Date of Award

8-23-2021

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Dustin Ranglack

Committee Members

Andrew Little, Stephen Webb, Letitia Reichart, Paul Burger

Keywords

habitat use;harvest success;hunter;movement;resource selection;white-tailed deer

Abstract

Hunting by humans is the primary tool for population control for many ungulate species across the United States, including white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Previous research has focused primarily on the effects of hunting on prey behavior while neglecting the potential effects hunter behavior has on the probability of harvest success. I examined the influence of hunter movement and habitat use across the landscape on observation rate of white-tailed deer. During the 2008 and 2009 Oklahoma hunting seasons, we recorded GPS and observation data of 83 individual hunters over 487 total hunts. Hunters that moved non-linearly through forested cover at a moderate pace had an increased probability of observing deer. Because deer have been shown to increase use of forested cover and decrease movement during the hunting season, hunters that overlapped habitat use and moved more regularly were more likely to observe deer. Possessing information on what hunter behaviors lead to greater harvest success in an area can be a powerful educational tool for agencies to recruit and retain new hunters, thereby maintaining hunting as a viable management option.

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