You are here: Home / Users / sean.hubbard@okstate.edu / A browse survey gives landowners a better deer picture

Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

A browse survey gives landowners a better deer picture

STILLWATER, Okla. – Hunters frequently have an interest in how many deer are on their property. Commonly done with a spotlight or camera survey, just knowing the deer density might not be as helpful as they had wished.

However, combining that rough number with the information provided from a browse survey can help landowners better manage their property, said Dwayne Elmore, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension wildlife specialist.

“A property can have a deer per 20 acres and actually be understocked and another property might have a deer per 40 acres and be overstocked,” Elmore said. “This is all based on the amount of available forage.”

Now is the time to get out and conduct a browse survey.

“Do this in February right before green up when the plants have had the most browsing pressure,” he said. “It’s more difficult to identify plants, but with a field guide and using the buds, barks and structure of plant, you have a good idea of what species you’re looking at.”

The key to making a browse survey work is knowing the level of preference for browsing of each species of plants. OSU Cooperative Extension has a document, “White-tailed Deer Habitat Evaluation and Management Guide” that provides this information. The Fact Sheet can be found by searching “E-979,” or by title, at facts.okstate.edu.

For example, elm and hackberry are high preference, while redbud is moderate and Eastern redcedar is low. Included in the document is a blank sheet to help keep records.

To conduct the survey, select points across the landscape and divide the property into major vegetation types. A detailed video of conducting a browse survey, produced by the agriculture television show, SUNUP, is available online at sunup.okstate.edu/category/ns/2014/110114-ns.

“You need same number of points in each type of vegetation—forest and grassland, for example,” Elmore said. “I recommend at least one point per quarter section of land you own or manage. For smaller properties, with only a quarter or half section, maybe do four points per quarter.”

After randomly picking points in the landscape, pace out five steps from the center point in every direction to form a circle. Count everything in the circle with a stem tip or woody plants that have been browsed by deer, up to about 6 feet and down to the ground.

For each species of plant, count every stem and put the number in a column on the sheet provided in the Extension document, noting if it has been browsed or not.

“It is easy to tell if a stem has been browsed by a deer,” Elmore said. “They lack upper incisors, so the browse point is usually really jagged as opposed to a sharp clip that a rabbit would make.”

After each section of landscape has been browsed the property owner will have a good idea of available forage for the amount of deer on the property. The “White-tailed Deer Habitat Evaluation and Management Guide” has information to help landowners decide on management tactics to improve the habitat for white-tailed deer.

###

Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures.  This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; phone 405-744-5371; email: eeo@okstate.edu has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies: Director of Equal Opportunity. Any person (student, faculty, or staff) who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.

REPORTER/MEDIA CONTACT:
Sean Hubbard
Communications Specialist
Agricultural Communications Services
145 Agriculture North
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078
Phone: 405-744-4490
Fax: 405-744-5739
Email: sean.hubbard@okstate.edu

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078
405.744.5000