Posts tagged: deer
WILDLIFE WATCHING — A rare dark-colored mule deer was documented recently in photo on the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area as the doe fed with three normal-colored deer, including a buck in the rut.
Wildlife biologists say the deer appears to have an unusually high occurrence of melanin, a black pigmentation of the skin and hair.
The photo was made by Justin Haug, the assistant wildlife area manager who has a gift for capturing great photos from the state-managed land in Okanogan County near Loomis.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — This week marked the peak of the whitetail breeding season, and this buck was clearly in the mood, said Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson.
“Girls on the mind,” he said.
HUNTING — The late season for hunting whitetail bucks in northeastern Washington ends Tuesday, Nov. 19, as the mating season peaks for the wary deer.
Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson “caught and released” this bruiser Saturday just to help remind us that the big bucks — gorgeous creatures — are out there even though they're tough to find — especially, it seems, when you have a rifle in your hand and a tag in your pocket.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Two Vancouver Island blacktail bucks put on a show in a Nanaimo, British Columbia, neighborhood a few days ago as they battled for dominance during the rut — the deer mating season.
HUNTING — A two-page spread in a popular deer hunting magazine that included trophy photographs of bucks got an Oklahoma City man in trouble with the law, federal prosecutors said last week.
Officials said the buck was illegally shot in Washington's Capitol State Forest before being shipped to Oklahoma, according to the story moved by the Associated Press.
Kyle McCormack, 26, was sentenced to a year of probation and will pay a $500 fine after he pleaded guilty to illegally transporting wildlife in interstate commerce, U.S. Attorney Sanford Coats said.
A two-page article in the July 2012 issue of Buckmasters Magazine credited to McCormack led to a tip that prompted federal and state officials to launch an investigation, Sanford said. Investigators determined that the wildlife was illegally killed in Washington and then shipped to Oklahoma, and that McCormack didn’t have valid hunting licenses in the locations cited in the article.
He was charged earlier this month with illegally transporting elk and black-tailed deer antlers in interstate commerce, and pleaded guilty to both misdemeanor counts, court records show. Court documents indicate McCormack knew the animals were illegally killed in Washington’s Capitol State Forest.
Bowhunter web sites picked up on the residency hunting license discrepancies in the story by September 2012.
As part of the plea agreement, McCormack also agreed to pay $2,500 into the Lacey Act Reward Account.
Enacted more than 100 years ago to curtail the hunting black market, the Lacey Act is a federal law that governs the interstate commerce of fish and wildlife.
HUNTING — Congratulations! You finally killed that trophy specimen that eluded you for many seasons and countless hunts. You made celebratory stops at your buddy’s house and then the local meat processor. The taxidermist is next. But, unlike your previous hunts, this time there’s another consideration—entering your trophy into the Boone and Crockett Club’s records book.
The Boone and Crockett Club records program is the only North American harvest data system that collects information on all species of free-ranging native North American big game taken in fair chase.
Getting listed in the world’s most distinguished hunting-records book involves official measuring, paperwork and a $40 processing fee, all detailed at www.boone-crockett.org, but the rewards are considerable.
Read on for the club's top five reasons to enter a trophy in “the book.”
WILDLIFE — Most hunters know the difference, but in casual conversation it's not uncommon to hear reference to something like a bull elk with “horns” that raked the sky. An elk has antlers, but the colloquial term “horns” rolls easier off the tongue.
Nevertheless, even sportsmen have misperceptions about what it takes to grow antlers and why not every deer and elk that reaches maturity will sport massive headgear, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists.
Here are some basics.
Antlers grow on male members of the deer family, including deer, elk and moose. They fall off each year during winter and grow back during spring and summer.
Horns are permanent growing features on the heads of mountain goats, bighorn sheep and bison.
Genetics and nutrition play major roles in horn growth. Generally, genetics determine the form of antlers while nutrition dictates their size. Some deer or elk simply lack the bloodlines to grow trophy-class racks of multiple points and width no matter what they're fed.
A study of white-tailed deer compared the offspring of yearling bucks with relatively large branched antlers versus yearlings with only spikes. Because both sets of deer were captive in the controlled experiment they were fed identical diets. The yearlings with larger antlers sired only 5 percent spikes, while the spike yearlings produced 44 percent spike antlered yearlings.
However, one study of mule deer has shown that in wet years, which mean increased availability of food, there are fewer spike bucks and larger number of yearlings with forked antlers.
Bottom line: The highest scoring trophy big-game usually are produced from a combination of good genetics and nutrition.
HUNTING — I traded emails a few years ago with a local hunter named Dennis regarding the feelings we experience when we are skillful and/or lucky enough to fill our big-game tags. I've kept his last note as a reminder of the fence many sportsmen walk as we make the ultimate decision to squeeze the trigger:
Being a hunter, and growing older makes for constant reflection in my justification for pursuing and dispatching warm-blooded animals. Many of my friends have quit as they age. I guess we tend to become more in touch with our mortality, and find ourselves wanting to preserve life rather than ending it.
I harvested a nice mature buck this year, and although I hit him hard in the vital zone, I had to follow up and apply the coup de grace. I told my son just how I felt standing there, that it gave me no pleasure to put an end to that animal's life. Were it not for the great tablefare it provided, and the time I got to enjoy with my son in the field, I would have left the rifle in the cabinet and found something else to do.
HUNTING — The code of ethics among hunters is eroding, as this Eastern Washington sportsman graphically points out in the following message to Washington Fish and Wildlife police:
Here are pictures of the deer that I shot Saturday, Oct. 19, near Rock Lake. I shot the deer about 9:30 a.m. and processed it and put it into game bags. The hind quarters I hung in a tree about 50 yards from where I shot the deer and the rib cage I set on a stump. I left the head lying by the gut pile. I took the front quarters back to the truck (.85 miles according to my GPS) to get my pack frame.
My wife met me where I had parked my pickup and we went in to get the rest of the deer. It took 1.5 hours from the time I left to when I returned and found all that was left was the gut pile.
Whoever took the meat cut the rope out of the tree.
It is a sad day when someone steals a man's deer.
Anyone with tips or information about this wildlife crime can qualify for a reward by calling the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department's poaching hotline, (877) 933-9847 or the Spokane Region office at (509) 892-1001.
What's going on out there?
Reader's Letter: Respect lacking in outdoors
HUNTING — Although there's still plenty of deer hunting opportunity remaining in 2013, the general modern rifle seasons in Eastern Washington ended in many units on Sunday with mixed results.
Bottom line: Mule deer success rates are up in the Okanogan region while hunters still struggle in their odds of bagging a mulie or whitetail in northeastern Washington.
One other point: The number of hunters who take time to stop in at check stations conveniently located on U.S. 395 near Deer Park and U.S. 2 near Chattaroy remains low. The information collected by state biologists and volunteer hunter education instructors is valuable to wildlife management, which ultimately is geared to improving hunter success in future years.
Following are summaries from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:
Northeast Washington stations at Deer Park and Chattaroy:
A total of 405 hunters stopping at the stations on Oct. 13, 19 and 20 killed 62 deer (56 whitetails, 6 mule deer) with hunters also checking in forest grouse, waterfowl and one each: moose, cougar, coyote and bobcat.
Check station participation continues to be low, as are success rates. In 2012 the same check stations on these 3 week-end days had a total of 408 hunters checked with 79 deer including 67 white-tails and 12 mule deer.
Okanogan station at Winthrop:
Biologists Fitkin and Heinlen ran the Winthrop deer check station for the final weekend of the general modern firearm season. Over two weekends we checked 252 hunters with 78 deer. The total number of hunters checked is almost identical to last year; however, the number of deer checked this year is up noticeably, indicating a significant increase in hunter success despite the mild weather. In addition, 44% of the checked bucks were in the 4 ½ years old or greater age category as compared to 30% in 2012. These check station numbers suggest late permit hunters should look forward to excellent hunting opportunity.
