"Feedin the Need"

Is Deer Season Truly Over?

I don’t know about you, but as a deer, turkey and waterfowl countersuer, early summer brings on an illness that either pill or doctor can diagnose nor recommend a cure. Hunting season is over, especially Deer season and with that comes P.T.D.S.S. “Post Traumatic Deer Season Struggle”.

Oh yea this is real folks, think about it, we continue to wake up at 4am every morning, even on weekdays. We ain’t even thought twice about washing the truck or the ATV just yet. All our arrows in our quiver are still tipped with our favorite broadhead, and our shotguns and rifles haven’t seen the gun safe since Mid-November.  That's Sick isn't it?

But the question you have to ask yourself is this. Is deer season truly over? Well, quite honestly the answer is no. Deer season to most, which are serious about not only killing deer but managing the herd for the next season and seasons to come well, is just beginning.  As hunters and outdoorsman who partake in the great tradition of hunting we owe it to our God and Creator to give back to which we take from.

God gave us dominion over all animals, birds and fish of the sea, “Genesis 1:28” but in doing so He trusted that we would be good stewards towards His creatures. So let’s talk about stress times for whitetail deer, late winter and more stressful then all, mid to Late Summer because for the serious deer hunter, deer season comes in four seasons, Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall.

Mid to late summer is one of the most stressful times of the year for Whitetail Deer, especially in the Deep South. Mid-summer is nearly as stressful as mid to late winter. The reason relates to food quality, or the lack thereof. In the summer, the deer have additional needs, which serve to increase their stress level. Bucks are growing antlers and does are lactating to feed their fawns. Both activities take a huge toll on their physical resources. At this time of the year, their food (especially their native browse) is mature and comprised mostly of stems, often dried up like overcooked bacon due to summer heat. Now we all know, Mother Nature will take care of itself, but as hunters there are some things we can do to ensure deer and other wildlife make it through summers scorching heat strong healthy and still on your property.

Deer herd management starts during hunting season itself, and that’s the process of keeping the numbers of deer on our property in check, (aka…) herd management through means of killing deer, which we all love, right? So why is this so difficult for some hunters and landowners?

Whitetail hunters and landowners alike enjoy seeing as many deer as possible when on stand during the fall hunting season and this is what makes hunting fun but it can be one of the biggest problems we face when true management comes in to play.

Keeping deer numbers down is a tough job, and the only way to do this is by means of hunting. But the problem we run into is NO ONE wants to shoot does or inferior bucks with the anticipation of  ruining a morning are evening hunt and most feel it’s just too much work and what can I do with all this meat, my family and I only need a few deer each season for the freezer?

“Planning ahead” is the key factor, do your homework and check your local area in which you live and hunt. Local churches know of families that will take venison. Ask your deer processor, most are involved in a program like FHFH Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry an outreach ministry of the people of God, called upon to feed venison to the hungry among us nationwide. http://www.fhfh.org/Home.asp .

Many landowners and hunters consider supplemental feeding an important factor in deer management and a source of nutrition when native forage is inadequate either in quantity or quality. Under certain conditions a supplemental feeding program can help; however, most deer feeding programs which provide sufficient additional nutrients to be of value, are expensive.

There is a distinct difference between feeding and baiting deer. Maintaining deer feeders from October through December is a common practice on many properties to attract deer to hunting blinds during the hunting season. Unfortunately most of these baiting efforts cease just before additional feed is really needed by the deer.

 

Supplemental feeding should be done during stress periods and then only under specific conditions. Stress periods for deer are usually encountered when the protein content of the forage is at a low level during severe winters, dry springs and dry summers.

Supplemental feeding of deer may be beneficial if the herd is harvested adequately each year and the range is in good condition. Only under closely controlled conditions will supplemental feeding benefit growth rate of body and antlers.

DEER PELLETS/PROTEIN FEED

Three methods are most commonly used when feeding pellets or cubes: by hand, Automatic timer-controlled feeders or free choice, gravity-type feeders. http://www.steeloutdoors.com/.

The free choice or gravity deer feeder is the most desirable but also the most expensive to maintain. This type of feeder provides supplemental feed at all time and if maintained will provide more feed per animal. Hand feeding or feeding with automatic feeders normally will not provide a sufficient amount of feed per animal. When feeding pellets, only commercial feeds containing natural protein and not urea should be used. Urea should not be used because it has been found to be very unpalatable to deer.

