White-tailed Deer Course

Ecology, Management & Harvesting of White-tailed Deer Education Program

Great News! Four modules (Aging and Judging Trophy Whitetails, The Art & Science of Patterning Whitetails, and Over-view of Whitetail Management) now are available. We are excited about the course, and there are 5 more to follow in the near future.  The price of each module  varies according to complexity, but you will be amazed how affordable they are. (see Modules 9 and 12 description below for more information). Just click on the module to access more information or to sign up for the courses. To sign up or review the offerings Click Here.

NOTE: The Aging & Judging online course is undergoing revisions and is currently not available at this time. Please check back soon, sorry for the inconvenience!

Course Description:This program offers courses focusing on the three important aspects of managing the most popular game species in North America, the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). The courses begin with detailed discussions and demonstrations on the basic biology, ecology and behavior of the species; then, proceed to practical aspects of habitat management, including native forage management strategies, food plots and supplemental feeding/nutrition. Reproductive biology and nutrition are emphasized. Then courses turn to one of the most critical aspects of wildlife management: people management and economics. Finally, white-tailed deer (as with any game species) are a crop providing both consumptive and non-consumptive values. Hunting skills needed for harvesting and photographing deer are the final focus of the program. Harvesting topics include: bow hunting, firearms, guiding, TV and magazine production and marketing/commercial hunting operations. The final product is certification of competency in all of these skills.

Goals & Expected Outcomes of this Program:

There is a substantial market for trained game managers in the US; and, this market is growing both among public agencies and private landowners/commercial operators. The course is aimed at producing a classically trained game manager in the "game-keeper" tradition. Hence, the student who completes the program will obtain the following knowledge and skills:

  • A firm understanding and working knowledge of the anatomy, physiology and behavior of white-tailed deer.
  • The ability to develop detailed habitat and forage management plans to increase nutritional quality.
  • Hands-on abilities in forage/nutrition management techniques, including manipulation of forests and grasslands to increase native forages, food plot establishment and management, and supplemental feeds.
  • Ability to assess current herd conditions and monitor status of management programs through intensive data collection and record-keeping.
  • Understanding of whitetail genetics and culling strategies.
  • Increased skills in patterning movements and behavior of deer to improve harvest and viewing.
  • Demonstrated ability to use the tools of harvest/recreation, including bow, rifle, black-powder and camera.
  • Understanding of the economic principles involved in game management, including calculation of profit/loss statements.
  • Enhanced abilities in dealing with people, including the general public, landowners, stakeholders and customers.
  • Entry level understanding of TV and magazine production, as well as public speaking.

Module 1: Understanding the origins of white-tailed deer and antlers.
This module begins with the Asian origin of deer and the evolution of antlers from simple, hairy protuberances to complex combat, display and defensive structures. Understanding how whitetails developed and their unique adaptations will enable you to better understand why these wonderful animals do what they do. Function, anatomy and physiology of antler growth is emphasized and explained.

Module 2: Introduction to whitetail management.
This module provides an overview of the basic principles of white-tailed deer management, including nutrition, age, genetics and proper harvest. You also will learn how there are critical aspects of managing deer herds: populations, habitat and people.

Module 3: The nutrition of whitetails.
The student learns first about the ruminant system and how it affects the nutritional needs of whitetails. Requirements for protein, energy, minerals and water are presented. Ways to assess the quality of nutrition on a year-round basis are presented and discussed in detail.

Module 4: Managing native forages for whitetails
The foundation on which deer management rests is habitat; and, no aspect of habitat management is more important than developing a sound native forage management program. This module will teach you about vegetation management in forests, prairies and agricultural lands to provide a sustained yield of high quality forage. Browse preferences by palatability by geographic region are presented, a topic every manager and hunter should know. Concepts such as prescribed burning, timber stand improvement, herbicides and mechanical treatments are stressed.
Field Experiences Offered.

Module 5: Supplementing the whitetail diet

In the majority of geographic regions, there are limitations to natural forage production or quality. Once you have a sound native forage management system in place, the next step is to develop a sound, economical supplementation program for your deer. This module deals with foods plots and supplemental feeding (where legal), and the proper way to locate, design, plant and maintain food plots; as well as, feeds and feeding of whitetails. Minerals also are covered in this module.
Field Experiences Offered.

Module 6: Reproduction in whitetails
White-tailed deer are seasonal (short day) breeders, with a reproductive system designed to accommodate this strategy. This module acquaints you with the buck and doe reproductive systems, the hormonal aspects of breeding, and how their reproductive physiology affects hunting success. Collection of reproductive data used in record analysis complete this module.

Module 7: The senses of whitetails, understanding a deer's defenses
Whitetails have six senses developed over millennia to thwart would be predators; as well as, how they use these to communicate among themselves. This module covers the anatomy and physiology of deer senses; and, the ways you can counter them in hunting.

