Deer management strategies for the summer stress period

Published 8:56 am Thursday, July 27, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — Summer stress period is getting closer for white-tailed deer as browse begins to senesce and once green stems become woody. It is a natural challenge for deer as bucks and does are at a time where nutrition needs are at their highest but forage quality can be at its lowest.  

Bucks need minerals to finish growing their antlers currently in velvet and will borrow some from their bodies if they are unable to take in enough minerals in their diet. Does also need nutrition to nurse fawns and will also borrow from their skeleton system to supplement any lacking nutrients. 

Fortunately landowners, hunters and habitat managers can work to provide more food for deer. Bow range burning is a method where you burn 30 yard radiuses around your bow stand. The idea was tested by Marcus Lashley when he was a graduate student at Mississippi State University. Deer responded well to the small-scale burning and gained plenty of nutrition in the new growth the burning causes. 

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Stump sprouting by chopping down undesirable trees such as sweet gums, elms or maples creates nutrition-packed sprouts as the tree works to get back up into the canopy. This work can be two fold as the mid-canopy is thinned and more light is allowed to reach the forest floor producing more browse for deer. 

Sprouts can also be a great attractant for deer during the archery velvet season from Sept. 15 to Sept. 17. Hunters can only kill bucks during the velvet season and must submit samples for Chronic Wasting Disease testing. It is possible deer in Southwest Mississippi will still have velvet in September.

Managers should leave some thermal cover such as sumac trees in fields to provide a cool place for deer to hangout in the heat of the day.

Deer refuges, an area of a property set aside where human interaction is limited or non-existent, is another way you can encourage deer to hang out on your property.

Time is running out to get work done before deer season opens as September nears. 

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