Kip Adams, a Certified Wildlife Biologist and Northern Q.D.M.A. Director

Kip’s Korner is written by Kip Adams, a Certified Wildlife Biologist and Northern Director of Education and Outreach for the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA)

As a member of QDMA I get some great information written by Kip Adams. Although mostly USA statistics and information a lot of this can be used and applied by Canadian hunters.

The most important tenet of Quality Deer Management (QDM) is to balance the deer herd with the habitat’s ability to support it.  Critics often speak of trophy bucks and antlers as the driving force, but hunters and managers who truly delve into the QDM philosophy quickly learn the correct number of deer for the landscape comes first, followed by balanced sex ratios and complete age structures.  Fortunately, you can work on these three objectives simultaneously by harvesting the biologically appropriate number of antlerless deer and passing young bucks.

Kip Adams QDMA

Many deer herds are more in balance with the habitat today than they’ve been in the recent past, and this is cause for celebration.  However, some areas still have overabundant deer herds resulting from harvesting too few antlerless deer.  Harvesting the proper number of antlerless deer can be difficult for a variety of reasons including hunters’ unwillingness to shoot them; a lack of opportunity with regard to access, seasons and/or bag limits; or simply low hunter numbers or their inability to shoot enough antlerless deer.  Most states currently have more liberal antlerless seasons and bag limits than they’ve had in the past, but some landowners and clubs still have difficulty acquiring enough antlerless tags or permits.

Given that hunter numbers have declined, the average hunter is now asked to take more antlerless animals in overabundant deer situations.  Unfortunately research shows there is a limit to the number of deer an individual hunter is willing to take annually.  This limit is generally less than three deer, and given that one or two may be bucks, the number of antlerless deer is further reduced.  One strategy to increase the impact of the antlerless harvest is to maximize harvest of adult does and minimize harvest of fawns.  I’ll clarify there is nothing wrong with harvesting fawns, and I routinely prescribe a fawn harvest to collect biological data from this age class.  However, if you’re struggling to balance the deer herd with the habitat, and you’re limited in the number of antlerless deer you take during the hunting season, focusing on adult does rather than fawns can help you reach your management objectives more quickly.

The QDMA recommends buck fawns constitute less than 10 percent of your total antlerless harvest.  Educating hunters on distinguishing fawns from adult deer and even separating buck and doe fawns in the field is a relatively simple matter.  By observing head and body features and behavior, most hunters can accurately distinguish between fawns and adults and buck and doe fawns most of the time.  I stress that last part because mistakes will happen.  Specifically, focusing on adult does rather than buck fawns provides more meat for the table, helps balance the herd more quickly, and allows additional buck fawns to survive.  More buck fawns means more yearling bucks the following year, which is good for balancing the adult sex ratio and for hunter satisfaction.

Let’s use a real-world example from where I live in Pennsylvania.  Before the Pennsylvania Game Commission implemented the Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP) in 2003 most Pennsylvania hunters could only get one or two antlerless tags.  On my family’s farm it was difficult to harvest enough antlerless deer with this restricted bag limit even with an extremely high hunter density of nearly one hunter per 25 acres.  During this time, when someone shot a button buck they had to use their only antlerless tag on it (or one of two), and thus they lost the ability to use it on an adult doe.  We cared far less about removing button bucks than about our lost ability to remove adult does.  Fortunately the Game Commission provides DMAP to most landowners today, and it has allowed us to achieve the proper antlerless harvest for the past several seasons.  Our forester even stated that we are the poster child for oak regeneration in Pennsylvania.  That is a far cry from the denuded oak woods I walked as a child.

Some contend protection of buck fawns is unnecessary, but in situations like the example above I’ll argue that learning to distinguish between antlerless deer in the field and selecting against buck fawns can dramatically help managers meet their deer density goals.  Many state agency biologists recognize this and provide information to hunters on how to identify antlerless deer on the hoof.  With escalating antlerless harvests in many states, we were interested in how the buck fawn harvest has changed over the past decade.  To calculate this, QDMA surveyed all state deer project leaders and asked what percentage of their total antlerless harvest was buck fawns in 1998 and 2008.  The data showed the percentage of buck fawns in the antlerless harvest declined from an average of 19 percent in 1998 to 16 percent in 2008.  This savings may appear small, but given the harvest of approximately 3.4 million antlerless deer in 2008, a 3 percent savings would have equated to 102,000 buck fawns.  Nationally, the percentage ranged from 3 percent in Mississippi (data collected on wildlife management areas and DMAP properties) to 25 percent in Ohio and Wisconsin in 2008.  The percentage in Ohio and Wisconsin is not surprising as both states have highly productive deer herds (i.e., a lot of fawns entering the populations) and aggressive antlerless harvest programs.  However, both states could benefit if some of those buck fawns harvested were adult does instead.  Notable declines in buck fawn harvest from 1998 to 2008 occurred in New Jersey (25 to 13 percent), Georgia (26 to 18 percent), North Carolina (17 to 12 percent) and Virginia (22 to 17 percent).

