Orion Whitetails has been breeding for big typical bucks since we began raising deer in 1996. Like most people in this business, we started raising deer purely as a hobby. I had already had a game farm license for raising pheasants, and the same license was needed to own deer. We started out with two bottle fed doe fawns, Storm and Reba, and we decided to collect urine from them for hunters. The next step was to purchase a buck to breed those does.
I met Steve Porter at a deer show in Minnesota, where I first heard of his buck Whiley. Whiley injured his back foot three years before, which had caused the left side of his rack to grow nontypical. All though Steve was torn about selling him, we finally made a deal. My wife Becky was concerned about spending so much money on one deer, but I knew Whiley was worth it. A few weeks later, I was on my way to Bronson to pick him up. When I got to the Porter’s farm, we loaded Whiley into a box and put him in the back of my truck. The ride home was long, but I will never forget the excitement I felt when we made it home.
I brought Whiley home in February after his antlers had shed. He was 5 ½ years old. It was too late to breed with him that year, but I was just happy to have him there. The scent business was running well, so I used it as an excuse to buy a couple more does, Clair and Jody. Those first four does and Whiley were the only deer I have ever purchased.
The following year, Whiley grew a very impressive right side, and again, a whacky left antler. That winter, we set up a booth advertising Orion Scents at the Minnesota Whitetail Deer Classic. I had used Whiley’s typical shed as a centerpiece and it drew quite a crowd! Several Boone and Crockett scorers wanted to measure his rack, and Whiley was scored at our booth with many onlookers. That weekend was a great learning experience, and I met many other deer farmers. When I went home that weekend, I knew Whiley was something special. After that experience, I began learning everything I could about raising deer. Deerfarmer.com was a new website at the time, and I visited it every day.
Shortly after, I joined the Minnesota Deer Breeders Assn., followed by NADeFA. I went to every event I could that year. My eyes were opened at the Top 30 Auction when they ran live animals through for everyone to see. I met some of the most successful deer farmers at that time at that auction. I then went to my first NADeFA convention in Alberqurque, New Mexico. Back in those days, NADeFA had a single shed category in the antler competition, so I decided to enter Whiley. He won first place Nontypical and first place Typical two years in a row.
In 2003 we moved our farm back to my hometown in central Wisconsin. That was the first year we AI’d. One of the first bucks we bred with was KY Maximus. I had met Ted Sumner and spent a great deal of time talking with him at the NADEFA convention, and he showed me a buck he had seen and was very impressed with. This buck had 16” T2’s, 14” T3’s, 12” T4’s, and 7” T5’s. He was clean as a whistle, and scored 203” at only three years old. I fell in love with the tine length and bred several does to him that year. The first set of twins I got out of that buck crossed with a Whiley/Clair doe yielded a buck, Gauge, and a doe, White 78. Gauge was a beautiful 5x5 that scored 200” with long brow tines and 16” T2’s. White 78 can be found in the pedigrees of many of our best deer.
I have been involved with many hard antler competitions in the past 16 years and have held some of the largest antlers in the country in my hands. I have bred with over a dozen bucks that have taken first place in the NADeFA typical antler competitions. Darren Deckard’s buck Wildcard was the first buck to score over 200” in the typical category at NADeFA, and we have bred with him many times. In recent years, we have used Dude and Perfect Dream, who are two of the best typical bucks out there today, in my opinion.
Five years ago, we started mixing in some wide Texan genetics. We did not ever jump on the “most advertised buck” bandwagon to fit in. The first buck from Texas that we bred to was a big, wide, beautiful buck named Big Tex, owned by Brent Geistwiedt. From him we produced Dallas and his twin sisters. Dallas scored 229 5/8 with a 28” inside spread. The following year we used Dos Ancho and Buddy IV. Check out Jim Moses’ Buddy V in this issue.
I have always tried to breed for clean bucks, because it is what I like to look at. First we concentrated on brow tines and mass, then it was beam length and mass, never sacrificing the look. In recent years, I have put most of my emphasis on tine length. I have saved many catalogs over the years, and it is evident that bucks have gotten so much bigger. However, the one trait that has seemed to fall behind all the others is tine length. I think it’s time to see breeders bragging about how many bucks they have with tines over 16” long in their pedigrees.
I have had the privilege of raising whitetails for a long time. I can’t think of another animal as majestic as the Whitetail Deer. From fawning in the spring, to watching the bucks shed their velvet, I think I’ve got one of the best spots to have a deer farm. EHD has never come close, and we don’t have problems with predators sneaking into our pens. Good deer farms paired with good hunting preserves means a great market for good looking bucks. Life on a whitetail farm in Wisconsin is great.
Our Whitetail breeding program has been focused on large framed typical genetics. You can start your herd with animals from Orion Whitetails and retain our herd status or add to your herd and maintain your current status. We have a full handling facility for testing and AIing our deer. Drop chutes and semen are also available.
Breeding for Large Framed Typicals
Official SCI Scorer
Full Handling Facility / Urine Collection
Members of SCI, WOW, NADeFA, and MNDBA
· CWD DATE 4-1-01
· TB ACCREDITED
· BRUCELOSIS CERTIFIED
Whiley - Three time Winner of the NADeFA Hard Antler Competition
Whiley, our foundation sire, won first place in the NADeFA hard antler competition in 2000, 2001, and 2002. One of his sons took 1st place in WOW's 2006 antler competition.
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