Hunter Responsibility For Deer Density?

Discussion in 'Deer Hunting' started by SwampCat, Jun 24, 2018.

  1. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

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    Coming from someone who would like to to see greater deer density, my management involves increasing fawning habitat, removing predators, and not shooting any does. I own 300 acres and there are four of us who hunt it. Our zone allows the harvest of four does each. If we killed four does each, in a couple years we would not have any deer left. I am unable to comprehend high deer densities because I have never experienced it. Those of you living with high deer densities - how does it get that way - especially in areas of liberal anterless bag limits? Do the hunters just choose to ignore the problem and let it go. In my experience, it is much easier to reduce the herd than grow the herd. We never kill the number of deer we would like to for annual consumption. From my perspective - a lot of the hunters complaining about too many deer have the power to change that - but elect not to. It is a foreign concept to me. How does it get to that point?
     
  2. KyDeerSteward

    KyDeerSteward Member

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    Interesting issue. Where I hunt, it's not an issue. Where I live, it's bad enough that there already essentially no limit, but if the current proposed changes are approved by the legislature, bonus tags will be for 15 deer and there will be a September gun doe weekend, just two of about 15 proposed changes.

    A lot of people blame urban sprawl for loss of habitat. For whitetail, it's a food mecca. A world of EDGE, nice mix of woods and tasty landscaping. But really, hunters may play a part, but the biggest issue is hunter access. Just too many places for deer to eat and hide with too few places.

    Case in point, Anchorage, KY. If not THE worse, it's up there, deer/vehicle collision rates. Loads of rural acreage. Always complain about the deer/vehicle collisions, yet despite the Kentucky constitution that guarantees the right to hunt, cities like this have banned any type of weapon that fires a projectile (like a bow and arrow). So in the end, there is no access.
     
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  3. Triple C

    Triple C Well-Known Member

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    Swampcat...I have a good friend that owns a great piece of property about an hour from Hot Springs. Great duck and deer habitat. Assuming you can't be too far from him. From what I saw when I visited his place was great potential for deer. I've got about the same amount of land as you and would certainly think that you can manage to carrying capacity on 300 acres, given time and good habitat. I feel like we're close and like you, we don't shoot many doe. GA allows for 10 antlerless and 2 antlered deer with a very long firearms season. Reality is that hardly anyone and no one that I know comes close to filling their tags by choice. But, it does provide for a wide range of harvest manipulation by property due to the liberal bag limits. I'm not surrounded by trigger happy clubs so that certainly helps. But, I feel like great habitat and trigger control will allow for a healthy deer population on a 300 acre tract of land.
     
  4. FL Plotter

    FL Plotter Well-Known Member

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    Do you have good nutrition in your area? We have low nutrition (poor soil and no agriculture) so our does have to be older to fawn and when they fawn, they rarely have more than one. Very little twinning and no triplets. Due to extensive plotting (about 10 acres) we have seen a few more twins in the past couple of years.

    On 1200 acres, our 4 members take 2 does or less total annually over 10 years, and we still don't have a density problem! Last year we took 3 total, and this year I am upping it to 6 as we are seeing 6+ fawns each year (knowing 50% of them are buck fawns). This should keep our numbers at about 30 does on 1200 acres (2 square miles).
     
  5. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

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    In my area - it is definately harvest of does and maybe predation. I know of a big club or two that has an excess of does - strictly because they choose not to shoot them and then gripe about having too many deer. We understand that we dont shoot does on our property so that others around us can do it. I can see how deer in urban areas can get overpopulated - but I just dont really understand it on hunting ground other than hunters choose to let it happen. I have a neighbor who only allows limited buck hunting on 100 acres of his 1200 acres - yet he is still not covered up with deer - and he has not allowed hunting for years on that 1000 acres. I actually have a satisfactory number of deer on my 300 acres because I offer so much food and it attracts them - but those deer do not stay on my place and are subject to harvest by many other hunters. I have a friend who owns 300 acres in Burke county Ga - plants all kinds of stuff, great cover - and struggles to see a deer. I just think if we had an excess of deer on my place - or around my place - we would kill the does until there wasnt a problem.
     
  6. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

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    We have no ag, but a good site index. We used to have a lot more deer ten years ago before the antlerless harvest was liberalized.
     
