An assessment of Quality Deer Management on a private hunt club in the Virginia Piedmont
Batts, Gregory K
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I examined the efficacy of Quality Deer Management (QDM) on Amelia Springs hunt club in Amelia County, Virginia, during 2003-2006. I examined home range dynamics of male white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), deer/hunter interactions, and aspects of population dynamics. I also developed a new rocket net method to capture deer using a remote video system that was more efficient than traditional methods. I monitored 20 deer; 50% died due to hunting and 15% to natural mortality. The emigration rate for juvenile males was 46%, dispersal distance averaged 6.4 km. I used Home Range Extension (HRE) in ArcView to generate annual home ranges (adaptive-kernel) for 16 male deer; I also generated annual and seasonal home ranges using MCP. Annual and seasonal home ranges (MCP) of adult males were larger than those of juveniles. Adult male annual home ranges averaged 2.5 km2 and juveniles 0.9 km2. Seasonal home ranges of adult males were 1.6 km2 and 1.3 km2 during non-hunting and hunting seasons respectively. Juvenile non-hunting and hunting season home ranges were 0.6 km2 and 0.8 km2 respectively. I detected no differences in day/night movements of male deer during the hunting season; however, deer appeared to avoid areas that were hunted based on hunter GPS locations and deer locations during the hunting season. Frequency of deer movement increased during October-November. Population estimates based on remote camera mark-recapture averaged 60 antlered males for the 3-year survey period. Using population reconstruction, the minimum buck:doe ratio was 1:1.8. Estimated density of antlered males was 4.1/km2, in Amelia County, and 5.0/km2 for Amelia Springs. Deer harvested on Amelia Springs, compared to deer harvested on other hunt clubs in Amelia County, were larger. Antler diameters averaged 32.6mm on Amelia Springs versus 26.9mm for other Amelia county hunt clubs, average age at harvest for 2+ males was higher on Amelia Springs (2.4) than other Amelia county hunt clubs (2.2), and dressed body weights averaged 11.2kg heavier (46.2 kg versus 35 kg) on Amelia Springs. QDM on Amelia Springs appears to be successful based on the results. While bigger bucks existed on Amelia Springs, hunters failed to encounter them. Hunters likely would increase buck sightings during the hunting season by becoming more mobile. Expectations of the size of animal (antlers) Amelia Springs can produce should be adjusted to reflect what is possible based on the habitat. The harvest program in place should be continued at the current level for continued success using QDM.
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