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Influences of Forest Type, Stand Age, and Weather on Deer Weights and Antler Size in the Southern Appalachians

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We analyzed correlations of forest type, age structure, and site index data with weights and antler characteristics of yearling white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) bucks from specific localities in the Chattahoochee, Cherokee, Nantahala, and Pisgah national forests in Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Areas in the northern part of the study region produced larger deer with larger antlers than those in the southern portion of the region. These northern areas differed from those to the south in having more diverse ownership and land use and in origins of deer stock. Weights and antler characteristics were significantly correlated (P < 0.05) with percent area in the cove hardwood type, but otherwise were poorly correlated with forest stand type and site index. Percent area in young (0-8 yr old) cove hardwood and in mid-successional (9-20 and 21-40) cove hardwood, pine (Pinus spp.), and upland oak (Quercus spp.) were significantly correlated (P < 0.05) with deer variables, particularly in years following a poor mast crop. Much of the quantifiable habitat influences on deer in the Southern Appalachians probably is masked by low deer densities and the small site quality differences among areas examined. Because much of the forest consists of mature mast-producing oaks and abundant forage is produced in both mature and younger aged stands, deer numbers seem to be below any threshold of quantifiable effects due to forest stand age structure. South. J. Appl. For. 21(1):11-18.

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: USDA Forest Service, Blairsville, GA 30512

Publication date: February 1, 1997

More about this publication?
  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Southern Journal of Applied Forestry covers an area from Virginia and Kentucky south to as far west as Oklahoma and east Texas.
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