An Evaluation of Quality Deer Management Programs in Tennessee
Date of Award
Master of Science
Wildlife and Fisheries Science
Gary Bates, Allan Houston, J. Mark Fly
Several properties within Tennessee were managed under a quality deer management (QDM) philosophy from 1998 to 2006. Harvest characteristics of three private properties and three Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) were compared to determine effects on buck harvest rates and the age structure and sex ratio of the harvest. Average annual buck harvest decreased at most areas following antler restrictions and ranged from 55 to 68% of pre-QDM levels because younger bucks were protected. Although the raw numbers showed an increase in older-aged bucks harvested following antler restrictions, when calculated on a per hunter or per permit issued basis, statistical increases were not observed at all study areas. Regardless, hunters at each area felt QDM restrictions were working toward their goal and planned to apply to hunt that area the following season. Most hunters regarded themselves “somewhat knowledgeable” with QDM and considered it a sensible management philosophy. The majority of club hunters (55.5%) and plurality of sportsman license holders (36.9%) and WMA hunters (34.7%) favored a statewide limit of two bucks, and the majority of all hunters favored including does in the harvest and protecting young bucks from harvest.
The production and nutritional quality of twenty forages used in food plots and the effects of prescribed burning and understory fertilization on browse production in closed-canopy hardwoods one growing season after treatment were also evaluated. Crimson clover and a cool-season grain (wheat or oats) are recommended to address the mid-late winter stress period, and can be planted with arrowleaf clover to further extend forage availability in the spring. Warm-season annual forages (cowpeas, lablab, and soybeans) supplied forage during the late summer stress period when natural forage quality is low. Ladino clover and chicory supplement production gaps of annual forages. Because of variable results among two sites and because the cost per pound of forage produced following fertilization exceeded $26 per pound, understory fertilization and prescribed fire in closed-canopy hardwood stands are not recommended for increased deer browse. Treatments providing increased sunlight through a reduction in percent canopy cover are much more effective and efficient in providing increased browse.
Shaw, Christopher E., "An Evaluation of Quality Deer Management Programs in Tennessee. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 2008.