New Research: Southeast Deer Study Group 2018

sedsg2018The Southeast Deer Study Group meets annually and is a forum for researchers, biologists and wildlife students to share their latest information on whitetail deer. I monitored the 2018 meeting last week via the Twitter of the QDMA and others. Here are some interesting deer science tidbits:

Since beginning a quality deer management program (QDM) 16 years ago, a Tennessee hunt club reports an 84% increase in buck sightings per hour for hunters and a 486% increase in mature buck harvest (deer 3.5 years or older) per hunter.

QDM works especially when you give it time!

Dr. John Kilgo of the U.S. Forest Service reported that coyote reproduction actually increases in response to trapping efforts. Add that to the fact that new coyotes will move into an area, and you need an ongoing and annual trapping program to have any sustained benefit for fawn survival on a property.

Daniel Molina of Mississippi State Deer Lab studied if, and how, does choose bucks to breed with based on a male’s age, body size and antlers. He found that only antler size produced a significant difference in doe choice between 2 bucks. 80% of estrus does chose the buck with bigger antlers!

As I have blogged before, not all deer that get hemorrhagic disease (EHD or bluetongue) die, and those that survive develop antibodies. A study at SCWDS shows that survivor does pass these antibodies to their fawns, and help shield fawns from infection for 3-4 months.

According to a study from the University of Delaware, fawn birth weight is strongly tied to fawn survival (heavier the little deer the more likely to live). This emphasizes the importance of quality deer habitat. Better habitat means greater fawn survival!

Jacob Haus of the Univ. of Delaware  tracked 61 yearling bucks (1.5 years old) through a hunting season in the southern part of the state. Survival rate was 75% for bucks that exclusively roamed on private land, versus 37% for bucks that used some public land during the season.

Researchers at King Ranch in Texas aged more than 7,300 bucks by tooth replacement/wear and cementum analysis. They found no evidence that soil type or other variables changed the usefulness and accuracy of jawbone aging.


Texas Buck: Rare Third Antler Back Of Skull!

tx unicornHi Mike: I just shot a nice 8-point buck on our property in Montague, Texas. I didn’t even notice until we got him back to the camp that he had a small additional antler! Never hearing of this before, I rushed to research. So far, what I’ve gathered is that the frontal skull lobe is capable of growing additional beams or tines if a buck is injured. But my buck’s additional antler is actually behind the main antlers, not on the frontal lobe. Have you heard of any other places on the skull for these “unis” to grow other than the frontal lobe or facial area? I’m not finding very much in general about this, your blogs on unicorns have been the most helpful.

BTW, I took the buck to a taxidermist, who said he has been mounting deer for over 40 years and has only come across 2 “uni antlers,” one of which extended from above the eye and the other in the middle of the frontal lobe.–Tammy D.

While I have research and posted on multiple unicorn bucks, I had never heard of a third antler growing out the back of the skull, so I ran it by scientist Grant Woods who said:

Mike: I’ve seen a few images similar to the one you shared. Sometimes bucks have an accident which results in an injury and the pedicle and the antler grows in an odd shape or angle there. It’s also my understanding that pedicle cells can grow almost anywhere (on the skull).  A very small percentage of bucks are born with some pedicle cells in abnormal places and grow small antlers there. I suspect that’s the explanation for why this buck has a third antler. This is certainly a unique trophy!–Grant


2017 EHD Tracker: KY and PA Update…and now West Virginia

KY more ehd bucks 2017

The EHD outbreak in eastern Kentucky gets worse. The Northern Kentucky Tribune printed: reports of dead and/or dying deer received by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources has ballooned to 2,967…tissue and blood samples taken from fresh specimens in the field confirmed that the cause was Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD), specifically the EHD-2 strain… As of Sept. 12, reports have come in from 72 Kentucky counties. By comparison, a month ago reports were received from just 21 counties.

edh pa deer

The outbreak in Pennsylvania has also gotten worse. Nearly 1,000 dead deer have been reported in Beaver, Washington and Allegheny counties. An official said, “Regrettably I have to tell people we’re probably going to find a lot more (dead) deer before it is over.”

The outbreak in Pennsylvania, and all states, will subside with the first hard frost in October, which will kill the midges that bite the deer and spread the disease.

Now, unfortunately, we add West Virginia to the 2017 EHD tracker. The state’s Division of Natural Resources reports that EHD has been confirmed in deer found in Boone, Brooke, Hancock, Lincoln, Marshall, Ohio, Tucker and Wayne counties.

All bowhunters in the woods in any state right now must report sick or dead deer to their nearest wildlife office.

EHD 2017 mills iowa

POSTSCRIPT: Every year an image of an amazing buck that supposedly died of EHD makes the rounds on the Internet, and this one just popped up on my Twitter. Word is that the 250-class giant was found in Mills County, Iowa. As of now, it has not been determined if EHD killed the buck, or a car or whatever. Either way, a damn shame.

EHD Tracker 2017: Michigan Confirms Dead Deer

ehd buck 2015From Outdoor News: The… Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory announced Wednesday, Sept. 20 that they have confirmed that a free-ranging white-tailed deer in Genesee County has died from epizootic hemorrhagic disease. EHD is a viral disease, sometimes fatal, found in wild ruminants such as white-tailed deer…

“Although this has been a single deer death at this point, we are asking for hunters to look around as they hit the field to let us know if they find dead deer, especially any near water,” said Tom Cooley, DNR wildlife pathologist.

Where there is one dead deer, there are likely to be more, but hopefully the outbreak is light, as it is in most cases. When the first hard frost hits in late October or early November, it will kill the midges that transmit EHD to deer via bites.

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.