• Spatial use of warm-season food plots by white-tailed deer

      Bonner, J. P.; Fulbright, T. E. (Society for Range Management, 1999-01-01)
      White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus Zimm.) appear to concentrate foraging activity along the perimeters of warm-season food plots. Because of this, we tested the hypothesis that (1) providing travel lanes (i.e., rows not planted) free of vegetation within food plots will increase deer use of the plots and result in an equal spatial distribution of forage use within the plots, and (2) skip-row planting will result in increased yield and survival of lablab (Dolichos Lablab L.), an annual legume. During 1994 and 1995, lablab was established by planting (1) every row spaced 0.9 m apart (solid), (2) 2 rows and not planting 1 row (skip 1), and (3) 2 rows and not planting 2 rows (skip 2) in two 5-ha food plots. Planting scheme did not affect spatial patterns of food plot use by deer. Utilization was concentrated at food plot perimeters on 9 of 15 sampling dates. Food plot utilization by deer was greater in skip 2 treatments only during August 1995, possibly as a result of greater forage availability resulting from greater plant survival than solid rows. Deer foraging in food plots apparently shifted foraging activities to an area of greater forage availability as the resource supply was depleted. Skip-row planting had lower overall planting costs/ha than solid planting but maintained similar forage production per hectare.