When considering a whitetail deer management program, the size of the ranch or the management area is important. Why? Well, the typical home range for whitetail does is just under one square mile, while it is usually two to three square miles for whitetial bucks. This means that population regulation cannot be accomplished effectively on a single small tract of land because of the interchange of deer from adjoining properties.
Because deer use a relatively large area, land owners that have smaller tracts of land should form management units or cooperatives. Often times, two to ten land owners with similiar objectives can pool their land and management practices to reach the desired objectives. Depending on your neighbors and their thoughts on deer management it may or may not work, but it’s definitely something worth looking into if you want to improve the local deer herd. Generally, the management unit needs to be at least 5,000 acres for effective whitetail population regulation.
A second important consideration is the amount of whitetail hunting pressure. For hunting to be an effective tool for deer population regulation, there must be sufficient hunting pressure and hunter access to reach desired harvest levels. Normally, one hunter per 300 acres will produce adequate buck harvests. Hunter success rates for gun hunters averages 1 in 6 for buck-only seasons and 1 in 3 for antlerless seasons. A final aspect of a successful deer management program, and one which is all too often neglected, is the compilation of records on harvests. These records provide the data required to make future harvest recommendations and are essential in gauging the success of the whitetail hunting program. Collecting and recording this data will allow you to track the progress on your deer management program to determine if you are moving towards your goal.