​2017 Sewanee Deer Hunt News

The 2017 Sewanee Christmas deer hunting season begins Thursday, Dec. 21, and continues through Jan. 13, 2018.

The in-town segment of the deer hunt allows for a broader hunting program after students leave for winter break. The University deer management program continues to move toward its stated goal of a more socially and ecologically sustainable herd size. The raw number of animals harvested this year is continuing a decline that began two years ago as the overall herd size has declined and stabilized. The overall goal of the hunting program is to balance the sex ratio between female and male animals which will reduce the pressure on the landscape and allow habitats to recover from over browsing. Lowering overall population numbers leads to lower harvest as there are fewer animals on the landscape.
This year we added a new vegetation sampling protocol that allows students to look at the browse intensity on individual plant species across several areas of the Domain. Students found that the plant species that are browsed by deer shift depending on the density of the deer herd, and that the browse intensities often change abruptly in the forest coincident with abrupt changes in deer density.
Philopatry is the tendency of an organism to stay in (or habitually return to) a particular area. For deer, that means that most females tend to remain around their birthplace throughout much of their breeding life. Though males tend to roam more, they always eventually end up moving to where the females are during the breeding season. This philopatry creates these hard edges in the forest between areas of high deer density and areas of low density. The same is true in town. Our community survey indicates that overall, a majority of residents (60.4 percent of respondents) have experienced no deer damage on their leaseholds in the last year, but many of those who have experienced damage, have experienced a lot of damage, and many of those folks are all in the same neighborhoods in Sewanee.
Some respondents to the community survey felt that they were unqualified to answer the question, “Do you feel like the herd numbers are under control?” Thank you to those who did respond. Please know that you are absolutely qualified to let us know how we are meeting the social demands of deer management. We need the social input combined with our vegetation and herd sampling work to make a complete picture to ensure that we are managing in ways that work for all parties: deer, habitats and people.
The hunt is by invitation only and is not open to the general public. To view the map and the full list of rules and requirements visit http://sustain.sewanee.edu/the-domain/ecosystem-ma.... Rules for this year’s hunt are unchanged from last year. Hunting is allowed on most days from sunrise to 10 a.m. and from 2 p.m. until sunset. As in previous years, there is no hunting on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. A limited firearms hunt will start the day after Christmas. As in previous years, if you are a leaseholder experiencing extreme browse on your leasehold, you may request an archer in your area. Those of you who requested a hunter through the community survey may be contacted in the coming weeks.
To participate in the hunt, all hunters must be a member of the faculty or staff of the University of the South, or a direct relative (parent, child, or sibling) of same; be a full-time student of the College or School of Theology; pass a background check by Sewanee Police Department; possess a valid Tennessee Hunter Safety Certification; possess a valid Tennessee big game archery hunting license or equivalent. All new hunters in 2017 must possess valid Tennessee Bowhunter Education Certification, and all hunters must have attended a mandatory meeting and registered online with the University.