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Mar 25th, 2012
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Management question #7031438
01/09/18 06:10 PM
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I know this might be hard to gauge without actually stepping foot on the ranch but i wanted to get a general feeling. We hunt on 10,000 acres in Val Verde County and have a nice number of deer. You always see deer when driving around and i would say you typically see 10-12 when sitting in a stand. I thought we had been good at deer management but the last couple of years the quality of the deer has come down and it is starting to worry me. We are many taking mostly 125-130 class deer but in the last we would at least get 4-5 150 class a year. My question is how many deer do you think we should be taking a year to keep a healthy heard? I just got the count from this year and we took 65 deer and the split was 26 does, 20 bucks, and 19 cull/management bucks. I now that there are many other factors besides the management part that goes into this but figured this was a good start. BTW, we corn feed from Oct-Jan and feed alfalfa hay just about all year.

Re: Management question [Re: CB09] #7031461
01/09/18 06:26 PM
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10K acres, even if the deer density/carrying capacity is as low as 20 acres/deer, should maintain a population of 500 deer. I don't think the CC would get much lower than that, but even assuming a 50 acre/deer density you are still talking 200 deer. lets say the split is 2:1 doe:buck and you have 500 deer over that area, then you would assume an age stratification on the bucks which would be heavy younger and less older, but around 166 bucks of which 60+ would be yearling, 60-80 in the 2.5-4.5 age bracket, and 30-40 5.5 and above (probably less but that accounts for the really old ones you never see too). If you shot 20 trophy bucks in the 120-130 class, those are your 2.5-4.5 ages most likely, so you are shooting quite a big percentage of that age class. add in the 19 culls which are also in the 2.5 and above range and you are taking out another large part of your older bucks.

So, if you are shooting 39 bucks in a population which only holds maybe 60-90 bucks, that is taking quite a large chunk of your good bucks away and I would think you would see a decline in the quality of deer left over. You have to assume that in these numbers there are deer you will never see, so you may be shooting above what your numbers could carry.

Now if you have a higher CC or deer density, or a better doe:buck ratio, these number may work. I am going by an idea of what deer density may be down there, but I have no idea really, just throwing out some numbers for you to see the point.

Re: Management question [Re: CB09] #7031468
01/09/18 06:31 PM
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How many deer per acre do you have and what is carrying capacity? Don't you need to know that first before knowing what you should be taking? Normally it is less bucks than does. You did the opposite and took way more bucks.

Buddy of mine as 10,000 in brush country. They don't supplement feed except food plots. They do their heli survey each November for their MLDP. They try to keep it a deer for 20 acres CC. So they manage to that and a 1.5:1 ratio. Management is any main frame 8 or less over 3.5 yo, spikes, and does. Only a couple trophies are taken total a year. Normally 40 to 60 buck tags to 80 to 120 doe tags depend on count. They rather see less deer but more quality.

Re: Management question [Re: CB09] #7031471
01/09/18 06:32 PM
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A much better management plan would be to take out more doe. you need to shoot at least 1 doe for every buck shot, and maybe even 2:1.

Again using the (flawed) numbers from above, if you have 500 deer on the place and it is 333 doe vs 166 bucks. If you shoot 26 doe and 39 bucks, that leaves 307 doe and 127 bucks (and you are already at 2.4:1 doe:buck ratio). I know doe will repopulate but the ratio will get more out of whack the longer than practice takes place.

Shooting doe will help bucks by allowing more food sources, bucks become stronger and more able to survive the rut and cold snaps, and make hunting more enjoyable as bucks will be more responsive to rattling and calling if there is more competition for them. Its a win win.

So bottom line is shoot less bucks and more doe.

Re: Management question [Re: Txduckman] #7031474
01/09/18 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted By: Txduckman
How many deer per acre do you have and what is carrying capacity? Don't you need to know that first before knowing what you should be taking? Normally it is less bucks than does. You did the opposite and took way more bucks.

