The DNR DFW Deer Summary illustrates the need for County Deer Advisory Councils (CDACs). TWO STATE SENATORS FACILITATED A PARTNERSHIP with DNR and DFW DIRECTORS and the IWDHM GROUP in Piloting CDACs; providing management information, and utilize the outcomes of the Pilots in determining bonus antlerless quotas in the pilot counties for 2017. It was decided a minimum of six counties will be piloted; though IWDHM Group will have significantly more counties with completed CDAC meetings and reports prior to quotas being set for 2017 seasons. IWDHM Group Board of Directors, prior to this meeting developing the partnership, also obtained information used regarding deer harvest and management decisions for the last ten years using the FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT. The SAK type management model used by DFW for bonus antlerless county quotas, based on the harvests trends and the new check in systems, cannot be accurate if the harvest trending numbers do not come from the same sources year to year. This is why so many are seeing an overharvest in the counties they live, hunt, farm, raise their families, enjoy the resources non-consumptively, and work in.
It has taken awhile to analyze the data by the IWDHM Board, as we all work full time jobs in other fields, and are spearheading CDACs out of pure passion for the resource, our lifestyle, and passing these legacies and resources onto their rightful owners, the future generations.
Harvest trends are not the best method of deer management; it is the cheapest, taking the least amount of manpower. A substandard management model at best, this model is only as good as the numbers that are plugged into the equation. For example, prior to 2015, state park reduction hunts were not part of the total harvest, starting in 2015 these additional deer were included in the harvest numbers. Another aspect is over the last decade weapon choices have become more numerous and effective with the addition of the crossbow and the high powered rifle, as well as more and more days to use those weapons. The hunter survey that is also taken into account, or should be, is still not complete from 2014 or 2015. Hence this information has not been used in the current model. We have also found multiple mistakes, such as state park deer checked in outside of those reduction hunt dates. 81 antlered bucks being checked in using bonus antlerless tags. Quoting Director Reiter, "Joe says the results you got were due to sorting error—which is common. Here’s a table of harvest by sex and license type. The bucks harvested by bonus license were probably reporting errors." Numbers regarding bonus antlerless permits can also be misleading. For the firearms season the bag limit is one antlered deer. Does or antlerless deer are not part of the bag limit, without the bonus antlerless quotas. So whether one uses a bonus antlerless license/tag, or a bundle license tag, the dead deer is a bonus antlerless deer only legally taken under the quotas set for the year. So from year to year we are not comparing apples to apples under this model.
Another perplexing finding is in numerous counties with very dissimilar topography, populations (both deer and human), deer habitat, and structure, there does not seem to be a guiding principal as to why one county may be a 3 or 4, while another county with less of everything remains a 5-8 county.
The DNR is understaffed. Many biologist leaving in retirement are simply not replaced, or replaced as urban or landscape biologists. As sportsperson’s we need to work to assure the DNR is getting our dollars and using them to keep these regional biologist positions full. Deer in Indiana for the largest part have not reached the carrying capacity of the land, other than the exceptions of a few state parks. The deer did reach a social carrying capacity.
CDAC's manage on a concept of pain, which in our state is what we are truly managing for anyway. So when populations are too high, agriculture and transportation will give input to reduce those populations. Inversely, when populations are too low, hunters, tourism, and non-consumptive users will give input to increase populations. When the population is just right, most will probably not attend CDAC’s. That would be the goal, instead of giant surpluses or devastating scarcity, the population will remain more stable within that area where the pain of all the stakeholders is controlled to satisfaction. CDACs will keep a sustainable herd viable every year for newcomers to our hunting heritage despite what year that is, while controlling economic loss for the stakeholders on the other end of the spectrum. With boots on the ground citizens giving simple input, the deer in each county can be managed cheaper, more accurately, and more beneficial to all citizen stakeholders within each county.
IWDHM is committed to advocating for the health of our deer herd and the preservation of our hunting heritage for future generations.
We at IWDHM celebrate youth in the outdoors every chance we get. Last season we received hundreds of photographs of youth hunters and anglers across the state enjoying the outdoors. We showcase these pics on our Facebook page and here as well. This season we hope to get hundreds more. So if you have a youth in the outdoors, post those pics on our Facebook page and we'll post to our slideshow!
Indiana Whitetail Deer Herd Management
Dedication to youth hunters and fishermen....