The Mississippi State University Deer Lab, MSU Extension Service and Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks are taking deer management into the 21st century.
We are very excited about three mobile technologies that are available for hunters and deer managers this fall. These phone apps were designed to help you with some of the most important deer management activities: aging deer, planning food plots and keeping records of deer data.
The Deer Aging app was developed to help hunters age live deer “on the hoof” and to help them determine the age of jawbones when they get back to their skinning sheds. The app displays pictures of bucks from 1.5 to 5.5-plus years of age and contrasts different body features to help hunters distinguish young, middle-aged and mature bucks before pulling the trigger. At the skinning shed, you can extract the jawbone and compare tooth wear of your harvested deer to examples provided in the app.
The Deer Food Plot app was developed to assist with planning and planting forages for deer. The app provides plant characteristics of the most common cool-season, warm-season and perennial forages, as well as instructions for taking a soil test. It also provides a measuring tool that you are sure to use time and again: an acreage calculator.
Using the app, simply draw an outline around the existing food plot — or one you want to create — to get an accurate measure of the acreage. You can then select what forages you want to plant, and the app will adjust all the seeding rates based on the plot size. What’s more, you can save these reports to use later, or email them to other people.
The Deer Hunt app was developed to make collecting the most critical deer data painless and paperless. Hunters can record how many deer they saw while hunting, the number of mature bucks, and the ratio of fawns, does and bucks. Such information is vital data for a deer manager to collect, but most people don’t do it because they just don’t want to deal with the paperwork and number crunching.
But with this new app, there’s no more filling out observation forms or recording numbers on harvest sheets. All that information can be entered and recorded on your phone. You can set up an account for your hunting club, so that all the deer data are recorded for hunting club members. If you are not a member of a hunting club, you can set up a private account to record only your deer data. You can even enter stand locations on the app and see what the weather conditions are at your hunting property.
After a successful hunt, the harvest data, including body weight, antler size, etc., can be entered in the app, too. The data are stored at Mississippi State, and users can run reports on the number of deer seen on a particular stand, deer sightings in the morning vs. afternoon, fawns per doe and locations of mature buck sightings. Just about every question you could have about deer sightings and herd characteristics can be answered with the app, if you and your club members use it every time you hunt. The more data you enter, the more you can learn.
All these apps are free and can be found in the App Store if you search for MSUES. You will find these deer apps, as well as others developed by the MSU Extension Service. Currently, the Deer Aging and Deer Food Plot apps are for iPhones only. We hope to have Android versions next year. The Deer Hunt app is available in both iPhone and Android.