White-tailed deer are a common year-round resident on Grand Cote NWR. Popular with hunters and wildlife viewers alike, deer can be seen all over the refuge. Deer are habitat generalists, and can find plentiful food on and around the refuge. In forests, deer eat herbaceous plants, woody plants, acorns, and fruit. They will also venture into nearby agricultural fields for soybeans and other crops.
Today, with natural predators mostly gone, hunting is essential to maintain healthy populations of deer and keep them from doing damage to the forest. When deer overpopulate, they are more susceptible to diseases and parasites. They can also harm the forest by eating plant material so that few trees or shrubs can regenerate.
Today, deer populations on the refuge are closely monitored. Refuge staff collect age, sex, and size data from harvested deer during hunting season and conduct browse surveys during the spring to monitor what deer are eating. The refuge also works closely with Louisiana department of Wildlife and Fisheries for professional consultations and management plans.