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Old 12-24-2020, 12:19 PM   #1
TalonErickson7
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Default Hill Country Deer vs. South Texas Deer?

As we are all aware South Texas grows large if not the largest bucks in the great state of Texas.
As curiosity has brought me I wonder if anyone on TBH has the real reasoning how the red dirt of the south Texas brush country can produce such monstrous deer when all it has to provide is mesquite beans and browse.
Vs.
Central Texas/Hill country with Acorns, browse and even mesquite beans. Hill country can produce great deer but not like South Texas even the body sizes arenít in comparison.

So what is it that South Texas has that the Hill Country doesnít?


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Old 12-24-2020, 12:22 PM   #2
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Different subspecies of WT would be my guess
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Old 12-24-2020, 12:24 PM   #3
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Subspecies


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Old 12-24-2020, 12:25 PM   #4
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Maybe consider the density of the herds in both areas.
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Old 12-24-2020, 12:30 PM   #5
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South Texas has been managed for decades.

Hill country has been over populated and over grazed for decades.

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Old 12-24-2020, 12:31 PM   #6
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Red dirt
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Old 12-24-2020, 12:33 PM   #7
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Its nutrition.
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Old 12-24-2020, 12:34 PM   #8
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Haven’t a lot of ranches in South Texas brought in larger breeder bucks from the Midwest in the past?
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Old 12-24-2020, 12:34 PM   #9
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Cows seem to also do better in South Texas grazing than Hill Country....
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Old 12-24-2020, 04:22 PM   #10
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Cows seem to also do better in South Texas grazing than Hill Country....
The places I hunted on in the hill country the cows done really well they seemed to get wider than my pickup
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Old 12-24-2020, 12:35 PM   #11
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Everything that grows in South Texas is high in protein.
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Old 12-24-2020, 12:37 PM   #12
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Native browse in South Texas is high in protein.
Much higher and much more abundant. The soil quality is much better also as the HC has a limestone base to work with. There is little to no nutrition in Limestone.
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Old 12-24-2020, 12:44 PM   #13
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Everything that grows in South Texas is high in protein.
Yes, what he said. A lot better groceries that are naturally higher in protein than what you find in the hill country or west Texas.
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Old 12-24-2020, 02:04 PM   #14
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Everything that grows in South Texas is high in protein.
This is the correct answer.
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Old 12-24-2020, 12:36 PM   #15
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The brush country has wayyy more to provide than just mesquite beans as seen in the link below. Also south Texas has generally larger tracts of land that can be managed.

https://tpwd.texas.gov/publications/...1675_07_11.pdf
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Old 12-24-2020, 05:02 PM   #16
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The brush country has wayyy more to provide than just mesquite beans as seen in the link below. Also south Texas has generally larger tracts of land that can be managed.

https://tpwd.texas.gov/publications/...1675_07_11.pdf

Crazy to see beauty berry is a first choice browse in STX


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Old 12-24-2020, 08:28 PM   #17
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The brush country has wayyy more to provide than just mesquite beans as seen in the link below. Also south Texas has generally larger tracts of land that can be managed.

https://tpwd.texas.gov/publications/...1675_07_11.pdf
This
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Old 12-24-2020, 12:37 PM   #18
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Guajilla and black brush


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Old 12-25-2020, 08:01 AM   #19
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Guajilla and black brush


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This.
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Old 12-24-2020, 12:38 PM   #20
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There was a study in Mississippi where they took deer from different regions of the state. Each region had different quality of deer. Similar to our Hill Country vs South Texas Deer. They put the deer in pens and altered their diet. From what I remember, their findings were that after a couple generations the deer all looked about the same. The deer from the small deer producing areas got much bigger, the medium deer got a little bigger and the biggest deer grew the least.

I actually spoke to one of the authors of the study about Texas specifically. He was of the opinion that their results would hold true here too.
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Old 12-24-2020, 12:48 PM   #21
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Natural nutrition
Larger land tracts
Longer management
I think there’s merit to the whole sub-species thing also.

