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Deer Herd Management for Georgia Hunters

Keep Accurate Records

Records should be kept on every deer harvested on the property.  Basic record keeping begins with the total number of bucks and does taken from the property each year. Secondly, and just as important, are the ages of all animals in the harvest. Never guess at deer ages! One side of all lower jaws should be pulled, tagged and saved for inspection by a biologist. Wildlife Resources Division biologists can provide assistance for aging jawbones to landowners and hunting clubs upon request. If this is not possible, then club members should become proficient in aging 3 age classes:  fawns (6 months of age), yearlings (1.5  years of age), and adults (2.5  years of age and older). Do not underestimate the value of aging all the animals in the deer kill especially yearlings. This is the single most important piece of information obtainable for your deer herd. The meaning of all other measurements of the deer herd, such as weights and antler measurements, depends upon accurate aging.

After aging, antler measurements are next in order of importance. Be consistent and thorough in your data collection. All measurements should be taken from the right antler unless it is deformed or broken. Antler diameter at the widest point (one inch above the burr) should be measured in millimeters with an inexpensive set of calipers, length of main beam from base to tip along the back of the curvature of the beam is measured with a tape in inches, total number of points (must be at least one inch in length), and outside spread  is recorded. In addition to antler measurements, field dressed weights can provide very important trend data to monitor your deer herd and compare your records with those from other deer populations. Live weights can be used but are more difficult to compare with other deer herds. On clubs that do not restrict their buck harvest, data from yearling bucks is especially valuable since these animals reflect the condition of the entire population if the measurements are taken correctly.

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