Herd Management 101

September 19, 2019 | « back

By: Ted Nugent

I gaze lovingly at the mounted button buck and the small doe fawn side by side on my cabin wall.

You want to talk about trophies! I remember every soul stirring detail of those two exciting deerkills way back in the 1960s, and though both deer are as small as legal deer can be, they both represent the essence of my thrilling hunting life.

I think the most amazing memory of all is the shock and dismay on the taxidermist’s face when I brought the little boogers in to be mounted.

He literally couldn’t believe I wanted to pay to have such non-trophy deer mounted, but eventually came to understand my genuine excitement and happiness in finally accomplishing my hunting goal of bagging a deer.

As I state constantly on my Ted Nugent Spirit of the Wild TV show for the past 31 years and in all my media interviews celebrating the perfect hunting lifestyle, when approached with a proper mindset and with the proper heart of a hunter-conservationist, every hunt should be all about fun, sport, meat and trophy.

When I eventually figured out that a few hunting days here there each season didn’t come close to satisfying my hunting cravings and dreams and I increased my days afield to at least six months a year, became a more selective, patient hunter and picked my targets more scientifically with an eye on improving the overall herd and habitat.

Living on my hunting land gives me the definitive knowledge of the wildlife conditions. No computer model on some bureaucrat’s office desk could possibly compare with a dedicated, boots on the ground eye witness connection with the land and animals when it comes to sound science wildlife management.

On our Michigan and Texas hunting lands I am out there with the critters year-round all year long, and apply your basic wildlife biology 101 when determining my annual management plan.

Though rainfall plays a huge role on our Texas grounds, the simple equation of habitat condition and carrying capacity in conjunction with fawn recruitment will dictate my seasonal harvest everytime.

With supplemental feeding, agriculture practices and foodplot augmentation, along with aggressive predator controls, we can dramatically increase the health and vitality of our herds.

Typically across North America, an aggressive doe harvest is critical for herd and land management, and ain’t it fun!

I don’t know about you, but for me, a successful strategy and good arrow on a flathead she-deer is as thrilling as killing a big old buck.

Fortunate to hunt many of my buddy’s deergrounds, we always celebrate a doe kill as the essence of our backstrap dreams, and this essential balancing responsibility goes a long way in fortifying the herd while protecting the critical habitat for all wildlife, game and nongame alike.

I continue to be amazed to hear that some hunters refuse to shoot does, but will gladly put their buck tag on a yearling spike or forkhorn.

To each his own of course, and I fully support the individual choice of killing whatever legal deer anyone prefers, but if we could just convince those hunters that simply want some venison and a fun, successful hunt to pass up on the yearling bucks and shoot does instead, they would be amazed at how quick the herd would begin to produce those mature, dream stags of impressive head bone lore.

And let me emphasize the bottomline that trophy is always in the eye of the individual beholder, and my fellow hunters that only get a few days to hunt each season want to shoot young bucks, I am with you all the way and say have at it!

Whatever turns your crank comes to mind.

Those of us who diligently monitor our hunting grounds, both private and public, should establish a good report with our regional game departments, regularly communicating our observations and concerns in order to assist them in making informed season and harvest decisions.

Each fall I get more and more excited for the hunt and feel extremely blessed and fortunate to live the hunting lifestyle I so cherish.

When our game grounds are managed based on real world sound science, the attraction of thriving wildlife kicks the passion meter up a few notches, and I for one can’t wait to get out there every day.