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Strategic Harvest System.

DT33

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Nov 27, 2014
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Book I recently read. Very interesting. Basic premise is taking out sub par bucks before they become mature. Not changing genetics but shifting the curve of what bucks make it to maturity. Like low grading. Lots of prerequisites before something like this would make sense, but I enjoy different viewpoints on management. Anyone else read this yet?
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BSK

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Mar 11, 1999
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Strickland and Demarias are VERY knowledgeable biologists. In Texas, this sort of thing makes a lot of sense.

Not sure this sort of thing is feasible one smaller properties in TN, but their idea does have merit. Having documented on trail-camera quite a few bucks that grew up to be trophy caliber in TN, one aspect of their youth is commonplace: they were often top-end young bucks. This isn't always true, but very often true. Basically, top-end 2 1/2 year-old bucks usually grow into top-end mature bucks. If you want more top-end mature bucks, DON'T shoot you top-end young bucks.
 
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Bgoodman30

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Nov 21, 2016
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785
I know Don Higgins has a similar management strategy and he harvested 2 bucks totaling over 400" this year.. Its pretty simple if you have (3) three year old bucks a 120. 130 and 140" the 140" gets shot 90% of the time. He lets friends and family shoot the 8 pointers and smaller bucks that don't show potential and lets the specimens walk. Seems to work well.
 

megalomaniac

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Oct 28, 2005
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9,382
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Mississippi
Harvest management per age class to produce the highest end bucks at maturity is very simple...

Shoot the worst scoring 25% of bucks per age class starting at 1.5 yo, never shoot the top 25% of bucks per age class until 5.5 or 6.5. When you can control everything that is killed (high fence), this strategy is very practical.

But jeez, in the real world outside a high fence, that translates to you shooting a couple spikes or maybe an occasional 2.5yo 6pt annually, and almost never killing a giant, because your neighbors shot the 140in 3.5yo before it hit maturity.

The most practical and equitable method of real world deer management is drastically limiting the total number of bucks killed. Works on large properties, and will even work on small properties, as long as neighboring properties only have small number of hunters. You have to be willing to lose some top end young bucks to your neighbors, but there will usually be 1 or 2 top end bucks that make it to maturity you can focus on.

I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it over and over because IT WORKS... we have a 1 buck limit on my farms... shoot whatever buck you want to kill regardless of age or score... I dont care and am happy for you. But you only get 1, then you are done. I do allow a 2nd buck to be killed by an individual.. a 'cull'... which i define as a 4.5yo buck with subpar antlers (less than 120 gross inches). Everybody gets to have fun, while at the same time ensuring enough bucks are recruited into the next years age class.

This year we took 5 bucks off of 2000 acres scattered over 4 farms between 9 hunters.... a 5.5yo, two 4.5yos, a 3.5yo, and a 2.5yo. Everybody had a good time, and we left plenty of seed for next year.
 

BSK

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The most practical and equitable method of real world deer management is drastically limiting the total number of bucks killed.
Thank you mega!

Two simple ways exist to raise the buck age structure in a given area. First, limit the age of bucks killed. Second, and the more biologically effective way, is simply to lower the number of bucks killed.
 

DT33

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Nov 27, 2014
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Appalachia
Great discussion.

For those that haven’t read the book , it’s not about getting bucks to maturity. The book assumes that bucks are getting to maturity , ratios are good and there are no nutritional deficiencies. Now I’ll give you that’s a lot to assume. For most everyone those are all moving targets.

As I said in the original post a lot of boxes have to be checked before you could really consider something like this real word. This isn’t about getting bucks to maturity this is about higher end antler development once you get there. It is an interesting read in that you don’t see a lot of new ways of thinking that have come out of wildlife management in the last 10 years or so. I am extremely fortunate to have a lot of land to hunt in some really good one buck states and I see the results of not only localized but also statewide management. But I look at this as a next level over and above what I’m currently doing.

Is it feasible ? I’m not sure, I try to be open minded on management. I have a large property I may give it a try on in the future. I enjoy different viewpoints on management. But it’s well worth the 8 bucks or so I paid for it.
 

jason2779

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Aug 28, 2017
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I let a 1.5 to 2 year old 16” 6 walk several times this past season, to only be killed on next farm over, I was sad but the guy was excited so sort of mixed feelings! I let several promising buck walk hopefully they make it, always look forward to seeing them get older!
 

