Wildlife habitat for whitetail deer is the most sought after goal when it comes to landowners that I work with in Michigan. But is more deer always better?
In most situations I see, the answer is NO. The vast majority of forest I work in, that are lacking understory vegetation, is because of over-browsing from whitetail deer.
So what does this mean? Well, at the simplest level the deer population is exceeding the carrying capacity of that natural habitat, and that native vegetations ability to regenerate. Many folks want to blame a dense canopy on a empty forest floor but often times that is not the true issue.
By reducing the local whitetail deer population, through the harvest of female deer (Does), you can often solve the lack of vegetation, in the understory, overtime. Pair that with the appropriate silvicultural harvest techniques and you can have a forest thriving with herbaceous plants, shrubs, and seedlings that will benefit more wildlife, increase the attractiveness of your property to more deer (hopefully big bucks), and ensure a forest for the future.
Just remember when it comes to whitetail deer and forest regeneration: "Less is More"