In the state of Texas, operating a deer farm isn’t something that’s taken lightly. Whether it’s a hobby or a job, raising deer requires a license. And according to Dr. Fred Turner, who operates an 850-acre deer ranch two hours outside of Dallas, the state of Texas requires that a deer breeder have a degree in biology.

“I’ve always liked hunting and a couple friends of mine were licensed deer breeders and come to find out you have to be a biologist to get a license. I received a degree in biology from Texas A&M before I studied dentistry at the Univ. of Texas. So I applied for a whitetail breeder license with the Department of Parks and Wildlife.”

That’s only the start. To keep the license current, the state requires that breeders maintain an ongoing inventory of their herds, and the federal health department inspects the deer every year to ensure their health.

Turner says he’s worked with several veterinarians that have taught him how to vet the deer himself. Being a medical professional has also helped him keep his heard healthy.

Turner estimates that there are 2,800 licensed whitetail deer breeders in Texas. For some it’s a full-time job.

“Some of these folks operate a commercial hunting business,” which Turner and his wife Cindy are considering when he “semi-retires.” He says it’s similar to the cattle business where operators buy and sell stock. Some will buy ‘stocker bucks’ to upgrade the herd.

“To enhance the herd and raise a little bit better genetically enhanced deer, we bought semen from breeders in the northern states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. We breed A-1 deer just like cattle guys breed A-1 cattle. The idea is to produce a little bit better deer that are bigger than what you’d normally see in this area,” explains Turner.

“It’s the same kind of thing as when the kids were raising their cattle. One thing leads to another, leads to another and your hobby ends up growing into a small business,” says Turner.