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A Management System for Overpopulated Deer Herds

Some areas of south Alabama never have had a closed deer season, even during the Great Depression of the 1930s. So, when restocking was occurring in north Alabama, deer populations continued to grow in south Alabama. At that time, the accepted philosophy on building up deer herds in Alabama was, “Don’t shoot the does, or you won’t have as many bucks.” That philosophy was absolutely on target for most of the counties north of Tuscaloosa to the Tennessee line but was also preached in south Alabama. There are so many deer in south Alabama where I live that I can’t even grow flowers in my yard, because the deer are eating and destroying them every night. 

I grew up hunting in south Alabama on the Alabama River in Baldwin County. Throughout my childhood when we hunted a green field that might be only 2-3 acres, we’d see 30 to 40 deer in one green field every afternoon. If we spotted a spike, that deer with antlers was a really big deal, and he probably would get shot. 

Today, because we've been practicing deer management on the leased property I hunt 2 hours north of my house, we’ll see 8-15 deer on a green field in an afternoon, with three to five of these nice racked bucks. We have six members who hunt 1,800 acres, and we intensively manage our lands to raise trophy bucks. There is no way that that few deer will be on the same sized food plot in Baldwin County where I live. At our hunting camp in Perry County, we try to harvest 20-25 does every year off that private land. Since all six of our members are bowhunters, we try to harvest our does in November, although we legally can take does and bucks with a bow on October 15th each year. We like to wait until about mid-November, because the weather is cooler. Too, we feel like we've let the fawns have 2 more weeks with their mothers, so, they’ll be stronger and healthier when we start harvesting does. There’s only one exception to that rule. If anyone’s bowhunting and sees a big doe by herself, that hunter can take her. We try to stop our doe harvest with our bows by December 10th each year. We do allow our children to harvest does with rifles. If we don’t reach our goal of taking 25 does before December 10th, we’ll have a doe weekend, since we all like to eat venison. We also know people we can give deer meat to who appreciate having a doe or two in the freezer. 

For more information on Alabama’s deer hunting, go to http://outdooralabama.com.

Day 1: Jackson Woodson: Alabama’s Mixed-Up Whitetail Rut and High Deer Population 

Tomorrow: Alabama’s Jackson Woodson Goes on a Buck Diet and Doe Feast Plan

Jan 24, 2017

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