Each year, starting on December 15th (the end of season), we do a deer census to both count deer, and to see how many were taken . We are most interested in counting the resident deer on this property. Buck count is important, but mostly we want to see how many does and babes made it through, and to monitor their condition through the winter. This is the second mild winter we have had in the recent few years, and the deer have gone into winter fat and sassy on top of that! Now, to census deer, there are several things to keep in mind. You want to draw deer only from your 'square mile' around you. Here is what we do. I back drag and clear of snow about a 500 square foot area with the tractor. Every morning I drop about nine piles of corn ( about a cup or so each) about the area. Set up a camera. They will come. Our station is behind a heavy stand of thirty foot spruce trees so the deer have plenty of cover. This is about 150 yards from LRDC porch, so on my daily visits to camp I often see deer flitting around behind the boughs. Below you see two separate groups having a discussion on who should have first dibs....
Settling down and enjoying the bounty.
What is that red light???
The pictures below show the buck from several posts ago having shed an antler. I'll go look for it soon.
Below you see a night crowd.
And a day crowd
Here is a spike that has been hanging around.
On alert. I must be approaching LRDC with the pups...
One antler hanging in there...
And of course the squirrels and crows chow all day.
Remember me when I had both sides intact?
So unbalanced now.
Daytime feed is the safest and best,.
So, when I say we do a deer census,...here is how we do it in snow country...
Once season is done, start puting out some corn in small piles...I emphasize small piles. We are not attempting to feed deer, or take them off their natural food, but rather bring them in for a snack, after which they move on to their natural food sources..
Once snow comes, you will begin to see heavily used trails coming into the site. After about three weeks of feeding like this, take some hikes along these trails. This year for instance I have a group coming from all four directions, N,S,E& W . Once we had 8-9 inches of snow, I follow each trail back until I find the beds in softwoods. If the bedding area is within a half mile of the corn, Then they are within my square mile of 'deer per square mile' census. I have done that twice this winter so far, and my estimate is that we are running a population of about 15-19 deer per square mile at Long Ridge. That is slightly higher than F&G estimates, but then so are our average weights for deer taken...
In any case, it is fun, entertaining, and beautiful to watch these creatures trek across fields during the day. And remember, if the snow gets much above 14 inches, cease feeding, and let them bed down for the duration. You'll see the results in the spring!