Food Plots and Deer Home Range Movements in the Southern Coastal Plain

Radio-collared white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus; 7 males, 13 females) were tracked from 1984 to 1989 on the Marion County Wildlife Management Area in southern Mississippi. Alternating halves of the study area were planted with 66 0.1-ha and 20 0.4-ha cool-season and 20 0.4-ha summer agronomic forage plots. Mean annual production and utilization (air-dry) of cool-season forages were 1,904 kg/ha (SE = 59) and 1,107 kg/ha (SE = 41), respectively. Summer forage production and utilization were 664 kg/ha (SE = 50) and 586 kg/ha (SE = 48), respectively. Annual 95% convex polygon home ranges averaged 691 ha for 6 adult (≥ 3 years) bucks and 343 ha for 12 adult does. Significant (P < 0.05) seasonal differences in home range size were observed for does, but seasonal differences for bucks were not significant (P = 0.12). Significant movements both toward and away from the planted side of the study area were observed for some individual deer. Net movement of radio-collared deer, however, did not respond positively or negatively to the planting of food plots.

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