Deer Management

1) The dressed body weight of deer changes each year per each age class depending on food resources available per deer. In others words, if we were to compile the data from deer harvest from the past three years and the information revealed that the average body weight of 1 ½ year old deer were consistently decreasing each year, we would conclude that there was not as much food resources available per deer. The following year the recommendation would be to harvest a higher number of deer.

2) Checking to see if the does are lactating is also important. When deer herds get closer to healthier numbers (or populations) their reproduction rates goes up. To state this more clearly, they make more babies.

Doe and Fawn

3) Antler measurements on deer can be more difficult to understand. The reason for taking antler measurements is to find a correlation between antler size and at each age class. As deer populations begin to reach healthier numbers, there should be an increase in antler size and within each age class.

4) Population counts are also important to help determine buck to doe ratios. A buck to doe ratio of 1:1 is a strong indicator that the total deer number (or population) is approaching the desired management level. You might ask, “Why it this ratio important in the management of the deer herd?”

There are two reasons that this is important.

        a) First, when the buck to doe ratio is close to 1:1 the dominant bucks will run off the inferior bucks during the rutting season. The doe will only be bred by the stronger dominant bucks which improves gene quality and the health of overall herd.

        b) Secondly, all the doe are bred at the same time. When the buck to doe ratio is off the doe are bred over a larger time frame because it is taking longer for fewer bucks to breed them. This will cause the doe to birth the new fawn recruitment over a longer period of time. The extended time for breeding increases the number fawns lost to predation. If all the fawns on the Pine Bluff Arsenal are birthed at roughly the same time predators, such as coyotes, might get one or two of them before they can walk or run but, very quickly all of them become capable of escaping predation at the same time. However, if the does are bred over a longer period of time they will also give birth to the fawns over a longer period of time and the amount of predation increases because the deer that the predators can catch are available for longer periods.

In conclusion, by simply observing the length of time that it takes for all the does to give birth to the new recruitment of deer on the Pine Bluff Arsenal we can make some pretty solid conclusions pointing toward our current buck to doe ratio and the overall health of the deer herd.