EHD Tracker 2017: Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia

ehd buck 2015

Review Online: Many dead deer have been found…recently, and hunters are getting concerned. Wildlife officials from Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have confirmed several cases of what appears to be EHD. Some deer have been tested and officials from all three states reported last week that EHD is present.

Dead and sick deer have been reported in Beaver County, Pennsylvania.

Hancock County appears to be hardest hit in West Virginia.

In Ohio, dead deer are showing up in Columbiana, Geauga, Trumbull and Jefferson counties. An Ohio wildlife officer said, “Jefferson County has been hit the hardest, by far. Right now we have at least 111 reports from Jefferson.”

ohio ehd buck 2017

BREAKING: This photo from Ohio has gone viral on social media. There is also a video of this sick and disoriented buck stumbling around. The county in Ohio is unclear. The deer is pictured with a sheriff’s deputy, who I cut from the image for privacy reasons.

People on Facebook and Instagram are coming up with all sorts of rumors, innuendo and wild speculation about this deer, prompting the deputy to respond on his wife’s Facebook page. While I cannot verify that this is his writing, I have no reason to doubt it. He seems like an honest and compassionate guy, and he’s a deer hunter.

…watching the deer walk in circles I became furious. I presumed that someone had tried to poach the deer because it doesn’t have a right eye and its left eye is glazed over/white, no pupils. Its mouth is open, tongue exposed salivating…As I video, because I have never seen anything like this, I’m trying to determine how to safely take it out of its misery. …the people watching advised me this deer has been seen on their property the day prior doing the same thing, walking in circles, running into (things). My sgt arrived and the buck staggered to the street, ran into a fence, and bumped into a telephone pole. We stopped traffic, and I literally was 3 feet away, grunting, snort wheezing trying to get it out of the street. It finally ran into the corn field and was safely humanely destroyed.

He ends with: This pic was taken by my sgt, with no intent to post on the internet. I sent this pic and the video to another friend who lives close. He forwarded to another friend, who forwarded it on hence the pic and video are for the world to see. Yes in the pic, the deer is still living, head is up and bloody foamy blood from the mouth. Yes the deer could not see as it only has the white, glazed eye you see in the picture. Ironically, the local farmer where the deer was put down drove by… His tenant is the local county game warden. He shows up, advised he was taking the deer to be tested for “ehd.”

EHD kills some huge bucks like this every year. Also there is some speculation that maybe the buck had Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD); that would be huge and dire news because CWD has never been confirmed in Ohio. I’m betting EHD because of the buck’s symptoms.

One last thing the deputy said—there was no intent to post either the picture or the video on the internet. I sent this pic and the video to another friend who lives close. He forwarded to another friend, who forwarded it on…

If you want to keep a picture of a big buck (or anything else) quiet, do not, I repeat DO NOT, send it to anybody—not your wife or son or best hunting friend. It WILL leak out and, as the deputy found out, be out there for the world to see.

Big Deer’s 2017 Moon-Rut Hunting Guide

full moon buck compress2017 rut moon phases: Full November 4…last quarter November 10…new November 18…first quarter November 26

As I have said time and again here on the blog and on BIG DEER TV, I am neither a scientist nor an astronomer. But I am a whitetail hunter and have been doing it for 40 years, more than 30 of those professionally. I’m also a moon fanatic. Over the years I figure I’ve spent between 880 and 1,000 days in a deer stand in November, during every imaginable moon phase and all waxing and waning days.

My journal notes and personal observations say that there is definitely something to the November moon and how it impacts the movements of rutting whitetails.

My 2017 predictions:

I like the way this November’s moon sets up. For starters it exposes the seeking phase of the pre-rut, when bucks start to prowl and expand their range for the first hot does. Halloween into the first week of November is a good time to bowhunt in any season. This year, with the moon waxing toward full–91% visible on November 1 to 100% bright on November 4-5–the hunting should be especially good.

If you hunt that first week of November, keep in mind that deer movement will be best near food sources in the afternoons. If a cold front sweeps into your hunt area that week, better yet.

During the full moon week of Nov. 4-11, the best buck movement will shift to the mornings. While it flies in the face of what many scientists and hunters believe, I love hunting a full moon in early November because in my experience, the deer rut hard all day. You’re apt to see a shooter on his feet at 8:00 a.m.…11:00 a.m.…2:00 p.m….any day this week, so hang on stand as long as you can.

For vacation-planning purposes:

If the land you’ll hunt has crop fields and food plots, I’d suggest you hunt the first 5 days of November. Hunt stands near the feed and focus on the afternoons. A stand on a slightly elevated ridge 100-200 yards off a corn or bean field would be a hotspot either afternoon or morning.

If the land is mostly woods with mast and greenery for deer food, think about hunting a little later, say November 5-12. Historically, if you check the record books, these are the very best days in any year to kill a monster buck. Set your stands back in the woods along trails and travel funnels—especially those with smoking-fresh scrapes–and hunt bucks seeking to hook up with does near bedding areas in the mornings.

Again, if you can hack it, stay on a deep-cover stand all day. I expect some giants to fall from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. during the big moon November 5-10.

Buck movement and rutting activity will vary some according to local conditions and weather, but for the very best chance to shoot a giant I say hunt sometime in the Nov. 2-12 window. But go when you can. You still have a decent shot into the new moon of November 17-18, though in most places the best rut will begin to slow down.

