From Twincities.com: Sometime early next week, men and women will fan out across the woods of northern Minnesota, many on snowmobiles, and begin laying out feed for wild whitetail deer.
A million pounds of feed, give or take. As much as $170,000 can buy….
“We’re at 130 volunteers and climbing fast,” Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, said Wednesday….
Whose idea to feed the deer? Hunters, who put pressure on the state to do something because this brutal winter is surely killing some deer in the northern zones. Feeding from now through the spring green up will help the animals survive. The money for the project will come from a fund established from proceeds of hunting license sales.
The Minnesota DNR opposes the idea, arguing that feeding doesn’t have a significant effect on the overall deer population, plus it can congregate deer and encourage the spread of disease. Every biologist I’ve ever talked to says it’s a bad idea for people to feed deer anywhere and regardless of conditions.
But in this case the hunters are spot on. This winter is undoubtedly killing deer and weakening others in northern states where deer populations are already down due to weather, predators, etc. Minnesota’s 2013 firearms harvest was down about 7% statewide, more in the northern zones. This two-month feeding can only help!
Estimates say the effort, which will last until the snow melts and the first green vegetation appears, will feed from 12,000 to 16,000 deer.
Got this email from longtime Big Deer blogger Dan Hermon a while back:
Mike: It’s getting close to time to hit the woods and crop fields for some sheds. What advice do you have in terms of shed hunting? I know they fall off at different times and different locations, but do you have any tricks of the trade to share? I’ll be taking my son out again this year and the only advice I can really give him is to put in the miles and search every step of the way. I thought the best deer blog in the country and its readers might have good advice for us! Thanks, Dan
Here are 4 great tips. Readers, please add any other advice you have to help Dan out:
A lot of people have no luck shed hunting because they look on one or 2 properties where the deer may not be this time of year. Get permission to as many farms and woodlands as you can. Then start walking. But make sure you walk where the deer are now. Remember that 90 percent of the deer are in 10% of the habitat this time of year, so you need to narrow your search areas down.
If you see 10, 20 or more deer feeding in an area, sheds are going to be close by. The best food sources to check are: 1) standing soybeans or a late-cut bean field where some pods are still on the ground; 2) thick, scrubby fields, with green shrubs with berries and maybe some locust trees with pods; 3) alfalfa, clover or winter wheat. But look ANYWHERE you see deer feeding on a regular basis.
Most good shedding is done in and around food sources and nearby staging areas. From there, branch out farther toward the bedding areas. And be sure to hunt the connecting trails between the two.
If you find several sheds in one spot this year, you will probably find more there next year and the next.
Good luck with your shedding, send us pictures and info if you find some good ones!
Mike: One day last fall I swear I saw a doe with a small set of fork-horn antlers, but I didn’t shoot. Have you ever seen a doe with antlers?—Steve from MO
Steve, no I have never seen one in the wild, though I’ve posted a few on the blog. According to VA biologists, there are two types of antlered whitetail does. The first is a female deer with velvet-covered antlers like this one. This animal usually has a normal female reproductive tract and is capable of bearing fawns.
The second type is a female deer with polished antlers. This animal is actually a male “pseudo-hermaphrodite.” It has the external genitalia of a female, but has male sex organs internally.
How rare is a doe with antlers? Renowned biologist Dr. Grant Woods told me: “I’ve often heard the number 1 in 10,000 quoted as the frequency of does that have antlers. I don’t know if researchers actually calculated that from check station data, or simply used that figure to illustrate how rare it occurs. Either way, a doe with antlers is a rare event.”
Generally only one or two, if any, are killed each season by hunters in any given state.
Joe sent this photo and asked: Mike, is this the biggest spike you have ever seen?
Joe, it’s definitely one of the biggest. Our research shows that it was shot by Charles Herber III in 2012, and he entered it into the famous Muy Grande Deer contest in Freer, Texas.
The spikes totaled 34 inches! Pretty sure it won the contest’s “longest spike” division that year. What an amazing trophy!