John's Journal...

How to Produce and Harvest Your Own Trophy Bucks with Dr. Keith Causey

How Many Acres Do You Need to Produce A Trophy Buck?

Click to enlargeEditor's Note:  Dr. Keith Causey, a retired professor of wildlife science at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, has studied the habits and haunts of the whitetail deer for more than 40 years. Causey has used radio telemetry and penned-deer studies to gather much of his research on white-tailed deer. Causey, one of the nation's leading deer researchers and an avid bowhunter, tells us how to produce more quality deer on the lands you hunt and/or own how to hunt those whitetails more effectively.

The number of acres required to yield a trophy buck will vary throughout the nation, and having a large enough land tract is vital. In most areas east of the Mississippi River, bucks may not wander farther than 2-square miles, approximately 1800 to 2000 acres. This land must be contiguous and ideally in the shape of a square.

IClick to enlargen the Midwestern states like Kansas, Iowa and other corn- and bean-producing areas, bucks may roam as far as 25-miles away from their winter habitat at other times of the year. Landowners have found these prairie deer the hardest of all deer to contain. During winter months, Midwestern bucks may hold in small woodlots, but in the spring and summer, they may move great distances to spend the warmer part of the year in agricultural crops. In the Midwest, the deer may remain in a corn field or a bean field from the time the crop first comes out of the ground until the harvest. Once farmers harvest the crop, the older-age-class bucks often will move into small scattered woodlots to spend the winter.

In the West, availability of habitat usually restricts the movement of the whitetail. A deer may spend its entire life within 2- to 3-square miles of land - frequently along a creek bed or in an agricultural area.

To set up some parameters for managing for quality deer, let's assume you want to hunt land east of the Mississippi River. If, like most deer hunters, you don't have the money to lease 2,000 to 3,000 acres of land, don’t be discouraged. There are two systems to obtaininClick to enlargeg the land you need to produce quality deer. First, you can form a hunting club with several of your friends dedicated to having fine bucks. By pooling your money, you may come up with the capital to lease this much acreage.

The second method requires less money and fewer people. I once leased 600acres of prime deer land not far from my home in Alabama.  I knew I didn't have enough lClick to enlargeand to produce bucks that wouldn’t wander off my property, so I met with adjacent landowners and talked to them about how they also could grow superior deer. I explained the management system I planned to use and told the landowners that we all could have nice bucks to hunt, if we all would follow the same management system. By cooperating, we pooled a total 3,500 acres into one quality-deer-management program. Although I still only had 600 acres to hunt, the lands also managing for big bucks surrounded my property.

You must allow thebucks on the land you hunt and the land adjoining the property you hunt to grow for at least 3 years.  If you protect the 1-1/2- to 2-year-old bucks on your land, and they then wander over to your neighbor's property, and he harvests them, you’ll never take the trophy buck of your dreams.  On the other hand, if you and the adjacent landowners protect the 1-1/2- to 2-year-old bucks, those bucks will have enough time to grow to trophy size. Even if the land you hunt only is 600, 100 or even 50 acres, you still can institute a management program that will produce bucks with heavy body weights and large antlers with the cooperation of your neighbors.

Tomorrow: How to Identify and Protect Younger-Age-Class Bucks and Control Population

Check back each day this week for more about "How to Produce and Harvest Your Own Trophy Bucks with Dr. Keith Causey"

Day 1: How to Choose the Right Soil Type
Day 2: How Many Acres Do You Need to Produce A Trophy Buck?
Day 3: How to Identify and Protect Younger-Age-Class Bucks and Control Population
Day 4: Avoid Excessive Hunting Pressure, and Improve Food Quality
Day 5: How to Bowhunt the Trophy Bucks You Produce



Entry 413, Day 2