HUNTING — Washington wildlife officials are looking for ways to reduce the number of mule deer that congregate in the city limits of Republic, Wash. But in this one case, local officials felt the poor doe deserved a second chance.
Fish and Wildlife biologists Wednesday removed an arrow stuck in a mule deer doe that wanders the Ferry County town with her two fawns.
The wounding comes just a week after state officials requested local residents help them figure out ways to cull the deer.
Republic Police Chief Jan Lewis requested WDFW help for the deer, which apparently wasn’t critically wounded by the arrow lodged through the skin of its neck.
Republic has long had many deer living in town – both enjoyed and considered a nuisance by residents — and local authorities have worked with WDFW to lethally remove many of them.
But with two fawns still in tow, and the insult of the arrow through its neck, Lewis asked for help in catching, treating and releasing this deer.
WDFW biologists easily found the trio in a Republic backyard and shot a tranquilizer dart into the doe to handle her safely. While her fawns watched not far away, the doe was blindfolded to keep her calm, the arrow was removed and the wound treated with antibiotics. The deer also received a bright orange ear tag marked with the number “7” so she could be monitored easily.
After a reversal drug took effect, the doe rejoined her fawns. A day later Lewis reported that “lucky number seven” was doing well.
WDFW estimated cost of the operation, including staff time, fuel, drugs and equipment, was about $1,000.
Information about how the deer was shot with the arrow can be reported by calling 1-877-933-9847, or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or completing an on-line report form at http://wdfw.wa.gov/enforcement/violation/.
Depending on the circumstances, the incident could be considered unlawful hunting of big game second degree, or harming/harassing wildlife, both gross misdemeanors which could carry penalties of up to $1,000.
WILDLIFE — Tough times for mule deer.
Western states search for reason mule deer populations declining
A recent report from the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies found mule deer populations in Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota and Saskatchewan were in decline, and that, while Montana's mule deer populations in the central and eastern regions of the state were generally stable, the numbers in Western Montana were decreasing.
HUNTING — Mule deer numbers seem to be improving, as predicted, in the Okanogan County area as indicated by the number and size of bucks that came into check stations on opening weekend.
Some deer checked in and checked out voluntarily (click Continue reading to see both photos).
Here's the initial report from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife… more to come:
General Deer Opener –Biologists Fitkin and Heinlen ran the Winthrop deer check station for opening weekend of the general modern firearm season. We checked 107 hunters with 30 deer. These numbers suggest a reduction in hunting pressure, but a significant increase in success as compared to last year’s opening weekend. Thus far, we’re also seeing a higher than average percentage of the harvest in the >4 ½ year old age class as expected including one nice 30” wide buck (see photo). Prospects for the rest of the season remain good, although mild weather will likely keep deer well distributed on the landscape. Hunters who harvest animals on the weekend are encouraged to bring their deer to the WDFW Deer Check Station located at the Red Barn in Winthrop (some are even showing up on their own).
HUNTING — More than 100,000 hunters were expected to be in the field last weekend for the opening of Washington's modern firearms deer hunting season, according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Adam Lynn of Tacoma was among those out and in position for Sunday's glorious sunrise over Lincoln County. He came within 50 yards of a nice mule deer buck, but couldn't get a clear shot.
Presumably the buck is still out there today, and so is Adam.
HUNTING — Whitetail bucks are famous for taking advantage of thick cover to live long and grow big racks.
But even the white-tailed deer of Eastern Washington and North Idaho could take a lesson from Western Washington blacktails, where the average hunter can expect to devote something like 30 days in the field per buck.
Click “continue reading” for a report by Alan Thomas of the Vancouver Columbian on what it takes to to west of the Cascades and make a blacktail hunt successful.
