First Trail-Camera Pictures of 2017!

The pictures are starting to roll in. Take a look and get fired up for the 2017 deer season, which will be here before you know it. Please send me your camera photos to share; I’ll never reveal the location of where your big buck is—we just want to see him and enjoy him, and dream. Plus, if we post your cam picture on the blog, we’ll send you a BIG DEER hat.

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Our friend Kim sent the pictures above. Of the 5-year-old “Splitz” (image 2) Kim reports: “last year is the first year his right antler split.”

Actually, that is pretty common. Biologists say that most whitetail bucks have non-typical genes in their blood, but splits, stickers, etc. don’t start to show until a buck matures to 4 or 5 years old.

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This VA buck from my friend’s farm seems to say, “Hey man, time to refresh the minerals!

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Jack named this 8-point buck Clubby.

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Surprise! This young bear walked past the same camera as Clubby an hour later.

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This is one of the best of 30 bucks that our friend Danny has captured on camera this summer. “I got 5,000 pictures in June alone, most of them bucks,” Danny said. Read more on this 30-buck phenomenon in a later post, once I research it a bit more.

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My buddy Tanner set his camera near his tree stand, and almost immediately a bachelor group showed up beneath it, including the big-bodied drop-tine. I hope he sticks around and Tanner gets him!

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Finally, our TV producer Justin stepped out his front door and snapped a pic of this WILD buck feeding on his Asiatic day lilies. Can you say brow tines! Come to find out, it is not uncommon for bucks to come down out of the hills and summer in the town limits.

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.

 

Indiana Deer Covered With Warts

IN deer wartsCameron sent me this image via Twitter: I was driving down the road and saw her. Got out and walked within 15 yards and filmed with my phone.

I retweeted the picture and dozens of people want to know what is going on here.

Biologists say that these growths, commonly called “deer warts,” are cutaneous fibromas and they are caused by a virus. The virus could be transmitted from one deer to another by biting insects, just like bluetongue is transmitted.

The warts are hairless tumors that can be found on any part of the skin, but they rarely extend below the hide. They are usually temporary on the body and can vary from 1/2 to 8 inches in diameter, or even larger. The tumors are rarely fatal unless they grow large enough to interfere with an animal’s vision, breathing or eating. This doe has a bad case of warts and might die because her vision is impacted.

Biologists say these growths are not all that uncommon on whitetail deer in the summer. But I have spent 40 years observing and hunting deer and have never seen an animal like this.

Have you ever seen a deer with warts?

While the growths look gross, scientists say deer with these skin tumors are still edible. No report of human infection from cutaneous fibromas has been documented. The concern for hunters would be from an animal with an extensive bacterial infection, like this one. Common sense would tell you not to eat this doe.

How Many Deer Are Hit By Cars Each Year?

IMG_2349QDMA biologist Kip Adams posted on Instagram: Man I hate to see this. This buck got hit earlier this week just down the road from my house. In the U.S. we hit nearly 1.3 million deer annually with our vehicles. About one in every 23 deer alive will get hit this year, that’s a crazy statistic! Spring (fawning) and fall (rut) are the worst times for deer-car accidents so slow down and be safe.

 

It’s Official: Bass Pro Shops Buys Cabela’s

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Fox business reports that the merger of Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s (CAB) has received the go-ahead from antitrust regulators. In a filing with the SEC, Cabela’s said Wednesday the Federal Trade Commission informed the company earlier this week that it concluded its investigation of Bass Pro’s $4.2 billion buyout. Cabela’s shareholders will vote on the deal July 11. The transaction is expected to close later this summer.

We all knew this was coming… So now, what does it mean for your favorite outdoor company and store, which for readers of BIG DEER is definitely Cabela’s?

There will be changes, anytime a sale goes through that happens. But I believe Bass Pro’s Johnny Morris, who said last year, ““We look forward to continuing to celebrate and grow the Cabela’s brand alongside Bass Pro Shops…as one unified outdoor family.

“I have enormous admiration for Cabela’s and the remarkable brand and business they have built. Cabela’s is a great American success story.”

As of now, the plan is to keep the Cabela’s headquarters in Sidney, Nebraska, and it is business as usual for all Bass Pro and Cabela’s stores. Bass Pro Shops has some 99 stores and employs about 20,000 people. Cabela’s has 19,000 employees and 85 stores in the U.S. and Canada.

A little bird in the industry told me that the new strategic plan is to build upon the incredibly strong hunting brand and market that Cabela’s has built, while their fishing and boat presence will be contracted. Bass Pro Shops will still have a hunting presence, but will carry on and continue to grow with its massive fishing and boating business.

We will have to wait and see, but that makes perfect sense to me.