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The whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus) population has exploded in Northern Virginia over the past decade. As described in the Virginia Deer Management Plan 2015-2024 under optimal conditions, a deer population can double in size annually. With no regulating factor (e.g., predators, hunters), a deer population would expand to where some resources, generally food, would become scarce. Sources of mortality other then hunting (e.g., diseases, injury, predation) are typically not sufficient to control deer populations. Active deer management is necessary to maintain deer populations to meet the needs of the citizens of the Commonwealth. An optimum deer population balances positive demands (e.g., hunting, viewing) with negative demands (e.g., agricultural damage, vehicle collisions, ecosystem impacts).

Some of the devastating results an over populated deer herd have on a property can include:

  • Overgrazing, which can reduce the forest under story, which provides the habitat to a wide variety of song birds, game birds, and small mammals
  • The grazing by deer on high quality saplings (such as ash and oak) over lower quality saplings (such as tulip tree). Continuous herbivory by deer of the higher quality saplings will change the composition of the forest community, which will result in a forest stand that is dominated by lower quality tree species, ultimately reducing the value of the forest stand from both a timber and habitat perspective.
  • Competition between deer and livestock for grazing area

Why control deer populations?

Controlled population increases overall health of the deer herd by helping to limit the spread of diseases, such as Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (Blue Tounge) ), reducing malnutrition and parasitism , and reducing human interaction (i.e., fewer accidents with cars, less grazing near house, gardens, and landscaping).

Methods for controlling deer populations:

On properties where hunting isn’t permitted, due to security and safety concerns, culling may be an option. Culling is usually done at night with a suppressed (silencer) high power rifle. Hunt Country takes a humane/discreet approach when performing culling operations. We will coordinate with the local Conservation Police to obtain the necessary permits. All deer harvested are donated to Hunters for the Hungry, a non-profit organization that helps local families in need.

Hunting leases are not only a tool to help manage deer populations, they are also a way to have your property make money for you. Hunt Country can organize and manage hunters on your property so you don’t have to.

Quality Deer Management (QDM)

Each year more and more land owners are seeing the benifits as a result of applying The Quality Deer Management Philosophy to their property. For those land owners and hunters who want to have the opportunity to hunt trophy deer right here in Northern Virginia, Hunt Country can develop a Quality Deer management Program tailored to your property. Although the most important aspect of growing trophy white-tails on any property is to let male deer reach maturity (4-6 years old) there are still other management techniques that can be utilized to increase a property’s potential to produce big deer:

  1. Food Plot design. Installation, and Maintenance
  2. Natural Vegetation Management
  3. Mineral Supplements
  4. Herd monitoring
  5. Assist in organizing COOP with neighboring land owners

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