White-tailed deer are an enormous source of income for wildlife enterprises, and to assist those enterprises, Extension has created a new educational program called Intensive White-tailed Deer Management.
The program has been launched in Edwards, Kimble and Sutton counties and consists of seminars, workshops, tours and demonstrations providing landowners with knowledge and skills to help them better manage this resource.
Preston Faris, agriculture agent in Sutton County, says each of the participating counties identified 10 area agricultural producers as a target audience.
“We've been seeing a change,” said Farris. “More of our sheep and goat producers are leaving traditional agricultural enterprises and going to intensive wildlife management, even to the point of pen breeding and raising. That's who we're serving with the program.”
T. E. Warren, ranch manager at George Land and Cattle near Cleo, said the program fills a need and is indicative of “where agriculture is headed in the Hill Country. There's not much money in livestock these days.”
The new program takes wildlife management deeper, with ranchers looking intensely at habitat management, genetics, population management and supplemental feeding. breeding behavior, diet and nutrition, antler development and reproductive capability, as well as deer interaction with other species, including exotic deer, cattle, sheep and goats. Wright says white-tailed deer are very prolific and rangeland health requires a great deal of management to maintain and reach the landowners desired outcomes
As part of the program, participants identify goals and objectives, learn how to inventory their natural resources, generate economic projections and integrate planning into existing conservation plans.
At a recent seminar in Junction, seminar clients received training on evaluating habitat for deer, particularly in relation to forage. As part of a ranch tour and demonstration, they learned to identify plants for wildlife and to determine how much vegetation is being used by wildlife.
The next event in the program is scheduled for Aug. 20 in Edwards County with a focus on deer life history and physiology and multiple species interaction. A third major event in Sutton County on Oct. 15 will tackle nature tourism, including landowner/operator liability.