have been a life long hunter and have always been facinated by Whitetails and would love to raise some. I know this topic has been discussed many times on this site, but I still have questions. I would love to start off as a hobby and eventually make a career out of it. I plan to visit some local deer farms to gain as much knowledge as I can before making the plunge. On my particular piece of property I could put about 7-1 acre pens and have another 7 acres devoted to bucks. I have enough room to incorporate an alley and handling facility if needed down the road. My first question is would it be possible to raise enough deer to make a decent living? By that I mean could I earn 35k plus a year after all opperating costs are taken out? How big of a herd would I need? I would mainly want to grow stockers to sell. Is there enough demand for stockers or are they hard to sell for a decent price? I know there are a lot of variables but Iím just trying to see if this is even possible or if Iím dreaming too big? Ideally I would put up a few pens this summer, buy a few deer with top genetics and see where this dream takes me. Most importantly, how can I convince my wife that this is financially a good move?? I know the benefits of raising children on a farm and would love for my children to be raised as I was. Lastly anything specific to WI regulations that I should consider? I am looking for someone to crush my dreams and talk some sense into me, or help me get started. Any advice is greatly appreciated.
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Old Mar 8th 2018, 10:15 PM   #2
 Jack's Avatar
 
  Apr 2009
  Vaughn, MT 59487

Cervid: mule deer,whitetail,elk,goats,bighorn & stone sheep & Alaskan dahl sheep
I know we are way out of the market area here in Montana. Our harvest facilities have all been closed down in 2000 so no local hunt facilities are available only out of State sales for me. But I talk to many people and they all tell me in honesty the whitetail deer market is flooded with bucks. Good genetics are easy to get for very reasonable prices but finding the right harvest facility is going to be hard to find as people are all wanting to sell. It is a buyers market now. Sounds like a good doe would cost 300 to 1000 and that would be what you should pay because you will never get into the market the guys that were in it from 1990 that have the big name. Your market will be the harvest market period. Find out what your local hunt harvest facility will pay for your bucks. That should give you a good idea what you could make on whitetail. I had a guy offer 3200 for 180 to 250 bucks today. Those bucks would be two and maybe three years old. Feed is very costly and whitetail are very excitable and can kill themselves. If they do you have to have a CWD test done on them all costs money. I could make that raising cattle I think but I don't want to raise cattle. I raise whitetail at a loss but I'm retired and it is my hobby. The fact is my mule deer and wild sheep carry this ranch money wise. My whitetail haven't paid their way since 2004 when Montana closed down all the harvest facilities. I believe I will be cutting down my whitetail and use them for family feed and just keep a few to look at. You should go into this with only the money you can afford to lose. This will make some breeders made at me but at this time it is a poor investment sorry. We have too many breeders and not enough harvest facilities at this time. My opinion is you would not see a return for at least three years maybe four. But like I tell my wife what is my happiness worth. I've been doing this for 40 years and have had many good years and some bad but love it and wouldn't do anything else with my time.

Last edited by Jack; Mar 9th 2018 at 09:29 AM.
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Old Mar 9th 2018, 05:01 AM   #3
 
  Mar 2018
  Milltown, Wi.
Thank you for your honest reply. I did crunch a few hypothetical numbers based on costs from other discussions and think I could turn a profit IF I were to be able to find a buyer for all of the bucks. That seems to be the hard part. As far as making a career out of it I think a lot of things would have to go right. Thank you for your time and input.
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Old Mar 9th 2018, 08:10 AM   #4
 R&J Whitetails's Avatar
 
  Jan 2013
  Cando, ND
I’ll sell you my farm if you want to get going lol. 4yrs into it and $0 profit so far. Last year for me I think unless something changes. Just spent $6000 on feed yesterday to get me through the nxt 6mo to see if I have anything to sell. If you want to go broke jump in with both feet. It’s a tough game but like jack said only put in what you can afford to lose. I was doing it to hopefully make a career out of it but I do not see that happening. I can make more money at my day job by the looks of it

Last edited by R&J Whitetails; Mar 9th 2018 at 08:13 AM.
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Old Mar 9th 2018, 09:20 AM   #5
 
  Sep 2010
  Zimmerman, MN
Be smart. Buy early maturing genetics. I sell my bucks at 2, and they averaged 235” last fall. A lot of people are trying to stay typical. But to be big enough to sell takes 4-5 years. Foolish. A big frame with extras will get you paid quick, and pretty well.
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Old Mar 9th 2018, 12:37 PM   #6
 R&J Whitetails's Avatar
 
  Jan 2013
  Cando, ND
I must say my first two years I had some really crappy feed so on that note had I bought better feed I would have had better results.
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Old Mar 9th 2018, 03:54 PM   #7
 
  Mar 2018
  Milltown, Wi.
Hugebucks23-you seem to be the most optimistic so far. Do you see a demand for shooters or is it hard for farmers to find buyers? Also would 7 1 acre pens and another 7 acre pen be sufficient to raise a decent sized herd? I certainly wouldnít fence it all to begin with, just wondering in case things go well and I want to expand.