Thelonegoose

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Sep 13, 2020
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11
Harvest management per age class to produce the highest end bucks at maturity is very simple...

Shoot the worst scoring 25% of bucks per age class starting at 1.5 yo, never shoot the top 25% of bucks per age class until 5.5 or 6.5. When you can control everything that is killed (high fence), this strategy is very practical.

But jeez, in the real world outside a high fence, that translates to you shooting a couple spikes or maybe an occasional 2.5yo 6pt annually, and almost never killing a giant, because your neighbors shot the 140in 3.5yo before it hit maturity.

The most practical and equitable method of real world deer management is drastically limiting the total number of bucks killed. Works on large properties, and will even work on small properties, as long as neighboring properties only have small number of hunters. You have to be willing to lose some top end young bucks to your neighbors, but there will usually be 1 or 2 top end bucks that make it to maturity you can focus on.

I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it over and over because IT WORKS... we have a 1 buck limit on my farms... shoot whatever buck you want to kill regardless of age or score... I dont care and am happy for you. But you only get 1, then you are done. I do allow a 2nd buck to be killed by an individual.. a 'cull'... which i define as a 4.5yo buck with subpar antlers (less than 120 gross inches). Everybody gets to have fun, while at the same time ensuring enough bucks are recruited into the next years age class.

This year we took 5 bucks off of 2000 acres scattered over 4 farms between 9 hunters.... a 5.5yo, two 4.5yos, a 3.5yo, and a 2.5yo. Everybody had a good time, and we left plenty of seed for next year.
I have somewhat emulated your method of 1 buck per year. I only have access to 2 farms totaling 550 acres with 3 of us regularly hunting. I do however invite a few buddies or kids to hunt from time to time and we have had 3 bucks taken in the last 2 years. Two 3.5yo and one 2.5yo. We kill about 2-7 does per year. I am now starting to see more 4.5+yo on our farms regularly. The problem we do have is neighbors that own much smaller tracts that kill just about anything that walks by. Nothing I can do about that and as long as they are having fun and hunting legally, I am happy for them. I think the deer are starting to realize they are safer on our farms than the neighbors. I also keep about 150 acres total as a sanctuary that only gets accessed 1-2 times per year. I don't know if it will work forever but it seems to be working now. At the end of the day, I just try to give the deer, turkey, and quail plenty of cover and food options.
 

BSK

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Mar 11, 1999
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68,124
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Nashville, TN
The book assumes that bucks are getting to maturity , ratios are good and there are no nutritional deficiencies. Now I’ll give you that’s a lot to assume. For most everyone those are all moving targets.

As I said in the original post a lot of boxes have to be checked before you could really consider something like this real word.

First, I'm by no means bashing the management strategies put forward by Demarais and Strickland. I know and respect both of them, as well as their ideas.

My point is where you ask about "consider this real world." Yes, it can be done, but it would be difficult in TN. And the problem isn't getting bucks to maturity. I know many will vehemently disagree with me, but I have to go with what I can document as true, and that is bucks are getting to maturity at near maximum rate in many parts of TN (not all parts, more more parts that hunters realize). The two biggest problems with implementing Demarais & Strickland's practices in TN are going to be:

1) Property size. Having photo censused many properties of all different sizes, I have some feel for how large a property would have to be before buck movements off the property during the hunting season could limit the effectiveness of the program. If a large portion of the buck population moves onto neighboring properties where they could face possible harvest, the effectiveness of the program could be severely limited. In my personal/professional opinion, the property size needed is at minimum, 2,000 to 3,000 acres.

2) No nutritional deficiencies. That's a tough order to fill anywhere in TN, or for that matter, anywhere in the country outside of the Midwest. Surprisingly, getting bucks to maturity isn't the tough part of local deer management, That's actually the easy part. Dealing with seasonal deficiencies in nutrition is the tough part. In much of TN, to adequately address that problem, you better have a really big budget. I mean a REALLY big budget. And the right land to start with.

Again, not questioning or bashing the management strategies suggested. Given enough of the right type of land, and a big enough budget to address year-round nutrition, would those management strategies work in the real world in TN? Oh yes, I believe so.
 

DT33

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Nov 27, 2014
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5
Location
Appalachia
First, I'm by no means bashing the management strategies put forward by Demarais and Strickland. I know and respect both of them, as well as their ideas.

