Whitetail News Vol 30.1

Page 16

enough, 30-06 provides beneficial nutrients deer need as opposed to using something such as corn or a salt-based product solely for attraction. If you want to attract deer to the camera, you might as well provide them premium nutrition at the same time.

Estimating Population Of all the management practices conducted with the aid of trail cameras and 30-06, estimating your population is one of the most valuable. Having a good idea of your deer population can help you make decisions, such as how many acres of food plots to plant and determining your harvest goals. You might think this is only important on big parcels, but it can also be useful on small properties. One of my farms is about 120 acres, but I still conduct population studies, and the information I obtain helps me make management decisions. Of the 120 acres, about half consist of heavy cover and bedding areas. I plant food plots, and the property has multiple water sources, so many deer call the farm home, as they don’t have to travel for essentials. I realize some deer on the farm come and go, and I pick up

other neighboring deer at times, but having a population estimate for a window of time allows for educated decisions versus guesswork. I like to do two population studies: one in spring/summer and one in fall/winter. That’s because population levels shift, especially on smaller properties. Spring/summer populations on my farms tend to be lower than fall/winter populations because of the more readily available cold-weather food. I also plant winter plots such as WinterGreens and pull deer from other properties. If I used the numbers I obtained in the spring study, it would be inaccurately low for winter. You can use many methods when conducting a population study. In fact, entire books have been written on the subject. But some basic, consistent pieces hold true. Most methodologies recommend only conducting studies in fall, just before hunting season. The reason is that in spring and summer, traditional baiting with corn is not as effective because other food sources are available. However, with 30-06 mineral, summer surveys can be conducted just as accurately as fall surveys. Plus, as mentioned, populations often vary from summer to winter, especially on small properties. A summer estimate helps you make decisions on management aspects such as the number of summer food plot acres needed versus fall/winter acres. I typically wait until mid-July to do a study. By then, most bucks have sufficient antler growth to identify individual bucks. Most recommendations are one camera per 100 acres, but I usually run at least two — maybe three — per 100 acres for smaller properties. I use an aerial map and place camera sites at equally proportioned areas on the property. Recommendations for study duration are typically 10 to 14 days, but in summer, I might run them for 21 days or more. I like to use mineral sites that have been active for years because it increases the odds of the entire herd using it during the test. When you’re using a new site, make sure it’s being used heavily before beginning the study. When you collect photos, try to identify as many unique bucks as possible, along with the total number of bucks. It’s almost impossible to identify individual does and fawns, so most methods use a formula to account for this. Here’s one example: Develop a ratio of uniquely identified bucks versus the total number of bucks. If you count 200 bucks but can only identify 30 as unique, the ratio would be 30/200, or .15. You can then multiply the number of does and fawns by that ratio to get an estimate of the total number of does and fawns. For example, if you have pictures of 400 does and 500 fawns, that produces an estimate of 60 does and 75 fawns. I realize that formula could be skewed with a high doe-to-buck ratio and other factors, so you should do some research to find the best formula for your situation. This example just provides an idea of how the formulas are used.

Summary

The author shot this great buck this past season.

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/ Vol. 30, No. 1

The world continuously changes with the advent of new technologies, and the hunting scene isn’t different. Trail cameras let you hunt and manage in ways folks could not in the recent past. When 30-06 was developed, it was for the nutritional benefit of deer, not as an aid to trail cameras. Regardless, trail cameras and 30-06 unquestionably work well together, and during the past 20 years, I’ve used the combination with great success. CAUTION: 30-06 products are so attractive, some states consider them bait. Consult your local game laws before using or hunting over 30-06. ^ www.whitetailinstitute.com