Letís analyze the enclosed bio harvest data (Click here for harvest data spreadsheet.) for DMU 107 (now 118). Itís the 3RD year, and the data shows continuing improvement. We couldnít ask for better. All the columns are important and they each tell a story. There are 4 critical data columns, which when viewed together tell you a lot of whatís happening in your deer herd. Hopefully, after this explanation you will keep your own records.
Letís start with the male fawns. Itís at 17% of the total anterless deer harvested. I believe the state average is 22%. This 17% is not what we were hoping for. Perhaps last years low deer movement is a factor. With the button buck restraint memo in the game rulebook, I was hoping for much better numbers. Next years male fawn harvest data may reveal some interesting information.
In the harvested adult doe average age column the 3.15 number is where you want to be. This column is important. It will tell you if does are being harvested and more importantly to what degree. The number should be between 2.5 and 4.5 (prime age does) with the lower number being preferred for DMU 118. The 3.15 average age of the harvested doe indicates you are turning over the doe herd and reaping benefits if you have a high-grade deer management program. This 3.15 number means you are passing on good genetics rapidly, but still staying within the prime age, which equals high fawn productivity. Going much below 2.5 will improve the buck to doe ratio but will lower the fawn productivity. The importance of the information this column gives can not be overemphasized. How many does should I shoot? Keep records and you will know.
In the adult buckís chart, the 1 Ĺ-year-old harvest percent of the total adult buck harvest is now at 48%. I expected an even lower number based on last years 47%. I still think this means hunters understand the value of QDM and are complying with the mandatory 3-points on one side minimum rule. Perhaps last years low deer movement applied here also. There were 8 yearling bucks checked with two or three points and three of these were tagged as antlerless, meaning their antlers were less than three inches long. There was only one citation (justified) issued in DMU 118 for violations in the 2001 season with none issued for the first two years. We commend the DNR conservation officers for their understanding in our learning curve. The 3-year yearling buck harvest base average of 78% of the total buck harvest makes it difficult to have a buck to doe ratio of 1:2. It should be 60% or less. If the male fawns harvested were to be included this number would exceed 80%. Last time I checked they looked like bucks to me. So far the latest numbers indicate a buck to doe ratio approaching 1:2.
The last critical column is the doe to buck harvest ratio. The data received from the DNR for DMU 118 for the years 1990 through 1995 indicated a doe to buck average harvest ratio of 1:3. This ratio would make it difficult to have a buck to doe ratio of 1:2. Even the base ratio of 1:1.9 would make it difficult. For the mid-Michigan area of DMU 118 (a transition zone) the doe to buck harvest ratio should be around 1:1.4 to obtain a buck to doe ratio of 1:2 on October 1st. The 1:1.1 ratio is just what the doctor ordered to get the deer sex ratio in balance. In a few short years this ratio should be held at 1:1.4 to maintain a buck to doe ratio of 1:2
The DMU 118 bio harvest data indicates that mandatory QDM works with hunters and landowners supporting it. I expect the numbers to hold and possibly improve next year. We should think about raising the bar. The 3-points on one side minimum rule protects approximately 50% of the yearling bucks. This is absolutely the minimum standard and should be viewed as a learning tool only. There is the possibility that this hygrading harvest method may over time degrade our deer. Mississippi has a statewide minimum 4-point total buck rule (fork) since 1995 and is now concerned that in certain areas antler size and deer weight is dropping. Whereas many studies have shown protecting at least 90% of the 1 Ĺ year-olds increases their antler mass and total weight. This 90% protection creates a more natural sex ratio and buck age structure. The dominant bucks start to show up and control the social order. A four points on a side minimum buck rule in DMU 118 will protect 85% of the yearling bucks. This would put us right in the ballpark.
By achieving the right number in the four critical columns and this number will change depending on your goal (adult buck to doe ratio), your location and habitat conditions, you should in a few years achieve your goal. Each goal in conjunction with its location conditions has its own proper number for each critical column. Any goal of an adult buck to doe ratio of 1:2 or better should have a male fawn harvest percentage of 10% or less of the total antlerless harvest. Your yearling buck harvest should not exceed 60% of the total buck harvest in any location if your goal is an adult buck to doe ratio of 1:2.
Many hunters are concerned that protecting yearling bucks will take away their opportunity to harvest bucks. The data chart tells the true story. There should be a lower buck harvest number in any good QDM program but not necessarily so with the bucks being harvested being a different class. There is usually an increase in the doe harvest with the total deer harvest reflecting the habitat conditions. There can actually be an increase in the total deer harvest and this is the result of a healthier herd which equals an increased fawn productivity. This high deer harvest needs to be maintained to keep the deer density at 60% or less and keep the pressure off the farmer.