My point is where you ask about "consider this real world." Yes, it can be done, but it would be difficult in TN. And the problem isn't getting bucks to maturity. I know many will vehemently disagree with me, but I have to go with what I can document as true, and that is bucks are getting to maturity at near maximum rate in many parts of TN (not all parts, more more parts that hunters realize). The two biggest problems with implementing Demarais & Strickland's practices in TN are going to be:

1) Property size. Having photo censused many properties of all different sizes, I have some feel for how large a property would have to be before buck movements off the property during the hunting season could limit the effectiveness of the program. If a large portion of the buck population moves onto neighboring properties where they could face possible harvest, the effectiveness of the program could be severely limited. In my personal/professional opinion, the property size needed is at minimum, 2,000 to 3,000 acres.

2) No nutritional deficiencies. That's a tough order to fill anywhere in TN, or for that matter, anywhere in the country outside of the Midwest. Surprisingly, getting bucks to maturity isn't the tough part of local deer management, That's actually the easy part. Dealing with seasonal deficiencies in nutrition is the tough part. In much of TN, to adequately address that problem, you better have a really big budget. I mean a REALLY big budget. And the right land to start with.

Again, not questioning or bashing the management strategies suggested. Given enough of the right type of land, and a big enough budget to address year-round nutrition, would those management strategies work in the real world in TN? Oh yes, I believe so.
Great insights. The minimum property size is the one I really wanted your thoughts on.

Even on my largest properties , I see big seasonal shifts that would make it challenging to implement.

They start by doing a camera census and trying to capture all bucks. Then separate into age categories and from there break out into 1/3rds according to gross antler score. From there determine upper , middle and lower 1/3 bucks by age class. It’s an interesting exercise , I attempted it last year. Key word attempted. Ha.
 

DoubleRidge

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Nov 24, 2019
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First, I'm by no means bashing the management strategies put forward by Demarais and Strickland. I know and respect both of them, as well as their ideas.

My point is where you ask about "consider this real world." Yes, it can be done, but it would be difficult in TN. And the problem isn't getting bucks to maturity. I know many will vehemently disagree with me, but I have to go with what I can document as true, and that is bucks are getting to maturity at near maximum rate in many parts of TN (not all parts, more more parts that hunters realize). The two biggest problems with implementing Demarais & Strickland's practices in TN are going to be:

1) Property size. Having photo censused many properties of all different sizes, I have some feel for how large a property would have to be before buck movements off the property during the hunting season could limit the effectiveness of the program. If a large portion of the buck population moves onto neighboring properties where they could face possible harvest, the effectiveness of the program could be severely limited. In my personal/professional opinion, the property size needed is at minimum, 2,000 to 3,000 acres.

2) No nutritional deficiencies. That's a tough order to fill anywhere in TN, or for that matter, anywhere in the country outside of the Midwest. Surprisingly, getting bucks to maturity isn't the tough part of local deer management, That's actually the easy part. Dealing with seasonal deficiencies in nutrition is the tough part. In much of TN, to adequately address that problem, you better have a really big budget. I mean a REALLY big budget. And the right land to start with.

Again, not questioning or bashing the management strategies suggested. Given enough of the right type of land, and a big enough budget to address year-round nutrition, would those management strategies work in the real world in TN? Oh yes, I believe so.

Interesting conversation.....quick question: For 'seasonal deficiencies' would you consider January and February the toughest period for Tennessee? (Post rut, less forage, etc)....If so, what recommendations would you have for land managers to improve their property for this time period....thanks.
 

DoubleRidge

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Nov 24, 2019
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First, I'm by no means bashing the management strategies put forward by Demarais and Strickland. I know and respect both of them, as well as their ideas.

My point is where you ask about "consider this real world." Yes, it can be done, but it would be difficult in TN. And the problem isn't getting bucks to maturity. I know many will vehemently disagree with me, but I have to go with what I can document as true, and that is bucks are getting to maturity at near maximum rate in many parts of TN (not all parts, more more parts that hunters realize). The two biggest problems with implementing Demarais & Strickland's practices in TN are going to be:

1) Property size. Having photo censused many properties of all different sizes, I have some feel for how large a property would have to be before buck movements off the property during the hunting season could limit the effectiveness of the program. If a large portion of the buck population moves onto neighboring properties where they could face possible harvest, the effectiveness of the program could be severely limited. In my personal/professional opinion, the property size needed is at minimum, 2,000 to 3,000 acres.

