Many things can affect the quality and condition of your deer herd. Among them are dry weather conditions that affect food quality, parasites, and poor fawn crops. On top of that, forage availability, past over-hunting, predators, and a lack of good herd management practices, all have affects..
Some people object to the practice of supplemental feeding programs and label it as unfair to wildlife. They totally ignore the benefits. But it actually allows the landowner and hunter to manage the deer herd numbers through observation to avoid overpopulation. Too many deer can lead to range conditions that impact the herds. These things may not adequately support the numbers of animals present, and, under certain harsh conditions, it can eventually lead to starvation.
What Needs Culling
By mounting game cameras at the feeders, you can monitor the numbers and condition of the deer herd. You can also become more familiar with the fawn crop, which helps you project future deer numbers. A lot of information is revealed as the animals come to the feeding area, which can help you determine how best to manage the herd. The process allows you to ask questions, such as “What is my buck to doe ratio?”. You may also ask, “What needs culling and how many?”
To cull, or not to cull, becomes the question. The culling of does can be tricky to a hunter if he is not aware of the things to look for in determining the deer’s age. Naturally, the choice should be to eliminate barren does (past their breeding age) and mature bucks with inferior antler development. Ideally, these would be the animals harvested to arrive an an optimum herd number for the size of the range and range conditions.
Observation Is Key
To accomplish the above mentioned practices takes the combined efforts of the landowner and the hunter. For the first two weeks of the season, do a lot of observing and make a few notes. If necessary, sit down together and discuss the situation. Formulate a plan that will be beneficial to everyone. A feeding area where deer can be observed takes the guesswork out and allows for herd management through personal observation and sound judgment based on facts.