Abstract

Title:  Effects of variations in deer density on behavior and attitude of hunters.
Author(s): Nellist, J. T.
Year: 1980
Abstract: The characteristics, behaviors, and attitudes of firearm deer hunters using a 10,924 acre forest-wildlife research area were studied during a 3-year period. During this time, the number of white-tailed deer on the research area varied significantly; populations increased from 1976 to 1977 and then decreased in 1978. Field personnel drove all roads and forest trails every day of the firearm deer hunting season. Personnel determined the age and sex of deer killed by hunters and recorded the daily location and numbers of all vehicles and deer camps. Postcards, requesting names and addresses were left with hunters on every 10th newly recorded vehicle. This information, along with checks for the State Police vehicle registration file, was used to determine a 10% sample of hunters. These individuals were sent questionnaires in a series of 3 mailings about 2 months after the deer season ended. Results showed that the characteristics of hunters remained the same at varying deer densities but that hunter attitudes and behaviors were very sensitive to fluctuations in deer numbers. The number of adult bucks checked was 2.51 per square mile in 1976, 6.3 in 1977, and 3.3 in 1978. The number of deer reported seen by hunters was 17.7 in 1976, 20.3 in 1988, and 12.5 in 1978. Hunters attitudes about deer abundance were extremely sensitive; 4% thought that bucks were abundant in 1976, compared to 18% in 1977, and 5% in 1978. Ratings of the hunt were also very dependent on deer numbers; 42% of the hunters reported good or very good hunts in 1976, compared to 58% in 1977, and 27% in 1978. These findings, and others, such as days hunted, attitudes about crowding, and managment demands will be discussed in reference to deer density. In conclusion, hunters are extremely sensitive to fluctuations in deer density. Their attitudes and behaviors, in large part, are predictable at various deer densities.

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