Can Twin Deer Fawns Be Sired By Two Bucks?

twin fawns and doeMike: I’ve heard that twin whitetail fawns can have more than one daddy. Is that right? Dave, Alabama

Dave: Yes, and that occurs more than you might imagine!

A Texas A&M-Kingsville study found that 16 of 23 sets of twins had 2 different sires, typically one mature buck and another buck 2½ years or younger. Researchers suggest the younger bucks are opportunistic little devils, sneaking in to breed the doe just before or after the mature buck does.

And get this: Scientists at Auburn University reported 3 different buck sires for a set of triplets one time!

This is yet another reason the whitetail is such a fascinating creature…and why trying to manage a herd’s genetics is so unpredictable.

BTW, we are seeing a record number of fawns this summer here in Virginia, what about where you live and hunt?

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD): Rules for Transporting Deer Across State Lines

I recently attended the National Deer Summit and was struck by the dire reports of CWD that came from the country’s top deer scientists.

cwd map 2017

Map Source: Tennessee WRA

To a man and woman, all the experts agreed that CWD is the most serious threat to our deer herds and hunting that we’ve faced in decades, and possibly ever. To a person they said the thing we must do to stop the spread of CWD is to immediately monitor and restrict the movement of deer and deer parts across state lines.

First is to immediately stop the interstate transport of live deer to penned facilities, something that does not affect the 99.9% of us that hunt wild deer.

Second is to monitor and restrict the interstate transport of deer shot and killed by hunters, something that will directly affect millions of us who hunt deer in different states this fall.

This 2017 information on CWD Carcass Import Restrictions from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is timely. While it pertains to Tennessee, the import restrictions are virtually the same for every state in the nation.

If you harvest a deer, elk or moose from a CWD positive area (highlighted yellow map) it must be properly processed before bringing it back into Tennessee. This rule is in effect to protect the state from the unintentional introduction of Chronic Wasting Disease.

How do you properly process a deer (or elk) that you shoot in, say, Wyoming or Saskatchewan for legal transport back to Tennessee, New York, Georgia or (insert your state here)?

Two big things to remember: You cannot throw a whole field-dressed deer into your truck and drive home across state lines like you did in the old days. Nor can you cut off a buck’s head with antlers attached and take it home.

You must:

Skin the animal and bone out the meat. Quartering a deer is not good enough. All bones should be removed. Pack the deboned meat in coolers.

As for antlers, if you saw them off an animal you plan to mount with the cape, you must thoroughly clean all meat and tissue from the skull cap.

If you want a European mount, that’s trickier. You must thoroughly clean off and clean out the entire skull so that no meat or tissues are attached to it. The Tennessee WRA also tells you to clean the teeth, something I never knew.

While state laws on this issue are similar, there are variations, so check your CWD transport regulations carefully.

What is CWD?

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a fatal neurological disease of deer and elk, including white-tailed deer, moose, mule deer, and Rocky Mountain elk. The disease causes degeneration of the brain and eventual death. In the early stages of the disease, an infected animal may not show any signs that it is sick. As the disease progresses, animals will show signs of weight loss, generally accompanied by behavioral changes. In later stages, affected animals may show emaciation, excessive drooling, increased drinking and urination, listlessness, stumbling, trembling, loss of fear of humans and nervousness. CWD is not caused by a bacteria or virus. It is classified as a prion disease. For more, read here.

2017 EHD Tracker: Deer Disease Reported in SE Kentucky

KY EHD 2017It’s that time of year again when hunters and wildlife managers nervously wait and see if Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease will hit their region, and if so how bad of a deer-killing year it will be. EHD, which is transmitted to whitetails by biting midges, typically occurs from August through October, until the first frost in an area kills the midges that carry the disease.

Let’s hope this year’s first reported case of the disease, in Kentucky in July, is random and not a harbinger of bad things to come across the U.S. later this summer. This is the first reported outbreak of EHD in the Bluegrass State since 2007.

Kentucky Fish and Wildlife officers say a dozen sick and dead deer have been reported in Floyd, Knott and other counties in the southeastern part of the state in recent days, and they are on the lookout for more. They ask the public to report any deer that looks sick or acts strangely. Call them if you find a dead deer, which if infected by EHD will often be found in or near a pond, creek or other water source.

Anywhere across the U.S., hunters should immediately report potential cases of EHD to the appropriate wildlife authorities.

Here’s some new information I learned from the Kentucky report. It’s imperative to call the state wildlife authorities ASAP if you see a sick or stumbling deer, or find one that looks as if it just recently died. Apparently a blood sample from a deer to confirm the presence of EHD is good for only one hour after the deer dies. But you should still report a deer that has obviously been dead for hours or days, because wildlife specialists can GPS where the deer was found, and cross reference that with other GPS pins to determine the size and scope of the EHD outbreak.

The Kentucky Department Fish and Wildlife has an excellent page that explains EHD and whitetails.

How NOT to Shoot a Button Buck

button buckThere are few among our BIG DEER army who would shoot a button fawn buck on purpose, but every one of us has accidentally done it. We have an antlerless tag and drop a fat “doe” to fill the freezer…we walk up to the deer and go, “Uh, oh,” as we see its nubs and male parts.

It’s an honest mistake that anybody can make, and that’s why harvesting a young buck with less than 2” of antler is legal in most states (check your regulations).

But you obviously never want to shoot a button. These pointers from the Michigan DNR will help you differentiate an adult doe from a buck fawn, so you won’t mess up again.

–Check body shape. A mature doe’s body is rectangular, with a long neck and face. A buck fawn is square-shaped and has a short neck and face.

Study heads with binoculars. A doe’s head is normally more rounded on top between the ears, and a buck’s head is flattened near the base of the antlers.Obviously look for little nubs too as you glass.

–If you spot a single deer ambling around looking lost consider this: Button bucks are often alone, while adult does tend to travel with other deer. But plenty of does walk around alone too.

–If possible, wait until 3 or more antlerless deer are together (maybe feeding out in a plot) then after glassing, harvest one of the larger animals.

–If two juvenile deer are alone without an adult doe, one will probably be a button buck. Normally the young male is larger than the female and could be mistaken for an adult doe. Look closely with binoculars for the antler bases and nubs of a button buck.

–Wait until the deer are standing or moving slowly. It is easier to identify sex and age when deer are not moving too fast.

–Shoot with good visibility. Poor light and heavy cover make it difficult if not impossible to determine a deer’s sex and age.

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.