WILDLIFE — Testing has confirmed what wildlife biologists had feared: Western Montana has suffered its first dieoff of white-tailed deer from a disease known as EHD.
The Missoulian reports:
Lab results received Monday show that recent whitetail deer deaths in the Missoula Valley are the result of epizootic hemorrhagic disease, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials.
Nearly 400 dead deer have been reported since mid-September, and FWP sent in samples from several dozen deer for testing.
Most deer deaths were concentrated in the Clark Fork River valley west of Missoula from Harper’s Bridge to approximately 10 miles downstream and in the Mill Creek area northeast of Frenchtown.
Vickie Edwards, FWP wildlife biologist in Missoula, said the agency also received reports of several dead whitetail deer in outlying areas. Samples from these dead deer were also sent to the lab for testing, but results are not yet in.
“The test results we got back this week are from the earliest samples we collected in the core area of the outbreak west of Missoula,” Edwards said. “We’re still waiting on lab results from other deer in outlying areas to confirm that all deaths are a result of EHD.”
EHD is a naturally occurring virus spread by tiny biting midges. The virus causes hemorrhaging that can kill the infected animal within a day or two after about a six-day incubation period after being bitten. Dead animals frequently are found near water, where they go to alleviate a high fever caused by the disease.
The disease does not spread from deer to deer, and humans are not at risk of contracting it by handling or eating infected animals.
“Hemorrhagic disease viruses are not contagious from one animal to another and are not transmissible to humans,” said Jennifer Ramsey, FWP wildlife veterinarian in Bozeman.
The midges, also called sand gnats or “no-see-ums,” reproduce in wet soil or mud. Their numbers peak from mid-August through October, but a hard freeze will kill the midges and stop the spread of the disease. It is too soon to tell if recent, colder temperatures resulted in a midge die-off.
Because of the incubation period, it might be possible to continue to see dead and dying whitetail deer two weeks after a hard freeze.
Other parts of Montana reported outbreaks of EHD in late summer, but this is the first time the disease has been confirmed west of the Continental Divide in Montana.
HUNTING — I have fond memories from 50 years of deer hunting seasons, including the one pictured above. The buck was harvested miles from an open road with the .270 my father used for decades before I was born.
It was a hard hunt, and the meat was even more delicious because of it.
I don't doubt that you have fond memories of hunting seasons past.
HUNTING — Get the skinny on hunting prospects for deer and elk as well as upland birds and other species in the 2013 hunting forecasts posted by The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department.
Area wildlife biologists have posted notes on their observatins of eveything from pheasant crow counds to big-game population trends by district.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — It's time for this whitetail buck to peel off the velvet and get ready for action.
Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson documented this late-summer stage of antler development last weekend with this photo.
HUNTING — Drought may be delivering another blow to deer herds in a portion of Montana, where disease and tough winters already have lowered deer numbers in recent years.
Dead white-tailed deer, possibly killed by epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD, have been reported in north-central Montana, state wildlife officials said on Tuesday.
Dead and dying whitetails have been spotted from the Great Falls area to Simms on the Sun River north to the Marias River and even north of Chester. according to a story in the Billings Gazette. While the number of dead deer is not clear, it appears to be at least dozens, based on people calling about finding dead whitetails.
EHD has not been confirmed yet; Fish Wildlife and Parks officials are awaiting test results.
EHD is spread among deer, primarily whitetails, by biting midges. It is one of several hemorrhagic disease viruses found in wild and domestic ruminants.
A related disease, bluetongue virus, affects domestic livestock. While EHD can also infect livestock, it has not been proven to spread from deer to livestock or vice versa. The disease poses no threat to humans.
High-density deer herds may have higher mortality rates; however, the relationship of deer density to the severity of EHD is not clear cut.
Spread of the disease normally stops when the first frost of autumn kills the infecting midges.