Seven Tips for Taking a Deer Census

Want to obtain a census of your local deer herd? If feeding is legal in your state, you can use these time-proven tips:

1. Depending on the desired accuracy, grid the property into 100- or 200-acre compartments. Locate a bait site with high deer use near the center of each compartment, if possible, and clear vegetation and branches within a 10-foot radius.

2. Select a tree, or install a post 12 to 15 feet from the center of the circle, and set the scouting camera unit facing north or south to avoid sun glare. Pay special attention to the “view” of the camera, and remove any obstructions. A numbered sign in the view identifies the site

3. Pre-bait each site for five days with 15 pounds of corn in the center of the circle, and check it daily. Notify your local conservation officer that a deer survey is being conducted.

4. Set the camera to record date and time with a 10-minute delay between photos.

5. Set the monitor so the beam is aimed 20 to 30 inches above the bait to eliminate unwanted images of raccoons and other small animals.

6. Operate cameras for five to 14 days, depending on the budget and desired accuracy. Check cameras daily if possible, replacing film or flash cards as needed. Use 200 ASA print film with 36 exposures or a 1GB flash card to achieve the most images of deer activity and or frequency of checking the scouting cameras.

7. Analyze the images to determine the total number of images each of bucks, does and fawns and the number of individual bucks. Do not include unidentifiable deer.

An in-depth guide of how to census deer can be found in the June 2009 issue of Deer & Deer Hunting. Click here to sign up for a subscription.