Most bowhunters appreciate learning ways to manage for big bucks. Maybe that’s why thousands of us attend the Quality Deer Management Association’s annual national convention. As expected, the Whitetail Expo was packed with booths of interest, and there were also many seminars given by the country’s top deer managers. As always, Bowhunter Magazine was there, gathering information to help make your season more enjoyable and successful. My approach in reporting the information gleaned from these seminars is to give you a quiz. I’m a retired wildlife professor, so giving quizzes is something that comes natural for me. But as I say every year, you can’t fail this test. It’s all about having fun while you learn. (answers are below)
1. We know that based on harvest, whitetails are the number one species in the United States. What is the number two species?
C. Mule Deer
D. Black bear
E. None of the above
2. Most areas in the U.S. have too many deer, so shooting as many does as possible is always a good management strategy?
3. We have many more coyotes than we did 10 years ago. On areas intensively managed for whitetails, shooting coyotes during deer season will solve any potential problems for the deer herd.
4. A buck spends 50% of his time in his core home range (where he eats and sleeps). In states where baiting is illegal, which of the following are things you can do to encourage more bucks to keep their core home range on your property?
A. Scatter some small food plots around the property
B. Shoot coyotes
C. Plant small, scattered orchards of apple trees
D. Shoot wild hogs
5. A new computer program, www.buckscore.com, enables you to score antlers from trail cam photos. On those photos, which one of the following gives you the most precise and accurate antler score?
A. Eyeball width
B. Ear-to-ear spread
C. Ear width
D. Nose width
6. If you have the right size trees, a mature buck may make 1,000 rubs in three months in one square mile during the fall.
7. When does scrape activity decrease the most?
A. Pre rut
B. Peak rut
C. Post rut
8. Let’s say your property is 100 acres. Which of the following will help you hold big bucks on a property of this size?
C. Minimal intrusions
E. Fringe hunting only
F. All of these
G. None of these
9. Which of the following limits bucks from reaching their full potential?
D. Thermal cover for bad winters
E. Water sources
F. All of these
G. None of these
10. You should put trail cameras close to your treestands so that you can learn what bucks are in the area.
11. Bill Winke, one of the top whitetail hunters in the country, believes that the number one factor for hunting success is…
B. Shooting ability
C. How you access your stand
D. Being careful who you hunt with
E. What brand of bow you shoot
12. Leaving 5-10 rows of standing corn around the edge of a field is not a good idea because it blocks bow shots from stands along that edge.
#1. E. None of these answers is correct because wild hogs are the number two game animal in the United States. Check out the QDMA’s 2010 Deer Report (www.qdma.com) and go to the section on wild hogs (page 27). You will see that wild hogs are expanding their range at a rapid rate. Baiting for deer is part of the reason. Although great eating and fun to bowhunt, wild hogs do a lot of damage to deer habitat, and they spread diseases to humans and other wild animals.
#2. B. False. Every property is different, and although there are probably too many does on most properties, you first need to collect data before setting doe harvest goals.
#3. B. False. This was a hot topic at the convention, and the papers presented noted that coyotes present a major and growing problem relative to fawn survival on many areas managed for whitetails. They also noted that simply shooting a few animals during the gun season just won’t cut it. If you hear one coyote, you can bet there are 10 others you haven’t heard. To improve the number of deer on your property, you need to heavily trap coyotes, especially the month prior to fawn drop.
#4. A and C. The cheapest way to hold more bucks on your property is by planting small clumps of apple trees. You need to protect them until they reach a certain size. Planting various species that mature from spring through the fall and into winter provides food over a long period of time. Once the trees are grown, they require very little maintenance and provide food for years to come.
#5. C. Ear width. Okay, unless you attended that session, you’d really have no way to answer this question, but the researchers discovered that if you took a number of different measurements from a deer, the one that correlated the best with antler score was the maximum width of the ear. To age deer from trail cam photos, they used nine different measurements taken from a broadside photo. Using this computer model, you can use your trail cam photos to age and score bucks. You’d be surprised at the accuracy of this method.
#6. A. True. In fact, Dr. Karl Miller from the University of Georgia noted that he found as many as 3,000 rubs in one square mile of deer habitat.
#7. B. Peak rut. Scrape activity is highest two to three weeks prior to the peak of the rut. Peak rut is when the does get bred, so the bucks are out there chasing hot does rather than going to the scrapes. Actually, interest in scrapes picks up during the post rut because unbred does and female fawns come into estrus and advertise that fact at the scrapes.
#8. F. All of these will help hold deer. Minimal intrusions on areas less than 200 acres means no off-season ATVs, no hiking, no mushroom hunting, and no coon hunting. In other words, no intrusion except to bowhunt, and even then you should walk to your stands and stay out of sanctuary areas at all times except to recover wounded deer.
#9. F. All of these. Take “stress” for example. Predators create stress that affects feeding areas, breeding, and movements. Google “Wolves, elk, and bison: reestablishing the landscape of fear” for a great paper on the ways predators cause stress on big game species.
#10. B. False. When you check those cameras, you leave scent and, thus, condition deer to avoid stand sites in the daytime. Put out bait (where legal) and place cameras at those sites around your property to learn what bucks are using the area.
#11. C. Although most of these answers have merit, by far the number one key to success is how you access your stand. Entering quietly is critical, so in the morning Bill waits until he can see so that his approach is quiet. He parks near barns and houses because the deer are used to the noise of cars parking there. He enters via low ground, ditches, and streams, and he also uses standing corn to enter stands because deer are
used to the noise from wind blowing the stalks.
#12. B. False. Leaving some rows of corn standing on the field edge can act as a screen, allowing you morning access to your stand while deer are feeding on waste corn in the cut portion of the field.