Deer Management Cooperatives – Partnering to improve your deer herd and habitat
By Daniel Greenfield, AGFC Private Lands Biologist
LITTLE ROCK –
Deer management cooperatives are partnerships between neighboring
landowners or deer clubs that allow the participants to manage deer more
effectively. Landowners or managers often encounter various limitations
to managing for better deer due to the size of their property, limited
resources or number of participants.
can be comprised of as little as 500 acres made up of a few landowners
or consisting of several thousand acres with a larger group of
landowners or members. Usually, larger cooperatives are more effective
because of their ability to better manage deer over larger areas while
sharing equipment, ideas and collecting needed deer data.
Why are deer management cooperatives needed?
Cooperatives are needed to overcome many of the problems associated
with managing deer effectively. Many properties that are managed for
deer are not large enough to cover the deer's entire home range. A
deer's average home range covers around one square mile, so managing on
less than 640 acres can be difficult. By working together, landowners
with smaller acreage can control and manage the entire home range of a
deer to see results in producing better quality deer.
working together across their combined acres to properly harvest both
does and bucks can achieve improved harvest quality. Smaller property
owners may not have the equipment necessary to manage the habitat to
improve it for wildlife. They can also share equipment, manpower and
ideas to reach their management goals more successfully. Increasing the
size of a property that is being managed for deer can also increase the
amount of data being gathered such as observation data, antler
measurements, weights and age structure. This data can then be
interpreted by a biologist to form a management plan for the entire
How do you form a deer management cooperative?
The first step is to identify the area that you want to include in the
cooperative. Usually, it is best to choose adjoining property next to
that which you are currently managing and build the land base necessary
to successfully manage deer. Once you have identified the properties you
want to include, the next step is to determine who owns the property
and contact them about the opportunity to form a deer cooperative. The
best way to accomplish this is to invite your prospective partners to
one of your club meetings or an informal gathering. Also, remember not
to be too pushy. Your main goal at this point is to become acquainted
and share your ideas and successes with them pertaining to deer
management and explain the benefits – better and healthier deer.
How can a deer management cooperative or landowner receive help to manage deer?
Each year, hundreds of deer clubs and landowners utilize the Deer
Management Assistance Program to improve populations and habitat. DMAP
is a free AGFC program that assists deer clubs and landowners in
managing their deer herd and habitat (yearly deadline to enroll is July
1). AGFC Private Lands Biologists are available to conduct a site visit
on your property, discuss your management goals, provide habitat
recommendations and develop a custom plan to fit your deer management
The PLB can
educate members on how to collect deer data accurately. The data can
then be used to manage the deer herd on a yearly basis. PLBs are very
knowledgeable in all aspects of habitat management such as forest stand
improvement, prescribed burning, food plots, native warm season grass
habitat and other practices that benefit deer and a wide range of
wildlife. Minimum DMAP acreage requirements for the Mississippi Alluvial
Valley and Gulf Coastal Plain are 1,000 contiguous acres. For the
Arkansas River Valley, Ozark and Ouachita Mountains and Crowley's Ridge,
minimum acreage is 500 contiguous acres. This is where forming a co-op
can take deer management to the next level when smaller landowners are
willing to work together. Start this hunting season working with your
surrounding landowners to form a deer management cooperative.
information on cooperatives and improving your land for wildlife,
contact an AGFC Private Lands Biologist at: Fort Smith-877-478-1043,
Harrison-870-741-8600-ext. 114, Hope-877-777-5580, Calico
Rock-877-297-4331, Little Rock-877-470-3650, Brinkley-877-734-4581,
Jonesboro-877-972-5438 and Monticello-877-367-3559. To see which PLB
covers you're your county, go to: www.agfc.com/habitat
and click on the 2013 Private Lands Map.