Many states have progressive deer management programs, and it’s showing in the health and quality of their herds and habitats, and especially in the satisfaction of their hunters.  I’ll reiterate that many deer herds are in balance with the habitat today, and reduced doe harvests are needed in these areas.  The focus of this article was for areas with too many deer and how targeting adult does rather than fawns could increase hunters’ effectiveness at balancing the herd with the habitat.  As fewer hunters are asked to harvest additional deer, more effective and efficient strategies become necessary.  Selecting adult does over buck (and doe) fawns meets this criterion, and it provides additional meat for the table.  Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

Kip’s Korner is written by Kip Adams, a Certified Wildlife Biologist and Northern Director of Education and Outreach for the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA).  The QDMA is an international nonprofit wildlife conservation organization dedicated to ethical hunting, sound deer management and preservation of the deer-hunting heritage.  The QDMA can be reached at 1-800-209-DEER or www.QDMA.com.

Hunting Blind almost ready for the opener

Well its been a bit of a grunt to build my blind over my secret spot of  Sweet Success food plot but it’s finally almost completed.

Bugs, rain, wind were all factors in fabricating a blind near swamp and forest but I think it will be worth the effort. With 20 acres of corn on my east side and a quick growing food plot on the forest side I know the deer will be attracted to this location. Gobblers and hens were often seen as well.

I wanted a blind I could hunt from and  do some all day photography work from so it had to be reasonably wind and water resistant. With Alfie’s help we built an awesome blind.  After throwing away his rubber tape-measure and a few extra cuts here and there everything fit together.

Alfie constructed side  at home and the roof we built on site. Four 14 foot long cedar logs made sturdy legs with 2×4 as cross bracing.

Treated 2×6 frame and one inch floor boards ensured a solid blind. Roof was made from cedar planks and 2×4 frame. Silicone sealant hopefully will keep the snow and rain at bay, or at least no annoying drips on my camera!

The Backyard wildlife food plot and mineral mix pail will keep the deer and turkeys here all year even after the cornfield is harvested.

Alfie’s blind is a work in progress and should be completed this week also. That’s IF he can stop DROPPING things on me!

check out this blindPeter-deerblind-web

Alfie-in-blind-web

Another Superb-uck food plot planted with a Chevy van!

Last year I had the opportunity to hunt with Jerry   his good  friend Edward. on a special goose hunt,  RippleOutdoors .

This year Jerry and Edward wanted to plant a food plot for whitetail deer and turkeys.

For those that didn’t read it Edward is paralysed from the neck down with very limited movement. We camouflaged Edward to look like a bale of hay amongst about 80 goose decoys. To see how that day turned out click here

Now Edward was limited of course to helping us planting a Backyard Wildlife food plot but Jerry and I managed to do it very easily and in little time. I sprayed for weeds two weeks ago. Jerry rented a Plotmule from Badenoch Archery and we met at 8am at the proposed plot location.

van-disking-web

Unfortunately my ATV was located north and I had no time to retrieve it.

Jerry said we could do it with his van!

I was sceptical as Jerry proceeded to disk up the soil with the plotmule towed behind his van but indeed he did get mos t of it plowed up. When we added a set of harrows I had to take over with my 4×4 truck to finish off the plot.

Now I don’t recommend this method to everyone but we did get it disked up and seeded with Backyard Wildlife Superb-uck seed in just under two hours. The plot measured just over 1/2 acre in size.


superb-uck-food-plot

Rain had started to soak the soil down making it greasy,

Hence my 4×4

helping out, but I was amazed by Jerry’s van digging in and turfing soil!

RackStacker-web

There’s still time to get your Backyard Wildlife Food Plot Plant. Deer season start soon so don’t delay!

If you want a free sample of Walk n Toss seed contact me info[at]rippleoutdoors[dot]com and I will tell you how to get some!

Backyard Wildlife Walk n Toss and Sweet Success Food Plots

Using Walk n Toss and Sweet Success seeds for my Backyard Wildlife food plot in June I can now see some great results.

Deer and turkeys are often feeding here according to trailcam photos.

Summer’s slow start certainly hindered plant growth but both my plots have progressed nicely over the last three weeks.

Alfie my hunting buddy and I began construction of a tree stand blind last week. Imagine our surprise when we arrived to see a massive Popular tree snapped in two sections across the trail into the food plot!

Backyard-Wildlife-Food-PlotWe chose the east side of plot with a corn field

a few yards away.

A small creek divided this bush lot and corn field.

I planted Walk n Toss and Sweet Success seeds in two locations in early June after preparing the soil and eliminating  pesky weeds.

Both plots lead out to a corn field on the east side of the farm from the bush lot.

AS you can see I have some tree cutting and trimming on a massive downed Popular tree.

Luckily it didn’t damage this food plot when it snapped and fell.

Some photos of deer attracted to Rack Stacker Mineral Supplements and Sweet Success Feed mix.

Rack-Stacker Mineral SupplementDoe and two fawns enjoying a meal

Backyard Wildlife Products donates Cheque to O.F.A.H Hunters Education Program

Steve Elmy founder of Backyard Wildlife Products stopped by the Ontario Federation of Angler & Hunters headquarters to present a $1820 cheque to   David Pind, O.F.A.H manager of the Hunter Education Program.OFAH cheque from Backyard Wildlife

 

 

Steve raised money at the Toronto Sportsmen Show with an action shoot video console in his custom Backyard Wildlife trailer.

 

 

Loonies and Toonies were donated by both young and old for the Hunters Education Program.

To find out additional information O.F.A.H.  Hunter Education Program

The money raised will be used for by O.F.A.H Hunter Education  Program to help young kids become safe and informed hunters.

Steve is a long time supporter of O.F.A.H.

So check out Backyard Wildlife Products for wildlife supplements, food plots seeds, soil testing and mineral mixes.