Wildlife Management Basics

Improved Habitat + Selective Harvest = Quality Deer

  1. Populations of domestic livestock, exotic big game and white-tailed deer must be maintained at levels determined by the available food supply. All animals existing on the range should have adequate food available to prevent nutritional stress.

  2. A good deer management program can be conducted in conjunction with a well-managed livestock operation. Cattle can be an asset to a deer management program when proper stocking rates and deferred rotation grazing systems are used.

  3. Managing a deer herd requires effectively manipulating a population of deer. This may require a large tract of land under a single ownership. Alternately, a cooperative deer management program can be initiated between landowners working together to manage deer. The least desirable option is confining a herd with a deer-proof fence.

  4. Annual deer herd inventory and proper record keeping are essential to implementing a deer management program. Data must be gathered pertaining to deer density, buck-to-doe ratios, percent fawn crop and percentage of spike bucks.

  5. Records must be maintained on all harvested animals including age, field-dressed weights, antler measurements and incidence of lactation. This will permit the setting of objectives and the measurement of progress.

  6. If management by sex ratio is desired at an early stage, ratios of 1:2.5 or 1:2 are reasonable. Total number of deer should be maintained at or below carrying capacity.

  7. The incidence of spike bucks in the yearling age class should decrease markedly as range conditions improve. Spikes should be calculated as part of the buck herd, but spike bucks should not be protected. We recommend removing spikes and protecting the branch-antlered yearlings.

  8. Range: plants should be monitored periodically to determine the effects of livestock, exotics and white-tailed deer on native vegetation. See Appendices B and C for a list of important plants.