Romick Whitetail Farm Displays Big Bucks
There is a great attraction in the nearby area that many are unfamiliar with – Romick Whitetail Farm, located New Matamoras Ohio.
The deer farm has been in existence for approximately six years now and contains more than 80 different deer, 37 of which are fawns. The 104 acre farm is owned and operated by Mark Romick who raises the deer from birth and keeps extensive records of the genetics of each deer. Much like horse breeding, a stud deer can be worth a great deal of money, so birth records are kept and genetic records for the parent deer are kept in order to better track the genetic line of the deer.
Many of the bucks get sold to hunting reserves throughout the nation, and so they are handled very little from birth. They feed from their mothers until it is time to ween them in order to keep them as wild as possible.
The doe fawns are bottle fed and handled on a regular basis in order to make them more tame.
Romick explained, “When you place bucks on a preserve, their instincts take back over and they become extremely wild, then it’s like hunting any other wild deer.”
The doe fawns are bottle fed with a combination of whole milk and an additive called “Does Match” which raises the fat content in the milk to make it more like the mothers natural milk. As they grow older, the fawns get more grain introduced into their diet. Romick works up a combination of molasses and grains for the deer that has a sweet aroma and adds necessary nutrients into their diets.
There are two deer on the farm that are easily confused as albino but are a genetic breed called “Seneca Whites,” which are deer that are completely white but do not have pink eyes as an albino would. The Seneca Whites are named after Seneca Army Depot in Seneca County, New York which houses the largest population of whiter deer (a recessive form of white-tailed deer) in the world.
Seneca Whites may often breed with a brown deer, and the product is referred to as Piebald, which is a beautiful mix of browns and whites. Imagine throwing white powdered sugar all over a chocolate doughnut; that would be a similar result to what a Piebald could look like.
Every single animal is tested for Tuberculosis, Brucellosis, E. coli, Pneumonia, and other diseases that are very commonly spread. They must test every three years to keep up with regulated standards. For these reasons, there are not to be any wild animals brought into the herd. All of the deer must remain separated from the wild to keep disease down and to better control the genetic outcome.
There is a chute system that is used when it is time to vaccinate or perform work on any of the animals. The deer walk into a narrow walkway that only their thin spindly legs can fit in. The walkway is padded on both sides and after all the doors have been closed, there is a lever that drops the floor so that the deer is suspended in air by the padded, angled walls. A panel is then opened that gives direct access to the suspended deer so that vaccinations, tagging, removal of foot bacteria, and other medical procedures can be performed.
Pen raised deer have become a big commodity, and big buck hunting has been rising in popularity over the past few years. There are deer that score some big numbers when it comes to rack size. For instance, there is a young buck at the farm that will score over 200 on its very first rack.
Romick informed, “We have two year olds that are 200 inches, and the biggest buck we’ve had here scored 396. We’ll breed with bucks that are five or six hundred inches.” This allows for numerous genetic possibilities and some potentially unbelievable deer.
Romick explained how he enjoys watching the deer on a daily basis and how he learns from them constantly. He describes their vocalization and how a mother deer can make certain sounds towards her fawn; each sound has a clear and specific meaning that only the fawn can truly understand.
“Mothers will lay their fawns down in the same spot every night. She goes to the other end of the pen away from the deer. Wherever the fawn is, she’ll be away from it. She’ll never be beside of it because it’s how she protects them.”
Romick continued, “Supposedly, and I don’t know if this is true or not, but I’ve read articles on it that say a fawn doesn’t have any scent for the first three years of its life. That’s how it makes it through the wild because coyotes can’t smell them whereas the mother will have scent. Therefore the mother leaves the fawn to attract the scent away from her child. If a coyote catches the scent, it will be led to the mother, who is better able to escape the coyote.
Romick went on describing the nurturing care of the mothers to their fawns. The mother doe will lick the fawn clean immediately after birth and, “within 15 seconds that fawn will try to walk and nurse.” In fact, when the doe fawns are born they are immediately wiped down to simulate the natural birth process.
Romick urges people not to handle fawns if they are found in the wild. He explained that several times a year people will call in about motherless fawns. Romick will explain that more than likely the mother is actually around, just out of sight. Therefore, interfering with the fawn could actually cause more harm than good.
Romick also noted that the bucks will use the fencing as a wind break in the winter and a shade spot in the summer. The bucks can be very territorial and pick on the Seneca White deer for being a different color than the rest of the herd.
Many hunters are opposed to hunting farm-raised deer but Romick offered the following explanation:
“There are many people out there that love to hunt but had to move away and may work in the city. They come back and have trouble finding a place to hunt due to all the properties being bought up and if they do, what’s the odds that they will kill a 150 inch buck? They are making more in the city so $5,000 to them is like $1,000 to you.”
“They may have only three days off from their job and they can go to a preserve, get put up, be fed meals, go out, hunt, and they know they’re going to see deer. Yes, they may pay for that large 150 inch buck, but we’ll mount it for them and send it to them. That’s their three days.”
Classes are welcome to tour the facilities and learn about the process of raising deer. In fact there are t-shirts available in all sizes for those who visit.
Romick Whitetail Farm can be accessed by visiting romickwhitetails.com
Mark and Debby Romick are also available by calling 740-864-2282.