The Deer Management Assistance Program, (DMAP) is a comprehensive deer management program, consisting of data collection and cooperator education. Using this, the MDWFP tries to put the landowner/cooperator in a better position to manage their lands for a healthy deer herd, while maintaining habitat integrity. The program is continuously interactive and open for modification. Data from the program are used to develop site specific harvest recommendations, and have prompted numerous research projects to help better understand deer biology.
The starting point of DMAP is goal/objective setting by the cooperator. Then certain data are collected from harvested deer, (i.e. weights, antler measurements, whether does have been lactating or not, and a jaw-bone pulled to determine the age of each deer harvested). After analyzing the harvest data and in some cases limited habitat evaluation, the biologist will meet with the landowner/cooperator to discuss harvest strategies that are designed to meet their specific goals within the limitations of maintaining a healthy habitat.
Deer management goals vary from club to club and range from emphasizing total number of deer to having fewer deer and allowing them to reach their "trophy" potential. Deer harvest recommendations can be tailored to achieve the entire range of deer management goals.
The landowner/cooperative receives a harvest summary report after each hunting season. This report contains a detailed analysis of the current year's harvest as well as graphs and charts that help show trend directions while facilitating data interpretation. Progress toward the desired goals and objectives are continuously evaluated. A phone conversation or a meeting with their respective biologist is usually an annual follow-up to answer the many questions that will arise. Ideally, the biologist attempts to schedule at least one meeting in person with each club or, at a minimum, all the clubs from each county each year.
The demand for DMAP was initially used by many landowner/cooperators as a way to harvest surplus antlerless deer with no real interest in deer management. Gathering the required data was a price they were willing to pay at the time. As more antlerless opportunity was offered on private lands for longer periods, many landowner/cooperators dropped from the program, no longer willing to gather the mandatory data. Clubs which remain on the program are continuing to strive toward managing their deer herd to meet their desired objectives.