A population study of a confined deer herd

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Polytechnic Institute

The study was conducted on the New River sector of the Radford Arsenal, a 2322-acre enclosure in Pulaski County, Virginia. Seventy-five per cent of the enclosed area is open to grassland and the entire area is interlaced with roads. The combination of the openness of terrain and easy accessibility to nearly all portions made observation of deer relatively easy.

The 1966 pre-season deer herd estimated by means of observations and the Lincoln index, at 334, with a composition of 25.4% adult bucks, 44.3% adult does, and 30.3% fawns.

The 1966 reproductive rate was determined to be 1.1 fawns per breeding female. Females were assumed to first produce fawns at 2 years of age.

Using known data and assumptions based on findings on similar areas, a hypothetical growth table for the herd was compiled to present one way in which the herd might have grown since the first deer were introduced in 1952.

Bow hunting has been allowed on the area since 1959. During 8 years of hunting, 1836 bow hunters have taken 172 deer for an average hunter success of 9.3%. In 1966, 63 deer were removed by hunters and 22 known cripple losses occurred.

The home range size was determined for 36 fawns, 8 yearlings, and 2 adults. The 24 male fawn home ranges averaged 125 acres (34-371 acres), while the 12 female fawn home ranges averaged 133 acres (34-273 acres). The home range of the 7 yearling females averaged 172 acres (96-357 acres), and the 1 yearling male has a range of 155 acres in size. The single adult male had a home range of 120 acres while the 1 adult female’s home range was 432 acres.

Thirty-one fawns, 21 males and 10 females, and 2 yearling females were observed to move outside of their home ranges when pressed by hunters. The distance moved by the fawns from .3 mile to 2.0 miles from the center of activity of their home ranges. The yearling females moved .4 and 1.7 mile from their centers of activity. All of these deer returned to their original home range when the hunting pressure was removed.