While improving the size of your whitetail deer population is important, it is also important to focus on improving the health of your population. As a general rule of thumb, if individual members of your population are in poor shape, this is an indication that the overall population may not be in the best shape. Bear in mind that the overall carrying capacity of your ranch is based on both environmental and habitat conditions. Carrying capacity can also vary quite significantly between not only counties and regions but even between ranches. In monitoring the overall health of your herd, it is important to pay attention to two critical factors.
First, pay attention to the field-dressed body weight of the deer harvested on your property. The field dress weight of a mature whitetail buck should be around 125 pounds. A mature doe should weigh in at about 80 pounds. If your deer are not reaching these minimums, this could indicate that you have more deer on your property than it can reasonably support. Fawn production can also provide an indication of the health of your herd. In a healthy population, you can typically count on high reproduction and survival. Overall, you should see a minimum 75% fawn survival rate. Anything less could indicate a problem with your habitat condition. If you are still working on growing your population, bringing in some high quality whitetail deer can provide the basis for a strong population in the coming years.