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Old 11-06-2019, 02:36 PM   #1
J Wales
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Default Ideal Herd Composition and Numbers

I have been trying to do the math to determine what a health deer herd should look like as far as age and doe/buck ratios go, primarily so I have an idea of how many does we should take each year and how many mature bucks we should realistically expect to be able to take, on average, each year.

I know the answer to that depends on many factors, including mortality from neighboring properties, fawn mortality, range conditions, supplemental feeding, and whether or not it is fenced. But I'm trying to ignore those questions to get a baseline understanding of what an typical, managed herd should look like.

Assuming you have 100 deer (not counting fawns), what would be the ideal mix of does to bucks? And out of that, how many 1 (1.5, but I'm avoiding using .5's), 2, 3, 4, 5, 6+ year old bucks would you expect to have?
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Old 11-06-2019, 02:40 PM   #2
TxSon1836
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dang interesting question. cant help with that kinda math but i am in for responses
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Old 11-06-2019, 02:52 PM   #3
bullhead44
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Old 11-06-2019, 03:00 PM   #4
Drycreek3189
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I don’t know, and even the state biologists don’t seem to either, because when my place was MLDP, they wanted me to kill five does every year on my 217 acre place. Even a dummy like me knew that was too many. We averaged two a year for ten years and never had too many does. I was MLDP for three years and didn’t re-up.

Now, under the new rules, only one doe could be killed on that very same place. Go figure...
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Old 11-06-2019, 03:04 PM   #5
hog_down
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I believe the simple answer is 50 bucks and 50 does. Obviously there are more factors, such as predators, killed by road traffic, old age, your neighbor shot it, etc. You also need to factor in how much food/forage you have on your land (or the surrounding area) to support such a deer herd. Yes, I went to school for this, and its a very debated topic. Ask 50 people and you will probably get 50 different answers.
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Old 11-06-2019, 05:12 PM   #6
Daddy D
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hog_down View Post
I believe the simple answer is 50 bucks and 50 does. Obviously there are more factors, such as predators, killed by road traffic, old age, your neighbor shot it, etc. You also need to factor in how much food/forage you have on your land (or the surrounding area) to support such a deer herd. Yes, I went to school for this, and its a very debated topic. Ask 50 people and you will probably get 50 different answers.

In no way am I "bashing you" or anything of that sort...but I've talked/thought long and hard about this over the years as well. In my opinion, in the OPs hypothetical of 100 deer, 50b/50d doesn't work. That gives you (in my opinion) too many fawns dropping every year. In the OPs hypo, to stay at a 50 buck number, you cannot have 20-25 buck fawns hit the ground every year. It doesn't work. If another one of your goals was to harvest what your fawn crop is annually... you'd be forced into doing LOTS of killing (i.e. killing 50% of your buck herd annually).
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Old 11-06-2019, 05:18 PM   #7
Daddy D
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Others on here might tell me I am wrong, and maybe I am, but we run about 50-55 does on our place and 80-90 bucks.

Our buck herd distribution right now is like so, and this might not necessarily be what we intended but this is what it looks like this year (we lost a handful of old bucks this summer):

7s: 3
6:12
5:11
4:16
3:20
2:20
1: 6-8 (we had terrible fawn crop this year for a variety of reasons)


I'd be interested in seeing other people's opinions or distributions. Could be a good thread with lots of good info IMO

Last edited by Daddy D; 11-06-2019 at 05:33 PM.
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Old 11-06-2019, 05:39 PM   #8
catslayer
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Keep in mind state biologist don't give a rats rear about heard health

They care about the forage quality... So they are always going to suggest less animals on it.

100 deer... I think it would be something like 75-25 with as equal a distribution through the ages as you could get ...

Low doe number intensify and shorten rut so that's less stress on bucks

Honestly my target would be 100 deer but all bucks would get a pass until 3... So I would always carry a bit over. And I'd be ok with that
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Old 11-06-2019, 07:24 PM   #9
J Wales
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Thanks for the comments so far. Using the 100 deer number, letís assume 100 adult deer is the maximum carrying capacity without hurting the habitat.

Ultimately, I am trying to figure out the best herd composition that will maximize the number of mature (5+, or preferably 6+ year old bucks) that can be taken each year.
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Old 11-07-2019, 04:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J Wales View Post
Thanks for the comments so far. Using the 100 deer number, letís assume 100 adult deer is the maximum carrying capacity without hurting the habitat.

Ultimately, I am trying to figure out the best herd composition that will maximize the number of mature (5+, or preferably 6+ year old bucks) that can be taken each year.
It's difficult to address while ignoring all the variables you listed. So, here's some general rules of thumb.

Set a population goal as you desribed above (carrying capacity). This is kind of a situation of - "what came first, the chicken or the egg?"

Let's start with chicken - If doe are harvested at a rate sufficient to maintain population size, and bucks are allowed to reach 6+ years, then the end result, over time, will inadvertently settle around a 1:1 to 1:1.5 sex ratio. Life is harder on bucks.

Let's start with egg - A 1:1 sex ratio is a goal. Doe are harvested at a rate sufficient to maintain population size, as well as bucks allowed to reach 6+ years, then the end result, over time, will be around a 1:1 to 1:1.5 sex ratio.

You end up in the same place.

Old bucks can't exist in "good numbers" without a light harvest of bucks, thereby carrying a good proportion of bucks in the herd is necessary. At the same time, there must be enough doe to produce fawns for future mature bucks while still controlling population growth potential through doe harvest.

