Conducting surveys from blinds when supplemental feed (bait) has been provided has not been evaluated for estimating parameters of ungulate populations. We conducted blind count surveys of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in a 214-ha enclosure in central Texas, USA, in 2007 and 2008 to address 2 main objectives: 1) to evaluate a blind count survey protocol developed for use on small parcels of land, and 2) to use data collected from blind count surveys to conduct simulations to evaluate the reliability of abundance and sex ratio estimates obtained from Bowden's estimator. In each year population abundance (2007: 60; 2008: 48) and sex ratio (M:F, 2007: 0.58; 2008: 0.71) were known as were sighting frequencies of every animal. The enclosure had 5 blinds and we baited each blind with corn. We encountered many deer during surveys because there were only 2 deer in 2007 and 1 deer in 2008 that we did not view from blinds ≥1 time. To evaluate bias and precision of abundance and sex ratio estimates we conducted 10,000 bootstrap simulations. We evaluated both parameters in relation to the percentage of each population marked, number of surveys conducted from blinds, and whether surveys were conducted in the morning, evening, or both morning and evening. Also, we evaluated abundance in relation to whether we identified animals with unique marks to individual, and we evaluated sex ratio in relation to intersexual distribution of marks. Abundance estimates were less biased and more precise when we uniquely identified all marked animals and 40–70% of the population was marked. Sex ratio estimates were less biased when 40–70% of the population was marked and surveys were conducted in the morning and evening. Sex ratio estimates, however, were less precise than abundance estimates. Unbiased estimates of white-tailed deer population parameters can be obtained from blind count surveys conducted on small parcels of enclosed land and when animals are baited.
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Vol. 74 • No. 6