The very first step in deer management, and one often overlooked by many farmers, ranchers, and hunters, is the establishment of a well defined deer management objective. This process should come before everything else. Deciding on what is to be accomplished is essential because there is no best whitetail deer management program for every piece of property. Different objectives by different persons may require totally different management actions.

For example, if the objective is to increase the deer population in an area where there are few or no deer, protection from all causes of mortality would be the most important management action. If the objective is to produce quality whitetail bucks, the most important management actions would be to keep the herd in balance with available food supplies through adequate harvest of does, to protect young whitetail bucks until they reach an older age (when antler development is maximum), and probably to initiate habitat improvements that increase available food and cover.

Where the objective is to reduce serious damage in agricultural crops, important management actions would be to increase harvest of does and to insure that enough deer are harvested. All of the examples cited are simplified deer management programs. Each has a definite management objective and each program requires different deer or habitat management actions.

In short, the proper management activities are dependent solely on the deer management objective, or objectives. Different deer management objectives, such as crop damage control and trophy buck management, at times may work together. Key elements of both are to have high antlerless harvest rates and to maintain relatively low whitetail deer population levels. Each of the three examples contains the three major components of all whitetail deer management programs.

These three components are deer population regulation, habitat enhancement, and hunter management. Almost all deer management programs contain some aspect of each of these three components. The most troublesome component is the last one, hunter management. Hunters often have different objectives and different attitudes toward whitetail deer. Some want more deer, some want fewer deer, and some simply want more mature der. Deer management can work for you and the deer found on your property, but you must know what your objective/s are! Below are some additional articles that may help improve the local deer herd:

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  1. I am ina hunting club in south MS. We have just over 5,000 acres of land, with 40 members. Several members have expressed interest in not killing does, in order to get numbers up. They feel they will see more bucks on the food plots that way. For the last two years, we have done a really good job of staying balanced with our deer. the numbers are close to being one doe taken for every buck taken. Would this be a good management decision for our club?

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