Webster’s Dictionary defines stress as a constraining force or influence. The deer at The Proving Grounds are suffering from a constraining force or influence. Actually there are two sources of stress: heat and drought. The heat index has been over 100 degrees most days lately. Although it has rained in the area, we haven’t received enough to measure in my gauges. Some of our ponds are dry. The creek is dry except for occasional pools. This is evidenced by the hardening off of most native forage species. This in turn puts more browse pressure on the planted crops.
Trail camera images indicate that antler and fawn development to date are OK! This is due to the high quality habitat at The Proving Grounds. We planted forage soybeans early in an effort to get as much growth as possible before the hot days of summer. We’ve developed several ponds in various locations in an effort to ensure critters have enough water even during periods of drought.
We’ve managed to the extent of our budget and skill to offset periods of stress. It’s important for all managers to realize that periods of stress during the summer can be just as damaging to deer and other wildlife species as harsh winter conditions. This is one reason why it’s critical to maintain the herd’s density below the habitat’s capacity to provide quality forage, water, and cover. If the herd at The Proving Grounds had been allowed to expand to the capacity of the habitat during good conditions, the herd would really suffer during this period of stress.
Growing Deer together,