If at all possible hunt ground with minimal or no pressure, which I know is difficult. But even moderate human intrusion can turn mature bucks nocturnal and blow up your moon opportunity.

Hunt hard and safe, and good luck.

Maryland Boy’s First Bow Buck

From our friend Danny, who has been watching hundreds of deer and more than 30 bucks all summer:

MD boy 1

I set up a tent blind a few weeks ago at a spot where I saw some deer hanging out. My nephew Colby decided he would try it out. He passed a few bucks the first night he hunted it, but he was able to get it done the other evening.

Colby had shot several deer previously with rifle and crossbow, but he decided it was time for a compound bow. He saved up his money and bought his first bow last spring.  He practiced all summer and it paid off.  Hope he doesn’t think it’s always this easy!

Around 7:40 that evening I saw several bucks from my stand, heading in his direction.  I could see 6 bucks heading his way, but I couldn’t see the last 150 yards they had to travel. While I was watching these bucks he sent me a text and said he had just shot.  I was focused on the deer that were 300 yards away from me, in the middle of the field; I thought it was odd that he shot and those deer didn’t react. I texted him back and told him not to move, I’d be there in 30 minutes.

About a half hour later his dad picked me up and the three of us got on the blood trail. It got dark on us, but Colby had made a perfect lung shot and the trail was easy to follow by flashlight. It only took a short tracking job to recover Colby’s first compound buck.

He doesn’t know how proud I am of him for doing this. I was with him when he got his first deer when he was 8. He will be 16 next week. He decided on his own that he wanted to hunt with a compound bow. He put in the time practicing, and it paid off.

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Colby’s buck was not one of the many that I have watched for months all summer. It was one of more deer that just showed up last week. He was covered in warts on his face, sides and groin. I cut a few of them open thinking they might be swollen ticks, but they looked like solid fat. I would have recognized that deer all summer from the warts.—Danny

Way to go Colby! By the way, those warts are called cutaneous fibromas.  Biologists say these hairless growths are not all that uncommon on whitetail deer in the summer. But I have spent more than 30 years observing and hunting deer and have never seen an animal like this.Colby’s deer does not seem to have that many warts, so the meat should be fine to eat.


BIG DEER Girls Go For Bucks

MD danny lexi

MD dan lexi

BIG DEER blogger Dan has been watching 30-plus bucks all summer, including the 2 studs above. He writes in an update: None of them have dispersed yet, and there are more bucks showing up… I got over 4,000 pics this past week alone and saw several new bucks!  Some of the regulars were back that I had thought moved on.

I’m certain that they will separate and move away very soon, but I’ve never had this many bucks stick around this long. Or, maybe I’m wrong and they will stick around for the whole family to chase all season! This could be an awesome year for us. 

Today is the bow opener for Dan. He’s taking his daughter, Lexi, right after school this afternoon. She made me promise I wouldn’t go Friday morning without her, Dan says.

As you read this, they will be on their way to the stand, or on post.


Longtime blogger Scott sent me this email:

Hi Mike: Checked the cameras last week and still have a big 8-point hanging around, and got this 10-pointer too (above). Second time he’s showed up all year. Not a regular but lives somewhere in the area. I’ll take my daughter Shelbie on the youth hunt in 2 weeks so we’ll see what happens!—Thanks, Scott

These 2 dads are doing it right, and I’m proud of them. Best of luck Lexi and Shelbie, can’t wait to see the pictures!


Hunters: Drive and Park Smart to Prevent Fires

montana graws fireMore than 70 wildfires are burning in 8 Western states, dozens of them in hot and dry Montana, where 2017 archery elk and deer seasons are opening up.

Residents and the many out-of-staters that hunt Big Sky are wondering how the dry conditions and fire danger might affect their hunting. As of today, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) is not recommending the closure of any seasons. “(But) if a private landowner or an agency such as the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management makes the decision to restrict or postpone hunting or other activity on their property, that is a decision we respect and accept,” said FWP Director Martha Williams.

Due to fire danger, currently more than 80 block management areas (BMAs) are restricted or closed at the request of landowners. Check the FWP website for more information.

As hunters hit the Montana prairies and woods this week, Director Williams says, “It is critical to be careful, and be safe. Hunters have to take personal responsibility to prevent wildfires and keep themselves and the property and lives of others safe.”

One of the biggest concerns in Western states are grass fires caused by trucks. Every fall as hunters drive off-road, vehicles’ hot exhaust pipes ignite tall, dry grass in roadbeds and parking areas, sparking grass fires that if not contained can spread into wildfires.

Montana FWP asks hunters to follow these fire safety precautions; it is good advice regardless of where you hunt:

Park your vehicle on bare ground or ground completely void of vegetation.
Drive only on paved and well graveled roads.
Camp only in designated camping areas.
Smoke only inside buildings or vehicles.
Check on any fire restrictions in the area where you are hunting.

Fire experts from Oregon add that hunters should plan ahead. Have basic fire-fighting equipment in your truck and close at hand–at least 5 gallons of water, a fire extinguisher and a shovel. Burlap sacks are useful; you can wet them down with water and use the wet sacks to beat down flames. Always have way to call for help, such as a cell phone or citizen’s band radio in areas where there’s no cell service.