R&J Whitetails- thank you for your input as well. Iím sorry to hear things havenít worked out as you had hoped. Besides buying better feed, is there anything else you would have tried differently? I hope things turn around for you this year.
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Old Mar 9th 2018, 04:55 PM   #8
 PlatinumWTrs's Avatar
 
  Dec 2017
  Indiana

Cervid: Whitetail
We too are new to the Whitetail industry this year. Plans to turn a profit raising the deer look to be two years our at best unless something unexpected happens. This is due to the large input cost. High fence, waterlines, stock, etc. We look to keep our herd small and focus on only the best genetics. Feeding 30-40 "average" deer didn't fit our business model. Sweat equity has been our best friend so far. Only time will tell but we are still optimistic here in Indiana.
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Old Mar 9th 2018, 05:13 PM   #9
 
  Sep 2010
  Zimmerman, MN
If you have good looking bucks that score well, you can sell them. Make sure you are reasonable with your prices. But don’t give them away either. Keep up to date on your TB/Brucellosis status. You will not do well selling in Wisconsin. Your market is way to flooded. You will have to look out of state.

They can be hard to sell early on. But what I have found is around mid October, at least for me, things go crazy.

Be extremely accurate with your scoring. If you can’t dart them and score prior to selling, be very careful with the scores you are estimating. If you are telling your buyer you have 220” average bucks, and they actually average 180-190, you are in trouble. They will not come back, and you will have a bad reputation from then on.

Multiple smaller pens is the best. If the pens are too big, they will be hard to work.

Any does that do not produce big bucks by 2 must go. In the freezer. Do not pass those does on to others.
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Old Mar 9th 2018, 09:12 PM   #10
 R&J Whitetails's Avatar
 
  Jan 2013
  Cando, ND
Quote:
Originally Posted by DreaminBig View Post
Hugebucks23-you seem to be the most optimistic so far. Do you see a demand for shooters or is it hard for farmers to find buyers? Also would 7 1 acre pens and another 7 acre pen be sufficient to raise a decent sized herd? I certainly wouldnít fence it all to begin with, just wondering in case things go well and I want to expand.

R&J Whitetails- thank you for your input as well. Iím sorry to hear things havenít worked out as you had hoped. Besides buying better feed, is there anything else you would have tried differently? I hope things turn around for you this year.
One thing I wish I wouldnít of done was buy more. Now I have to many. I need to get rid of about 8-10 does. Iíve got around 25 now on 2.5 acres and thatís to many. 18 buck fawns on 1acre pen and 8 yearling/2yr olds in another 2.5acre pen. 6-8 deer is about right per acre. Some guys do a lot more but then your pens get beat up and nothing grows but mud puddles. My advise is donít buy more than you can afford to feed and focus on quality deer and not quantity. I did the one thing I didnít want to do and that was get to many. For every doe born one must go and I need to stick to that. I meant to get rid of some but failed. They multiply quick. It doesnít seem like it when you just start with 3 or 4 but they do. Good luck and sorry to be so negitive Iíve just had a tough 4years. OH AND DONT FEED THEM A BUNCH OF CORN! I did that one night when I got home really late from work to tide them over till I filled the feeders the next morning and I killed half of my buck fawns! All the doe fawns made it though if you could imagine that. Thatís how my luck goes so I shouldnít be surprised lol.
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Old Mar 10th 2018, 07:39 AM   #11
 
  Mar 2018
  Milltown, Wi.
That is great advice. I certainly wouldn’t want more than I am capable of handling/feeding. My grandpa raised goats as hobby. He started out with about 6 and within a few years he was close to 100. My grandma never knew the difference because she never went to the barn and they were all white and he would only let 6 out at a time. Man did her eyes get big when she finally did go out to the barn.
Would starting with 5 bred does or 5 does and a breeder be a good number to start with? I assume they could all be in the same pen the first year until I have to separate fawns out? I feel like with 5 I would get a good idea of what I’m getting myself into without breaking the bank too terribly.
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Old Mar 11th 2018, 06:53 PM   #12
 R&J Whitetails's Avatar
 
  Jan 2013
  Cando, ND
Quote:
Originally Posted by DreaminBig View Post
That is great advice. I certainly wouldnít want more than I am capable of handling/feeding. My grandpa raised goats as hobby. He started out with about 6 and within a few years he was close to 100. My grandma never knew the difference because she never went to the barn and they were all white and he would only let 6 out at a time. Man did her eyes get big when she finally did go out to the barn.
Would starting with 5 bred does or 5 does and a breeder be a good number to start with? I assume they could all be in the same pen the first year until I have to separate fawns out? I feel like with 5 I would get a good idea of what Iím getting myself into without breaking the bank too terribly.
Yea 5 would be a good start that will leave you with 10 fawns give it take. They will be fine in one pen till you ween them
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Old Mar 11th 2018, 07:19 PM   #13
 orionwt's Avatar
 
  Dec 2012
  Plainfield, WI
If you want a good dose of deer farmers check out the Whitetails of Wisconsin banquet April 7th at the 3 Bears in Warrens.
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Old Mar 13th 2018, 05:54 PM   #14
 
  Feb 2015
  Black Creek, WI
Hello. I would check out as many farms as possible. And
Like Brad stated in the post before you should go to the Whitetails of Wisconsin banquet. I'm in the Appleton area if you ever want to tour my place. If you have questions feel free to call me. 920.450.3536
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Old Mar 13th 2018, 06:42 PM   #15
 
  Mar 2018
  Milltown, Wi.
Thanks everyone for all of the great advice. Unfortunately I won’t be able to make the banquet as we have a child coming shortly and I don’t think my wife would care to drive herself to the hospital. I plan to try to visit a few farms and hopefully get the paperwork done and a couple pens put up this summer. Thanks again.
Jason
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