An avid hunter in Columbiana County has turned his passion for deer into a lifelong career.
Cory Thomas and his hunting partner Brian have been raising deer for the past 12 years. It started as a part-time hobby in 2007 and has evolved into Valley View Velvet Whitetails, which is a full-time, year-round deer farm.
“We are still learning every day with what we do out here. All of the deer farmers, we all share our ideas,” Thomas said.
He said raising monster bucks is all about quickly discovering if the buck has the genetic potential to be a trophy.
“We play a big game with the genetics. We explore different genetics from different parts of the country, try different genetic patterns to create the nicest set of antlers for what the industry is looking for,” Thomas said.
With strict regulations from the state as guidelines, Valley View Velvet Whitetails has grown some huge bucks in the past.
In its fourth year, one of the bucks scored 356 points.
There is a young buck that could make his way into the deer farm’s future. He is a yearling and already boasts 32 points. There is excitement around the potential this buck has at such an early age.
“We have a lot of interest toward him, but depending on what he produces here next year at two, we may end up doing some advertising with him and offer some live breeding for some other farms,” Thomas said.
The deer will be tested for bovine tuberculosis and other diseases shortly before the nature breeding season begins. Then they will selectively breed the deer on the farm.
Hopes are high for another crop of young bucks to emerge in the spring, but genetics are only part of the recipe for success.
“A lot of the potential on our farms is with our does. We look to, say, 70 to 80% of our genetics come from our does’ side,” Thomas said.
Good-quality, high-protein feed and low stress are other factors that allow for giant bucks to develop. The deer farm goes through about $300 of food per deer every year.
If you’re looking to turn your passion into a long-term career, Thomas advises you do research on the internet and visit other deer farms.
“If you’re thinking about getting into deer farming, definitely talk to some other deer farmers. Give them a call, look up their farms. That way you can eliminate a lot of the issues you have getting started,” he said.