Herd Management

Discussion in 'Native Habitat Management' started by Long Cut, Nov 10, 2020.

  1. Long Cut

    Long Cut New Member

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    I see a lot of guys preaching TSI, Prescribed Fires, food plots etc...

    But how many of y’all utilize trail camera surveys, weight every deer and pull every jaw bone of deer killed?

    A biologist walked our property back in September and bluntly told me that we can start planting food plots this year, but recommend we kill 6-12 deer before doing much worhigh deer numbers.
     
  2. BenAllgood

    BenAllgood Active Member

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    Back when I was managing 2,100 acres I did that, but not now that I'm only dealing with 41. I don't take enough deer each year to evaluate trends and such anymore.

    Before the biologist would recommend numbers, they did a comprehensive browse survey at different sites on the property. 200 acres in one spot could stand to have 20 deer taken while 2000 acres could only have that number or less taken. It all depends on the habitat quality and the number of deer it can support.
     
  3. Long Cut

    Long Cut New Member

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    We bought a piece of a Quail/Deer plantation in Middle GA. Only 65 acres but we’re surrounded by golf courses, cattle farms and other plantations.. so while our property in itself isn’t massive, it’s high quality habitat along with a good bit of the land around us.

    65 acres is a drop in the bucket for a Whitetails range, but if I can get the neighbors on board with a QDM oriented Co-Op, we all should be in pretty good shape.

    Any reason why you haven’t bothered doing that on 41 acres? I feel like you can still track deer weights/ages to see if your hard work over time has made any impacts?
     
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  4. BenAllgood

    BenAllgood Active Member

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    Congrats on your property purchase! Managing for quail and deer can compliment each other well.

    Co-ops are a great tool. The property I used to manage, we had almost 30,000 acres enrolled in our co-op. It was amazing to share pics and info and see some of the same bucks travelling 2 miles away. But, I like the smaller property better because I can more intensively manage it and do more scalpel type sculpting. Plus, it's mine, and I can't lose it like a lease. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that if you don't own the property you're hunting on, you will lose it at some point.

    I don't really have a great reason for not tracking herd statistics. I probably should start doing a better job of that. It doesn't take nearly as much effort as habitat work. I do track every deer sighting and location and kill though on a map with HuntStand. I really like that app for just the info collection aspects.
     
  5. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

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    I do all of it. I have had trained deer biologists come to my place and provide recommendations on how to manage. I am also a trained biologist - and worked for the Feds in Nat Res Management for 34 years - so I dont feel to bad saying this. I think a lot - surely not all - “trained” biologists are a fairly condescending bunch.

    I see it as very difficult for someone who is not intimately familiar with the property, surrounding properties, local hunter habits, local landowners views on hunting, predator density and type, prey density and type, landowner intentions - and the list goes on. To be honest, buying my own property twenty years has added more to my management knowledge than anything else I have done.
     
  6. Baker

    Baker Well-Known Member

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    We do all that. My knee jerk reaction is to get a new biologist. Its all but impossible to manage a deer herd on 65 acres. Manage habitat to influence deer movement , yes Grow food plots and have fun, yes. Create a great spot to hunt yes. Depending on what the neighbors are doing, can you catch a mature buck from time to time , certainly possible. But unless a thousand or two acres around you are on board impacting the overall herd that passes in and out of your property and truly impacting herd dynamics is highly unlikely.
     
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  7. Buckly

    Buckly Well-Known Member

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    Couldn’t agree more with the last 2 comments
     
  8. Elkaddict

    Elkaddict Well-Known Member

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    i completely agree. Other than keeping a few doe groups on your place with reliable plots and cover, it is not possible to have any meaningful management. I’ve got 207 acres and while I’ve improved numbers with plots and extensive hinge cuts and hunt low pressure, all we’ve really done is provided the neighbors/trespassers with better hunting than this area has ever been had. There is no meaningful way for me to improve genetics. All I can do is improve the age structure of my homebody deer, and those that come visiting when the rut hits. In 6 years, we’ve never taken our top target bucks...but the neighbors do.
     
