Management Implications of Heavy Hunting Pressure on Texas White-Tailed Deer on the Kerr Wildlife Management Areal

Since 1954, 3,438 white-tailed deer have been harvested from 5,500 acres on the Kerr Wildlife Management Area. Initial attempts to reduce the deer herd by harvest were unsuccessful due to ingress of deer from adjoining ranches. Range iecovery and habitat improvement were impossible to achieve because of the constant grazing pressure exerted by the extensive deer population. The over-all quality of harvested deer was poor. Deer-proof fences were erected around the wildlife area in 1968 and the inflow of deer from surrounding rances was stopped. Since 1968, the deer herd has been reduced from an estimated 1,038 deer to the present estimate of 320 deer by an average annual harvest of 27 percent. Data indicates that the heavy harvest has resulted in a younger age class herd, lower over-all fawn production, lower hunting success, and insufficient age in buck deer to produce trophy antlers. Favorable effects have been improved range conditions reflected by an increase in the quantity of preferred deer foods. an increase in body size of deer, better antler development within individual age classes, and improved animal vigor and survival. The cause of poor reproduction in young does was unknown.

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