Buddy of mine as 10,000 in brush country. They don't supplement feed except food plots. They do their heli survey each November for their MLDP. They try to keep it a deer for 20 acres CC. So they manage to that and a 1.5:1 ratio. Management is any main frame 8 or less over 3.5 yo, spikes, and does. Only a couple trophies are taken total a year. Normally 40 to 60 buck tags to 80 to 120 doe tags depend on count.


This...also talk to the local biologist, they will have some ideas, but I can guarantee the first thing they will say is shoot more doe.

Re: Management question [Re: CB09] #7031477
01/09/18 06:36 PM
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First off, you say you took 20 bucks and 19 culls. Is that 20 "trophy" bucks? If so, I'd start right there by killing no more than 10 trophy bucks per year. How old are these "trophy" bucks? Also, don't forget 2011-2013 drought. Lots of ranches missing entire year classes of deer. So the mature deer you see today have had a tough life and may never reach the potential that the drought took away.

Re: Management question [Re: CB09] #7031484
01/09/18 06:41 PM
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Someone has 10K acreas and thinks they can shoot a bunch of trophy bucks every year...but the numbers don't add up, esp in tough country like Val Verde. The 10K acres may only hold 30 bucks that are considered trophy and the rest may be culls anyway (depending on your def of trophy vs cull)...but in an age class where there might only be 40-60 animals, if half of them are trophy and you shoot those every year, it doesn't leave much for next year.

Re: Management question [Re: CB09] #7031508
01/09/18 06:57 PM
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In that area I think you'd be doing well at 20 - 22 deer per section.
15.6 sections x 20 = approx 312 deer, of that only a small number will be mature bucks, taking 49 total bucks off seems excessive to me.

If it were mine to manage, 20 - 22 bucks total less would be better, 24 - 30 doe.
Actually I'd restrict bucks down to around 12 or less for two years to see what kind of improvement takes place.
8 - 10 protein feeders, filled at least from early to mid January to October.

---> TPWD Valverde deer population trends
---> TPWD harvest reccomendations

Re: Management question [Re: CB09] #7031513
01/09/18 06:59 PM
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For comparison, we carry a deer to 25 acres on our place in Webb County. Pretty sure our habitat is superior to Val Verde Co. and we still feed protein. I know nothing about your sex ratios, but I can tell you you're shooting too many bucks and not enough does, just by the harvest numbers you reported. Also, I'd be careful feeding alfalfa hay as a primary diet. Way too high in fiber and can/will cause bloat in deer if they're eating too much of it, versus other forage.

Re: Management question [Re: CB09] #7031568
01/09/18 07:33 PM
01/09/18 07:33 PM
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Check the harvest reccomendations shown above. When it says 1 buck for 500 acres that's not one trophy and one cull. When I was feeding, out of Comstock, I was very familiar with everything west of 281, from the river to the county line up by Pandale. The northern part of that area gets a whole lot more rain than down around hwy 90.

Your native brush will start losing protein value towards the end of May (usually) and it will go down as the year progresses.

You should be doing protein, even whole cottonseed for a couple of months, the whole year.

Young bucks are like teenage boys, they do stupid stuff and end up getting themselves killed. That by itself will bring your buck numbers down. If you're killing 1.5 to 2.5 yo bucks, you are making a mistake.

Like fouz says, take more does and let the young stuff walk.

Management is not just feeding and killing. You need to manage the whole gamut of things because anything you do for one segment of the ranch/lease will impact other areas. Example, feeding corn year around, will bring in quail and turkey. They will nest close to the groceries which will bring in critters that feed on them and their nests.

Back off on the killing and pray for more rain. If you can't afford to feed all year, feed heavy in April, May and June, that's the most important trimester for you pregnant does to drop healthy fawns. Feed 18 to 20% from March through October. In the fall and post-rut you can go down to 16% (as an economy measure) to help them post-rut because the natural stuff is nothing but fiber then unless it's been wet and you are getting lots of forbs.

Re: Management question [Re: CB09] #7031588
01/09/18 07:54 PM
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Sounds like solid advice by several above, I bet it will get you to better results in a few years.