I love the hill county, what it lacks in size it makes up
For in numbers and scenery. The density likely plays a factor in size also

Last edited by SwampBuck; 12-24-2020 at 12:52 PM.
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Old 12-24-2020, 01:07 PM   #22
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The hill country is devoid of nutrition in comparison. Not only does South Texas have a huge variety of edible browse species, but almost everything is within reach of the deer.
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Old 12-24-2020, 01:15 PM   #23
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AGE! nutrition and AGE. I hunted the hill county for many year. I can honesty say I have seen some really good ten point bucks but never one that was old. If you have a big enough ranch and you can let your deer age you will get some great deer in the hill country.

Last edited by Johnson; 12-24-2020 at 01:20 PM.
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Old 12-24-2020, 01:34 PM   #24
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Nutrition and management. I hunted the hill country my whole life, now hunt in south Texas. All of our bucks are over 200#s, I think out of 12-14 bucks we only have one that is under 200. I love it.
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Old 12-24-2020, 01:46 PM   #25
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Default Hill Country Deer vs. South Texas Deer?

Density has a lot to do with it, but nutrition is much-much better in the brush country.


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Old 12-24-2020, 01:52 PM   #26
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That’s something that’s odd to me.
If the nutrition is so much better in the south, why are the numbers not there like they are in the hill country? Surely if the nutrition was that off in the hill country the numbers should naturally be that much lower.
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Old 12-24-2020, 01:58 PM   #27
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Thatís something thatís odd to me.
If the nutrition is so much better in the south, why are the numbers not there like they are in the hill country? Surely if the nutrition was that off in the hill country the numbers should naturally be that much lower.
Herd management and predators. Lots of the hill country had been or are currently devoid of predators due to goat farming.
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Old 12-24-2020, 08:19 PM   #28
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Herd management and predators. Lots of the hill country had been or are currently devoid of predators due to goat farming.
This is my opinion as well.
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Old 12-24-2020, 02:00 PM   #29
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Thatís something thatís odd to me.
If the nutrition is so much better in the south, why are the numbers not there like they are in the hill country? Surely if the nutrition was that off in the hill country the numbers should naturally be that much lower.
IF population is in fact lower in South Texas, then my guesses are water is much more of a limiting factor in South Texas compared to the hill country. Predation may be higher in remote South Texas as well
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Old 12-24-2020, 10:55 PM   #30
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IF population is in fact lower in South Texas, then my guesses are water is much more of a limiting factor in South Texas compared to the hill country. Predation may be higher in remote South Texas as well
What about East Texas? I would argue just as big, if not bigger deer can been found near Toledo Bend and Rayburn than down South. And plenty of water can be found in East Texas for obvious reasons.
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Old 12-25-2020, 12:39 AM   #31
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What about East Texas? I would argue just as big, if not bigger deer can been found near Toledo Bend and Rayburn than down South. And plenty of water can be found in East Texas for obvious reasons.
Deer in east Texas are generally thriving to a lesser degree because of tree cover. East Texas has much better soil and rainfall which leads to better potential, but that potential ends up producing tons of tree cover that reduces browse within reach of the deer. And generally areas that are cleared of tree cover are growing hay etc for cattle, which is useless to deer.
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Old 12-25-2020, 12:28 PM   #32
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Deer in east Texas are generally thriving to a lesser degree because of tree cover. East Texas has much better soil and rainfall which leads to better potential, but that potential ends up producing tons of tree cover that reduces browse within reach of the deer. And generally areas that are cleared of tree cover are growing hay etc for cattle, which is useless to deer.
East Texas suck! No deer here.
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Old 12-24-2020, 02:05 PM   #33
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Thatís something thatís odd to me.
If the nutrition is so much better in the south, why are the numbers not there like they are in the hill country? Surely if the nutrition was that off in the hill country the numbers should naturally be that much lower.
Lack of natural predators plays a major role. For example, in my county of Mills, we have few coyotes. This is because this is the meat goat capital of Texas and they get shot, trapped, poisoned, etc. Some areas of the hill country do have coyotes though. Another factor is the screw worm fly being eradicated in the 1960's and hill country herds have overpopulated since then.
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Old 12-24-2020, 02:07 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by SwampBuck View Post
Thatís something thatís odd to me.
If the nutrition is so much better in the south, why are the numbers not there like they are in the hill country? Surely if the nutrition was that off in the hill country the numbers should naturally be that much lower.
Higher Deer Numbers = Overbrowsing of Quality shrub/tree/forb species
Overbrowsing of Native Forage = less available high quality forage per animal

