Re: 'Lots of reasons for bigger racked buck"
Like it or not, it's a side effect of AR. No one can reliably tell the genetic potential of a 1-1/2 year old buck that they don't know the breeding history of. They don't necessarily grow huge their first year since their nutrition is going to their skeletons.
I have trail cam pics of 1-1/2 year old 4-points and 6-points that live through the seasons, and these deer are noticeably longer and taller, body wise, in late December than they were in September. They grew a lot, just like some teenage boys go from 5' 10" to 6' 3" from age 15-1/2 to 17.
With AR protecting an entire age group of deer, then statistically there will be more older, and hence bigger, bucks in coming years.
This isn't to say that the "best" genetics make it through. Maybe they had a legal rack the first year and got killed. But it doesn't take a biology degree, or an endorsement from the PGC or USP to understand that an older buck who's skeletal frame is grown or mostly grown will divert more of the growth minerals to his rack as a 2-1/2 and beyond. And a statistician will tell you that odds are with more bucks living past 1-1/2, more will live to 2-1/2, 3-1/2, 4-1/2 and so on.
A closed mind keeps the truth out