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Re: Management question [Re: CB09] #7031599
01/09/18 08:03 PM
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Thanks for the input guys and i know i need to find out some more detailed info and maybe try fly the ranch. When i say we are shooting 125-130 class deer i would not say they are trophy deer. They are typically 3-4 year old deer that should not be shot but they were by customers or friends of people we bring out. Most of the what we consider culls were either 5+ years old and an 8pt, no brow tine deer, or screwed up racks that were not going to be anything. The reason our buck doe count is almost in reverse is b/c when sitting in s a stand you hardly saw any does at the feeders so we got a little worried when we had shot 15 in the first 2 weeks. Now driving around you saw them but i guess we overreacted a little and and maybe should have let some of the younger no brow tine bucks walk.

We are going to have a sit down with everyone in a month or to talk about the 2018 season and this will be a major talking point. Thanks for the help.

Re: Management question [Re: CB09] #7031610
01/09/18 08:15 PM
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You're not going to kill many 150" deer if you're shooting your 3-4 year old 125-130 inch deer. Tough situation. Sounds like a corporate deal where you want your clients to get a buck, any decent buck. If that is your goal, then managing the ranch for true trophies will be next to impossible. 99.9% of your clients aren't going to learn to field age and score deer. Same goes for the "friends". I can tell by what you've said thus far that you are high-grading your deer herd. You're shooting your better bucks and letting a lot of other junk walk. Eventually, all you'll have is junk. I know that sounds harsh, but it's the truth. The only solution to the problem of bucks being shot that shouldn't is going to be for an experienced hunter who knows deer to guide your clients.

I can provide a first hand experience on the high-grading. Hunted a corporate lease as a guest for many, many years. The landowner got tired of the host's guests shooting young bucks, so he instituted a 10 point rule. To shoot, the deer had to have 10 or more points. Guess what happened after about 5-6 years? No mature ten points but plenty of other mature deer that were junkers, and very few 10's coming up in earlier year classes.

Re: Management question [Re: CB09] #7031613
01/09/18 08:21 PM
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I think managing any kind of corporate place is going ot be tough. Everyone that comes out expect to shoot something, and many times they will shoot a younger 8 or 10 over a older funky 6 or 7.

Sounds like there needs to be some rules in place and not a free for all type shooting situation.

Re: Management question [Re: fouzman] #7031646
01/09/18 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted By: fouzman
You're not going to kill many 150" deer if you're shooting your 3-4 year old 125-130 inch deer. Tough situation. Sounds like a corporate deal where you want your clients to get a buck, any decent buck. If that is your goal, then managing the ranch for true trophies will be next to impossible. 99.9% of your clients aren't going to learn to field age and score deer. Same goes for the "friends". I can tell by what you've said thus far that you are high-grading your deer herd. You're shooting your better bucks and letting a lot of other junk walk. Eventually, all you'll have is junk. I know that sounds harsh, but it's the truth. The only solution to the problem of bucks being shot that shouldn't is going to be for an experienced hunter who knows deer to guide your clients.

I can provide a first hand experience on the high-grading. Hunted a corporate lease as a guest for many, many years. The landowner got tired of the host's guests shooting young bucks, so he instituted a 10 point rule. To shoot, the deer had to have 10 or more points. Guess what happened after about 5-6 years? No mature ten points but plenty of other mature deer that were junkers, and very few 10's coming up in earlier year classes.


Funny you said that because the LO said that same thing about 2 years ago....

Re: Management question [Re: CB09] #7031660
01/09/18 08:56 PM
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How many hunters hunt the property? That could be part of the problem. And how many trophy bucks are allowed/year/hunter? Where do you draw the line between trophy and management/cull? You may have to move your trophy criteria up the scale to allow the bucks to reach their potential. I ask how many hunters because, depending on what the cost is per member, many will justify killing a buck they maybe should pass because the money invested justifies it in their minds. Oh, and kill more does.