Module 8: The behavior of whitetails
Understanding the behavioral patterns and activities of whitetails is important both to management and hunting. This module is an in-depth presentation of what makes whitetails "tick." Topics include:

  • Home range size and internal anatomy.
  • The stages of the rut and environmental cues that trigger them.
  • "Matching the hatch:" How hunting strategies relate to the stages of the rut.
  • Chemical communication; sign posts, staging areas, rubs and scrapes.
  • Activity patterns and how the environment affects them.

Module 9: The art and science of patterning whitetails (Available, March, 2014)

There is a great deal of confusion about the activities tied to what collectively is called "patterning" whitetails. There are many misconceptions about what patterning is and how patterning can be used to improve harvest success. This important module covers every aspect of the patterning process, including:

Field Experiences Offered.

Module 10: Landscaping for whitetails
This module builds on previous modules in teaching you how to lay out your land as a "deer landscape," with the goal to make a specific property THE place whitetails want to be and to improve the "huntability" of the property. Minimum management unit size, cover types and location, food management strategies and water are presented in detail.
Field Experiences Offered.

Module 11: Development of management plans for whitetail properties
This module is an in-depth look at the steps in developing a sound management plan for a property. Topics include:

  • First visit analysis.
  • Goals and objectives.
  • Data collection.
  • Data analysis.
  • Habitat management.
  • Herd management.
  • People management.
  • Monitoring.
  • Reporting.

Module 13: Scoring whitetails

Although almost every hunter knows about Boone-and-Crockett and Pope-and-Young trophy scoring systems, most do not understand how these systems are used in scoring trophy whitetails. This module presents, through actual demonstrations, how trophy antlers are scored; and, includes typical and non-typical scoring techniques.

Module 14: Record-keeping and analysis
One of the most important aspects of deer management is good record-keeping; yet, one of the most difficult to get landowners and managers to appreciate. This module covers all aspects of record-keeping, including data on:

The next step is analyses of these data and how to interpret records to assess management progress and develop management strategies to reach goals. The concept of "quality zones" is applied to aid management decisions, and to assess progress. Application of the GMS (Game Management System) software is demonstrated.

Module 15: The art and science of shooting whitetails
Being a proficient hunter and marksman is critical to sound whitetail management, not to mention being an ethical hunter. Whether you are a firearm or bow hunter, this module presents the steps required to make ethical, one shot kills on deer. Anatomy as it relates to shot or arrow placement are discussed. Whether you are a novice or a veteran hunter, this module is a must for improving your techniques and confidence in making that critical shot.
Field Experiences Offered.

Module 16: Commercial hunting operations
Hunting is a $1.7 trillion industry in the U.S., and commercial hunting operations are increasing in most states and provinces. Yet, how do you set up a commercial hunting operation? What makes them profitable? How is an operation effectively marketed? What is market demand now and in the future? These topics are discussed in this module, using real world examples and data.

Module 17: Communicating about whitetails
Whether you desire to become an outdoor writer, TV producer, cameraman, or just want to know how to effectively communicate about your hunt, this is a must take module. Topics include:

  • Documenting the hunt through still and videography.
  • Skills development in photography and videography.
  • What goes into producing and airing an outdoor program?
  • Developing a career in outdoor writing and photography.

Field Experiences Offered.


Module 1: Prescribed burning
This hands-on course will provide training in conducting a prescribed burn. Presented by trained professionals, the course is intended for wildlife and forest managers, but can be taken by landowners who just want familiarize themselves with this important aspect of wildlife habitat management.
Field Experiences Offered.

Module 2: Using herbicides to improve wildlife habitat
Unfortunately, herbicides (chemicals used to control vegetation) are poorly understood, even by wildlife managers. Yet, herbicides are extremely useful to manipulating wildlife habitats; as well as timber stand and wildlife stand improvement. Presented by top professionals in the industry, the course can qualify the student as a certified herbicide applicator, depending on state of residence.
Field Experiences Offered.

Module 3: Management of disease in whitetails
Over the last several years, the public has become acutely aware of disease issues in whitetail management. Whether it be Lyme disease, Chronic Wasting Disease, Tuberculosis, Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease or Blue Tongue, these disease can affect both deer and humans. So, understanding these and other diseases, along with management issues benefits the whitetail manager.
Field Experiences Offered.

Module 4: Farming equipment- applications, proper use and maintenance
A great of time is spent by the whitetail manager using various farming implements to improve native habitats and plant supplemental forages. Today's whitetail manager or landowner must be proficient in using and maintaining the basic equipment and implements; including:

  • Tractors.
  • Mowers.
  • Harrows and disks.
  • Planters (till, low-till and no-till).
  • Loaders and earth moving equipment.
  • Herbicide applicators and sprayers.
  • Haying equipment (cutters, bailers, silage wrappers, etc.).
  • Welding and metal cutting.

This module presents detailed information about the operation of this equipment, as well as assurance of safety in use. This is a must module for landowners and their managers.