When walking around your permission/hunting ground you should always look closely at everything around you, the grass, trees, fencing, tree-stands, and streams. All of them require management or simple maintenance. Part of our job is to look after not just the infrastructure which we put in, but also to make sure that the rest of the ground is in the best possible state it can be; by doing so we actually encourage the wildlife to grow and thrive.
The management of a hunting territory requires work
For the most part, you communicate reasonably simple objectives to the landowner or estate manager: control one maybe two species to the desired number and don’t worry about the rest; however, in most cases, it doesn’t work like that.
By reducing (for example) one species you will ultimately affect the habitat of others: therefore, a full survey needs to be done before, during and after the control takes place.
There are many methods used by wildlife managers and they all impact on each other in some way.
Analyse the movement of deer populations in the territory
Personally, I never rush to start culling animals on the property. For me, it is very important to know the ground inside-out before I would even consider bringing my rifle with me.
I walk the ground very carefully and slowly, at least 10 times. I look for entries, exits and crossover paths, places for bedding and ruminating, rutting stands and feeding patches.
All this information helps me draw up a picture of the movements and activities on the ground.
Hunting camera tracking
Trail cameras are always in use, and even in hunting grounds where I am well-informed about the residents, I still keep them running to make sure that I am aware of any changes.
Cameras give you a very good idea about the numbers, sex and age of the animals in the area, as well as their movements over time.
Based on the footage you can easily pick out the old, injured or weak individuals.
Agrarian reform for the good of the people
I also like to install feeders and mineral-licks to boost the overall condition of the animals, especially young ones, as they occasionally struggle to get enough vitamins if the summer/autumn too wet.
Management of flora in addition to fauna
Clearing undergrowth is always good too, if done in moderation: this sort of job will encourage fresh grasses and flowers to grow and they’ll bring in much-needed insects and birds.
As you all know, Nature exists in harmony… so if we are entering this unique and wild world, we MUST make sure that we give back more than we take.
What is your advice on how to manage a deer hunting territory?