How Bad Was The Mule Deer Winterkill?

mule deerI recently attended the 2017 North American Deer Summit, where Jim Heffelfinger of the Arizona Game and Fish Department reported on the status of the mule deer across the American West. Jim said that while mule deer went through tough times in recent years, the good news is that muley populations have been trending up, and are stable or increasing slightly in most states.

But Jim did point to the hard, snowy winter of 2016-17 in some regions of the West, saying that “will lead to a dip in deer numbers this year in some states.” Well, turns out it will be quite a big dip in places.

U.S. News and World Reports has just published a compilation of how last winter impacted mule deer herds in 7 states. Here are some findings that jump out:

South-central Colorado saw high fawn mortality… estimates are that only 20 to 25 percent of fawns survived in the Gunnison Basin, mainly because of a large snowfall event…mule deer hunting licenses in the basin have been reduced by 60 percent for bucks and 80 percent for does.

Idaho saw its third worst winter for mule deer fawn survival in the past 18 years… But mule deer numbers across the state are still healthy enough to withstand the loss as long as next winter is milder.

Above-average losses of mule deer fawns were recorded in northern Utah, where only 10 percent of one herd’s fawns survived… The losses occurred despite the state’s efforts to provide food supplements to the deer. Snow depths exceeded 150 percent of normal in some areas.

In Wyoming, mule deer and antelope west of the Continental Divide suffered significant losses, probably the worst in more than 30 years… Many areas saw up to 90 percent loss of deer fawns and up to 35 percent loss of adult deer. Fewer hunting permits for mule deer and antelope will be issued this fall in western Wyoming.

 

Indiana Deer Covered With Warts

IN deer wartsCameron sent me this image via Twitter: I was driving down the road and saw her. Got out and walked within 15 yards and filmed with my phone.

I retweeted the picture and dozens of people want to know what is going on here.

Biologists say that these growths, commonly called “deer warts,” are cutaneous fibromas and they are caused by a virus. The virus could be transmitted from one deer to another by biting insects, just like bluetongue is transmitted.

The warts are hairless tumors that can be found on any part of the skin, but they rarely extend below the hide. They are usually temporary on the body and can vary from 1/2 to 8 inches in diameter, or even larger. The tumors are rarely fatal unless they grow large enough to interfere with an animal’s vision, breathing or eating. This doe has a bad case of warts and might die because her vision is impacted.

Biologists say these growths are not all that uncommon on whitetail deer in the summer. But I have spent 40 years observing and hunting deer and have never seen an animal like this.

Have you ever seen a deer with warts?

While the growths look gross, scientists say deer with these skin tumors are still edible. No report of human infection from cutaneous fibromas has been documented. The concern for hunters would be from an animal with an extensive bacterial infection, like this one. Common sense would tell you not to eat this doe.

How Many Deer Are Hit By Cars Each Year?

IMG_2349QDMA biologist Kip Adams posted on Instagram: Man I hate to see this. This buck got hit earlier this week just down the road from my house. In the U.S. we hit nearly 1.3 million deer annually with our vehicles. About one in every 23 deer alive will get hit this year, that’s a crazy statistic! Spring (fawning) and fall (rut) are the worst times for deer-car accidents so slow down and be safe.

 

It’s Official: Bass Pro Shops Buys Cabela’s

cabelas store maine

Fox business reports that the merger of Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s (CAB) has received the go-ahead from antitrust regulators. In a filing with the SEC, Cabela’s said Wednesday the Federal Trade Commission informed the company earlier this week that it concluded its investigation of Bass Pro’s $4.2 billion buyout. Cabela’s shareholders will vote on the deal July 11. The transaction is expected to close later this summer.

We all knew this was coming… So now, what does it mean for your favorite outdoor company and store, which for readers of BIG DEER is definitely Cabela’s?

There will be changes, anytime a sale goes through that happens. But I believe Bass Pro’s Johnny Morris, who said last year, ““We look forward to continuing to celebrate and grow the Cabela’s brand alongside Bass Pro Shops…as one unified outdoor family.

“I have enormous admiration for Cabela’s and the remarkable brand and business they have built. Cabela’s is a great American success story.”

As of now, the plan is to keep the Cabela’s headquarters in Sidney, Nebraska, and it is business as usual for all Bass Pro and Cabela’s stores. Bass Pro Shops has some 99 stores and employs about 20,000 people. Cabela’s has 19,000 employees and 85 stores in the U.S. and Canada.

A little bird in the industry told me that the new strategic plan is to build upon the incredibly strong hunting brand and market that Cabela’s has built, while their fishing and boat presence will be contracted. Bass Pro Shops will still have a hunting presence, but will carry on and continue to grow with its massive fishing and boating business.

We will have to wait and see, but that makes perfect sense to me.

11-Year-Old Alaska Boy Shoots Charging Brown Bear, Saves Fishing Party

ak boy shoots bearOne day last month 11-year-old Elliot Clark was hiking into a fishing hole near Hoonah, Alaska, with his uncle, a cousin and three dogs. Young Elliot didn’t have a sling on his shotgun, so he carried it in his hands. That likely saved lives.

Lucas Clark, Elliot’s father and a bear hunting guide but who was out of town at the time of the encounter, shared the story with the Juneau Empire:

“…four of them in a line … my son was third. The bear came down the trail at them, fella in the front…the bear was on him so quickly that he didn’t have time to take his rifle off his shoulder.

The bear ran through the first two men, who were pushed to the side of the trail, leaving Elliot…in front of his unarmed cousin. The boy raised his pump action shotgun and shot the (bear), hitting it with birdshot, which is often used just to scare bears off, Lucas Clark said.

“…That first shot hit (it) in the shoulder and did absolutely nothing. The next shot hit (it) in the nose and traveled down through the neck,” Lucas Clark said.

The third shot went into the bear’s shoulder and his back, dropping it…. The bear was so close… there were powder burns on the bear’s mouth….

“As the bear slid past him and came to a stop, (Elliott) put a kill shot it him,” Lucas Clark said.

Lucas told the Empire that while his family practices shooting, caution and safety, when you live in bear country something like this “can happen to anybody. We pray for our kids every day.”

Alaska Wildlife Troopers say this was the first Defense of Life or Property killing in the Hoonah area this year.

Incredible presence of mind and shooting in the face of danger, way to go young man!

(Photo: Alaska Senator Shelley Hughes’ Facebook page.)