2011 - Volume #35, Issue #1, Page #07[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Raising Deer For Fun And Profit
Eight years ago the pro bass fisherman decided that raising whitetail would be a lucrative retirement hobby. Now he's also in the business of setting up other whitetail farmers. Many of them provide stock for the hunting preserve business that he also runs.
The industry is growing, McIntosh says. Due to busy schedules and less land to hunt on, a growing population of hunters is willing to pay to hunt on private preserves. Hunts for bucks range from $2,000 to $50,000 with an average of $5,000 to $6,500 for hunts. Preserves need animals to meet the demand.
McIntosh offers a $16,000 beginner package of six bred does, a buck and the fencing and material required to set up three pens. Plus he offers advice and marketing assistance.
"The great thing about whitetails is they are so adaptable to nearly any piece of land," says McIntosh.
They eat alfalfa in the winter and graze in the summer with supplemental corn and grain. While the redder meat makes good table fare, McIntosh notes that it's not generally as profitable to market venison.
The best profits come from raising deer for hunting. Preserves pay from $800 to $40,000 for bucks 2 1/2 years and older.
"About 90 percent that are sold, score 190 or less. A lot of growers try to raise the biggest deer," McIntosh says. "I'm more practical, I watch my spending. I don't over extend. I sell affordable deer and sell great stock with breeder potential. I don't get caught up in raising the biggest deer."
Regulations vary from state to state regarding permits to raise whitetail, but there are state and national deer associations (www.nadefa.org) to contact for more information.
About 65 percent of McIntosh's customers are farmers who raise deer for a hobby or to build a college or retirement fund. He also sells deer to many Amish farmers.
Start small, McIntosh recommends, and let the sales of your stock pay for expansion. Don't forget about other added value products the deer provide ù shed antlers, urine, and hair and hides, for example.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Midwest Woodlots LLC, 9170 Old Rd. 30 E., Pierceton, Ind. 46562 (ph 574 265-6996; www.kenmcintoshoutdoors.com).
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