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Farmers Manage Deer Program Moves into Second Year

Guy & Judy Gardener, managers of the Farmers Manage Deer Program spoke to the NC Soybean Producers Forum on Friday at the Southern Farm Show about their program:

“Our goals are to: increase the revenue of farmers through deer hunting leases and fees, and the reduction of crop loss due to wildlife. We are there to use sport hunting to help control the deer population, and then finally, to feed the hungry with the harvested venison to rural communities.

This is the second year of a two year project. We hope to continue with grants through the Soybean Producers Association, NC Tobacco Trust fund and others.

We want farmers to volunteer their property for deer hunting. This year we will focus on getting the community involved. We found that hunters will shoot more deer if they have an easy place to drop them off. We want to open up deer drop off points and get more deer donated.

We have a refrigerated trailer that people can borrow. We want to make it free and easy for any rural community in NC to host a deer drive.

This is a doe harvest, not a buck harvest. Its purpose is for food and for the control of the population. The deer population in the state is about 1.3 million. Doe management is deer management. The focus has to be on the does.

The NC Dept of Ag estimates that $30 million is lost in row crops due to deer damage. The Forestry Industry adds about $50 million due to wildlife damage but the majority is by deer.

We are looking for community champions who want to get their communities involved.”'

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.