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Drought Effect on Deer

PostPosted: Fri Aug 18, 2006 11:07 am
by gtk
bwm & I were talking this morning on the way to work about this drought and the effects if any, it will have on deer, specifically talking about antler development ? I saw it will have an impact. We are in a severe drought up here in North MS.

Here are a few links
Drought conditions, such as those experienced in New York State last summer, can greatly reduce browse growth, negatively effecting body weights and antler development. In addition, this drought-induced reduction in plant growth exaggerates over-browsing of existing plants. With less plant growth, deer may consume more plant material than is being produced.

Drought years are also very hard on food plots. Dry conditions can cause severe seed germination problems, as well as serious reductions in forage production (tonnage). During years with poor food plot germination and growth, and poor browse in the native habitat, deer can eat plots to the ground well before those food sources are most needed in late winter. Hunters/managers may actually think their food plots were a complete failure, even when the real culprits were dry conditions and hungry deer.

Reduced forage growth in both food plots and the native habitat certainly produce negative impacts on herd health indicators. Body weights and antler development per age class can decline, fawn survival and observed recruitment may decline, deer observations in open areas may increase, and food plots may be completely consumed early in the season. All these are indicators of a herd in trouble. However, they may actually be only a temporary situation caused by variable rainfall patterns.


From a study on
On nearly all deer ranges in Montana, food supply is the most critical element in antler development. When deer numbers are not in balance with available food, inadequate nutrition causes poor body conditions, reduced reproductive efficiency and undesirable antler characteristics. Drought can cause the same results regardless of the number of deer. The severity of the impact is greatest on growing animals.

A large percentage of spikes indicates a food shortage from year to year, although it might be a short-term effect of drought.

An article from a texas newspaper talking about drought & wildlife: