White-tailed deer are an important component of native rangelands and a major economic resource in Texas. Billions of dollars are spent annually for white-tailed deer management and hunting.
The Foundation’s ranches are home to abundant and healthy deer populations, that are not influenced by nutritional supplementation, harvest, or other forms of management. As such, Foundation deer herds reflect a natural state, largely free from human intervention. Additionally, deer herds on Foundation lands are positioned on an east to west precipitation gradient (high to low) and capture a full range of habitat conditions occurring in South Texas.
With this as background, the Foundation has embarked on a multi-year project aimed at creating a profile of unmanaged deer herds and assessing what impacts varying habitat conditions have on deer herds of South Texas.
During autumn of 2011–2014 we live-captured and released 2,775 white-tailed deer from four East Foundation ranches, ranging from the coast to 100 miles inland. Body weights, body condition, antler size, lactation status, and age are recorded for each deer.
Though analysis is continuing, this project has produced several notable findings.
The Foundation is committed addressing research questions relevant private landowners in South Texas. Baseline data from our unmanaged deer herds will allow managers make the best use of native rangelands, for both cattle production and wildlife conservation.
Partner: Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute