Kerr WMA: Research Projects

Whitetail Antler Whitetail Antler

Click on the titles for a brief synopsis of each study.

Past Research

Deer and Livestock Research

Studies have been conducted to measure and compare cattle-deer production under various stocking rates and grazing systems. In addition to 10 deer-proof research plots of 96 acres each, the entire Kerr Area is surrounded by a 7 1/2-foot deer-proof fence to facilitate control of its native deer herd. The deer population is monitored to determine its size, composition, herd increment, harvest requirements, and effects of varying degrees of hunting pressure on herd stability. Corresponding studies of vegetation use indicate the effect of the various grazing systems and stocking ratios on the range. Deer weights, ages, body condition, and other physiological characteristics also indicate the effects of proper range management and harvest rates. The data collected demonstrates the feasibility of tested wildlife and range management practices for consideration and use by landowners and sportsmen. A study of white-tailed deer antler growth and development on the Kerr Wildlife Management Area was initiated in 1974.

Exotic Game Research

Several species of exotic deer and antelope are widespread and common to large areas of the Edwards Plateau since their introduction by landowners and sportsmen. Axis, fallow, sika, and aoudad, which were released or escaped confinement, are now found in major portions of Kerr, Bandera, Edwards, and Real counties. The effect of exotic game on native wildlife species and native game ranges has been studied. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has conducted research on the Kerr Wildlife Management Area in an effort to determine exotic food habits, habitat preference, and competition for native forage or habitat between exotic species and white-tailed deer. More on this.

Current Research

Current Pilot Projects

Future Research Considerations

The proposed projects and pilot studies listed above would carry deer pen research into the year 2006 at a minimum. Many additional projects have been suggested by TPWD staff and university professors, which deserve future consideration. As with most research, the results of one study only stimulate additional questions to be answered by further research. We have only just begun to understand the relationship of genetics and nutrition in white-tailed deer.

Management Implications Derived From Previous Studies

A comprehensive management program that addresses nutritional and genetic influences in antler development of white-tailed deer is necessary to produce quality antlered deer. It is critical to understand that nutrition allows the genetic potential of an individual to be expressed. When compared to other members of their cohort, deer that have poor antler quality at 1.5 years of age will more than likely have poor quality antlers in later years. As a group, 6-point yearling deer produce larger antlers later in life than spike-antlered deer. Management programs should be aimed at removing deer with poor antler potential (spikes and 4 points) at an early age (yearling) to insure that better quality deer enter the breeding pool. Herd reduction programs should be aimed at removal of "bottom-end males" and older does to insure that those does remaining on the range were produced from better quality bucks. Ranges should be managed to insure that quality habitat is maintained to insure proper nutrition so that all animals can reach their genetic potential. The nutritional-environment study suggests that the best time to select for quality yearlings is during a drought period. Those deer that perform well under stress are the ones desired as brood bucks.

Heritability Estimates

A trait is either heritable or not. If it is heritable, then the question becomes, "Is it highly heritable, moderately heritable, or lowly heritable?" Properly collected data can be analyzed to determine how heritable a particular trait is. Also, if a trait is heritable (>0), then selection can be used to change that trait. How quickly you get measurable results depends on how heritable a particular trait is. Different statistical methods are used to analyze the data to make estimates of heritability . Depending upon sample size, statistical method used, and research design, varying heritability estimates can result. Geneticists often argue about statistical methods, research design and sample size. There are reasons for that. Each statistical test has its own assumptions and biases. The variance, means and progeny tests were conducted on a designed heritability study and published in the scientific journal Heredity(Williams et al. 1994).

Other Related Facts and Results

Kerr Wildlife Management Area Penned Deer Studies Publications 1977-1999

Technical Papers

Popular Articles

Federal Aid Reports