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.