Deer density is the biggest issue in my opinion. If the hill country could get their numbers in check, then the quality would drastically improve. The biggest issue with that though is smaller parcels of land. If deer density was where it should be, then less deer per parcel, and most people would rather see a lot more deer than to have the opportunity to harvest a mature buck.

Also donít forget the hunter density difference between hill country and south Texas. A lot more bucks shot at younger ages across the board, since there are so many hunters. Everyone has to get their ďtrophyĒ and their ďcullĒ every season.

Lastly, predator numbers are a lot higher down south, so fawn survival suffers compared to the hill country. Predator numbers, along with drought, help keep deer density lower down south.
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Old 12-24-2020, 02:11 PM   #35
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Like mentioned, it's the nutrition. While it grows them bigger they also dumber

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Old 12-24-2020, 02:21 PM   #36
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Density leading to over grazing...McCulloch county is insane with density. Add in this year with drought and itís worse. This year Iíve seen way more does with babies still in tote than ever before...leads me to believe not enough bucks around to breed does and run off the babies.
Trying to do my part with doe harvest.
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Old 12-25-2020, 01:08 AM   #37
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While it grows them bigger they also dumber

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This couldnít be farther from the truth about the deer down south.
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Old 12-25-2020, 07:47 AM   #38
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This couldnít be farther from the truth about the deer down south.
Maybe easier to kill is a better?

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Old 12-25-2020, 11:18 AM   #39
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Maybe easier to kill is a better?

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I still strongly disagree. Maybe itís relative to individual experience. For me, the deer in South Texas are the smartest deer I have ever hunted. Especially when compared to the hill country. LF of course.
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Old 12-25-2020, 12:18 PM   #40
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I still strongly disagree. Maybe itís relative to individual experience. For me, the deer in South Texas are the smartest deer I have ever hunted. Especially when compared to the hill country. LF of course.
Anything is smart compared to a hill country deer.
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Old 12-24-2020, 02:29 PM   #41
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It can’t be nutrition alone. The deer in the golden triangle are just bigger skeletally. Their bones and skulls are larger. Deer in the Edwards plateau and Gulf coast are just smaller, skeletally.
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Old 12-24-2020, 03:41 PM   #42
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It canít be nutrition alone. The deer in the golden triangle are just bigger skeletally. Their bones and skulls are larger. Deer in the Edwards plateau and Gulf coast are just smaller, skeletally.
Bone structure is a product of nutrition over multiple generations. There was a great "common garden" experiment done in South Dakota that addressed this.

https://openprairie.sdstate.edu/etd/392/

Last edited by Longue Carabine; 12-24-2020 at 03:44 PM.
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Old 12-25-2020, 10:56 AM   #43
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Bone structure is a product of nutrition over multiple generations. There was a great "common garden" experiment done in South Dakota that addressed this.

