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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Can you guys explain the deer yards to me? I am a little confused on why they travel so far. When I was in Maine in 95 and 98, I thought I remember seeing many softwoods swamps, maybe a few acres each, that would support deer during heavy snow. How big in acres does an area have to be to hold the deer? I read a post saying that some deer travel 40-50 miles to yard. Are they not passing through any softwood swamps during their travels? It seems as though the deer are sitting ducks, especially if the deep snow freezes on top and the yotes can walk on top of it. Someone please fill me in.
 

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You are right in much of your assessment of the risks etc. of deer yarding. First you need to understand the need for yarding and the reasons they do it.

Deer spend most of the fall preparing for the long and harsh winters, storing body fat that will get them through the lean times of winter. The bucks are very susceptible to death after a hearty rutting season where they go days without eating and the rentless persuit of the does leaves them with little body fat.

Deer yards are like hotels in a way. When winter arrives, deer have a better chance at survival when they congregate in numbers. Areas of large softwood stands aid in protecting them from snows, winds and cold. Being in mass numbers, helps them to protect each other as well from the elements.

What many people don't understand is how close to death deer come while yarding up during winter. Biologists are always releaved to learn of mild winters. If you have ever ventured into a deer yard in winter, which by the way is not a recommended thing to do as I'll explain, you'll discover that deer are difficult to get to move say nothing about running.

Often times a burst of energy for a deer to escape the dangers of a predator, man or coyote for example, will expend the last bit of energy that a deer may have needed to survive, resulting in death.

Even though the yards are generally large and provide food enough to get the herd through the winter, there are never any guarantees that food supplies will be enough.

Sometimes deer will travel many miles to return to their yarding areas because even though they pass by small areas that could work as a winter hideout, their is security in numbers and the chances of survival go up - usually.

In times of deep snow, deer within a yard can soon trample the snow down to make movement within the yard easier. They maintain trails that they use to navigate in and around the yard. Forced outside the yard area could be tragic for any deer.

With deep snow, followed by a rain and a freeze that makes a crust strong enough to support a coyote but not a deer, is a lethal combination for a deer. These conditions result in high numbers of deer mortalities.

Shed hunters are becoming a problem in other parts of the country in that while heading into yard areas, whether for deer or elk, frightening the herd and causing them to run, often times kills animals that are on the verge. The deer are almost in a semi-hibernation, semi-system shut down. A natural way to conserve as much body energy as possible.

These are some of the answers to your questions about yards. I hope I have been helpful and please anyone add to and/or correct any of this information.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That was quite an explanation and it was much appreciated! How many deer yards are there in Maine that you know of and what percentage of the deer do not yard? Also, what is the est. pop. of deer in Maine?
 

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Maine biologist make their estimations of deer population by the number of wintering deer, ie those that yard up. About 255,000 is the given estimate which is approaching the overall goal of between 275,000 and 300,000. This is the number of deer biologists feel can winter in Maine without too much difficulty. Out of 30 wildlife management districts, 10 are at or above management goals.

What percentage of deer yard? I would have to say for all intent and purposes all do, given that scientist base their estimates on that. I'm sure there are exceptions and depending upon weather, like this past winter, there may not have been the need for the deer to stay closely congregated.

I do not know how many deer yards there are in Maine but I grew up near one of the largest, if not the largest in Maine. Population in this yard has changed drastically over the past years because the town built and air port through half of it.
 
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