Visual display of the Aldo Leopold papers : 9/25/10-4 : Species and Subjects

Reprinted from JOURNAL oF FoRESTRY 
Vol. XXXII, No. 7, October, 1934 
Notes on German Game Management, 
Chiefly in Bavaria and Baden. By 
Ward Shepard. Senate Committee on 
Wild Life Resources, 1934. 
Of the several documents so far ap- 
pearing under the aegis of the Senate 
Committee, this is the briefest and most 
valuable. It is a digest of field observa- 
tions made by the author for the Biolog- 
ical Survey and the Carl Schurz Founda- 
tion, incidental to his study of German 
forestry. It deals entirely with forest 
game, but creates, at least in my mind, a 
pressing  desire for an  equally pithy 
analysis of farm game. With such a com- 
panion study before us, we should have 
a rounded picture of this thing called 
game management, which is done all over 
Germany, and talked about all over Amer- 
ica, as a matter of ancestral habit. 
On state forests the hunting is done by 
forest officers, hence the economic return 
from game crops comes only from the 
sale of meat, and is less than one per 
cent of all forest revenues. On com- 
munal and private lands, however, both 
the hunting and the meat are sold. Small 
holdings, in order to hunt, must pool 
their game and entrust its management to 
the commune. It is only on large private 
estates that the owner shoots and manages 
his own game, subject to state seasons 
but not kill limits. 
In its net trend this system contravenes 
the usual assumption that "game in Ger- 
many  is private property." It seems to 
be very much public property, but is 
managed for public revenue rather than 
for public recreation. On small holdings, 
at least, the public asserts its ownership 
almost to the exclusion of the private 
landowner. I see little for us to copy in 
German game economics except the com- 
pulsory pooling of management on small 
acreages, and the delegation of responsi- 
bility for details, subject to state inspec- 
tion, on large ones. Our present "farm 
codperatives"  and  "shooting   preserve 
laws" seem to be taking us in this gen- 
eral direction. 
In the biology of game cropping, how- 
ever, the Germans offer us many a point- 
er, the most striking of which is their ex- 
perience with sex ratios in deer. Under a 
buck-doe ratio of 1:6, the roe deer in the 
Black Forest deteriorated in both weight 
and antlers, but under a revised ratio of 
1:1.5, supplemented by deliberate culling 
of inferior individuals, weights have in- 
creased 20 per cent and antlers have im- 
proved. Most American deer herds are 
drifting toward  low  buck  ratios. We 
"cull" the best, rather than the worst. 
Would it not be a wise precaution to 
measure the result? Yet no state, except 
perhaps Michigan, is doing so. Of our 
several attempts to "study" deer, only one 
or two have even attempted to formulate 
a normal sex and age composition for 
deer herds. 
The deer food situation, in relation to 
population density and forest damage, 
throws a flood of light on our current 
problems. The pure-conifer silviculture 
prevailing in Germany for a century has 
made artificial winter-feeding a universal 
necessity. Hardwood plantings, whether 
for timber or for deer-browse, must be 
fenced to survive, even under moderate 
deer densities. Likewise clover meadows 
planted for deer must be fenced and can 
be opened only at intervals. Stripping of 
sprucebark  by  deer is a    widespread 
trouble ascribed to unbalanced nutrition. 
Felled conifers of all species are prompt- 
ly stripped by deer. On the Kaibab or in 
Jackson's Hole we would call these symp- 
toms of radical overstocking, but the 
moderate densities of the German herds 
indicate that they are merely symptoms