https://openprairie.sdstate.edu/etd/392/
Without reading all of that, I can see how nutrition plays in a role in survival of the fittest where the healthiest, largest deer survive to produce more large, healthy deer. Over several generations, you would have a population of bigger deer. Small, unhealthy deer are more likely to succumb to malnutrition or fall victim to predators.
However, genetic factors largely account for the body size. You could take a bunch of Llano county fawns and drop them in a high fence in Webb county. At full maturity they would still not rival native South Texas bucks. Even when maximum body weight and antler size are achieved, genetics are a limiting factor, not just antlers but skeletally as well.
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Old 12-25-2020, 11:16 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by Sika View Post
Without reading all of that, I can see how nutrition plays in a role in survival of the fittest where the healthiest, largest deer survive to produce more large, healthy deer. Over several generations, you would have a population of bigger deer. Small, unhealthy deer are more likely to succumb to malnutrition or fall victim to predators.
However, genetic factors largely account for the body size. You could take a bunch of Llano county fawns and drop them in a high fence in Webb county. At full maturity they would still not rival native South Texas bucks. Even when maximum body weight and antler size are achieved, genetics are a limiting factor, not just antlers but skeletally as well.

Agreed, no different from Humans.


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Old 12-25-2020, 11:29 AM   #45
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Without reading all of that, I can see how nutrition plays in a role in survival of the fittest where the healthiest, largest deer survive to produce more large, healthy deer. Over several generations, you would have a population of bigger deer. Small, unhealthy deer are more likely to succumb to malnutrition or fall victim to predators.
However, genetic factors largely account for the body size. You could take a bunch of Llano county fawns and drop them in a high fence in Webb county. At full maturity they would still not rival native South Texas bucks. Even when maximum body weight and antler size are achieved, genetics are a limiting factor, not just antlers but skeletally as well.
The key to understanding this is something called epigenetics. Epigenetics can manifest in a single lifetime or over several generations, and to varying degrees in between. I will summarize what happened in South Dakota because it answers EXACTLY the question posed by this thread, and your hypothetical example. Whitetail deer in the black hills were small in comparison to the whitetail deer in the southeast of the state. So much so that many suspected they were different subspecies. So they designed an experiment to find out. They created two enclosures in the same place, one for a population of black hills deer and one for a population of southeast whitetails from SD. They lived in identical conditions, were fed identical feed, had no predation, etc. Within one generation, the size difference continued, but during the second generation the black hills deer began to close the gap, and by the third generation they were about the same size. There are two hypotheses about why this happened. Both could be true or just one of them may be true. The first is maternal nutrition. This theory says that the future potential off the offspring in adulthood is determined by how healthy the mother has been her entire life and the positive effects that imparts on the fetus. Each generation of lifelong excellent health contributes to added benefit (up to a plateau). The other theory is epigenetics, which are changes that your genes can exert on you IN RESPONSE to external stimuli. This can happen in many ways and diffent ways depending on species, but in this case it's all about size and cost vs benefit. If a deer lives in the black hills where nutrition is less abundant than the SE of the state, then it is disadvantageous to be big because big bodies are more expensive in terms of food. So being unable to keep a larger body well fed would lead to a less successful, fatigued, disease prone individual. So their genes regulate body size based on food available. And because it is a life or death commitment, the genes won't commit to dramatic size increases skeletally unless that increased nutrition has been consistently present over several generations.

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Old 12-24-2020, 02:48 PM   #46
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Wouldn’t nutrition lead to skeletal structure?

Natural over grazing seems the most logical, it’s just funny to me that the herd doesn’t naturally keep itself in check if nutrients/forage are so scarce. Not to mention general bag limits are more generous.
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Old 12-24-2020, 03:08 PM   #47
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One area has quality dirt and the other has limestone rock. There’s a reason the deer in Iowa are huge - great dirt.
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Old 12-24-2020, 03:22 PM   #48
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Interesting thread...opinios all over the place.......following
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Old 12-24-2020, 04:06 PM   #49
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Plants with 20+% protein, larger safer areas to reach maturity, and better longer established management and feeding practices.
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Old 12-24-2020, 08:48 PM   #50
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I generally always just thought it was the soil fertility providing in high nutritional value to all the browse they have down south. Great to hear everyoneís opinions tho


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