2) No nutritional deficiencies. That's a tough order to fill anywhere in TN, or for that matter, anywhere in the country outside of the Midwest. Surprisingly, getting bucks to maturity isn't the tough part of local deer management, That's actually the easy part. Dealing with seasonal deficiencies in nutrition is the tough part. In much of TN, to adequately address that problem, you better have a really big budget. I mean a REALLY big budget. And the right land to start with.

Again, not questioning or bashing the management strategies suggested. Given enough of the right type of land, and a big enough budget to address year-round nutrition, would those management strategies work in the real world in TN? Oh yes, I believe so.

I'm curious about:

For 'seasonal deficiencies' would you consider January and February the toughest period for Tennessee? (Post rut, less forage, etc)....If so, what recommendations would you have for land managers to improve their property for this time period....thanks.
 

Andy S.

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Jul 26, 1999
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19,610
Location
Atoka, TN
The minimum property size is the one I really wanted your thoughts on.

Even on my largest properties , I see big seasonal shifts that would make it challenging to implement.
I hunted 18k acres for 15 years straight. If it did not teach me anything else, it taught me how much bucks roam during the rut. On numerous occasions, a member would let a solid buck walk one day, and another member/guest would kill the buck the very next day, 1/2 - 1 mile away. In less than 24 hours. Furthermore, our neighbors greatly benefited from our buck management. We'd let bucks walk in the middle of the property, and a week later, one of the neighbors would shoot them, typically about a mile away from the core of the 18k acres. This is real world data from real hunters who hunted hard to kill. We all had numerous photos of most bucks using the property. I suspect most (not all) hunters in this immediate area were shooting at any buck 3.5+ and 125"+. Food for thought.
 

BSK

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Nashville, TN
Interesting conversation.....quick question: For 'seasonal deficiencies' would you consider January and February the toughest period for Tennessee? (Post rut, less forage, etc)....If so, what recommendations would you have for land managers to improve their property for this time period....thanks.
Correct, January and February are key - just before spring green-up. To adequately address nutritional needs, I would say 40% of a property would need to be in a mixture of early successional regrowth and native grasses that are burned every few years. In addition, around 20% in all-season agriculture. Basically, enough agriculture (and a mixture of species) that less than 50% of the growing plant material is being consumed by late February.
 

DoubleRidge

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Correct, January and February are key - just before spring green-up. To adequately address nutritional needs, I would say 40% of a property would need to be in a mixture of early successional regrowth and native grasses that are burned every few years. In addition, around 20% in all-season agriculture. Basically, enough agriculture (and a mixture of species) that less than 50% of the growing plant material is being consumed by late February.

Thanks BSK.... appreciate the detailed explanation....it makes it easier to understand your "REALLY big budget" comment in previous post....we have well over 40% in early successional growth....we have two large cedar "deserts"(big, old cedars with dead lowers limbs) I'd like to convert to native grasses.....but for cultivated food plots they only make up about 5% of our total area.....we do have the opportunity to add more agriculture...but as you have explained....it takes a larger budget....but hey, it's good to have goals or something to work towards....I doubt we reach the 20% mark with Ag....but 7 or 8% or even 10% is better than 5%.....and much better than a few years back when we were at 0%.....its a journey.....thanks again for the information.... interesting stuff.
 

BSK

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Thanks BSK.... appreciate the detailed explanation....it makes it easier to understand your "REALLY big budget" comment in previous post....we have well over 40% in early successional growth....we have two large cedar "deserts"(big, old cedars with dead lowers limbs) I'd like to convert to native grasses.....but for cultivated food plots they only make up about 5% of our total area.....we do have the opportunity to add more agriculture...but as you have explained....it takes a larger budget....but hey, it's good to have goals or something to work towards....I doubt we reach the 20% mark with Ag....but 7 or 8% or even 10% is better than 5%.....and much better than a few years back when we were at 0%.....its a journey.....thanks again for the information.... interesting stuff.
My 20% remark is for NO nutritional deficiencies. But very few deer get to experience that. If you could get to 10%, you would be doing fantastic.

I would love to turn some of my recent timber cuts into oak savannahs by burning, but burning in a hardwood environment scares the crap out of me! And I would be thrilled if I could get my place to just 2% agriculture! But these narrow, rocky ridge-tops I live with are not conducive to productive food plots. Although I'm shocked at what I'm getting from them now compared to what I used to get. But lots of work has gone into getting there.