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Deer pellets are available from most wildlife feed and seed dealers. The following feed formula  is a good example of what most pelleted feeds consist of. This feed is in the form of a 3/16 inch pellet and contains 16 percent natural protein; no urea is used.

  • 20% peanut hulls
  • 20% corn meal
  • 5 % dehydrated alfalfa meal
  • 2% ground milo
  • 15 % cottonseed meal
  • 10% soybean meal (44 percent)
  • 5 % masonex
  • 0.5% mineral mix **
  • 0.5% vitamin/trace mineral premix

A supplemental feeding program may prove beneficial under certain conditions. In most cases however, the best way to provide a proper nutritional diet for deer or any other wildlife species is through a good range, habitat and herd management program. When deer are the targeted species of a management program, an adequate, selective harvest is a must! Because of time, expense and extra management required, a supplemental feeding program should be considered only after other important aspects of the wildlife management plan have been implemented. Assistance from professional wildlife managers and wildlife nutritionists is available through local Soil Conservation Service, or your local Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Commercial feed producers should be able to provide the names of wildlife nutritionists for consultation.

Let ‘um Go so they Can Grow:

Truly almost everyone interested in deer enjoys seeing a large buck.

 

What can you do to improve chances for a larger buck? The answer is simple – do not shoot one that is smaller than what you consider big. Young age is the limiting factor in the difference of big, bigger and MONSTER size whitetails. This is the primary reason why we do not see more trophies. Louisiana, Mississippi and all southern state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries have data that indicates more than 90 percent of buck harvest is less than four years old. Yet, white-tailed bucks generally do not reach their maximum antler and body size until after their fourth birthday.

I frequently hear the complaint, "If I pass him, he will probably get shot on the neighbor's land." Maybe, but if you shoot him, you guarantee he will not get any larger. At least a buck has a chance if you let him walk. If you want some venison, harvest a doe, or harvest several does, but do not compromise and take a smaller buck.

Patience is a virtue. The more time a person spends afield in good conditions, i.e., good habitat with abundant deer, close buck to doe ratio and well-distributed buck age structure, the better chance a person has to see or harvest a trophy buck. Even under the best conditions, most deer hunters will not get an opportunity to harvest a trophy buck every hunting season. This is why the sport is called hunting.

Many people have double standards for harvesting bucks with a bow versus a gun or during late season versus early season. There are a limited number of bucks out there. We decrease our trophy opportunities whenever we take a young buck. The whole idea behind hunting with primitive weapons, such as bow and arrow, is to make the hunt more challenging – to make the trophy more meaningful. Why cheapen it by lowering your trophy standards? True trophies can be and have been harvested with a bow because some of the largest bucks harvested in Louisiana and the South East and elsewhere have been taken with bow and arrow.

There are many ways people attempt to manage buck harvest, such as point restrictions, spread restrictions, age restrictions, hunter restrictions and doe harvest requirements. Some of these are ineffective and some are helpful. However, the best way to manage buck harvest is to limit the total number of bucks harvested from a property. To maintain some quality, buck harvest rate should not exceed one-third the estimated number of bucks present on the property. To manage for trophy bucks, buck harvest rate should not exceed one-fifth the estimated number of bucks. The more conservative the buck harvest, the better chance for a trophy.

 

When limiting overall buck harvest, trophies can be produced even when some young bucks are harvested because the vast majority of bucks are allowed to grow older. In situations where managers do not have deer population data, a reasonable starting point is to limit buck harvest to less than one buck per 275 acres of deer habitat for quality management and less than one buck per 450 acres of deer habitat for trophy management.

Does everyone need buck harvest restrictions? 

No – I do not believe we should impose buck restrictions on beginning hunters. But, I see nothing wrong with expecting more from experienced hunters. What is another small buck to someone who has harvested several bucks? We expect more from college graduates than we expect from first graders, so we should expect more from experienced hunters than we expect of beginning hunters.

In summary, when a buck does not meet your trophy criteria, don't shoot it.

Custom Steel Deer Feeders and Blinds

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Seed and Pelletized Protein

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29-May-2013