How Spring Floods Affect Deer

floods deerThis week a low-pressure system has brought steady rain and localized flooding to the Carolinas, and today it’s moving up the East Coast. Late April and especially May is also when floods are common along the Mississippi and other rivers and streams in the Midwest.

How does all this spring rain and flooding affect the whitetail deer?

The good news, biologists say that rising floodwaters of river and creeks won’t kill many if any adult deer, though it will displace the animals for days and perhaps weeks. But the deer will filter back into their habitats and core areas once the waters recede.

While pregnant does will move out of rising water now and for the next few weeks, the primary concern for deer herds in and around flood zones occurs later on in May and in early June, when the does start dropping fawns.

“But fawn survival in flood plains is typically very high, even during flood years,” says noted whitetail scientist Grant Woods.

“To cause any significant problems in a herd, the water levels would have to rise very rapidly and be timed when the peak of fawn births occur, and before the fawns are mobile. This is a narrow window of time. Rivers rarely rise that quickly on that timing, and does are excellent mothers!”

Another and perhaps more serious concern is where floodwaters might affect preferred fawning cover. “When does are forced to fawn in adjoining croplands or woods where there isn’t as much cover predation on the fawns can increase. But overall, I’m not worried about the fawns and the deer herds in a normal flood zone.”

Remove Rust from a Gun

rust gunStore all your firearms in a cool, dry place, with a dehumidifier running nearby for good measure if there is any hint of moisture (as in a basement). But if you pull out one of your guns and see a few blotches of rust on barrel or receiver, here’s an interesting way to remove it.

From Range 365: The trick…is finding a penny minted before 1982, which were 95 percent copper and 5 percent zinc.

To start you need some light oil (good old 3-in-1 will do just fine), a medium brass-bristle cleaning brush, some paper towels, and your pre-1982 penny.

Pick a spot to start, put some oil on the metal, rub the penny over the area, and wipe clean with a paper towel. Repeat until the rust is gone. Use the brush to scour the rust out of areas with small crevices, like a shotgun rib.

The copper in the penny is softer than the steel, so light pressure will wear away the rust without scouring the steel or the remaining bluing.

Earth Day 2017: Hunters America’s #1 Conservationists

earth day 2017On Earth Day tomorrow, I refer you to an enlightening passage written some years ago by two of America’s top deer biologists, Drs. Larry Marchinton and Karl Miller:

In the United States roughly 3 million white-tailed deer are harvested each year… This translates to about 150 million pounds of meat. Add to this the amount of elk, turkey, squirrel, rabbit and other game as well as wild fruits, nuts, and vegetables that is consumed. To produce this amount of beef, chicken, or vegetable crops in addition to that which is already produced would be ecologically devastating. Acres and acres of wild places would have to be destroyed to accommodate this increased agricultural production. More wildlife habitat would have to be plowed under. More pesticides would be applied. More soil erosion would occur. More waterways would become lifeless drainage ditches. Isn’t it better that some of us reap a sustained harvest from natural systems, rather than destroy these systems?

On April 22 and beyond, you and I celebrate the fact that we hunters and fishers are America’s #1 conservationists and environmentalists.

Cryptorchidism in Deer: “Stag Buck”

doug stag buck

Have you ever seen a buck in velvet well past September, maybe into November or December, or even with velvet antlers still intact in spring or summer?

Commonly called a “stag,” the oddball buck exhibits unusual antler growth and retains velvet on the antlers due to low testosterone levels.

Scientists refer to this condition as cryptoridism, and it’s rare. It can result from a birth defect or disease that causes a buck’s testicles (one or both) not to drop normally. Or, a buck may injure his privates, say on a wire fence (ouch). Cryptorchidism can occur in whitetails, blacktails (picture above) or mule deer (below).

A stag buck is different, and he doesn’t engage in the seasonal rituals of normal bucks. Cryptorchids don’t rub or scrape as the rut approaches. They lack the chemical stimulation to express dominance or individualism. Their necks don’t swell and they don’t breed. Reproductively, they are stuck in neutral.

A stag doesn’t shed his antlers; they remain in velvet year-round. The fuzzy antlers can continue to grow as the animal matures. Older-age-class cryptorchids can grow to become true freaks, known as “cactus bucks.”

If you see a stag in the woods, take him, you’ll have a rare and interesting trophy. Big Deer TV producer Justin Karnopp did just that one day last fall, and you’ll see the hunt on a new episode of my show later this summer on Sportsman Channel.

oregon stag

 

Clyde Roberts: Oldest Hunter In the U.S. Shoots His Biggest Buck

va clyde roberts 1

Photo by Meghan Marchetti

Last year I posted on Mr. Clyde Roberts and the buck he shot from a tree stand during the 2015 Virginia deer season. Still hunting strong at 103 years young, Mr. Clyde shot his biggest buck ever during our state’s 2016 muzzleloader season.

va clyde roberts

He was hunting in Bedford County that afternoon with his granddaughter, Christin Elliott, who told the Virginia Game Department:

I (saw a deer and) held my hands out in front of me to describe antlers and he just smiled. I knew things were going to happen quickly, so he got the gun up and ready. Papa was so calm when the buck walked out broadside. I knew he was a great buck and time literally stood still for me. I never heard the gun go off, never saw the smoke, just watched the buck fall with one well-placed just shy of 100 yards.

Papa likes to tell everyone that I got so excited after that. Of course I did! Not only had I been able to hunt with my 103-year-old grandfather but I had witnessed him take the biggest buck of his life. Most importantly, I had the hunt of my lifetime with him! It was one of the most awe-inspiring moments of my hunting career. I will never forget it. Papa is still on cloud nine and I have relived the hunt every night since.

Interestingly, Mr. Clyde was not always a hunter. He started hunting in his retirement years at the urging of his son Mike—40 years ago.

“I bought him a rifle when he retired to keep him busy,” Mike said. “My father is a very simple person and a devout Christian. He says the secret is ‘hard work and living for the Lord.’”

As I blogged last year, this story makes me proud to be a Virginian, a Christian and a deer hunter. Mr. Clyde Roberts, you are a great man and an inspiration to all of us.

Side note: Our producers are planning to be in touch with Mr. Roberts and his family, and we hope to visit Bedford County and film a TV segment with him soon for an episode of BIG DEER TV to air later this year on Sportsman Channel.