Quality Deer Management
There is no other big-game animal in North America like the white-tailed deer. The whitetails habitat is so widespread that it covers just about all of North America and parts of Central America. The white-tailed deer is the most commonly hunted big game animal ever. Before the settlers arrived, an estimated 30 million whitetails inhabited what is now the United States and Canada. But as settlers pursued them for food and market hunters slaughtered them with snares, traps, and set guns, the deer population underwent a disastrous decline. By 1900, only 400,000 whitetails remained.
What happened ever since 1900 has truly become a huge conservation success story.
Through a massive effort by sportsmen and wildlife managers, market hunting was outlawed, sport-hunting regulations were established, and habitat improvement programs began. Because of the efforts of these concerned people the whitetail population has risen to around 20 million.
The deer population has increased so much that in many areas, they suffer from chronic starvation. “Bucks only” laws passed years ago to help in re-establishing the dwindling deer herds now work against the deer by resulting in an overabundance of does. Even with the overabundance of does many hunters refuse to shoot a doe. They believe in the old saying, “It takes a doe to yield a buck.” This is entirely true but it ignores the basic law of nature that any piece of land, and the food and cover in it, can support only so much game. If the excess game is not harvested by hunters or killed by predators, nature will take over and exterminate enough animals as needed or more through disease and starvation. That’s why hunting is a much more humane means for a deer to die then to die of disease or starvation.
There is a lot more then can be done to help the whitetail deer reach the highest level of quality that is possible. One great naturalist and well-known deer researcher, Aldo Leopold, once said, “There is value in any experience that exercises those ethical restraints collectively called sportsmanship.” That quote sums up why the concept of Quality Deer Management is becoming more and more popular in the hunting community today. All over the continent deer hunters are welcoming a philosophy of deer management unlike the traditional methods that they were used to in the past. However, while some parts of North America are welcoming the idea with open arms, others seem to be dragging their feet.
It is impossible to discuss deer at all without talking about deer management, because there is there hardly a deer alive in America today that is not directly influenced by man. We control the water the deer drinks, the food that it eats, and the land that it lives on, and we regulate the manner, sex, and amount of deer harvested. The problem lies in the way we manage the deer herd. The time has come to practice Quality Deer Management.
First of all some of you might be...