  9. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

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    Around my neck of the woods, there are two commandments for killing a target buck - out bait thy neighbor, and kill them early in season.

    I have a little over 300 acres. We kill 1/3 of the target bucks, the neighbors kill 1/3, and 1/3 live to dropping antlers - and most of those never show up the following year. What works best for me - making sure I have lots of does year round, and more year round food plots than anyone else. I want bucks to make my place their kitchen.
     
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  10. Chainsaw

    Chainsaw Well-Known Member

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    Well put Swamp Cat! Your formula though you are in a different part of the country than here may just be the best bet for our area as well. Baiting per se is out as it is not legal and I’m glad for that. Having the most all inclusive secluded food available as much of the year as possible running along outstanding sanctuary cover seems to work here to get a few bucks to the age we want to hunt them. And while it is likely impossible for us to influence genetic makeup of the “herd” it appears evident that by luck or design that genetic expression can be completely changed for the better as we are seeing it happen here. Although 230 plus bushel corn farmwide happens in this area showing that our soil is not so bad, we are not the Midwest and do not grow Midwest antlers. However antler sizes here have risen substantially over the last half dozen plus years.

    And shooting our bucks early as you are doing may be the right prescription for us as well;It is a lot less intrusive than hunting throughout November. And of course more target bucks are alive in October than November. And yes the neighbors, both goods ones and bad ones get to cash in on our hard work also and that is just the way it is.
     
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  11. Mennoniteman

    Mennoniteman Well-Known Member

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    We keep records, but I don't pull jawbones, we take a top down picture of the lower jawbone. With a little practice you can tell the deer's age from the picture. The basics of teeth aging are, start at tooth 4, if the dentine is narrower than the enamel it's 2.5. If the tooth 4 dentine is wider than the enamel it's 3.5. If the tooth 5 dentine is wider than the enamel it's 4.5. If the tooth 6 dentine is wider than the enamel it's 5.5.

    Whitetail deer herd management is a fickle thing. Food, Cover, Population, Age, Predators, Genetics, Neighbors, and Available Tags. All play an important role in a managed whitetail property, and only food and cover and maybe age structure are easily changed. However, there's one more, what might well be one of the most important factors, and a pretty difficult one to change.
    Quoting an Outdoor Life 2016 article; "antlers are made of soil. One needs to only overlay a soils map on a Boone & Crockett record book map to see the connection between soil and antlers. Watch a deer sometime. Anytime he is on his feet (other than the rut) he is pretty much eating. He eats on his way to dinner and on the way back to his secure bedding areas. He eats when he is hanging out in social areas and when he gets up to take a stretch. He chews his cud when he beds and occasionally sleeps. That’s why native vegetation is so important to a deer’s development."

    So what am I trying to say? I can't change the most important thing to grow big antlers, the quality of the dirt in my woods, and I'm not going to lie awake at night worrying about it. We need to manage our properties to the degree that we can find time for, and afford, and not sweat what's beyond our control.
    I'm to set in my ways to put up with paying good money to a biologist or forester to help manage my land, because I want to have that fun myself. Researching, planning, and managing my land is part of what I enjoy, and furthermore, my experience has been that every biologist/ forestry expert has a hobby horse that's overemphasized at the expense of all the other management things that could be done.

    While there's important areas that cannot be changed, a balanced approach will get you the highest rate of return for your input.
     
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  12. Long Cut

    Long Cut New Member

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    Thanks for the responses guys!

    We’ve been fortunate to kill 4 deer off the property so far, 2 mature bucks, mature doe and a buddy shot a button buck accidentally.

    My biggest objective now is to find our herd density and see where we are at in regards to food. I want the overall area to hold enough food, so that our fawn bearing does get everything they need during pregnancy.

