Shooting to Control a Deer Population


Effective use of the legal deer season is probably the best way to control deer populations. By permitting hunting, landowners provide public access to a public resource while at the same time reducing deer damage problems. Because of the daily and seasonal movements of deer, only rarely does a single landowner control all the land a deer uses. As a result, neighboring landowners should cooperate. Landowners, the state wildlife agency, and local hunters should reach a consensus about a desirable population level for an area before deer are removed.

Mechanisms for managing deer population levels in a specific area already exist in most states. Either-sex seasons, increased bag limits, antlerless-only permits, special depredation seasons, and a variety of other management techniques have been used successfully to reduce deer numbers below levels achieved by traditional “bucks only” regulations.

Shooting permits issued by some states allow for removal of problem deer where they are causing damage during nonhunting season periods.

Use of bait, spotlights, and rifles may increase success but techniques must be consistent with the specifications of the permits. In areas where shooting normally is prohibited, such as parks and densely populated areas, a skilled shooter under permit is probably preferable to costly attempts at live removal.

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