  7. MarkDarvin

    MarkDarvin Well-Known Member

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    It's harder to get guys to shoot does when they know there are big bucks running around, especially if they don't eat venison. Frankly, I think most people don't know how to prepare venison, so they only shoot one, and end up throwing that away as the next season approaches.

    Where I hunt, expectations are so low for quality, people measure success in simply shooting a deer. That leads to fierce pressure on whatever animals are there. Nothing walks away in my country.
     
  8. X-farmerdan

    X-farmerdan Well-Known Member

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    High deer density?
    What is that number?

    How does it get that way? Keep hunters out! Luck. Some management. Extremely attractive habitat. A fence (don't yell at me)? And, an understanding that just because the legal limit is 10 doesn't mean you need to kill that many. If there's not the understanding (both inside and outside your little area) then the number of days and/or the legal harvest limit must be reduced. Three hundred acres doesn't give you much opportunity to do anything but hope for luck. Now, that's not to say your management activity might attract a couple more deer from the neighbors yard, but the population density in "your" management area is still the same. The management area - I think its about the size of the range of a whitetail deer. Minimum of a square mile....maybe two. We can go thru the logic if you wish. Tell me the number of deer killed in your county in Arkansas and the number of acres of whitetail habitat and the composition of that habitat. Something ya' just gotta live with.
     
  9. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

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    I understand why I have what I have on my place. I just dont understand in this day of liberal antlerless regulations - why do hunters let the deer populations get so high. I read references of fifty and sixty deer per mile. I just dont see that possibility where I live as long as we have liberal antlerless regulations.
     
  10. j-bird

    j-bird Well-Known Member

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    I feel hunters have some impact on it, while hunter access is another part of it.

    You can't kill deer you can't get to.
    You can't pass every deer and then complain about too high a density.
    You can't kill every one you see and complain about too low a density.
    I also don't think raising or lowering the density is an easier thing to do...simply because it takes a group effort. I think this is important. We tend to think of our properties as islands and tend to forget that the deer are a public resource and just because I shoot many or only a few doesn't mean my neighbors are doing the same. You get Your neighbors on board....then you can make a difference. The direction of your DNR has an impact as well.

    Many high deer density areas are because there is some mechanism in place to limit the hunters ability to control their numbers. Residential areas that are limited to archery and dealing with neighbors and the like. Or some areas simply encourage the over inflation but choosing to not shoot the does OR the area is so difficult to access. In any case there is a reason. I have been begged with to go and kill deer in Cincinnati.....however, I am not paying $100+ a deer tag (as I would be out of state), I'm not driving an hour to hunt deer and most importantly I'm not going thru the headache of dealing with all the neighbors when I shoot one and it runs across 3 or 4 properties and either gets hit by a car or dies in someones back yard next to little Jimmy's swing set. As a hunter it isn't worth that nor the image I potentially paint of other hunters. I know of rural landowners that refuse to allow hunters access yet shoot deer on depredation permits all summer or even illegally gut-shoot them so they die in the woods. All because they have had poor encounters with hunters in the past. Some simply own wooded properties and don't understand or care what too many deer mean and still refuse to allow hunters access. In my state 95% of the land is privately owned. That essentially means how that land it actually managed is up to the property owner. The DNR can't make you kill deer and they can't make you allow hunting. Some are learning that deer are now something of value and now leasing is showing up more and more. Not sure that is a good or a bad thing yet, but that "value" has changed the mindset of some folks regarding access.
     
  11. Drycreek

    Drycreek Well-Known Member

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    All of the above.......

    I hunt four different places. Two I own, one I lease, one I hunt by invitation. I tell everybody it's so I don't pressure the deer, and that's somewhat true, but I think it's mainly because I like different scenarios. The only place that has what I would call "high deer density " is the one by invitation.

    The way I determine this is by camera and how long my iron clay peas last and how short my wheat is. :) At home, only 80 acres, we don't see lots of deer, but enough to take one buck and sometimes a doe per season. It depends on camera count and observation. Only myself and my son hunt it, and seldom at the same time.

    On my 217 acre place, we,(a friend and I), do the same thing. Camera count and observation. Some years we kill a buck, some years we kill two. Usually only two does a year, but sometimes only one.

    On the lease, which I share with three others, I killed my first buck in three years just last season. I won't kill a buck that I judge to be less than 4.5 and that was the first one I had a chance at. Two of the guys kill anything legal, my friend and myself don't kill does there at all, because there are just not enough deer. It's mainly pine plantation and there's not that much to eat.

