Herd management is key to successful hunting, but where to start?
So, you have your own property to hunt and maintain. Large or small parcel, the buck-to-doe ratio is key to a healthy deer herd. Obviously, a healthy deer herd is key to a successful hunting season and harvesting larger mature deer. So, here's how to get there.
Determining the Current Status of Your Herd
Do you have too many or too few deer on your property? Both can be detrimental in the short as well as the long term. To tell if you have too many deer, look for what the deer are eating. If you have an open field edge on your property and you can clearly see that the deer have been eating it, you have too many deer.
The same holds true in thicker parts of the property. If the deer are browsing higher then ground level. Check your food plots as well; if you can't grow them fast enough for the deer you have too many. Having too few is a little more obvious to figure out. You aren't seeing deer or sign on your property and you can't get them on your trail cams either. Speaking of trail cameras, use them to your advantage to estimate the population of your herd. Bucks are easy to count, but does get tricky. Take as many pictures as possible and get to know the doe groups.
The goal is to get a one to one buck-to-doe ratio. It's really hard to do but close in this case works. Also keep in mind that roughly half of the yearlings you see will also be bucks and need to be calculated into the ratio. If your ratio is skewed with too many deer without antlers start filling doe tags. Too many does will push breeding later into the year, resulting in later fawn drops and a higher fawn mortality rate. Does are also known to push off button bucks, further skewing the herd. If you have to few deer, shoot fewer of them and "steal" them from your neighbor. Use these ideas to lure them onto your property: Managing small property and The Importance of a Sanctuary.