Re: Management question [Re: CB09] #7031693
01/09/18 09:21 PM
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As hard as it is to hear and even more difficult to do something about, you are killing more than double the amount of bucks that should be if you want to reverse the downward trend or ever want to see an increase in antler size.
First item on the agenda should be reducing bucks killed, by a large amount, I think your are already well into the middle of a high grading problem.
By the time most folks notice even a slight decline it has been a problem for at least a few to several years before they realized it.

Feeding protein will help but it is a long term commitment, it takes years to see gains, it is far more reliable than food plots that depend on machinery, soil conditions & rain.

I'm one that has always believed in management starting with the soil up, do as much as you can to improve overall habitat first, after you have success with that then move to herd management.
One approached I've used in the past is disallowing hunting on portions of the property, sometimes rotating every year to minimize complaints.
No hunting on NW quadrant one year, next year no hunting on SW quadrant & so on.
2500 acres left completely un hunted out of 10,000 can be a good management tool.

Re: Management question [Re: CB09] #7031749
01/09/18 10:19 PM
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I'm curious as to what part of Val Verde County you are in? Northern Val Verde was hit hard by anthrax about 8 years ago. The big fire a couple years later didn't help. There are quite a few genetics that are closer to "Hill Country" deer than some of the other ranches down around hwy 90. North end of the county has way too much cedar.

Re: Management question [Re: CB09] #7031788
01/09/18 10:41 PM
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Let them get old.... bucks need to be 5yr old +

Re: Management question [Re: deerfeeder] #7031795
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Originally Posted By: deerfeeder
I'm curious as to what part of Val Verde County you are in? Northern Val Verde was hit hard by anthrax about 8 years ago. The big fire a couple years later didn't help. There are quite a few genetics that are closer to "Hill Country" deer than some of the other ranches down around hwy 90. North end of the county has way too much cedar.


We are in the NE part of the county off 277 but north of Loma Alta Store.

Re: Management question [Re: Rustler] #7031810
01/09/18 10:53 PM
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Originally Posted By: Rustler
As hard as it is to hear and even more difficult to do something about, you are killing more than double the amount of bucks that should be if you want to reverse the downward trend or ever want to see an increase in antler size.
First item on the agenda should be reducing bucks killed, by a large amount, I think your are already well into the middle of a high grading problem.
By the time most folks notice even a slight decline it has been a problem for at least a few to several years before they realized it.

Feeding protein will help but it is a long term commitment, it takes years to see gains, it is far more reliable than food plots that depend on machinery, soil conditions & rain.

I'm one that has always believed in management starting with the soil up, do as much as you can to improve overall habitat first, after you have success with that then move to herd management.
One approached I've used in the past is disallowing hunting on portions of the property, sometimes rotating every year to minimize complaints.
No hunting on NW quadrant one year, next year no hunting on SW quadrant & so on.
2500 acres left completely un hunted out of 10,000 can be a good management tool.


I kinda like that idea about limiting a pasture a year. Will throw that out to the group.

Re: Management question [Re: CB09] #7031818
01/09/18 10:58 PM
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How much does a helicopter survey cost and what is the best time of year to do them?

Last edited by CB09; 01/10/18 01:28 AM.
Re: Management question [Re: CB09] #7031922
01/10/18 12:04 AM
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It sounds to me like your killing way to many bucks, way too soon.

I would switch to 1 mature buck per 1000 acres. And make sure mature means 6+ years old.

Without knowing history on your native does, culling bucks will not help unless your culling at maturity. Until maturity you have no idea what the buck will become.

See Fouzman's recent thread on this subject.


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Re: Management question [Re: CB09] #7032058
01/10/18 01:34 AM
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I also was on a lease in your area a few years back, 10,000 acres with 8 hunters. Down Dolan Creek Road. The terrain was rough and we actually only hunted what was easy to access, No deer stands allowed. Of the 10000. acres probably only hunted maybe 2000 acres. 120 class Bucks was the norm but I often wondered what we might of killed had we actually left our easy access spots and went hunting.

Re: Management question [Re: CB09] #7032066
01/10/18 01:41 AM
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We have a ton of stands but dont hunt the very hard areas either and have wondered that same thing. I might start walking more next year to see what i find.

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