John's Journal...


Determining the Condition of the Herd with Bob Zaiglin

Editor’s Note: Sportsmen across Alabama know Don Taylor of Birmingham, Alabama, as an avid deer and turkey hunter, and Dr. Bob Sheppard of Carrollton, Alabama, as a bowhunting instructor. Bob Zaiglin, a wildlife biologist from Texas, Click to enlargehas done extensive research in managing and hunting trophy white-tailed deer and is a nationally-recognized expert for his rattling and calling techniques. These three longtime outdoorsmen know the importance of Scouting for deer after the season.

“The best time to lease land or to look for a place to hunt is after the rut,” according to Bob Zaiglin. “If a hunter is considering leasing a particular piece of property and wants to know the condition of the deer on the land, he should be able to walk over the lease and find sheds. If he doesn't discover any sheds, then he must question how many deer are on the lease. The same is true of public lands. If you plan to hunt public lands this season but aren't sure of the condition of the herd is on those lands, walk those lands Click to enlargeafter the season and search for sheds. Too, sheds will tell sportsmen how well they're doing with their deer-management programs. For instance, if your hunting club is attempting to produce numbers of bucks, but your members don't find very many sheds, something is wrong in your herd. Sheds will also tell you the size of bucks you have on the property and the general condition of those bucks.

“I collect all the sheds I can every year. Then, I measure every shed. Although the data doesn't give me any age criteria, it does give me a bio mass of antlers. I can tell by the sheer volume of antlers I pick up whether I have a number of bucks or a few bucks and whether I have little or big bucks on a property. Something else I've determined from sheds is that I can better predict what size bucks I'll have to Click to enlargehunt the upcoming year. If I find numbers of small, scrappy antlers, then I can project that hunters on that land may not bag very many large trophies the coming year. Alternatively, if I locate some quality racks, I'll know my hunters the following year can expect to harvest some trophy bucks. So collecting sheds helps the sportsman keep his expectations of the upcoming buck harvest within more reasonable bounds.

“Bass fishermen have learned that bass usually are in only 10 percent of a lake's area. Deer follow much the same pattern in the woods. Shed hunters quickly will learn where their chances are best on any piece of property to find a deer. The sportsman who wants to become a trophy hunter and consistently take big deer must learn to hunt all year and carry his gun into the woods only during hunting season. Not enough time is available duringClick to enlarge hunting season for a trophy hunter to unravel the mysteries of the big bucks. Even if the outdoorsman does determine what the deer in his area are doing, the season may be over before he has a chance to intercept a buck in the woods. Deer have learned to avoid hunters. Most always on any given piece of land, a few certain bucks will continually escape hunters. These deer seem to have a sixth sense about how to avoid hunters. Unless a sportsman is willing to hunt trophy bucks all year, not only may he never find a trophy buck to hunt, but he'll also never develop a strategy for taking that deer. If you truly want to hunt a trophy, the odds of bagging that trophy buck are best for the hunter who makes the commitment to hunt deer all year long. Shed hunting is an integral part of trophy-buck hunting for outdoorsmen who understand what sheds mean, where to look for the sheds, and what to do after they find them.”

Check back each day this week for more about deer hunting after the season

Day 1: Learning About the Deer and Their Habitat and Trying New Hunting Tactics
Day 2: Understanding Where Others Are Hunting
Day 3: Looking for Deer Sheds with Bob Zaiglin
Day 4: Locating Dead Deer with Bob Zaiglin
Day 5: Determining the Condition of the Herd with Bob Zaiglin



Entry 339, Day 5