Dwight E. Guynn
Deer harvest records are extremely important to proper deer herd management. Brcause deer are difficult to observe and cannot be handled regularly like livestock, records are one of the few means available to determine deer herd health, nutrition levels, trends and adequacy of the harvest. The minimum data to collect from deer harvests are: ages, weights, body conditions and measurements of antler size. the data should be grouped according to age categories and analyzed separately for bucks and does. Theis publication describes types of calculations to make and analysis of the results for making management decisions.
Why Harest Records Are Important
Record keeping is basic to good ranch management. Many ranchers keep livestock records such as weaning weights, claving rates, percent lamb crop, percent kid crop and ages of animals. This information is used to make decisions about which animals to sell and to evaluate the effects of previous management decsions (such as: Was I overstocked? Did I begin feeding at the right time?). Records are equally important in deer (Odocoileus sp.) management programs. Deer harvest records can be used to evaluate what is occurring in the deer herd and the success of previous deer management decisions. Harvest records can provide valuaable information to answer the following four major questions about deer herd management:
1. Is the level of nutrition adequate for my deer herd or do I need to reduce deer numbers?
2. Am I harvesting too many bucks to maintain old enough deer in the herd to produce the quality I want?
3. Is my deer herd improving, remaining the samed or declining?
4. If I have problems with deer quality, what are some of the likely causes?
*Extension wildlife specialist, The Texas A&M University System.