I’m driving across Kansas today through heavy falling snow. The temperature is thirty degrees and it will get colder tonight. These types of late winter storms cause wildlife, including deer, great stress. Kansas is able to produce mature bucks that express a lot of their antler growth potential year after year despite these harsh conditions. This is mostly because of the large amount of corn and soybeans grown here. Even though I haven’t seen any standing grain there are huge expanses of non-tilled corn and soybean fields that provide enough quality food to allow deer to survive through the winter with reduced stress. These same weather conditions in nonagricultural areas would likely result in hungry deer that don’t have access to a quality food source to alleviate the stress.
It requires a huge amount of acreage in harvested crops to provide enough grain to carry the deer herd because harvest techniques and modern combines are so efficient that little grain is spilled. The same quality of deer can be produced in nonagricultural areas with much smaller fields of grain if they are not harvested. One acre of grain left standing is probably equal to one hundred or more acres of harvested grain this time of year.
The limiting factor in most of western Kansas is cover. The limiting factor in much of the nonagricultural areas is food. By identifying the limiting factor and providing it in both areas deer managers allow the herd to express most of its potential. Late winter is a great time to take a drive across your property and identify the limiting factor.
Growing Deer together,