    I’m not sure if y’all have heard of Fetal Programming, but it’s become a big talk with MSU Deer Lab and many other deer breeders. Layman’s terms, the developing fawns growth plates, etc can be imagined like circles. Ample food for pregnant does, the “circle” is wide open and allows for limitless fetal & adult growth, if the environment allows. If the nursing doe goes without enough food or minerals, The Law of Minimums come into play, and this “circle” becomes smaller and the fawns future growth is permanently limited.

    I’m sure Dr Bronson or many others can explain it a lot better than myself, but needless to say I’m really focusing on managing our local herd numbers.

    While I cannot control my soil type or quality, herd genetics or neighbors... I can control my habitat and herd density (to an extent on 65 acres).
     
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  13. BenAllgood

    BenAllgood Active Member

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    You're definitely going to need a large co-op if you want to delve into better fetal programming. It takes a large area just because of the ranges of deer. If you're going down that road, also consider picking up their (Dr. Strickland and Dr. Demarais) book on Amazon about buck harvest strategies. https://www.amazon.com/Strategic-Harvest-System-Through-Management/dp/1973235609 But, it is going to take a large area and everyone being on board. That or a fence.
     
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  14. Long Cut

    Long Cut New Member

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    Already have it!

    I’m really banking on a successful Co-Op, if not I’ll just focus on creating habitat that’s favorable for mature deer
     
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  15. BenAllgood

    BenAllgood Active Member

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    That's what I do now. I bought in an area that already was producing bucks in the caliber I wanted. Now, I'm just making that property into the place where a buck could thrive and feel safe during daylight in season and not get shot, so hopefully, he can move to the next age class.

    I've done the co-op thing too, and it does work, but you're very dependent on others.
     
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  16. Drycreek

    Drycreek Well-Known Member

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    All I own now is the 80 acres where I live, and only so much can be accomplished with a property that a deer can cross in ten minutes. I grow three food plots spring and fall, provide mineral licks, feed corn from September until March, and have one protein feeder. We kill no does and only one buck per year, sometimes none. We make sure that buck is 3.5 years or older no matter what kind of rack he has. I’m not much into antlers, I just like to hunt and we eat lots of venison. I think my “management” plan is spot on for me.
     
  17. OkieKubota

    OkieKubota Moderator Staff Member

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    Pretty much the same here except trying for 4.5 or older on our 90. My last several bucks I have taken Here have ranged from 4.5 to 8.5 yrs of age. I have no protein feeders but I do have the nicest clover for miles and the property is loaded with white oak and some red oak. This year my grandson who is 14 killed a very nice 5.5 yr old but by trail camera surveys unless 1 buck I have a lot of history comes back or something completely new shows up then no more bucks will be taken. I still hunt when conditions are right but mostly I am just an observer...
     
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  18. Drycreek

    Drycreek Well-Known Member

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    Okie I had a lot of nice white oaks before the drought of 2011. I lost over half of the best white oaks the next two years. I have some young ones coming on but I surely do miss those big ones I lost.
     
  19. j-bird

    j-bird Well-Known Member

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    I wish you luck with the co-op.... Successful co-op are very difficult to find. You will find those that put a lot of money and time into their property and watch the neighbors kill "their" deer. That tends to create some tension....

    65 acres...you don't need a biologist. You simply need some common sense. You need low pressure hunting with perimeter access, a few kill plots and a core with lots of cover, security and native browse. Hunt the edges and enjoy what the good lord sends your way. If your after 170" deer....go hunt where those deer are.

    Too many folks get wrapped up in trying to manage their property like they are 2,000 acre islands....and we just don't have those resources.
     
  20. Cedar Ridge

    Cedar Ridge Active Member

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    SwampCat,

    If I hadn’t seen your post first, my comment would have been verbatim what you said except I only have 231 acres. Other than that, I’ve had almost this exact same experience and my plans most certainly mirror yours.
     
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