Metabolic Debate!?

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Metabolic Debate!?

Postby bowman12 » Tue Dec 15, 2009 5:24 am

I really enjoyed the article on Metabolic rates of whitetails in the winter.
We try very hard every year to make sure the deer survive our extreme winters. I live in extreme N MN and we winter feed every year until they migrate north to the cedar swamp, about a half mile into the cedar swamp that is about 60 square miles. They usually migrate sometime in January depending on how cold and how much snow we get, and only one year, two winters ago, they stayed the whole winter because it was such a mild winter. It was awesome, I think I found 13 sheds in about 3 days.
We usually start feeding after rifle season, corn and rolled oats 50%/50%. We've always wondered why they'd leave the quality feed to head to the cedars, but it makes alot of sense now, to stay warmer. And no matter what, their metabolic rate is going to slow down. Also, it helped me realize that it's just as important to make sure the deer go into the winter fat and healthy compared to having quality feed. We plant about 15 acres of food plots every year so that helps fatten them up. Looking foward to Aaron Moen's article on the subject too! Thanks for the quality info!

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Woods Walker
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RE: Metabolic Debate!?

Postby Woods Walker » Tue Dec 15, 2009 3:13 pm

Be VERY careful about feeding those deer. I know it makes you feel good, and you want to help, but most often you are not doing them, and more importantly the natural forage any favors. In northern climates, the carrying capacity of a habitat to support "X" number of deer is determined by the amount of winter browse.
If because of your feeding you've enabled 20 more deer to survive a Minnesota winter that would have otherwise died, then NEXT winter that will be 20 more deer that the native habitat can't support. Those extra deer will have fed on the browse all summer, making that much LESS available for the coming winter. As you can see, this is a problem that compounds itself as    time goes by.
Your heart is in the right place, just make sure that you do any feeding under the guidance of the DNR. They're professionals, and they know.
Hunt Hard,

Kill Swiftly,

Waste Nothing,

Offer No Apologies.....

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Posts: 218
Joined: Tue Nov 17, 2009 8:54 am

RE: Metabolic Debate!?

Postby bowman12 » Wed Dec 16, 2009 6:16 am

Definitely something to keep in mind, and the reason I'm doing it isn't to feel good.
In a perfect world we'd have the same amount of snow and the same temperatures each winter, then we'd be able to calculate the amount of browse needed for a certain area, then the amount of deer. The problem is the amount of snow we have, if we have a foot or two all winter there's lots of winter browse, but when that changes to 5 or 6 feet of snow there's never enough browse for what would be considered an average winter, and that's what the carrying capacity should be based on. The DNR!? I'll never forget in 97 when we had so much snow we lost around 80% of our herd. The DNR told everybody not to feed the deer, don't feed the deer, then when you could drive through the state forest and see deer bedded next to the road to weak to get up, they started dumping alfalfa bails near the road for them. Guess what, too late! It was really sad when shed hunting in the spring to come across 3-8 deer carcasses all dead in one little area.

We are mindful of our carrying capacity, and when there are lots of deer we'll harvest many does a season, when there isn't many deer, we'll be careful on the amount of does harvested. The DNR is mindful of it, and the last three seasons we've been able to buy one tag, buck or doe, and up to 4 additional antlerless tags. Our last few winters have been mild, except last seasons, and we lost I'd guess around 40% of our herd, so next year I'm assuming the DNR will limit the amouint of antlerless tags. It's too bad because they're always a year late adjusting the amount of tags because they base the herd on the MN rifle, bow, and muzzloader harvest. 
Ultimately in our area, winter mother nature is going to decide how many deer are going to survive and she'll keep the deer at what carrying capacity she wants for that particular winter. If we can help them put on a little more fat before they head to their winter yards so they'll maybe make it if our winter last longer than normal, dumps more snow than normal, or if our temperatures are alot lower than normal, we'll do what we can.

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