Category Archives: stewardship
I have just received the final report from the hunters on our property for the 2006 – 2007 white-tailed deer season. They were incredibly successful.
The group removed a total of 45 deer from our property this year, 35 “antlerless” (does) and 10 “antlered” (bucks). Our hunter-friends tell us about the sizes of the racks on the ten bucks, the even bigger ones they missed, and the successes of their friends and family members. They will, if given a chance, tell stories, always true of course, about the hunt this year.
To me, the numbers are more important. Last year our friends took away 29 does and 3 bucks. In other words, this year they took 40 percent more deer than last year. In 2004, they harvested 30 does and 1 buck (that was a sad year for the hunters), while in 2003, they took 24 and 7. Their best year, before this one, was 2002 when they shot 32 does and 11 bucks.
I go even farther with the numbers. I multiply the number of deer times the vast amount of browse that each one consumes. Browse is a fancy term for the buds from the trees and shrubs that they eat—seven pounds, by one estimate, per day. Throughout the winter they thrive on browse. Buds pruned off by the deer represent leaves and twigs that won’t grow, trees and shrubs that may be stunted or killed. Our hunters have probably saved many TONS of buds, many hundreds or perhaps even thousands of trees and shrubs this winter.
The numbers are higher than ever due to several factors. On the last Saturday of the regular, two-week rifle season, December 9th, there was a very light snow cover and the weather was clear and bright. Our group, 11 families with about 16 active hunters, plus some of their friends, were all out to take advantage of the visibility. Also, they seemed to be responding to our pressure to take as many deer as possible. Skilled, motivated people did an excellent job for us.
While our friends particularly cheer one another when they get racks they can mount on their garage walls, I see the deer simply as forest consumers, as so many bud-eating mouths. Oddly, though, despite the impressive numbers, a few days after the close of the last flintlock season in mid-January, we began seeing numerous deer tracks in the new snow. More stories for our friends next year, and continuing worries about the forest for us.