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  4. 2002
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Deer Management, Controlled Burning Groups Gaining Popularity

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Spring is in full swing, and many of you have had a chance to reflect on deer and fire management activities during the past fall and winter.

For some smaller operations, successful deer population management is often difficult. Also, fall and winter probably found many landowners who had prescribed burning goals short on labor, equipment, and perhaps knowledge.

Within our service area of 100 miles around Ardmore, it appears that associations or cooperatives have the potential to help landowners with deer population management goals on small acreages, and also help landowners interested in prescribed burning.

Associations are not a new concept many existing associations deal with agricultural commodities. Webster's dictionary lists six uses for the word association, but in this case "an organization of persons having a common interest" applies. In many instances, it is easier for an organization of individuals with common interests, rather than one person operating alone, to achieve goals.

In many areas of the United States, deer management associations have existed for some time. For a small-acreage landowner interested in deer population management, involvement in an association can have several benefits not all of which involve deer management. Getting to know your neighbors, sharing labor and tools, and community involvement in managing a resource are other big benefits. However, the primary goal for most deer managers is more and bigger bucks. One of the most basic elements needed to accomplish this goal is control of buck harvest across a sufficient land area. Obviously, this is easier to achieve on 30,000 acres than on 300.

In 1996, a group of Love County, Okla., residents recognized the value of pooling land resources for deer population management and formed the Walnut Bayou Deer Management Association (WBDMA). The goals and objectives for the WBDMA include:

  1. Obey all hunting regulations and rules as defined by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation or the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
  2. Demonstrate an atmosphere of camaraderie, sportsmanship and cooperative effort in deer management with neighbors, the community and the general public.
  3. Demonstrate the value of deer management on a large land holding with diverse ownership to the local community and the general public.
    1. Strive to increase the age structure within the buck segment of the herd by strongly encouraging the protection of yearling bucks.
    2. Strive to increase buck-to-doe ratios through increased doe harvest and decreased buck harvest.
    3. Strive to balance deer numbers with habitat conditions.
    4. Strive to educate members, both young and old, about deer population and habitat management.
    5. Assist in the development and education of young hunters and increase youth exposure to deer management practices.

A report describing the WBDMA's first five years can be obtained by contacting the Helpline at (580) 224-6500 (or Download PDF)

Associations of people with prescribed burning interests are a fairly new concept. In Texas, the Edwards Plateau Prescribed Burning Association (EPPBA) was established in the fall of 1997 and has been a big success. Since its formation, the EPPBA has grown to more than 90 members representing approximately 500,000 acres in six counties.

This idea has spread up into our neck of the woods. On Oct. 24, 2001, landowners from Comanche, Cotton, Kiowa and Tillman counties formed the Big Pasture Prescribed Burning Association (BPPBA). Yearly dues to the BPPBA are $25 and will be used to purchase, repair and maintain equipment and help cover the cost of fire suppression, if needed.

The goals and objectives for the BPPBA were modeled after the EPPBA, and include:

  1. share equipment,
  2. share labor,
  3. train the membership, and
  4. foster good relations between neighbors and within the community in regards to the use of prescribed fire.

If you live in or next to the counties listed above and are interested in prescribed burning, membership would have its advantages. Contact Charles Stanley, a rangeland management specialist with the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service in Lawton, at (580) 353-1564 for more information about the BPPBA. If you live in another area, there is always the possibility of forming a new association.

Deer management and prescribed burning associations may be just the answer many landowners in the Noble Research Institute service area are seeking. However, the focus does not always need to be as narrow as deer management or prescribed burning. The need or opportunity to collectively manage for other wildlife species, such as bobwhite quail and turkey, or pooling resources for livestock and crop management may also be possible issues.

The people-management aspect of forming an association is often the most difficult. When this is solved and an association is formed, the resource management task at hand whether deer population management or prescribed burning is usually more enjoyable and successful.