Monitoring the Food/Deer Ratio

By GrowingDeer,

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Do I have enough food for my deer?  I own 276 acres in east Texas.  We are bordered on one side by a 3200 acre timber company lease with about 20 hunters.  The other 3 sides receive very little pressure.  I have 134 acres in woods consisting mainly of Oak trees and Yaupon.  The other 140 acres is in pasture land.  I have 32 acres in Ball Clover and Ryegrass and plant another 10 acres in Forage Oats and Chicory.  I also have 4 protein stations on the ranch.  I have 4 ponds ranging from 1/4 to 3 acres in size.  There are thick areas that we do not hunt or even venture into near drainages to provide sanctuary areas.  What else can I do to improve the land for deer?



Sounds like you have a great property and solid deer management program in place.  The most practical method (and one of the least expensive) is to monitor the forage quantity/deer herd density ratios by using utilization cages.  I construct utilization cages by simply using a 10’ long piece of 4’ tall web wire (often called hog wire) and attaching both ends.  This creates approximately a 3’ cylinder of web wire.  Stake the utilization cage solidly to the ground.  It’s best to place the cage in the plot just after a crop is planted so the placement isn’t biased by forage height, color, etc.

As the forage grows, simply monitor the height of the forage inside the cage compared to outside the cage where the deer can forage.  Depending on the crop, the forage shouldn’t get more than twice as tall inside compared to outside the cage.  If the forage is the same height inside and out of the cage, then deer are not consuming much of the forage.  If the forage is much less tall outside than inside, there are more deer than quality forage in the area.

It seems as if you are providing quality food, cover, and water.  This is the foundation of a good habitat management plan.  Use utilization cages and other techniques to make sure you are providing enough of each of the critical habitat elements.

Growing Deer together,