Deer Management by Rifle
THE WHITETAILED DEER is a truly amazing creature.
In 1900 there were only an estimated 500,000 whitetailed deer scattered throughout North America. Now three times that many inhabit the Edwards Plateau of Texas—alone.
Good management of this resource goes a long way, but the fact is at some level we have managed deer into trouble. There are too many for the carrying capacity of the land in certain regions.
We recently came across an interesting theory by Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences that details a method of deer management hunters can utilize and get behind. It’s called the “Rose Petal Hypothesis.”
“Research in New York found that when a group of female deer were eliminated from a local area, this area had reduced deer densities for three to five years. Picture a dominant female in the center surrounded by her female offspring whose home ranges overlap to some degree with their mother, like the petals of a rose.”
“If you pluck one or more of these roses off the landscape, you can create an area of low deer density because of the very low female dispersal rate. No new females move into the area to ‘grow’ another rose.”
Plucking a rose means killing deer, and you need to take your does early. Hunters often pass on does to wait on a big buck. However when it comes to managing for actual herd reduction, shooting does is what gets the job done.
Here are some facts to consider when you choose to manage by rifle.
The Right Foods
Deer will hit their favorite natural foods before taking to feeders so it’s important to know what those sources are particularly on MLD lands where hunting with rifles is allowed in October.
TF&G Hunting Editor Lou Marullo said a prime example is hunters not taking advantage of the late growing season in the region and focusing on honeysuckle, which fruits in September and October. In some areas, this is an “ice cream food” for deer.
“Ice cream foods are the foods wildlife managers say that deer will eat before anything else,” Marullo said. “It’s not just a standard, it’s the top food. Talking to some of the guys who hunt public land where baiting is legal, it’s evident that honeysuckle is one such food for whitetails.”
Mast crops, particularly acorns are important. They are a rich source of protein and carbohydrates for deer. When they begin falling, deer will flock to these spots and ignore other food sources.
Which kinds of mast crops are best to hunt over is going to depend on your location. Red oaks are the hot tickets in some areas, while white oaks are like drugs for deer in others. Still others prefer pecans and various kinds of other nuts. This will take some scouting to determine.
The Right Gun
If you don’t have the right gun for the job, managing deer will be a challenge to say the least.
Contributor Razor Dobbs said he likes the CZ 557 in 30-06.
“While hunting at Sandstone Mountain Ranch in Llano with guide and friend Chris Treiber, we came across a giant whitetail buck with a broken back leg,” Dobb said. “Despite the buck having snapped a femur he was still able to evade us by darting through the thick brush.
A Gun for All Texas Big Game
ON THE TEXAS LANDSCAPE, it is not just whitetails that need to be managed. Feral hogs and a growing number of exotics such as axis and sika deer need management.
The CZ Ultimate Hunting Rifle (UHR) is a CZ 550-based rifle in .300 Winchester Magnum that comes in at eight pounds and includes a minute of angle accuracy guarantee to 600 yards. In other words, it will get the job done on deer, hogs or any shy exotic standing a little farther out than under the feeder.
By maintaining quality control standards unheard of in the industry, the UHR delivers a level of accuracy formerly only available from high-end custom rifle gunsmiths.
The UHR allows the hunter to realize the full potential of the components in their rifle system. By guaranteeing that the rifle itself is very accurate, the only variables left in the system are the optics, ammo and ability of the hunter.
Keeping in mind the UHR is the foundation of a shooting system capable of extreme precision; a new scope mounting system is included with the rifle that matches the capabilities of the rifle. When combined with quality ammunition, optics and practice, the UHR can significantly extend your range.
Good quality ammunition is another piece of the precision puzzle.
The UHR includes a set of 30mm aluminum rings precision-machined to precisely align the scope and bore.
For more information on the UHR, visit the CZ-USA website at www.CZ-USA.com.
“As we slowly stalked through the thick stuff, the buck jumped up to run. I quickly aimed and punched him in the shoulder with 3,138 foot-pounds of .30-06. He dropped immediately.”
“There isn’t a deer in North America the .30-06 won’t kill and kill quick which is one reason it is such a popular caliber,” he added.
CZ-USA Rifles, Deer Management and Big Game Hunting
Listen to Chester Moore and Dustin Warncke discuss this story in more detail on the latest BEST OF THE OUTDOORS podcast.
Other killer calibers include .308 and .270 and many hunters in fact are choosing to upgrade to .300 Winchester Magnum with models like the CZ Ultimate Hunting Rifle able to allow hunters to shoot deer farther out than perhaps their grandfather’s gun would allow them to do.
The Right Attitude
As mentioned before, the key is to take out does early in the season. Of course, you can shoot them throughout the season, but chances are if you do not get them early you might forego hunting them altogether.
The hunting community is constantly talking about how it is pro conservation, and this is a chance to put it into action. Keeping deer numbers trimmed down to a healthy level is good for everything from the deer to the songbirds.
In addition, taking extra deer can be a good thing for people in need, which we have plenty of in our state.
You can consider supporting Hunters for the Hungry.
Hunters for the Hungry has provided more than nine million servings of venison to Texans in need. Through the program, hunters can donate legally tagged, field-dressed deer at participating meat processors.
The processors prepare the venison for distribution to local hunger relief agencies such as food banks and food pantries. By doing this, you can give hungry Texans a heart-healthy venison meal and let them know hunters care.
According to Penn State there is a catch to the Rose Petal Hypothesis.
“When deer densities are lower like in the Adirondacks where the Rose Petal Hypothesis was developed, there are fewer deer and limited female dispersal however, with higher deer densities there is simply too much female dispersal to ever create a localized area of low deer density. The roses just grow too darn fast.”
For hunters with properties already being managed correctly, this should inspire you to take out even more does.
For those in areas of Texas with “roses” growing everywhere this should give you license to focus the guns on every doe you can legally take for the sake of the land—and perhaps to help hungry Texans in the process.
So, are you up for the challenge?
A Cool Extra for Varmints
NO REAL DEER-MANAGING HUNTER likes to go out without some kind of extra varmint shooting rifle.
The CZ 455 Varmint features a heavier, stiffer barrel than did its predecessors in the 452 and 453 lines. The 20.5-inch long, .866-inch diameter cylindrical barrel gives the 455 Varmint an accuracy advantage across the wide variety of rimfire loads available today.
Accessory barrels available for the 455 platform, include the American and Lux (open sights), as well as other varmint-weight barrels in .22 LR, .22 WMR or .17 HMR. These barrels can be easily swapped out because of the larger universal barrel channel of the Varmint model.
An even more unique edition is the Tacticool.
The Tacticool Suppressor-Ready sports a 16.5-inch varmint barrel with 1/2×28 threads. This makes adding a suppressor easy as can be and eliminates excess barrel length. The shorter barrel gives plenty of time for the cartridge to get a full burn while increasing the rigidity of the barrel. This results in a rifle that drives tacks—quietly.
—TF&G Staff Report