Deer Harvest Data Collection

By GrowingDeer,

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I help run a QDM co-op in east central Ohio which consists of 3000 acres in a checkerboard fashion over 16 square miles.  Some of the properties not in the co-op also practice QDM at some level.  When collecting jawbones and fetuses for harvest data, what percentage of each of these should be collected in order to get a good overall picture of our harvest data?  The obvious answer is all of them, but in a voluntary community co-op it’s impossible to expect to get all of them collected.  The QDMA forums sent me to you to ask this question.



Harvest data is like providing symptoms to a medical doctor.  The more ACCURATE data available to interpret, the more accurate the treatment that can be prescribed.  This is certainly true with deer harvest data.  If no data from the mature bucks are collected, or fetal data is not collected throughout the entire harvest season, it’s easy to develop an inaccurate image of the deer herd and make erroneous management prescriptions.

I realize the more data that is required to be collected, the less compliance will occur.  Therefore, I’ve changed over the years to requesting only the most basic information from each deer including, gender, lower jaw, whole or gutted body weight (either will work, but it needs to be consistent), lactation (yes or no until mid December), and BC gross score.

Data from fetuses are very interesting, but not necessary for managing a herd.  These data may well be necessary for addressing specific research questions.

Other data that is easy to collect is just as important.  For example, the ratio of food availability to the number of deer is easily monitored using utilization cages.  Deer herd demographics can be monitored by a trail camera survey and this only requires access and a few workers rather than every member contributing effort.

Data is critical to a good deer management program, but there is a fine line between requesting too much data and encouraging complete cooperation.  Each deer manager/co-op must decide how much data (how precise the management prescription) they feel is necessary to meet their objectives.

Growing Deer together,