2019 And Beyond: Warm, Wet Weather Means More Snakes

tx sarge snakeI hate snakes and I cannot lie.

Any snakes, from garters to rats to rattlers to moccasins.

Any kind, color or size, I am scared of them all.

My heart rate soared and my blood pressure spiked when I read this:

After a winter (2018-19) that was warmer and wetter than average across much of the U.S., the country needs to be on snake watch…

Snakes like those conditions. Increased populations are expected.

And there is more bad news.

A new study by Stanford University professor Grant Lipman and the University of Colorado’s Caleb Phillips shows that rattlesnakes and other venomous snakes may bite more people after rainy seasons.

The study, which analyzed 20 years of snakebite data, found a significant increase in snakebites the year after a rainy season.

Researchers say that during warm, wet spells, snakes breed more and have more babies. As the babies grow and slither around in their second and third years, that is when people really begin to notice the increase.

snake pile

And that is when we hikers and hunters are apt to encounter more snakes.

Yikes. It has been warm and extremely wet here in Virginia and other parts of the country for the last 2 years, going back to 2017. That’s already at least 3 prime snake breeding seasons.

If this wet and warm weather pattern continues, 2020 could be the Decade of the Snake!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7,000 to 8,000 people are bitten by venomous snakes in the United States each year, resulting in about 5 deaths. While your chances of a deadly bite are slim, you need to be vigilant and ready just in case.

That’s why I recently wrote “7 Ways Not To Die From A Rattlesnake Bite” for Outdoor Life. Click over and read it, it couldn’t be timelier.

 

How Will “Bomb Cyclone” and Snowmelt Flooding Affect Deer?

floods deerThe recent bomb cyclone combined with spring snowmelt has swelled some Midwest rivers to record levels and forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes. The governors of Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin have declared emergencies. Some of the water-logged areas are bracing for more rain this week.

 

How will all this flooding affect whitetail deer in the region?

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 weeks. But the deer will eventually filter back into their habitats once the waters recede.

Good news is that 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 is later on in May and 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 relatively narrow window of time. Rivers rarely rise that quickly, and does are excellent mothers.”

One concern, though, is how the current Midwestern flooding might wash away and/or flatten preferred fawning cover for later on this spring. “If does are forced to fawn in fields or woods where there isn’t as much cover as usual, coyote predation on the fawns can increase,” says Grant.

The cumulative effects of the bomb cyclone, snowmelt and flooding later on this spring could impact fawning cover in some areas, but that remains to be seen.

Dick’s Sporting Goods To Remove Firearms And Hunting Gear From 125 Stores

dicksDick’s Sporting Goods (NYSE: DKS) has announced it will remove firearms and other hunting gear from about 125 stores. The change, expected to begin August 1, will affect about 17 percent of the company’s stores.

The announcement, coupled with continuing declines in sales since 2017 (adjusted same-store sales were down 3.1% last year) lead to a 11 percent decline in stock price yesterday. Dick’s closed at $34.45 on the NYSE, down $4.28/share.

Dick’s CEO and major shareholder Ed Stack told the media that if the 125-store move “goes well” the company may remove hunting gear from more stores next year.

According to the Outdoor Wire, Stack was one of four CEOs to sign a letter supporting a gun control bill recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives. He has also joined the business council of Everytown, the nonprofit organization founded by Michael Bloomberg that advocates for gun control.

It’s more obvious than ever that if you are a law-abiding gun owner and hunter, Dick’s does not want your business. I for one have vowed to never step foot or spend another penny in a Dick’s store again.

 

Grow Better Food Plots: Whitetail Institute Soil-Test Kit

WINA_Soil_Test_KIt_Front__16956.1370791652.1280.1280Whether you are a novice or expert at food plots for deer, whether you plan to plant 2 plots or 10 on your land this year, the first and most critical step to success is to do a soil test and determine the pH of the dirt you’ll be working.

Some soils are heavier than others…other dirt is lighter. Some soils hold moisture longer…some dirt dries fast… You get the idea–not all dirt is created equal. By testing the soil where you’ll be planting to determine its exact pH, you’ll know how much lime and/or fertilizer you’ll need for the planting process and optimal forage growth.

This test kit from Whitetail Institute gives you everything you need and makes it a breeze. Dig a dirt sample, put in a Ziplock and mail in to their lab. Easy-to-read results are emailed to you within the week, and often in a day or two. Best part: professional consultation from the pros at the Institute is included, and you can follow up with a call to their 800 number for further recommendations and to answer specific questions.

If you want to grow better food plots, this will be the best $15 you ever spent on Amazon Prime.

Good luck and have fun playing in the dirt!

 

Which State Has The Best Deer Hunters in America?

NY adirondacks 2018 3Hunters in the Southeastern region of the U.S. were the most successful in 2017, with 55% of hunters killing one or more deer, according to the Quality Deer Management Association’s 2019 Whitetail Report.

South Carolina was #1 in the nation, with 69% of hunters shooting at least one whitetail. Mississippi was a close second with 63% hunter success.

42% of hunters across the Midwest shot a deer. The deer-hunting in Michigan, with a 50% success rate, and Ohio (40% success) improved in recent years, while Indiana (35% success) and Iowa (30%) showed declines as compared to 5 years ago.

Not the least bit surprisingly to me, the Northeast remains the toughest place in America to kill a deer, with only 33% of hunters across the region tagging an animal in 2017.

Maine, with a hunter-success rate of only 13%, is the toughest place to kill a deer (much less a good buck) in the nation. That’s one reason I want to go back there and film another BIG DEER TV show.

Deer hunting is not supposed to be easy all the time. And it’s obviously not in beautiful and intriguing Maine, where I hope to be with a camera crew this November, slogging it out and trying to buck the odds to become one of the chosen few 13%.

Click here to download your free copy of the 2019 Whitetail Report, and scroll to page 23 for the hunter-success rate in your state.

qdma 2019 report