A study of state-mandated deer conservation strategies is earning a first-place regional honor for a Mississippi State University graduate student.
Bronson K. Strickland of Athens, Ga., a doctoral student in the department of wildlife and fisheries, recently was honored with the top prize for a research report presented at the 2003 Southeast Deer Study Group meeting in Chattanooga, Tenn. Strickland, who competed with peers from five universities, was the second-place winner last year.
Founded in 1977 and affiliated with the Wildlife Society, the group is a professional association of Southeast deer biologists. Through meetings and programs, the organization shares information related to management of white-tailed deer populations.
Strickland's project evaluated the impact of Mississippi laws governing deer harvesting practices. Conducted with MSU wildlife biologist Steve Demarais, it was funded by a federally subsidized grant from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
In 1995, the Mississippi Legislature took steps to limit the harvesting of white-tailed bucks to those with at least four antler points. Strckland's research involved a statewide comparison of harvest rates.
Based on his analysis of state wildlife management-area data, Strickland found that the "four-point rule" is reducing the harvest of one-and-a half year-old bucks and shows limited improvement in the harvest rates of bucks two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half years old.
His research concluded, however, that the effectiveness of imposed antler-based harvest criteria has limits and that successful buck management requires the hunting public use restraint in harvest decisions.
Strickland, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Kayward Strickland, holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Georgia and Texas A&M University—Kingsville, respectively.