Deer Management: To Shoot or Not to Shoot

Have you ever been in a room full of people where a topic comes up and immediately blood pressures rise, tempers get flared, and forehead veins start bulging? Its topics like these that most tend to shy away from in fear of the reaction it may cause. For some, deer management is one of those topics. When a 2 or 3 year old doe walks out in front of you, do you let her pass or do you fill your tag…Do you take your barely legal bucks or do you allow them to grow?

I’ll never forget the time that deer management was brought up to my dad during a Christmas party that my parents hosted in their country home nestled in the middle of 60 acres of thick Pennsylvania woods. You could’ve heard his reaction from miles away. Needless to say, the topic didn’t go over well. My dad grew up living off the land. He hunted and fished not only for the passion and thrill of it, but as a means to survive. In his eyes, killing a young doe could potentially take 3 deer off the property for the next year. I grew up learning everything I know from my Dad and was taught that antler size didn’t compare to putting food on the table. At the time, deer management was less than an afterthought.

Now that Gene and I have our deer lease in Hays County, Texas (argued by some to have the highest population of deer per acre) we have been faced with the topic of Deer Management. In our situation we have 32 acres in a suburban location, where it’s nothing for us to see 20+ deer in one trip. We have plenty of deer that range from fawns to post prime. Some Wildlife Biologists that we spoke to recommend that we harvest as many deer as legally possible on this property in order to try to control the deer population. When it comes to Deer Management, we are somewhere in the middle. We’d love to harvest a mature buck that would score 160+, but due to the over population and lack of nourishment we know that growth is not possible without management. We will only see a buck that size if we give less deer more nutrients.

Deer Management is not a one size fits all program. It’s a program that’s tailored to each individual property and hunter’s style. We prefer to grow bigger deer; therefore we have to do our best to manage the population. Other people want to see 50+ deer because it makes them feel good about their deer herd. So, the next time you go out hunting… to shoot or not to shoot?

Feb 07, 2014 | Category: Ashley's Corner, Blog, Conservation, Deer hunting | Comments: none


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