    The last place, the invitation one, is 16,000 acres and we have 2,500 of it. My iron clay peas lasted six weeks there last year before they were wiped out. My wheat looks like a carpet every fall. Nevertheless I see multiple deer (different does and bucks) every sit in that wheat. That's high deer density to me.

    So, to me, the answer is, trigger (or string) control. We eat three or four deer per year at my house, usually give one each to my daughters if we can, and spreading it around is the only way I can bring that much meat home and not hurt the resource. I know not everyone is that fortunate, and if I weren't, I'd just have to buy more beef !
     
  12. Bullwinkle

    Bullwinkle Active Member

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    Pretty easy with 300 acres to create a doe factory

    I’d put 15-20 acres in full season food. Something good all year

    Make the core 200 acres or so a sanctuary. Leave it for the deer

    Don’t shoot does

    Make sure you don’t have predators and thick fawning/bedding area

    Make sure you have water

    Your population should expand quickly
     
  13. Bullwinkle

    Bullwinkle Active Member

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    BTW. Once you have a good deer population you’ll never want to go back. The game is so much different and more enjoyable
     
  14. g squared 23

    g squared 23 Well-Known Member

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    It's probably a combination of ego (no one wants to see a picture of a "little one" on Facebook) and denial; some guys who are in obvious high density counties will swear they are not because they equate success to seeing a bunch of antlerless deer. There could be a browse line 6 feet high, and some guys will claim the high densities are only in "pockets". Olympic level mental gymnastics can justify any course of action, or lack thereof.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  15. shaman

    shaman Member

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    I've got 200 acres in the Trans-Bluegrass of Kentucky-- Zone 1 in SW Bracken County. Our area is crawling with deer.

    For us, it's been being in the right place at the right time. All the farmers around here took the big Tobacco pay-out and either split, or converted to beef cattle. There is a lot of fallow farms, and unused acreage that make perfect deer habitat. If you're looking for THE BIG ANSWER in all this, that's it. We have an over-abundance of habitat, so we have a corresponding overabundance of deer.

    The #1 thing we did was limit hunter access to the place. When we arrived, the place was like an unofficial WMA. Everybody hunted it. The previous owners could not have cared less. I spent 2 years chasing people off.

    Deer density is high, and hunter density is also. I once figured one deer hunter per 20 acres in the surrounding area. The place two our north had 8 hunters on 100 acres. We have had no more than 4 on 200 acres. Up until recently, we didn't use ATV's. The deer all run over to our place during season.

    While I have used all sorts of methods, the cheapest and easiest have probably been the most effective. Letting the edges of fields fill up with voluntee red cedar seem to be an effective way to attract doe. You can do all sorts of things on your property, but if the habitat is reasonable nearby, your doe Nirvana is just going to produce deer that filter out into the surroundings. WIthout high fences, you have to be content with that reality.

    So how does it get to an over-abundance of deer?

    Guys can only take so many deer before their freezers fill. Increasing bag limits and lengthening seasons only work so far. In SW Bracken County, there is a LOT of shooting going on. I hear 3 shot strings per minute from my stand on The Rifle Opener. It's like WW III out there. However, the deer keep coming.

    Predators? Predators have an effect on the population, but they're kind of a pissn'-in-the-wind proposition to control. You need to take out 70% of the population every year to have any kind of real effect.

    Some things to consider:

    1) How affluent is your county? I know counties in Kentucky that are in Zone 4 (the most restrictive bag limits and seasons) that have plenty of deer, but have poor participation in Telecheck. Poorer counties have people that need food, but can't afford to play by the rules. I used to hunt in a Zone 4 county. I got my tips from a guy who made his living filling your freezer for $15

    2) Poaching is a real problem, even in a Zone 1 county. I had a couple of neighbors that decimated my deer population over about 3 years. They finally got tossed out, and the deer came back. It took about 3 years after they left to get things back the way they were. Control access to your property and control the deer population.

    3) Baiting. I'm not a bait bigot. I tried supplemental feeding, and I didn't find it very cost effective. My one neighbor baited for over a decade-- spent $700 annually on corn. He moved out last year, and the number of buck and doe sightings skyrocketted on our place. The deer were all going over to his place at night and filling up. Now they're back to their normal crepuscular habits.

