Friends of Smith Mountain Lake State Park
Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Deer Management

Deer Management Plan Produces Record Buck at SML State Park

by Jim Gerhart, Friends of Smith Mountain Lake State Park

Smith Mountain Lake State Park has conducted a deer Management Plan since 1995.  On the first day of this year’s hunt, a buck was taken which was the largest ever in the program.  Tony Snodgrass has been participating in the program for the past 7 years and has always been successful.  This year his friend whom he normally hunts with couldn’t make it so he took over his hunting spot at the park.  “The buck showed himself and I was able to take him,” said Tony Snodgrass.  “This is the biggest dear I have ever taken,” said the excited hunter.  He plans to have his trophy mounted.  Bill McDonough, a member of the Friends of Smith Mountain Lake State Park is the statistician for the hunt.  He said the buck weighed 138 pounds.  The antlers with eleven points had a BC score of 146 5/8 which is approaching trophy size.  The BC score is based on a system established by Theodore Roosevelt in 1887, and named after Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett, hunter heroes of the day. 

Brian Heft, Park Manager, said “experience has proven that deer hunting at the park is a viable, cost-efficient management tool.  We strive to maintain a healthy deer population and diminish deer crop damage levels, deer-vehicle collision rates and deer-ecosystem impacts.”  He said, “with no regulating factors, the deer population would expand to the point where browsing would decrease the number and abundance of trees, shrubs and wild flowers.  Eventually the seedlings and preferred species would be eliminated along with song birds and the diversity of wildlife.”  

The park scheduled the muzzle loader hunt for November 2nd & 3rd, and again on November 9th & 10th.  The Friends of the Park provided lunch for the 30 hunters that participated.


Pictured is Tony Snodgrass with the buck taken on the first day of the SML State Park dear hunt.