Improve Herd Quality on Lease in Florida

By GrowingDeer,

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I have a 2100 acre hunting lease in northeast Florida.  This area can be brutal to hunt during the archery season.  We maintain year round feeders and this year we started some food plots and defined some off limits areas for the does.  For two years now, this being year 3, we have maintained the beginnings of a QDM program by instituting size limits.  I have had my cameras out for a few months and I have a large quantity of does and fawns on camera while others are getting some really nice bucks.  What would be the best method of sustaining our deer population and increasing their size?  I’ve been in touch with the local forestry office but since I lease the land from a large timber company I don’t think I’ll get the support for controlled burns and so on.  Can you help?



It sounds as if you have a good deer management program underway!  I hope you have some “off limits areas” for bucks also.  Sanctuaries area a tremendous tool to improve both the hunting opportunities and herd’s quality.

It is likely that you will accomplish your buck management goals quicker if you use age limits rather than size limits.  There is usually a wide range of antler size for each age class.  Therefore, size limits usually result in the bucks with the largest antlers of the age class you hope to protect being eligible for harvest.

Trigger finger management (the appropriate buck and doe harvest for your management objective) paired with increasing the quantity of quality forage is the recipe for improving the herd quality at your lease.  This usually means increasing the productivity of existing food plots and adding additional food plots.  Improvements can be made in the quantity and quality of native forage, but management actions that would promote such improvements may be in conflict with the landowner’s objective.  If that’s the case, then you seem limited to increasing the quantity and quality of the food plot program and/or increasing the quantity and quality of the supplemental feeding program.  I caution you to ensure the supplemental feeding program is administered correctly or it can cause more stress instead of providing benefits to the deer and turkey population.

You need to do a detailed analysis of your deer management goals and the possible and practical management actions necessary to meet those goals.

Growing Deer together,