White tailed deer and mule deer represent the two most popular big game animals in South Dakota. Areas east of the Missouri River are dominated by whitetails with isolated pockets of mule deer. West River has many areas dominated by mule deer with Whitetails increasing in wooded riparian areas and those areas with increasing agricultural areas.
East river South Dakota has become a haven for whitetails with its maze of shelterbelts interspersed with wetland vegetation, cropped fields, and CRP. Managing for whitetails in this landscape is very similar to managing for other resident species such as pheasants. Wide woody habitat planting provide security for young fawns and bedding areas for adults. Woody plantings also provide a good food source in the form of browse. Areas annually disked and left fallow provide areas with annual sunflowers and other weeds that are used extensively for food during the spring and summer. Food habitat plots attract deer to your property and can provide nutrition year round. Restoring wetlands and planting warms season native grasses provide ample places for deer to bed and travel in security. Deer also must drink regularly and need a consistent source of water in their home range.
West river deer management focuses mainly on improving riparian areas and improving native range condition. Excluding livestock from draws and creek bottoms allows woody vegetation to regenerate, creating bedding areas and travel corridors for both whitetail and mule deer. Both whitetail and mule deer also feed heavily on native trees and shrubs in riparian areas. Riparian pasture management cost share can be found through USDA's marginal pasture CCRP and through SD GFP riparian pasture program. Properly managed pastures provide bedding areas and better feed in the form of native prairie legumes and other forbs. As with east river deer management, a reliable source of water is important for deer management on your property.
For more information on deer management please contact your local SD GFP private lands habitat biologist.
For more information on USDA habitat programs please contact your local pheasants forever Farm Bill Biologist