Relationships Between Deer and Soil Nutrients in Mississippi

Soil P, Ca, Mg, K, pH, and organic matter levels were compared to mean deer (Odocoileus virginianus) body weights and antler measures from 23 areas of Mississippi. All soil measures were significantly (P < 0.05) correlated with deer body weights in all sex and age classes. Antler measurements for yearling, but not older, bucks correlated significantly with all soil measures except pH. In stepwise multiple regression analysis, P weighted most heavily in predicting deer body weights in all age and sex classes except female fawns; both P and K gave identical prediction equations for this age-sex class. This study suggests that soil P is a useful predictor of potential physiologic condition of deer. Management implications are that soil P levels in conjuncion with deer body weight information can be used as decision criteria to increase or decrease antlerless harvest levels or to implement habitat improvements.

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