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?

Why Deer Love Mineral Licks After a Rain

mineralsThe smart deer hunter is always observing: Why do most of the bucks travel E-W in a patch of woods…why do does and fawns like a particular corner of a plot…why do deer flock to mineral licks after a heavy rain?

We’ve had a lot of heavy rain this summer, and an hour or so after each rain ends (no matter the time of day) my Spartan Camera app blows up with images of deer with their heads stuck in water-filled mineral holes. Must be something to it, so I reached out to biologists and mineral experts, most of whom had observed the same thing.

While we’re not sure why this occurs, we theorize that heavy rain roils a mineral site, pulling certain minerals off the soil and suspending them in water, where deer can “lick” them easily. As the water recedes, suspended minerals settle on the topsoil, again easily consumed by the deer. Water also causes leaching of the minerals, and perhaps that’s a factor.

Anyhow, check your cameras after a rain and see what you’ve got.

#1 Late-Summer Spot for a Trail Camera

best cam spot

My sketch of the top spot to set your camera this weekend is very rudimentary, so let me explain.

In this case there are two cornfields (might be soybeans or alfalfa where you hunt) with a row of trees and brush about 20 yards wide, splitting and separating the fields. Within that row of trees is a flat, grassy gap where the farmer will drive his tractor between the fields in a month or so. On an old gate post in the gap is the top spot to set a camera now, while the corn is still tall and uncut.

We have 9 cameras running on the Virginia farm where this gap is located, with some cams situated on field edges, others on clover plots, others on minerals in the woods. The camera on the gate post has been the most productive by far for catching bucks on natural movement.

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First good buck showed in the gap in early July.

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Later in the month…

va split brow

Catching the big split brow rolling through the gap really got us going.

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We had a surprise traveler, going the other way from the bucks.

We’re pulling the card from the gap camera tomorrow morning, can’t wait to see who’s been by the last couple weeks.

If you know of a similar gap like this where you hunt, go set a camera there before the crops are cut and the deer movement patterns change.

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.

Legendary Whitetails: The Iowa Knife-Handle Buck

iowa knife handle buckSome bucks and stories are legendary. This is one of them:

Back in the early 1970s out in Iowa, a man stopped and asked a farmer for permission to fish and trap turtles in his ponds. As they talked, the guy noticed a huge pile of sheds inside a nearby barn. The farmer told the man he could have them all, except for the one side of a gigantic rack with 8 long points. The farmer was saving that one for a friend who used deer tines to make knife handles.

 

At this point in the story, accounts vary. Some say the turtle trapper picked up both sides from the pile, and found them to be nearly identical. Others aren’t so sure the farmer had both sides of rack.

Years later, Tom Sexton, a taxidermist and sculptor, heard the turtle trapper’s tale and somehow ran across the unbelievably huge half rack. Tom decided to re-create the other side and the entire rack just so hunters could see how one Iowa giant might have been the world-record typical.

Tom had to make some suppositions, but his recreation shows that the rack, if somewhat symmetrical and typical, could have grossed more than 240 inches and, after even a good amount of deductions, net-scored a whopping 230 or so!

That buck lived 50 years ago and I wonder: How many hunters had seen him in the wild…how did the deer die…whatever became of the other side of that rack, probably just rotted away to dust in the woods? We’ll never know those things, but one thing I say with reasonable certainty: If that buck had had beams that matched anywhere close, and had a hunter killed him legally and ethically, he would have been the world-record typical whitetail forever. That legendary Iowa deer could have been a good 15 inches larger of rack than Milo’s 213 5/8″ giant, the current record typical that has stood for more than 20 years.