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Attitudes and motivations of Tennessee deer hunters toward quality deer management

Authors

  • Craig A. Harper,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries, University of Tennessee, 2431 Joe Johnson Drive, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA
    • Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries, University of Tennessee, 2431 Joe Johnson Drive, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA
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  • Christopher E. Shaw,

    1. Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries, University of Tennessee, 2431 Joe Johnson Drive, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA
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  • J. Mark Fly,

    1. Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries, University of Tennessee, 2431 Joe Johnson Drive, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA
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  • Jared T. Beaver

    1. Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries, University of Tennessee, 2431 Joe Johnson Drive, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA
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  • Associate Editor: Rodgers

Abstract

Attitudes and motivations of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) hunters are important for state wildlife agencies to consider when they are trying to meet harvest goals for the species. In recent years, interest in quality deer management (QDM) has grown, but little is known about hunter support for QDM. We surveyed hunters on private hunting clubs and Wildlife Management Areas where QDM was practiced, as well as statewide sportsman license holders in Tennessee, USA, following the 2004–2005 deer-hunting season to identify characteristics, attitudes, and motivations of these hunter groups. Respondents in all 3 hunter groups identified QDM as a “sensible management strategy for white-tailed deer” and a majority (>76%) of the hunters preferred hunting areas managed under QDM guidelines. Hunter groups varied in their responses related to specific QDM guidelines and implementation. Nonetheless, all 3 hunter groups were primarily interested in herd health and buck quality, wanted a reduction in the buck bag limit, and supported harvest of antlerless deer. Motivations to hunt varied by hunter group, but respondents in all 3 groups indicated that experiencing nature was the number one reason for hunting. Our survey results suggest that though opinions may vary on how QDM might be implemented, the general deer-hunting public in Tennessee has moved away from the traditional deer-management philosophy that allowed buck harvest without age restrictions and restricted antlerless harvest. Using biological justification along with hunter opinion, we recommend that state wildlife agencies consider providing QDM opportunities where appropriate and offer annual education programs to improve hunters' understanding of deer-management strategies. This should help ensure hunter satisfaction and will help state wildlife agencies meet deer-management objectives. © 2012 The Wildlife Society.

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