Deer Census techniques

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Deer Census techniques

Postby djohns13 » Tue Jan 26, 2010 7:34 am

Hey guys, I was wondering how you go about estimating the deer population on the property that you hunt? If you do have a feel for the population, do you use it to set your harvest goals?

I hunt a property that is over 1,000 acres but woods only makes up about 400 acres. We are transitioning more towards a QDM approach every year and are very concerned about overharvesting. This year, deer sightings and our harvest was way off. We think part is due to weather and standing corn, but we also are seeing many more coyotes than ever before. With that in mind, we decided to do a deer census to determine general population, age structure and sex ratio.

We contacted Tom James with the Indiana QMA and he has been great to work with. Here is what we decided to do:

We determined 5 good spots over the 400 acres to set up corn stations. We pre-baited them this week and then will re-bait and set cameras next week. Re-bait the following week and pull the cameras after being up for two weeks. Then we will look at the photos and try to estimate the total population, buck/doe ratio and population by age. Then we will take that information and determine the number of does and bucks that we will allow to be taken this fall. As long as there isn't significant winter kill or a poor fawning season, we should be doing the right thing. Between now and fawning season we will try to take as many coyotes as possible.

Let me know your census techniques if you do something different.
Darren Johnson
Internet Pro Staff Member - Indiana

Glad to talk to all of you, but I'd rather be sitting in a tree stand on a cool morning trying not to move so that the bruiser buck directly below me doesn't figure out that I am watching him!

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RE: Deer Census techniques

Postby ranwin33 » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:12 am

Sounds like you're doing pretty much what we do.  Although on our 100 acres we don't need near so many cameras.
There is a technique used to get a better idea of how many does you may have on your property.  This can be hard to do with a camera census as individual animals can be difficult to identify.
Let me know if you're interested and I'll explain, but if you're talking to a QDMA guy he has probably already explained how to do it.
I wish I could say "we" use the surveys to decide on deer harvest, but in all honesty "we" don't.  My brother isn't much into shooting does, so that harvest is left up to me and with the increase in out of state land owner tags, I limit myself to two any more.  When in fact we should be taking more, but I can't get my brother on board with a big doe harvest.  So "we" don't use the surveys, although "I" try to.
“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.”
Aldo Leopold

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RE: Deer Census techniques

Postby bowman12 » Tue Jan 26, 2010 8:59 am

We do the same thing. We supplemental feed the end of November-until they migrate, which is kind of weird because I went to fill the feeder today and they're gone. We went from feeding 20-25 deer to nothing, it's like a ghost town at the land in three days.
We get a real good feel on the amount of deer on our 160 acres and some surrounding state land by using the camera at the feed site. As stated it's difficult to tell the does apart but what helps us is what the doe is with, one fawn, two fawns, alone, or with a young buck. Some may have a distinguishing mark that helps too.

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