When do we count deer to make the deer count have any validity? Wouldn't make any sense to compare a December count to a June count. Right? If hunters say they have seen less deer, that does not necessarily mean that there are fewer deer out there.
First of all, nobody knows.
And secondly, arriving at a numerical answer might be more problematical than we may at first think.
What would a number really tell us, anyway?
The only way it would mean anything would be if the number itself was compared with another number, that is the deer population of a previous year. But I'm afraid it would be as meaningless as the exact number the Fed bean counters have pegged as the National Debt.
Computational problems jump up like whitetails out of a brush pile.
Like how do you count does?
After the season, one could make the case that we really should each count does as two, or 2.5 deer because they each are pregnant.
A fair and accurate statement to say is that in May, the whitetail population will double.
So that brings up the question: When do we count deer to make the deer count have any validity?
Wouldn't make any sense to compare a December count to a June count. Right?
If hunters say they have seen less deer, that does not necessarily mean that there are fewer deer out there. (Or even that the take was lower. Won't know that until all the numbers are compiled and the non-reporting rates are factored in.)
The whitetails’ gastronomical mandate overrides all other biological drives except one, and deer will change their behavior patterns to satisfy that call, even if that means moving one or two hills over.
In other words, the overall population number (whatever it may be) may be about the same as last year, but maybe hunters did not see as many deer because "normal" whitetail behavior became modified by environmental causes.
So the appearance of fewer deer does not necessarily mean that there are less deer.
A large problem which we have in controlling (managing) the whitetail herd or population is that the hunting range is being broken up and fractured into tens and hundreds of thousands of tiny properties, each with their own deer management philosophy, often radically different from their neighbor's!
Here are some imaginary scenarios; probably not too far off from some hunting properties you may know:
On one 200-acre property, you may have a QDM (Quality Deer Management) program, that is: only does and racked bucks after attaining a certain size are tagged. No juvenile bucks are harvested there.
Next to it is a 300-acre property that absolutely prohibits the shooting of antlerless deer. But if it has a horn the size of a pencil, it's down. Drive around; you can still see "No Doe Hunting" signs posted on property.
Next door to that, there is a tightly posted 400-acre property. The landowner took off a day of work on the opening day of the deer season to patrol to make sure nobody shot one of his deer. They are his pets. No hunting there!
And adjacent, there is another 150-acre piece that is open for all hunting. The landowner doesn't live near it and doesn't care how many hunters tramp across his land.
One last one: A 250-acre piece which is hunted by only two guys who shoot only big bucks, mounters. They do not shoot does.
And that is just a few management scenarios. They are all over the place.
Now tell me, is a coherent management philosophy over a region, possible with so many different and unique private hunting philosophies in a patchwork pattern across the deer range?
Seems like just about everyone has their own ideas of deer management and likewise, they seem to differ on what kind of deer population they want.
And further, take two states, New York and Pennsylvania. They each have radically different deer management programs, too.
Not so long ago Pennsylvania had its "doe days" at the end of the season. New York has always had doe season contiguous with buck hunting.
Wouldn't you think that there would be some consensus of opinion between state game management managers? Maybe some overall game management philosophy which both states could follow?
Isn't there right and wrong in this deer management thing?
What do you want?
And what do I want?
Maybe different things when it comes to whitetail deer.
And nobody has figured out how to even count them.
Seems like that might be a place to start.
Contact Oak Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org.