Obviously it has been a tough winter for a lot of people. There have been measurable amounts of snow across the nation throughout the winter and in a majority of the northern states there has been snow covering the ground for months now. This has brought up the topic of deer stress levels and what the deer are feeding on to survive.
I’ve seen several pictures of deer in suburbs and in yards eating shrubs and other decorative plants. Deer have been pushed to areas where they haven’t been all year because they have eaten all the forage available. As deer managers, it’s important to understand what your deer herd is consuming. During these late winter months Grant and I like to explore our food plots and areas with native browse and study the amount of food remaining and what their preference is. It’s also important to understand what exactly is feeding on these plants.
While you’re walking your property and examining the browse pressure you need to understand the difference in deer browse and other types of animal browse. Recently we posted a couple pictures on our facebook page asking our fans the difference between rabbit browse and deer browse. A lot of people were unsure about the difference between the two so I thought I’d explain it more here. The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is if the browse has been cut or torn. Deer don’t have incisors on their upper jaw. They bite on browse with their lower incisors and press against the roof of their mouth and tear off a bite. This results in frayed ends of browse when deer are the consumers. When the consumer is a rabbit, the food source will look like it was cut with a sharp edge, like a knife, as they have sharp incisors on both the lower and upper jaws.
Once you understand the difference between deer browse and rabbit browse you’ll better understand what’s eating your food on your hunting property.
Hopefully the winter weather gives you a break this week and you can get out and look for shed antlers!
Daydreaming of whitetails!