DMAP provides optimal opportunities to manage deer populations through prescribed deer harvest. Region and Program biologists conduct habitat surveys on DMAP land and make deer habitat and harvest management recommendations to the cooperators. Physical data from harvested deer are collected by these cooperators and submitted to biologists for evaluation. Age, body weight, antler development, and lactation are the main focus of data collecting. Biologists examine these data and evaluate the growth and development of deer by age class. Growth and development trends are identified and used to make management recommendations regarding the herd. Individual cooperator reports are combined with those from the same parish to develop a regional perspective. Similarly, parish reports are combined into a state population report that is used in the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries' (LDWF) hunting regulations development process. Today there are over 700 cooperators participating in the DMAP program on approximately 1.6 million acres.
DMAP was initiated statewide during the 1981-82 deer hunting season in an effort to provide people who control at least 500 acres an additional opportunity to manage deer populations occurring on their land. Today there are 4 Tiers of DMAP that each provide a different level of technical assistance for the cooperator. Minimum acreage for DMAP in Tier 3 is 40 acres. Under DMAP, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Biologists work with participating hunting clubs and private landowners to accomplish their specific goals and objectives.
DMAP participants have improved age structures and sex ratios on enrolled properties. Many states in the southeast have found that 1-1/2 -year age class bucks account for 75% or more of the antlered buck harvest. In contrast, the 1-1/2- year old buck harvest on Louisiana DMAP lands in recent years has accounted for 20% or less of the antlered buck harvest and cooperators are harvesting more, older aged bucks.
Deer herds in balance with the habitat are another primary goal.
DMAP tags are issued to cooperators for use during the entire deer season. Hunters are able to harvest antlerless deer any day of the deer season as long as a DMAP antler-less tag is in possession of the hunter. Harvest quotas and strategies are recommended by biologists along with habitat management recommendations. Cooperators collect extensive physical data from deer harvested and biologists use this information to evaluate herd health and to make future recommendations.
Since its inception this program has been very successful. Many cooperators are participating in Quality Deer Management Programs and in recent years there has been a decline in the percent of young bucks harvested along with an increase in the number of adult bucks harvested by DMAP cooperators. Some southeastern states have had to establish mandatory antler regulations in order to achieve similar results.