Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Mark K. Johnson


A total of 8.1 ha of warm-season and 16.8 ha of cool-season food plots were installed on 2 of 4 study units at National Red Dirt Wildlife Management Preserve, Louisiana, an area managed by the USDA Forest Service for multiple resources. Mean ($\pm$ s.e.) study unit size was 2220 $\pm$ 246 ha. No food plots were installed on the remaining 2 study units (controls). Warm-season food plots were planted with American jointvetch (Aeschynomene americana); cool-season plots were planted with red clover (Trifolium pratense), subterranean clover (Trifolium subterraneum), winter wheat (Triticum aestivum) and white clover (Trifolium repens). All plots were maintained from June 1986 to June 1989. Food plot forages were analyzed for biomass production, while-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) utilization, and nutrient content. Deer were censused prior to the start of the annual deer-hunting seasons from 1986-1988. Deer harvested by hunters during deer-hunting seasons (1986-1989) were analyzed for age, body weight, leg length, and antler development. Reproductive tracts were extracted from female deer. Hunters were questioned as to area hunted, deer seen, deer shot at, time spent hunting, and deer kill-sites. Deer fecal samples were collected in August, January, and May from 1986-1988 and analyzed for nutrient content and presence of food plot forages. Production of food plot forages generally was sufficient to allow free-ranging deer to feed ad libitum on the plots. Deer utilization of food plot forages ranged from 0.06-0.50 kg/deer/day in various periods during the study. No differences (P $>$ 0.05) were found in deer density among food plot and control units. Similarly, no differences (P $>$ 0.05) were found in deer fecal nutrient content, growth and productivity parameters of deer, hunter success, or hunt quality among the food plot and control units. The cost ($22,426 total) of the food plots was not justified by these results. The low deer density and the apparent ample availability of relatively high-quality native browse and forage might have contributed to the food plots having no effect on the deer in the Preserve.