I love this picture because of the quality of the yearling buck's image, but check out my fall plots in the background. These are plots that were virtually soilless when I started with them.
 

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DoubleRidge

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My 20% remark is for NO nutritional deficiencies. But very few deer get to experience that. If you could get to 10%, you would be doing fantastic.

I would love to turn some of my recent timber cuts into oak savannahs by burning, but burning in a hardwood environment scares the crap out of me! And I would be thrilled if I could get my place to just 2% agriculture! But these narrow, rocky ridge-tops I live with are not conducive to productive food plots. Although I'm shocked at what I'm getting from them now compared to what I used to get. But lots of work has gone into getting there.

I love this picture because of the quality of the yearling buck's image, but check out my fall plots in the background. These are plots that were virtually soilless when I started with them.

Thanks again for the detailed explanation. One thing that helped us enlarge our Agriculture area was following our timber harvest we converted two log loading decks to food plots.....it wasn't cheap but we had a dozer brought in for stump removal and to enlarge both areas....but soil quality on both new plots is going to take some time to build up....our older more established plots have better quality soil with layers of organic material from previous years. We try our best to keep disking to a minimum.... because we too have some ridge top plot areas.....nice quality pic and good looking food plot!....it's very rewarding to convert ground into a productive food source...oh....and I hadn't got the nerve to do any burning yet...studied on it....talked with Forester about it....but hadnt taken that step yet....nerve racking.
 

BSK

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One thing that helped us enlarge our Agriculture area was following our timber harvest we converted two log loading decks to food plots.....it wasn't cheap but we had a dozer brought in for stump removal and to enlarge both areas....but soil quality on both new plots is going to take some time to build up....our older more established plots have better quality soil with layers of organic material from previous years.
And that's the trick, getting a build-up of organic matter. And sometimes that takes years. We've got dozers making and clearing up log-loading decks now, and as soon as the loggers are done - even in February - I will probably plant them with something that will add organic matter this winter/spring. Probably something like Elbon Rye that will grow on concrete. Not trying to feed deer, just trying to get some organic matter into that newly opened ground.
 

DoubleRidge

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And that's the trick, getting a build-up of organic matter. And sometimes that takes years. We've got dozers making and clearing up log-loading decks now, and as soon as the loggers are done - even in February - I will probably plant them with something that will add organic matter this winter/spring. Probably something like Elbon Rye that will grow on concrete. Not trying to feed deer, just trying to get some organic matter into that newly opened ground.

Sounds like a good plan....I've read couple of different post where Elbon Rye is mentioned as a soil builder...I need to explore this option as well.
 

JCDEERMAN

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And that's the trick, getting a build-up of organic matter. And sometimes that takes years. We've got dozers making and clearing up log-loading decks now, and as soon as the loggers are done - even in February - I will probably plant them with something that will add organic matter this winter/spring. Probably something like Elbon Rye that will grow on concrete. Not trying to feed deer, just trying to get some organic matter into that newly opened ground.
I was wondering about planting rye in early spring and if it would shoot up as fast as if it were planted in the fall. I guess the only difference is the root system isn’t established. We may try this.

Ya’ll have mentioned ridge top plots. That’s all we have. In fact, we have 9 acres of food plots and with the logging operation fixing to start, we are expanding from 9 acres to 27-29 acres! Logger will cut just low enough for easy dozer leverage to get out. He is falling trees toward the top of the ridges. We will pile up and burn until there’s not much left and then spread out all those nutrients with a dozer. Disk until level, fertilize and lime after soil test.

I suggest you all to sign up and take the burn class I took. You will get SO much out of it. 80% of the class was focused on how wildlife benefits from fire and the weather conditions that favors fire. The other 20% was on strategy and planning the burn. I got so much out of the wildlife benefit portion. The course was free and was 1.5 days. Let me know if you want more info. I have a buddy that manages a WMA and he told me for years I needed to burn and like y’all, it scared the hell out of me and I kept writing it off. I started watching Dr. Grant Woods on growingdeer.tv and all the videos on prescribed fire. After weeks of watching, I felt like I was a professional LOL. But seriously, I started out small and saw how fire works and it really wasn’t as bad as I thought. I’ll have to admit, I was sweating bullets when lighting that first match. We have 4 areas to burn this spring. Hoping to make fire lines in next couple weeks
 
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