Whitetail deer management timeline
This is an exciting time of year for Missouri deer hunters as the firearms season is just around the corner. As you sit in the deer stand or ground blind this hunting season your mind may wander to thoughts of that giant buck you saw this summer walking towards you at 20 yards or getting a doe to put some meat in the freezer, but just maybe you're thinking about how you can make your property more desirable to deer. Here are some guidelines you can follow by the month of the year as to what you can do to not only make your land better for deer and other wildlife but also become more successful hunters as well.
Hunt--use your trigger finger as a management tool. If you want to see bigger bucks then don't shoot smaller deer, let them grow. If you aren't seeing as many deer as you did last year then hold off on shooting as many does. Hunt thick cover and travel lanes.
Record harvest and observational information - valuable information can be collected from every deer you harvest such as weight, antler size, time and date of harvest, and even looking by looking at the teeth you can determine age of the deer. A good way to do this is by removing one of the jawbones from the deer. If you would like information on this, contact your local MDC private land conservationist at the information below.
Information can also be collected when you are hunting. Record the time and date, hours hunting, location, number of does, fawns and bucks.
Spray fescue and brome in fields that you don't want these grasses growing with the herbicide glyphosate (ex. Roundup). Fescue and Brome don't provide good habitat for deer or other wildlife. You can either plant native warm season grasses and wildflowers or let whatever you have in your seed bank come up. Both of these options will provide excellent deer and other wildlife habitat.
Burn native grass fields to increase wildflowers in the fields and decrease the amount of grass. Thick rank stands of grass don't provide much to wildlife. Decreasing the grass and increasing wildflowers and annual weeds will allow deer to have cover and food in the same place.
Disk non-native cool season grass fields (Brome, Fescue, Orchard grass, Timothy) to set back the grasses and increase the amount of annual weeds and wildflowers. More food and cover in the same spot means better places.
Perform timber stand improvement work on your timber. This practice is basically like weeding a garden. Cut the undesirable and unmerchantable trees like locust, elm, hackberry, cedar, hedge, autumn olive and honeysuckle, but leave all the good trees such as oaks, hickories and walnuts. Be sure and treat the stumps with an approved herbicide such as Tordon RTU, Pathway or Garlon 3A or 4 Ultra. Always follow label directions. Doing TSI will create great instant cover and open up the ground to sunlight and allow more food and cover to establish in the timber.
Start planting native warm season grasses and wildflowers from now until June 30. Planting from December-January will give your wildflowers the best chance of germinating in the spring.
Hold landowner cooperative meetings--cooperative meetings are just meetings where adjoining landowners can come together and talk about their hunting season with one another. If they want to they can form a group and make common goals to reach such as increasing the age and size of deer on their properties by only harvesting certain age/sized deer or working to improve their wildlife habitat to increase the amount of food and cover on their land to hold deer.
Age any jawbones you collected from deer and look at your observational/harvest data. With enough information the Conservation Department has staff that can give you harvest recommendations based on your goals for your property or properties such as bigger deer or more deer.
Get a wildlife habitat management plan made for your property to get maps, recommendations for habitat management work and potential cost-share (reimbursement for doing habitat work) opportunities. Contact your local private land conservationist for more information.
These are just a few of the major things you can do to improve your land for deer and other wildlife as well as increasing your hunting potential. In the next newsletter there will be more information for next year's management practices.
If you are interested in doing any of the above practices or actions and have any questions or want more detailed descriptions you can contact Seth Moore, Private Land Conservationist with the Conservation Department at 660-886-7447 ext. 112 or at firstname.lastname@example.org