MLDP – Managed Lands Permits in Texas

Question: I know that Texas has a Managed Lands Deer Permit (MLDP)program that allows hunters to get involved with white-tailed deer management and in some cases shoot over their regular season bag limit? How does this program work and what do I have to get involved? We are interested in managing our deer for better whitetail hunting.

Answer: Good question. The Managed Lands Deer Permit Program is administered by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). The first step is to contact your local TPWD wildlife biologist. They will want to set up a meeting with you on your property and look at the available deer habitat and its condition. The biologist will estimate the number of deer your property can support.

Then, the biologist will help you set up some surveys and instruct you on how to conduct deer surveys so that you can estimate the number of deer on the property. After the surveys are completed you must send in your ranch’s data to your biologist, who will then use the data to estimate the number of whitetail deer that are on your property. Continue reading MLDP – Managed Lands Permits in Texas

How Should We Manage Bucks on Our Lease?

Question: I am on a 2,000 acre property in Eastern Oklahoma with several other guys that we lease for white-tailed deer hunting. We have started doing deer surveys to estimate the number of deer on the land, but we are not sure how we should go about managing the bucks on the property? Any suggestions?

Answer: First, everyone always emphasizes the importance of providing optimum nutrition throughout the year. This is important so that the bucks in your area can reach their genetic potential. However, there is much more to whitetail management than nutrition, and there is more to whitetail hunting than just pulling the triger. It’s true that hunters make a number of important decisions with their trigger fingers, so what you shoot and what you pass up has a big affect on future hunting. Continue reading How Should We Manage Bucks on Our Lease?

Whitetail Hunting Is Not Just Food Plots

There is nothing in the world that I love more than whitetail hunting. There is something about it that I really enjoy, and it’s not all about hunting season. In fact, I get just as much fun getting ready for deer season. I don’t own a huge tract of land, although I am lucky enough to have 134 acres on which I’ve been able to implement my very own whitetail deer management program. I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons over the years about deer behavior, what deer eat, and what they need.

In the end, for those landowners and hunters that are serious about managing deer populations, we should want to create the best whitetail habitat. For this is where quality hunting opportunities are literally born. The real secret that I’ve determined when looking at properties where individuals want to improve the deer herd is finding and enhancing the most limited habitat element. It’s easy to concentrate on one single facet of habitat and provide a whole lot of one thing, but they need it all! Continue reading Whitetail Hunting Is Not Just Food Plots

Review of Texas’ Deer Hunting Season

Yes, it’s true. Texas’s general deer hunting season is officially over for most folks now with the close of the extended antlerless and spike season. And from the sound of it, it looks like the number of white-tailed deer harvest during the 2009-2010 season has dropped this year. At least that’s what I’ve been reading on the hunting forums and from the state.

White-tailed deer harvest was a bit down over much of Texas. The many deer processors throughout the state have reported that the number of deer they had taken in from hunters was down this year, although some more than others. I suspect the already-slow economy may have decreased the number of trips hunters made during the season. It may have even caused some to process their own deer. However, the improving habitat conditions Texas experienced last year played a role as well. Continue reading Review of Texas’ Deer Hunting Season

Using a Drill for Deer Food Plots

Question: When using a drill to put in whitetail food plots, how do you plant the seeds in rows without going over the same row that you’ve already planted? I’ve broadcasted seeds before and I would broadcast the appropriate pounds of seeds per acre until the plot is finished, but how do you do that with a drill?

Answer: It will take a little practice using a seed drill, but using your drill will become very easy over time and really help you get your food plots in fast. First, planting seeds in tilled ground is much easier to see where you’ve been and probably the best way to learn. Start out by making the first pass along the outside edge of the plot. Once you’re at the end, just raise the drill, make a sharp turn and start planting again right beside the first pass, you should be able to see where the last “row” is. Just get it as close as you can without overlapping or leaving a gap of unseeded ground.

Most drills are equipped with a seed metering system, which controls the seed drop rate. Once you determine what seed you’re planting and how many pounds per acre, look either on the drill or owners manual for which gear or gearbox setting needed to achieve that rate with that particular seed. Using a drill involves a learning curve, but it’s well worth the trouble for a good food plot that provides valuable supplemental food. Good luck with your plot and your deer management.

Improving Buck to Doe Ratio

Question: I recently purchased a 700 acre ranch located in North Texas and am interested in deer and habitat management. I am confident that the buck to doe ratio is skewed and that there are many more does than bucks. Over the past hunting season we made quite a few deer observations from hunting blinds, and we saw about 5 does for every buck. And most bucks were young. We don’t really have an idea of what the total deer density is, but we know that we want to remove about 50% of the does so that we can get the ratio down to 2 does for every buck. What do you think?

Answer: I must point out that removing whitetail deer from your property, regardless of sex, creates more food for the remaining deer population. Everyone understands this simple concept, but don’t forget that deer will adjust their home ranges from neighboring lands and likely spend more time on your property because of decreased competition for forage. If the deer habitat on your property is at least as good as your neighbors habitat, then deer in the area will “immigrate” onto your ranch (meaning it will become a more important component of their home range) and re-balance.

If your deer habitat is much better than the surrounding area, then whitetail deer will continue to move onto your property (use your ranch much more) at much higher rates and you will see rapid changes with regard to buck to doe ratio. Bucks always position themselves for optimal food. This is why whitetail bucks are always anchored next to protein feeders, high quality food plots, and the best natural forage. So removing half of the does will improve your ratio, but remember than additional does and bucks will move in from surrounding ranches. It will take several hunting seasons, but it can be done.