Editor’s Note: To learn more about the deer living on your hunting-club or hunting-lease lands, I’ve talked with Brian Murphy, a wildlife biologist and the executive director for the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) https://www.qdma.com/, about the effective use of motion-sensor cameras for better deer management and to better protect deer. Murphy says that this type of deer census may capture photos of 95% of a deer herd in 10 days.
You can use a motion-sensor camera on your property to complete a census of a deer herd, rather than just taking random photos of bucks that pass in front of the camera. To take a complete census of your deer herd, having one camera per every 100 acres is suggested. The camera needs to be set near a desirable food source like corn in the early fall. The census should only run for about 10 days, and research has shown this type of census will capture photos of 95 % of a deer herd on any given piece of property.
John E. Phillips: If we do a complete census as you’ve recommended, using motion-sensor cameras, while adding spin feeders to the program, is it possible to determine the buck-to-doe ratio in a deer herd?
Murphy: Absolutely, because research has shown that during the late-summer/early fall period, you don’t capture on film as high a percentage of the individual does as you do bucks. There are two reasons for this. During the late-summer and early-fall months, since bucks feed very heavily to store fat, you’ll see them more. Also, does are relatively secretive during this time of year because they still have young fawns with them that may not be more than a month or so old. If you’re using motion-sensor cameras in the late summer or early fall, only expect to capture 70% to 80% of the does on the property with the cameras. Take this factor into account when performing your ratios. However, you can determine fairly accurately the sex ratio of bucks to does on any piece of property, by factoring the two percentages when you use a motion-sensor camera to inventory your deer herd.
Phillips: Idealistically, what should the ratio be of bucks-to-does on any piece of property?
Murphy: A realistic adult-sex ratio of bucks-to-does should only include the number of racked bucks to the number of adult does that are at least 1-1/2-years of age. Having 1-1/2- to 2-1/2-adult does per buck on the property is an obtainable, realistic ratio. You will have a very-good quality deer herd if you can reach and maintain that sex ratio. Your sex ratio is out of proportion if you have 3-1/2- to 4-1/2-adult does per adult buck. If you do have 3 to 4 does per buck, then you need to consider the possibility of removing some of the adult does from the herd.
To learn more about hunting deer on your land, go to John E. Phillips’s book, “How to Hunt Deer Up Close with Bows, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows” https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A2A6ZG6#.
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