Selective Devon Deer Management
Devon Deer Management – Selective Deer Management
Devon deer management relies on the selective culling of female deer or does from the deer herd to effectively manage the overall health of the deer herd. Selling your stalking rights to trophy-oriented sportsman that are interested in antler size is a long-term mistake as a proper Devon Deer management plan will not be carried out by a trophy hunter. Stalkers should have the opportunity to harvest an occasional trophy head but not to the exclusion of a long term Devon deer management plan focused on taking out of the herd a larger proportion of does. This change in Devon deer management will result in a healthier overall deer population, including the production of better trophy heads. Progress also brings additional questions and one that Devon deer management is often asked is, “How do you know which does to cull”? Many hunters feel you should not shoot the oldest does, or lead doe, because they are the “teachers” in the deer world.
It is true that does teach the younger animals, and they often maintain matrilineal groups of daughters and granddaughters and can therefore teach multiple generations. However, in free ranging populations it is nearly impossible to identify and remove the oldest does. The position of lead doe is constantly changing and evolving with the age of the animals.
Devon Deer Management Promotes Managing Does
Devon Deer Management promotes harvesting an adequate number of female deer to keep populations in balance with the existing habitat. We generally recommend shooting the largest doe or does in a group because they are most likely adults, this will help the Devon deer management plan. The largest does however aren’t necessarily the oldest. Like humans, female deer come in many shapes and sizes. Adult does are the most reproductive segment of a deer population and their removal helps balance a herd with its habitat in the shortest time frame. The only exception to this general guideline would be in areas with low deer populations. In these areas, the harvest of does under 2½ years of age would be recommended because of their lower reproductive rates.
Why Use Devon Deer Management?
Devon deer management group has spent 20 years in the field studying and managing deer herd in Devon and Cornwall, this experience of training means we can separate live antlerless deer by sex (female vs. buck fawn) and Devon deer management can separate females into fawn, yearling, and 2½+ age classes. However, it is extremely difficult to accurately age live adult females to a specific year. For example, Devon deer management group stalkers can estimate a doe to be 2½+ years old based on body characteristics but it is difficult to identify whether she is actually 2½, 3½, 4½ or older. Fortunately, the oldest females aren’t necessarily the largest so when Devon deer management stalkers select for the largest doe(s) they are automatically selecting across a range of ages. Harvesting deer from all age classes is good for the deer herd and it provides important data for use in establishing future antlerless harvest quotas.
Even if Devon deer management could accurately identify the oldest does in a population it would be impossible to remove all of them. Research projects have shown mature does can be extremely difficult to harvest. In captive studies, a mature doe is often the last deer remaining when all deer within an enclosure are harvested. Finally, removing some of the oldest does benefits Devon deer management. Mature does that have lived under intense hunting pressure are master evaders and they teach their “tricks” to other deer in the group. This is one reason stalkers see fewer does 1-2 years after initiating aggressive deer management plans. These populations probably contain fewer deer and the remaining does are much better at avoiding hunters. Thus it is good to remove some of these “masters” on a yearly basis.