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Deer Food Habits and Range Characteristics in Ohio

Charles M. Nixon, Milford W. McClain and Kenneth R. Russell
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 34, No. 4 (Oct., 1970), pp. 870-886
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3799156
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3799156
Page Count: 17
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Deer Food Habits and Range Characteristics in Ohio
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Abstract

Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) food habits, the relative abundance of deer foods, and land use patterns important to deer were investigated in Ohio from January, 1965, through July, 1968. A total of 332 rumens was collected and 380 field observations made of deer food habits. Combining deer rumen analysis and field observations, the important foods in decreasing order of occurrence were: wild crab-appl, corn, sumac seeds and stems, Japanese honeysuckle leaves and stems, grasses, greenbrier fruits and leaves, clover leaves, soybean leaves and beans, jewelweed leaves, acorns, and dogwood drupes and stems. Ohio deer were not heavily dependent on woody browse even in winter. Crop residues were most important as deer food in northern Ohio, less so in southeastern Ohio (Hill Counties). Northwest Ohio deer were found to ingest higher levels of crude protein and fats compared with deer in eastern Ohio. Northwest Ohio deer were significantly heavier (P < 0.05) in weight than deer from eastern Ohio. In eastern Ohio, only northeast adult females were significantly heavier than Hill County adult females. Based on an approximate chemical analysis of deer diets in each region of Ohio, the greater ingestion of cultivated crops by northwest Ohio deer accounted for size differences between northwest and eastern Ohio deer. Deer utilization of non-cultivated foods was related to food availability in each region. Deer distribution in western and northwestern Ohio is limited by a lack of forest cover. In eastern Ohio, forest land is still increasing but forest succession is eliminating the old field types most important as deer feeding areas. On public hunting areas where deer management is important, a minimum of 10 percent of each 1,500-acre forested unit should be managed as old field remnants. Browse cutting for deer is not necessary in hardwood stands under timber management. Evenage regeneration silviculture, using clearcuts, will provide abundant browse for deer but should be applied as clearcuts smaller than 50 acres. Sumacs, roses, elders, shrubby dogwoods, Japanese honeysuckle, greenbriers, and wild hydrangea are considered preferred browse species in Ohio. Use of these species as indicators in a continuous range inventory should provide the necessary data for beginning deer range appraisal in Ohio.

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