Deer surveys remain popular despite weaknesses


Well-Known Member
Several years ago we explained in depth a common problem of bias with trail cam surveys and were essentially discredited. Well, science can be slow to catch up with valid observations, but at some point the truth comes to the surface. Enjoy pics but scrutinize carefully estimates of herd estimates.....a little common sense goes a long way!

Research has shown that bucks use bait stations at a higher proportion than does and fawns, so camera surveys underestimate the doe and fawn populations. In general, camera surveys underestimate the total deer population.
I live on a game fenced farm and spend lots of time on it observing the deer. We run cameras most of the year, hunt the property extensively, and have lots of openings for observation. We have attempted trail camera surveys as well as hunter surveys all trying to get a handle on population. With all that any estimate we make on population is purely an educated guess. Of most value we look at pressure on the habitat and food plots, compare protein consumption year to year, then make a swag on harvest theory. Never works out perfectly but over time is directionally correct.
Exactly.....presence of preferred forages, availability and growth character of preferred forages over time, and animal conformation/body condition tell the true tale of the balance between animal density and landscape productivity. The balance is in constant flux also and in most situations density cannot be reduced when needed.