So, if no more than 50% of the adult deer are doe, then population growth can be more easily controlled, while maximizing potential fawn production. With that said, sex ratio should not be used as a goal; rather set adult population goal with no more than half being doe, then let the bucks reach maturity, and like I said, that will inadvertently settle at around 1:1 to 1:1.5 buck:doe ratio.
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Old 11-07-2019, 05:56 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Top Of Texas View Post
It's difficult to address while ignoring all the variables you listed. So, here's some general rules of thumb.

Set a population goal as you desribed above (carrying capacity). This is kind of a situation of - "what came first, the chicken or the egg?"

Let's start with chicken - If doe are harvested at a rate sufficient to maintain population size, and bucks are allowed to reach 6+ years, then the end result, over time, will inadvertently settle around a 1:1 to 1:1.5 sex ratio. Life is harder on bucks.

Let's start with egg - A 1:1 sex ratio is a goal. Doe are harvested at a rate sufficient to maintain population size, as well as bucks allowed to reach 6+ years, then the end result, over time, will be around a 1:1 to 1:1.5 sex ratio.

You end up in the same place.

Old bucks can't exist in "good numbers" without a light harvest of bucks, thereby carrying a good proportion of bucks in the herd is necessary. At the same time, there must be enough doe to produce fawns for future mature bucks while still controlling population growth potential through doe harvest.

So, if no more than 50% of the adult deer are doe, then population growth can be more easily controlled, while maximizing potential fawn production. With that said, sex ratio should not be used as a goal; rather set adult population goal with no more than half being doe, then let the bucks reach maturity, and like I said, that will inadvertently settle at around 1:1 to 1:1.5 buck:doe ratio.
This what we aim for - 1 to 1:1.5 on 9000 acre LF ranch
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Old 11-07-2019, 06:02 PM   #12
Dirtymike
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75 bucks and 25 doe, only the biggest and baddest get the ladies
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Old 11-08-2019, 05:59 AM   #13
Top Of Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huntingfool View Post
This what we aim for - 1 to 1:1.5 on 9000 acre LF ranch
Just to make sure I'm being clear, as that was a long winded post, sex ratio shouldn't be a goal. Aiming for a ballpark sex ratio is cool, but increasing or decreasing buck or doe harvest solely to achieve a sex ratio is an error. A close sex ratio is just the bi-product of good bullet management.
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Old 11-09-2019, 09:23 AM   #14
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Ideally you want a 1:1 buck to do ratio so 50 bucks and 50 does. Out of the bucks you want a good representation of each age class. As far as specific numbers of each age I donít really think it matters.


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Old 11-11-2019, 11:08 AM   #15
Mike Murphey
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You need to define your property on habitat....perform deer counts and find out how many deer per acre you have....we like to be 1 deer per 15-18 acres for managing for trophy deer, (more food for less mouths), we don't mind seeing less deer. But if you like seeing many deer and your land can feed more then you might want to get to 1 deer per 10 acres, ( more animals to feed). Its not hard to figure out, you need to perform deer counts, TPW biologist can help you get started for free. Once you know your carrying capacity then you know how many deer need to come off every year to maintain that amount.
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Old 11-11-2019, 04:44 PM   #16
DeadEyeB
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I talked to my local biologist about carrying capacity in South TX he said 1 deer per 10-20 acres is ideal. QDM says 1:1 ratio or as close to it for doe/buck.

Maintain something close to those numbers and allow bucks/doe to age out and you ought to have a pretty good herd overall.

It's super difficult to manage or even get accurate counts w/out your neighbors help if you are low fenced.

Biologist did say if you can get everyone to do a visual feeder count around the same times he could get a pretty good idea of density & ratio. Hard part is getting in contact with the neighbors. You'd need to do probably 500-1000 acres area at least.

Keep in mind your local biologist is listed on txpwd website. You can shoot them an email and they can probably help to some degree.
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Old 11-11-2019, 08:09 PM   #17
elgato
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Recognizing this is a purely hypothetical question with more unknowns than knowns managing a herd in a vacuum I'll take a swipe at an answer from an entirely different perspective.

I think you only need enough does to meet recruitment goals. Assume you are removing 30% of the herd every year either from harvest or natural mortality. Thats 30 deer based on your 100 deer herd.

Assume this herd is in East Tx where fawn survival is more consistent than S. Tx and lets make fawn survival 50%{ certainly could be higher on well managed land.} Thus you need enough does to recruit 60 fawns believing you will lose half of them. Easy to believe 40 mature does should achieve or exceed this. If the habitat on this property is well managed you could probably get by with 30 does. Any more does and you will constantly be fighting harvest to keep herd in check.

this gives you 60-70 bucks. Anything wrong with that? At least half the bucks should be 4-8+ years old. Thats 30-35 mature bucks. More exciting for the hunters with more targets available and more mature bucks creating the 'opportunity ' that some are superstars.

The downside of a ratio with more bucks than does is you do get more fighting mortality. But without question that will happen at 1:1 as well anyone with a 1:1 herd knows.

To increase fawn recruitment, you do not shoot the mature does which are better mothers and more likely to successfully raise twins. The focus is on removing female fawns which take a couple years to start consistently producing twins. Following this strategy you are far more likely to get by with only 30 mature does...or less, making more room for additional bucks. Why do you need any extra does other than what is required to meet recruitment goals ? Would you rather spend your time afield hunting bucks with minimal doe harvest required?

Wanna see a dynamic rut? Get a 2:1 b/d ratio. Make this magical property 2000 acres with 1 deer to 20 acres, have 200 acres of year round food plots and a well managed timber program creating dense east Tx. thickets and abundant browse in the woods and you have created an incredible and challenging place to hunt. Well fed deer with 1800 acres of thickets, oak trees and natural browse can be really hard to find

Last edited by elgato; 11-11-2019 at 08:14 PM.
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