From Whitetail Properties
There are lots of news articles and state agency reports coming out about declining deer populations and harvest rates in several states. Some of these declines are reported in powerhouse deer hunting states like Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio and more.
While your hunting skills and luck play a major role in harvesting big bucks, neither will bring back your deer herd to record levels. Simple math and science can speed up the recovery and here’s how you do it.
The 100-acre Example
Let’s say you hunt on 100 acres. And let’s say 20 deer live on your land. Each year on average, you harvest 4 deer. Now you’re at 16. Predators, weather, vehicle accidents, natural causes, etc. average another 5 mortalities. Now you’re at 11 deer. Let’s say 5 of those 11 are bucks and the other 6 are does. When fawning season comes, let’s say 5 of those 6 does have twin fawns – the other doe has no fawn.
5 does + 10 fawns + 1 doe + 5 bucks means you’re back to 21 deer. Near your average.
The scenario above is your average year. It’s not the exact same every year, but it’s close. You are happy with the 4 deer you kill each year and things are going great.
Now, let’s introduce EHD (Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease) to your deer like we saw in widespread, record-setting levels in 2012 and even again in 2013 in some areas.
As usual, you have 20 deer. Like always, you kill 4 and the other factors kill 5. Business as usual. But now, EHD kills FIVE MORE deer including your two mature bucks. Instead of 11 total deer like above, you only have 6 total deer heading into fawning season and 4 are does. They each have twins. Now your property has only 14 deer.
4 does + 8 fawns + 2 bucks = 14 deer
With just 14 deer, you enter the season with about 30% less than your normal deer population. You see fewer deer, have fewer opportunities to harvest deer and you don’t see a mature buck all year. Not knowing any better, you still kill 4 deer, like usual. Coyotes haven’t gone anywhere. Natural causes deaths haven’t gone anywhere. As usual, predators and natural causes kill 5 deer. Plus, EHD happened AGAIN in 2013. Let’s say EHD (not as bad as 2012) gets 2 deer. You started with 14. You killed 4. Predators and natural causes got 5. EHD got 2.
Do the math. You have 3 deer left on your property that usually supports 20.
This sounds awful right? Amazingly, there are hunters facing situations like the one above. There’s good news and bad news.
White-tailed deer are some of the most resilient creatures in the world. In just a year or two, they have the ability to reproduce quickly. Remember, most does have twin fawns. So deer can repopulate about twice as fast as humans. The other good news is that EHD is a disease that happens in pockets. Your hunting property may have taken a beating, but your neighbors down the road might not even have had a single deer die of EHD. So just because things are bleak on your 100 acres, doesn’t mean your county or region is nearly as bad. And we all know by habitat improvement, you can attract deer from surrounding areas. We’ve been dealing with EHD for years and deer will continue to bounce back as random outbreaks occur.
Read the rest of the article at Whitetail Properties