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The Chores of Building a Deer Farm

October 8, 2012
By Larry Claypool - OV Times Editor , Ohio Valley Outdoors

Farming is a tough business. Deer farming is no different. It does help when family members work together to share the chores, the burdens and the successes.

For brother-in-laws Cory Thomas and Brian Woods - they are the new generation of farmers at the original Valley View Farms near Hanoverton, OH. If there's a success story in the stalls of this farm, it's growing slowly. That's O.K. for Thomas and Woods, it's the nature of the business.

If anything's growing slowly at Valley View Velvet Whitetails it's not the antlers of their male specimens. Proof of that are in the names - and genes - of their top bucks, Abendigo and Totally Engulfed. Five-year-old Abendigo, "Ben" for short, has grown a rack that should score an amazing 360+. Totally Engulfed, a son of Abendigo and just three years old, should score well over 300 (see photo). Thomas said some feel Totally Engulfed could hit 400 this fall.

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Totally Engulfed, a son of Abendigo and just three years old, scored well over 300.

Several other younger bucks in Valley View's six large pens are sporting very impressive racks.

Those successes, and good bloodlines among their does, Thomas and Woods have great reason to be optimistic about the future. "We're where we want to be. We're working hard but we know it takes time," said Thomas during our visit to the four-acre fenced in deer farm.

Only recently was Valley View able to "profit" from a sale of its stock. In late July Thomas reported that they'd sold both Abendigo and Totally Engulfed to a hunting preserve in eastern Pennsylvania. Thomas admitted is was a bittersweet moment for him personally. "This was very tough. You get attached to the deer. We bottle-fed Ben. But, this is what we're here for," said Thomas.

Fact Box

Five-year-old Abendigo, "Ben" for short, has grown a rack that should score an amazing 360+.

The sale of Valley View's top two bucks was the first major sale for the business. Thomas added that his own father disagreed with the sale of their prize specimens. "What are we going to do? That's what we're here for. We've put a lot of money into this. We really didn't have a choice," said Thomas.

"And for our families (both are married with kids) we can't keep putting money into this without getting something out of it. What do we to tell our wifes? We want to keep doing this," added Wood.

A big part of deer farming is building good bloodlines. Better stock also brings more money through stud fees, fawns, does and semen from big bucks. Although Valley View sold Abendigo they did keep several straws of his semen, which will garner several thousand dollars down the road.

Thomas and Wood have been working for the past six years building the business - one of nearly 700+ deer farms in the state of Ohio. Valley View currently has 52 deer. The first two years consisted mostly of building fences and other buildings on the Valley View Farm. "We've been working hard for the last four years, raising deer. We started with loaner does," said Thomas.

All of the work done by the brother-in-laws has to come in their spare time. Both hold full-time jobs. Thomas is a supervisor for Asplundh Tree Expert Company and Woods is a mechanic with the East Fairfield Coal Company.

Other work at the deer is provided by Thomas' grandfather, Jake Lindesmith, and friend Josh Barnard, who also owns Sunset Whitetails Deer Farm near East Liverpool, OH. Barnard credits Thomas and Wood with getting him started as a deer propagator. They now work together on different tasks at both farms.

"We all work together, help each other out. It's better in numbers. We'd like to see others get into the business. It would benefit all of us," said Thomas.

For additional information about Valley View Velvet Whitetials, see their website at: Read this entire article in the September/October issue of Ohio Valley Outdoors magazine.



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