Managing 4,000 Acres

By GrowingDeer,

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Dear Grant,

Our hunting club has been following a management program for many years.  On a 4,000 acre farm we plant around 80 acres in a mixture of clover, Eagle Seed forage soybeans and a wheat/oat combination in the fall.  We maintain about 40 mineral licks on this property and we feel we are at a point where we may have reached our potential.  We only harvest about 8 to 12 mature 4 year old bucks a year.  We feel that on some parts of the property we can carry more deer while others parts may need additional harvest of does.  Our pre-season camera survey shows our fawn recruitment may be low as we have also seen a significant increase in predators on the farm.  Should we hammer the predators, slack off on the doe harvest and continue to provide quality year round forage?  If we can’t grow deer over 140” can we can grow more of them?  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Lance (northwest Alabama)


It sounds like you have a good deer management program.  I’m glad to hear that you are collecting data before making management decisions.  Camera surveys are a great method of learning deer herd dynamics, however caution must be given to actual fawn recruitment totals from a pre-season survey.  During this time of year some fawns are not old enough to be at the doe’s side.  It is best to look at these numbers as trends from year-to-year.  Collecting hunter observation data is another way of collecting fawn recruitment data and if implemented correctly can provide more accurate results.

Determining how many does to harvest should be based on both a camera survey and the foraging pressure on food resources, with more emphasis on the available food during the two stress periods – late summer and late winter.  To easily and accurately monitor this I place at least one utilization cage (4X10 ft piece of woven wire with the ends tied together) in each food plot to see how much deer are eating compared to growth inside the cage.  If the forage in food plots in some areas of the property is heavily eaten it may be time to harvest more does or increase food plot acreage in that area.

In either case I highly recommend implementing a sustained predator control program.  Coyotes, in particular, can cause a huge amount of stress on adult deer and mortality on fawns.  A recent study in Alabama suggested that fawn recruitment rose 150+% after a heavy predator reduction program.  There is no doubt that coyotes can have a huge impact on deer population quality and quantity!

By maintaining ample high quality food on a year round basis, practicing quality deer management, and reducing predators, the herd’s health will most like improve substantially.

Growing Deer together,