A Comparison Of Some Deer Census Methods In Tennessee

Five deer census methods are compared on the Central Peninsula deer herd in Eastern Tennessee. This insular herd is intensively managed and has several characteristics which make it worthy of population analysis. All census methods indicated similar population trends and differed only in magnitude. The Lincoln Index and Percent Kill Methods provided the most reliable estimates. The latter is the easiest to calculate. The Sex-age Kill Method will apparently give good herd estimates, if the percent of non-hunting losses can be approximated and allowance made for other problems. It shows promise of greater accuracy when existing biases and unknowns can be omitted. For the present time the Percent Kill Method seems to be the most practical for use on the typical management area in Tennessee. Identification of accurate and practical deer census methods continues to challenge herd managers in most of North America. A study of confined deer herd, of known population, has not yet been possible in Tennessee. However, we have one deer herd with charaeteristics which make it worthy of population analysis. This herd is located in eastern Tennessee on the Central Peninsula Wildlife Management Area. This area is a 24,831-acre peninsula located between the Clinch and Powell Rivers in the upper portion of Norris Lake. It has been in public ownership since 1934. In 1937 eleven whitetail deer were stocked there. Deer hunting began in 1950 and has always been closely regulated by the Tennessee Game and Fish Commission. Since this deer herd is an insular population, ingress and egress of deer and humans are limited. The area manager's home is located on the only access road where it enters the wildlife area. Less than six interior holdings are present and they no longer have persons residing on them. The deer receive better protection from free-running dogs and poaching than most Tennessee herds. Limited access has also made the collection of harvest data easier and more uniform. The hunting data collected in the past 16 years provides an opportunity to use hindsight in checking past deer populations.

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