    4) Deer seem to have a high tolerance for humans doing regular human things. I've taken the most big bucks on our place within 200 yards of my family's campground on the back of the property. We've camped there as late as October. They have a low tolerance for obvious hunting behaviors.

    5) My best hunting buddy had triple bypass and now rides an ATV to the stand. It DOES change a lot. When he comes out at night, the woods come alive with deer running hither and thither. Deer don't like ATV's and bikes. They seem to largely ignore trucks and cars. On The Opener, it's an absolute wonder to be up in a stand an hour before legal hunting. About 10 minutes before legal hunting starts, The Orange Army cranks up their ATV's and putt-putts up to their stand. The deer respond by running over to our property. It's quite a spectacle.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2018
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  16. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

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    I actually have a reasonable number of deer that I ATTRACT to my property. But, I also realize that I am only borrowing those deer and they are available for viewing but not killing. I have a neighbor who owns ten acres. He has a corn feeder on it and allows each of his three grandkids to shoot a doe. We havent shot one in five years off my 300 acres and he has killed at least 15 off his ten acres. I know the deer dont stay on my property 24/7. I know others around my property kill does - so we dont - so that they may. I cant do anything about what they do - I can only do something about what I do. I am doing all I can realistically do to produce, attract, protect, and hold deer on my land
     
  17. Bullwinkle

    Bullwinkle Active Member

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    Good food plots and security should beat a high pressure 10 acre killing bait pile any day. Get more candy plots and plant corn too

    I have the same thing around me with illegal baits. Actually love them. Yes they pick off a doe or small buck but they fill their tags and are done. Very rarely do they get a 3+ year old. They help control the does. At some point you’ll appreciate that

    Hopefully you have good perimeter access. A key easy measure to see if your winning the pressure game - when you bump a deer on the property line does it run into your sanctuary or the neighbors.

    You should be able to keep most of the deer on your 300 acres if you design it right and hunt it right. During high pressure days like opening day, the deer should flock into your property because they know it’s safe
     
  18. Bullwinkle

    Bullwinkle Active Member

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    One thing I’d have on my short list, if I was you, is the absolute best food in the neighborhood. Best chemistry, best diversity giving a high quality option every day of the year.

    How many acres of plots do you have? I have 18 and the deer eat them all each year. If your plots are in the core of your land, the does should bed within 200 yards never having to go to your neighbors 10 acres till after dark

    I’d also make sure I had a well used trail right on the property line to that 10 acres and shoot all my does there. Never in the core of your land
     
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  19. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

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    I have 13 scres of soybeans, i plant the 13 acres of beans in wheat come fall. I have another seven acres wheat/clover and two more acres of just wheat and four acres of clover. - that in a normal year. I also have five acres of sunflowers for doves - but the deer feed on them, also.

    My property is rather long and narrow - 1.5 miles long. I have food plots near both ends and 90% of the bucks visit plots on both ends - sometimes a few hours apart - so I dont have any false notions that the deer are staying on me. I have water all over the property and thick cover. But so does everyone else. I dont think the bucks are as bad to visit the corn piles - I think it is more the does - and that is the problem. Nobody else in the area plants a food plot and there is no ag - other than cattle.

    We dont shoot any does. My property is fairly narrow. Not a lot of places where a deer has to walk over 200-300 yards to be on a neighbor. Public land adjacent to one side. Doe shooting neighbor not the only neighbor with a feeder. Five month either sex archery season and about 55 days antlerless firearms season
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2018
  20. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

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    This post wasnt intended so much about how to increase deer density as it was questioning how the deer densities are allowed to get so high. I plant enough food to attract a good many deer. I see deer most hunts - but I realize a lot of these deer are coming from off my property - creating a false sense of higher deer densities. Four of us hunt my land. If we killed our legal limit of four does each - in a couple of years, we would have very few deer. If we had a high deer density, we would be glad to kill our 12 does. As it is - we dont kill one.

    My question is - those hunters with a deer density considered to be too high - why do they allow that? If I needed to remove 60 deer off my 300 acres - I know plenty of folks with plenty of deer tags that would come help - once we ran out of tags. To me - just as important as it is to try to increase or maintain a reasonable deer population - there is a responsibility to decrease the herd if the density gets too high. With liberal limits and seasons - I cant see the deer density increasing to a point it would be considered “too high” in my area. The only way I could see that happening is if the regulations changed to reduce the doe harvest.
     

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