This respected group holds an annual conference whereby biologists, managers and researchers present their recent findings on deer biology and management. The 2014 meetings just wrapped in Georgia. I followed QDMA Tweets from the conference, #SEDSG. Some science hot off the press:
• Researchers at Auburn University found that bucks both young and old react negatively to hunting pressure in the same way. They also found that bucks are 4 times more likely to come to a food plot in daylight on opening day as later in the season.
• Troubling finding #1: EHD disease continues to expand northward in the U.S. and further outbreaks are expected. Furthermore, new strains of EHD are showing up and problematic because individual deer and the herds have no natural immunity to the new strains.
• Troubling finding #2: In a South Carolina study, predators killed 35 of 65 collared fawns (coyotes got 30 of them)….A University of Georgia study says the coyote impact goes beyond eating fawns. In areas with lots of coyotes, where the predation risk is real, deer have to be more vigilant, and they spend spend less time foraging and resting (and so they are more stressed)….A Forest Service study in S.C. finds that intensive, high-cost coyote trapping has only marginal benefits for fawn survival….Consensus from the researchers on coyotes: The simplest option to deal with high fawn predation is to reduce the doe harvest in certain areas (which impacts hunting seasons and hunting opportunities).
• Bucks in a Pennsylvania study had home ranges that averaged 1,000 acres, but their core areas (sweet spots where deer feel safe and comfortable and spend the most time) averaged only 142 acres.
• Most intriguing finding: A study at a government facility in southern Maryland that allows some hunting, found that bowhunters using mechanical broadheads recovered 91% of deer shot, versus 82% of deer shot and recovered by hunters using fixed-blade heads. I hope to dig deeper into this full study when it becomes available and report back to you.
Good point Maverick. I’m not sold that mechanicals lead to more recoveries. I have found plenty of dead deer over the years with mechanical broad heads inside of them that didn’t expand (and hence, were never recovered). I mean we’re comparing 91% to 82% in that study at a government facility in S. Maryland. There are, in my opinion, too many variables to say that there is a 9% (seriously?) improvement in deer recoveries by using mechanical broad heads. How large is this facility in Maryland? How many years did they research this? Were all of these arrows hitting the exact same spot on the deer itself? Again, just MHO, but to me this is something that would have to be sampled in a huge area, with arrows hitting the deer in the lungs/heart/chest area, over several years, and across a broad range of habitat types, at similar distances, etc. I don’t know…
I enjoyed this post Mike, it’s always nice to get some facts rather than just peoples assumptions of what’s going on in the whitetail world. These new strains of EHD are horrible news for whitetail populations. I knew coyotes always killed a lot of fawns, but to think that they take nearly 50% of a fawn crop is crazy! Is anyone else surprised that the recovery rate is higher using mechanical broadheads? I always figured the fixed heads were a better bet considering that the mechanical may have technical failures..guess not.
I can not remember the exact figures, but similar home ranges and core areas were found in initial studies using the first radio collared deer in the early 1960’s at Univ. of Ga. The new study only reconfirmed what has already been published over a half century ago. I wish I could remember the title and authors, but R.L. Marchinton was one of the lead professors in the students MS study. They were reviewed at the Southeastern Wildlife Meetings in Charleston, SC., and were the first of many revolutionary findings with radio collared deer. A waste of money in both studies if you ask me.
For the last two years I have noticed a major behavioral change in the deer I’m hunting; esp. on the one property. Last year was the first year in which I got multiple coyote images/videos on my trail cameras. Prior years I would get an occasional coyote, but very rarely. I have theorized that the deers’ spooky, all-year behavior was in part due to coyote predation/stress. Last summer it was difficult getting images of bucks in spots where I’ve always gotten images of them. Although I understand the backing off of does to increase recruitment, I will kill as many of those canines as humanly possible. The way I look at it, every coyote you kill is one less trying to get fawns, etc. The problem is that you have to continue to kill those predators every year and never let up.
No kidding! It took a bunch of scholars to figure all that out.
I really like the cutting edge break through from Auburn researchers…..”bucks are 4 times more likely to come to a food plot in daylight on opening day as later in the season.” I surely hope some of tax dollars weren’t given to them in grant form to fund that earth shattering news!