Fallow Discing for High Quality Deer Forage

 Fallow Discing for High Quality Deer Forage

Shallow soil disturbance on open sites to encourage the growth of herbaceous (weed) growth. This method is cost-efficient and particularly effective for the management of bobwhite quail and other ground nesting birds. The technique is applied through the use of a conventional farm disc disturbing the soil to a depth of 4-6 inches. Continue reading “Fallow Discing for High Quality Deer Forage”

Deer Overpopulation in Urban Areas

Controlling Urban Deer Overpopulation

Many expanding suburban communities and some well-developed cities face a dangerously expanding deer population. In backyards, native deer graze on shrubbery and spar over the best territory. They walk through an empty driveway in Central Texas, meander through a Washington D.C. subway stop and into run through Colorado streets. White-tailed deer are a costly municipal menace that some call a nice problem to have.

Deer Overpopulation not Cool

To many, the opportunity to observe deer walking, feeding and living within their neighborhood might seem kind of neat at first glance, but it’s a very real and big problem in many areas across the country. “They wouldn’t think that if they were faced with $1 million worth of damage and, you know, 50 or 60 dead deer on the road that need to be disposed of. It’s not a nice problem to have,” says Gerry Astorino, the mayor of Lakeway, Texas.

Controlling Urban Deer Overpopulation

Residents of the Hollywood Park community in San Antonio, Texas, are singing the same song; there are way too many deer living among them. In large numbers whitetail have become much more than a nuisance; the deer overpopulation is also a safety concern for many reasons.

Now Lakeway and Hollywood Park are trapping the deer living within their communities, thinning herds that have grown to more than 1,000 animals. The deer will be processed and the meat donated to local food banks. It’s a win-win for the communities and those that need lean protein, but not everyone is a supporter of the programs.

Too Many Deer, People?

The sight of Bambi going to be butchered has brought protests. “We don’t want it to be just trap and trap and trap and slaughter, slaughter, slaughter until they’re all gone,” says Debbie Trueman.

In natural situations, white-tailed deer populations tend to rise and fall based on environmental factors. When there is food to eat deer populations grow, but when food availability is low deer numbers decline. Deer populations found living within suburban areas do not see these variances because of stable food supplies.

The regular irrigation of lawns and the feeding of deer both add food to the system and help prop-up deer numbers. Most communities dealing with overabundant deer populations have banned the feeding of deer, but some residents sympathize and covertly feed them.

But Sunny Williams, who had a knee-shattering collision with a doe, is not as sympathetic. “They don’t care about people that are severely injured,” says Williams, adding that they had to put his knee back together with wires and screws. Nearly half the cars in a nearby body shop visited by a reporter hit deer.

“If I had to guess, an average repair is probably $3,000 or so,” says John Caldwell. One of the biggest parts of the problem is urban and even suburban deer population moving further and further out of cities and into areas once known only to wildlife. “I don’t know that there’s a long-term solution to suburban deer problems in this country,” says Bryan Richards, of Texas’ Parks and Wildlife Dept.

Population Growth, Limited Solutions

And so residents in some Texas communities continue to hotwire their flowerbeds with electric fencing, literally wrapping their homes in wire to keep deer away. Relocating them to ranches, experts say, is just a temporary fix. “I think that communities have to become more accepting of lethal means of population control,” says Richards.

Highland Park, Illinois, captures whitetail does and a veterinarian surgically sterilizes them in an attempt to curb the growth of their overabundant deer population. It’s very expensive procedure, but for gun-shy suburbs, it may an option to keep the backyard from becoming a jungle out there.


Five Essential Management Tools for Deer

Aldo Leopold wrote in his 1933 textbook titled Game Management, "The central thesis of game management is this: game can be restored by the creative use of the same tools which have heretofore destroyed it: axe, plow, cow, fire, and gun. Management is their purposeful and continuing alignment. " The key to managing natural resources and specifically deer habiat is to use a holistic approach, where these "tools" and others are applied to develop, maintain and manage healthy ecosystems. Although you may be focused on whitetail deer management, remember that single species deserve less attention, while the system in which they thrive requires more. Continue reading “Five Essential Management Tools for Deer”

Photos of a Mature Albino Buck

Here are some photos of an albino white-tailed deer that I came across recently. The really odd thing is not only is being an albino mammal rare, but the fact that this is actually a mature buck is a miracle! Natural predators and hunters alike will hone in on oddly colored deer, even in areas where deer management and controlled harvests take place. This whitetail buck can be identified as an albino deer — and not a piebald deer — by examining both his eyes and nose. Take a good look and you can see exactly what I am talking about.

Albino white-tailed buck deer

The pink eye and the pink nose are textbook signs that this deer is an albino. At first glance, I noticed the brown on his head and near the base of the antlers and thought that maybe this buck was not an albino, but then I realized that the brown color comes from the buck rubbing his antlers (on trees). Bucks will commonly rub their antlers once annual antler growth stops to rid themselves of decaying velvet. In addition, this activity helps strengthen their neck and shoulders prior to the breeding season. Continue reading “Photos of a Mature Albino Buck”

Whitetail Deer Food Plots Without Planting

Food Plots Without Planting

Have you ever noticed that the first plants to return in a plowed, scraped, or otherwise disturbed area are weeds? Although this may not seem like much, these natural food plots could be of big benefit to your deer management program. When exposed to air, light, and water, seeds that were lying dormant in the soil begin to germinate following soil disturbance. These young, succulent plants are high in nutrient value and attract a variety of wildlife species looking for valuable forage, particularly white-tailed deer.

Disturbed sites can also serve as excellent food plot locations to supplement white-tailed deer diets during the stressful late winter or late summer periods. Areas can be lightly disked during late winter for the production of spring annuals, and then be heavily disked in early fall for winter food plots. This process can be repeated over and over and you can even sprinkle in some seeds during the spring disking to enhance  the plot. Remember, you are trying to create supplemental food for deer. You are not trying to grow a lawn. It does not have to look like a perfect stand of manicured plants. Continue reading “Whitetail Deer Food Plots Without Planting”