When we talk about white-tailed deer management, we often look to the states that have monster deer like Iowa, Illinois, and Ohio. Those states grow 200 plus inch bucks. It’s amazing to see for sure. But this is Florida and we can’t effectively manage deer the same way. Actually, in Florida, we can’t even manage deer the same across the state. This is why we have 12 deer management units. So, what are the reasons we can’t manage deer the same?
Plant hardiness and climate
Deer are highly adaptable to habitats. They can be found in almost every state in the US. The native vegetation is very different in Northwest Florida versus Iowa or Illinois. Deer are eating different diets depending on the habitat they are residing in. Bedding areas will vary also. This affects the body size, antler growth, and fawning rates for deer.
We can grow food plots to supplement deer diets but those will look a little different too. For example, clovers and cereal grains are normally frost seeded in late winter or planted in the spring in parts of the country that actually experience winter. In Northwest Florida, we plant clovers and cereal grains in the fall.
Finally, rut timing is a key part of deer nutrition management. In Northwest Florida, the rut (deer breeding season) is happening now. In other parts of the country such as Iowa, they are shed hunting already because their rut happens in November.
So, given these reasons, we do things a little differently here. We plant cool season food plots in the fall. These act as attractants to draw deer in during hunting season. Then our summers are when the deer need more nutrition for antler growth and fawn rearing. Warm season food plots should focus on supplying adequate crude protein and energy for this increased demand period.
Further Processed Venison Photo Credit: Jennifer Bearden
I often get questions about eating wild game by new hunters. Questions like: Is it safe to eat? How do you process it? How nutritious is it for my family? Does it taste good? A group of agents and specialists joined forces and created 4 new publications to answer these questions and more.
This publication starts with safety during the hunt. It then talks about skinning the deer and getting the meat to below 40°F as quickly as possible. It also warns hunters about zoonotic diseases and how to protect from diseases such as tuberculosis, brucellosis, and leptospirosis.
This publication talks about aging of meats, carcass cutting, grinding, storing, freezing and thawing. The ultimate goal is safe and tasty wild game meat in the forms that you and your family personally enjoy.
This publication emphasizes food safety concerns such as storage temperatures, minimum internal temperatures when cooking, thawing frozen meats properly. It also outlines how nutritious wild game meat can be.
Do you want to get into hunting and enjoying this safe, delicious, and nutritious food supply? We welcome new hunters! For Florida residents, check myFWC.com for residency qualifications, exemptions, and hunter safety requirements.
ATVs and Trailers: Don’t Let Invasive Species Catch a Free Ride!
In the final installment of our PlayCleanGo program, Rick O’Connor and Carrie Stevenson will look at how you can avoid spreading invasive species when you use a vehicle outside. Utilizing a hose and brush, you can clean your vehicles and remove any harmful invasive plants that may have hitched a ride.
Tents and Firewood: Don’t Let Invasive Species Camp with You!
In the 4th installment of our PlayCleanGo program, Rick O’Connor and Carrie Stevenson will show you how to avoid the introduction of invasive species when you go camping or use a firepit. In this video, we explain how you should source your firewood and how to clean your camping equipment.