Last Thursday we touched on using the weights of harvested deer to manage your herd. The Quality Deer Management Association posted an excellent article on their website by Robert Smith, a certified wildlife biologist, that explains just how to do this. According to Smith “collecting deer harvest data helps hunters and managers make educated decisions about their deer herds. Good deer harvest records generally result in good management decisions, whereas poor or incomplete records often result in faulty decisions.” Smith suggests collecting the following data after each harvest:
- Deer identification number
- Date of harvest
- Sex, weight and age (jawbone) of deer
- Location of kill
- Hunter’s name
- Any comments or unique observations
- Additional data collected on bucks include number of points, antler spread, antler length, circumference, and other antler characteristics of interest.
“Weight is very important because it provides an index of population size relative to habitat carrying capacity,” Smith writes. The best way to judge habitat quality is by comparing the weight and age of your does and yearling bucks. Buck weights are not a good indicator of habitat since they can lose up to one-third of their body weight during the rut. Keeping track of weights yearly will help give you a better idea of how your herd is holding up and what kind of management program will best suit your property. Smith’s article states the best way to get consistent weight records is to weigh all of the deer before they are gutted due to different variations in dressing methods. As mentioned in the last entry, Moultrie’s digital game scales can be a useful tool in managing your deer herd.
By keeping consistent yearly harvest records you are able to know if your ultimate management goals are being met or if there are some areas that need to be modified.