Deer behavior as it effects sex and age ratio counts

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The 1971 white-tailed deer population on the Radford Army Ammunition Plant, Dublin, Virginia, was estimated at 426. There were 200 does, 110 bucks, and 116 fawns.

Bucks were seen at about the same rate throughout the summer and fall. Since does and fawns are very seclusive in July, bucks were seen at the highest rate of any class during that month. In August, when fawns were two months old, both does and fawns became more active and does were seen at a higher rate than bucks throughout the remainder of the study. Fawns were never seen at as high a rate as does, but approached this rate in December. Doe-fawn pairs were observed most frequently in November and December because by this time fawns were large and strong. Single bucks were most common in November due to the rut and single does in July due to the fawning season.

Since neither intensive searching, time of day, nor weather variables affected the ratios of deer observed, the only option left available to the counter was to conduct counts during the months when counts were most representative of the sex ratio and various age classes. The best month for making a sex-ratio count was November. The best combination of months for change in ratio estimation of population size was found to be September and December or October and December. Fawn-doe counts are best made in December.