Article Date: Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Thousands of articles have been written on the subject of how to manage a whitetail deer herd. When I first began to hunt whitetail deer in North, Florida as a young man, the subject was never discussed and when it was brought up, the old hunters would say son, "if it is brown shoot it". I remember when you would hunt for days and if you seen a whitetail deer it was running for it's life in front of a pack of dogs.
My first experience with whitetail deer management was about thirty years ago, when I joined the Hatchbend Hunting Club, in North Central, Florida. Deer management was a new concept in the area. It was an amazing site when the group of hunters got together, paid money to have the opportunity to hunt in a certain area and was told they could not shoot does and small bucks. You would have thought you had just stole their pick up trucks or slapped there mommas. The first meeting of the members was held in a court house, which almost became an ideal place to convict the rioters, when the subject of letting deer live was presented. How could this plan work? "What are they thinking, not shooting every deer we see, the board of directors must have been hitting the moonshine, before the meeting". They finally agreed to implement this concept into an area that you could hunt all day and see maybe one or two deer tracks, when the club was formed. Within five years the same hunters that were on the verge of inciting a riot, were pounding their chest and telling anyone that would listen how smart they were. You could now hunt for a morning, set in your tree stand and count deer as they traveled in your hunting area. As the herd grew and the size of the bucks continued to get larger, the horn size was raised for whitetail bucks that you could harvest. I am proud to say that now it is not uncommon to hear of a hunter harvesting a Boone and Crocket buck in Hatchbend Hunting Club.
When Wilderness Calls was formed the whitetail deer population in the area was very low for our property, so we installed an aggressive deer management program. Now I will be the first to admit, it is hard to watch a 6 or 7 point buck chase a doe and not harvest him. This was made easier, with our conservationist James keeping us in line and reminding us how it would pay off in the future. There are several ways you can implement a whitetail deer management program. At Wilderness Calls we started the first day we acquired the property. An active feeding process was implemented and after the deer herd became aware of the feeding areas, we began to put high protein feed in the areas. This process did not happen over night and this is where a lot of people get discouraged when implementing whitetail deer management. We are a generation of right now and we want it to happen right now. Then we created the Double "D" gravity feeder to get even more of our high protein feed into the deer and less into the other critters of the wild. The herd began to grow and our bucks began to mature, therefore having larger horns. The second major process we used to let our buck grow to maturity, was to implement the "you shoot it you mount it" rule!!!! This truly made me look at a trophy buck twice before I squeezed the trigger on the old 308."
I know a lot of people reading this are saying to themselves "if I do not shoot him someone else will". I can not say this is not going to happen, but if you start something and then talk to your neighbors and they in turn talk to their neighbors, before long everyone will be on board. We do not have thousands of acres at Wilderness Calls, but we can see what will happen if you take the time and effort to let your deer grow to maturity and give them a healthy diet.
Below you will see in pictures what this process can do for you. We have been fortunate enough to take a picture of the same buck two years in a row. I will let you be the judge if you think deer management is worth the time and effort. Two trophy bucks were taken at Wilderness Calls last year and now we have caught two more on camera this year. The mind set at Wilderness Calls now is, "if that old buck makes it past me this year he will be a true wall HANGER next year". So go forth and hunt, but keep in mind there is always next year and he will be bigger.
Learn more about the Redneck Guru and about Double D Gravity Deer Feeders at WildernessCalls.com.