Most people count it as a good season and sit back until spring and wait for next year. Let’s talk about taking your deer management to the next level. First off after you harvest a deer, buck or doe, bring it home to record some data before field dressing. Record the live weight and field dressed weight of the animal. Keep a record sheet and include every deer you harvest throughout the season. Have the date, sex, part of the farm harvested, live and field dressed weights and antler scores of bucks. You can include any other data that you feel necessary as well. One of the more important categories I would add is age.
Many people are trying to age deer on the hoof these days and I see that there is a wide range of opinions many times. Continue to guess these but to help you know the exact age for your records and you to better learn how to age on the hoof, aging by cementum annuli is the best way to go. You do this by pulling the middle incisors from the deer and sending them into a lab where they will section the tooth and age it for you. This is by far the most accurate way to age a deer. I would suggest doing this for all bucks for sure. If you want to know the ages of does it does not hurt and could be some fun facts for you to go through, however most people are only concerned in buck age structure. Many will be surprised at how old a buck really is. I have been doing this for Blue Rock Outfitters for the past 3 seasons now. Mike and his guides are learning a great deal about the deer they are harvesting for clients and ways to better manage.
Recording all this data through the season will allow you to sit down and analyze it during the offseason. Like I stated above, knowing the ages of the deer will help you better field judge the deer in your area. Aging the does could allow you to have friendly competition among those who hunt your place for the oldest doe harvested. Knowing the weights of the deer will allow you to see trends throughout the years and throughout the season. Maybe you will see that average weights are changing from early season to late, indicating a lack of late season food sources or vice versa. The trends you will begin to see over the years will also help in see how other habitat projects are affecting your deer herd and allow you to make changes.
If you’d like to know more about this or have help analyzing data you can contact me for more information. These are a few of the ways to take your deer management to the next level to achieve your goals. You can never record too much data!
Remember to manage today for a better tomorrow!