Deer Management, Herd Size and Sex Ratio

There are a lot of factors that come into play when one starts talking about whitetail deer management. Though many things can be done to manage a deer herd, there are 3 things that you should know before you start. Every landowner or hunter owner needs to determine the carrying capacity of the property, how many deer actually live on the property, and the buck to doe ratio.

The carrying capacity of a piece of land will vary from property to property. In fact, some properties can be the same size but have completely different deer carrying capacities. The number of deer that a property can support depends on the habitat (plant communities), annual rainfall, livestock stocking rates, and a few other factors. I would suggest contacting a local state biologist in your area. They can meet you on your property and give you an idea of the ideal deer herd size.

The next step will be to estimate the number of deer on the property. This is not an exact science because deer are wild animals that are difficult to count, but you can conduct deer surveys to get a very good estimate of the number of animals using the place. There are different kinds of deer surveys that can be conducted depending on the habitat found on the property, but common methods include helicopter counts, spotlight surveys, and blind counts. Each is better suited to certain situations.

Lastly, it will pay big dividends if you can determine the buck to doe ratio of the deer herd on your property. Luckily, this is not difficult to determine. In fact, this is one of the easiest things to determine about a deer herd. You can start by recording the number of bucks, does, and fawns that you see throughout the day. You can also randomly set out game cameras. Always collect this data during August and September of each year, when you can easily distinguish between bucks, does, and fawns.

If you can get information on carrying capacity, estimate the deer herd size, and determine the buck to doe ratio then you will be on the right track. Deer management can go a long ways towards improving your deer herd, but it will only work when done correctly. Before you pull the trigger, get the data you need to make an informed decision.

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