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Deer Habitat in the Carolinas

Deer Habitat

One of the most important things a Carolina hunting land manager can do is maintain a proper habitat for their deer herd.  Failing to do so can result in poor growth and reproduction, starvation, disease, poor nutrition and habitat destruction.  In some cases the deer will simply leave to find a better area with better habitat.

Know the carrying capacity of your hunting land.  It is important to keep the number of deer below that capacity for the reasons listed above.  There are several ways to figure out the number of deer on your hunting land.  The easiest way is to have several people located in different areas on your property all at the same time to do a count.  Determining the sex of the deer and counting all fawns is important as well.  This should give you a good estimate of the size of your herd.  Once you know the carrying capacity of your habitat, you’ll also want to make sure there is a proper doe to buck ratio; if it is off balance, remove the appropriate number of bucks and does.

If you have a high browse line on trees and vegetation, your deer herd probably exceeds the carrying capacity.

If you are seeking to grow Boone & Crockett whitetails, allow bucks to live to be at least four years old, when antler growth really begins to kick in.  The right mix of food plots will keep the deer herd healthy throughout the year.  Providing adequate water and nutrition as well as cover areas will attract deer to your property, improve fawning rates, and increase body and antler size.  A timber stand improvement program will provide bedding cover to attract deer and other wildlife.  Your local conservation department should have information available for timber stand improvement (TSI).  Most field biologists can direct you to burn crews and equipment.  Planting cedars to create thickets may also add value to your hunting land.  Some of this will, of course, take time, but will result in an excellent QDMA-worthy hunting property!