Influence of Opening Weekend and Weather on White-tailed Deer Harvests at Milan Army Ammunition Plant, Tennessee
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Maximizing white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) harvest is helpful to reduce overabundant populations. Yet, the number of hunters is declining in many hunt programs. In order to maximize harvests, deer managers require knowledge of hunt attributes that increase harvests relative to hunter effort. I hypothesized that opening weekend (first Saturday and Sunday of a hunt) conditions and weather variables could influence white-tailed deer harvests, when controlling for hunter effort. Three opening weekend conditions were evaluated: higher opening weekend hunter effort, resulting in higher opening weekend harvests; higher opening weekend harvest sizes relative to hunter effort due to flushing of deer; or the occurrence of both. Harvest and hunter effort data was collected from 1988-2000 at Milan Army Ammunition Plant, Tennessee. Daily precipitation and minimum and maximum temperatures were obtained from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Three hunt types, either-sex archery (AES), either-sex muzzleloader (MES), and buck-only gun (GBO), were compared using data from the first week of each season or the first 2 weeks of each season (GBO and AES only). The data was analyzed using ANOVAs and mixed effect regressions. Regressions most likely to fit the data were selected using the AIC approach. Hunter effort and harvest sizes were higher during opening weekend than other time periods for all hunt types. Only during GBO hunts were harvest sizes higher relative to hunter effort during the opening weekend. A slight, inverse relationship was detected between harvest and daily temperature for MES and GBO hunts when controlling for hunter effort. Weather appears to have little influence on hunter effort-harvest size relationships of this deer population. All hunt types had higher opening weekend harvest sizes due to increased hunter effort; but only GBO hunts had higher harvests relative to hunter effort, indicating a flushing effect.
CitationFrancis, D. R. (2005). Influence of opening weekend and weather on white-tailed deer harvests at Milan Army Ammunition Plant, Tennessee (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.
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