All this rain we’ve been getting here in Virginia—and across the East and Midwest—is great for deer, and at this stage of the pre-season, barring any big breakouts of disease, I’m predicting a banner hunting year in most all of whitetail range.
It is mid-July and the woods and fields are greener and lusher than I have seen them in years. The corn is emerald and tall. The habitat’s natural food and cover are in peak condition, and have been since spring. For months deer have consumed nutritious forbs and new-growth browse, which are high protein. The woods are a jungle of green, with good cover everywhere.
With does healthy and producing good milk from eating right, they have dropped a good number of fawns. All the lush cover has helped hide the little deer from predators, so fawn recruitment should be good to great across the country.
To reach their genetic potential, both rack-wise and body-wise, bucks need an abundance of nutritious food, which they have this year. Research conducted in South Texas found that spring rains explained 70% of the year to year variability in buck antler size. The study found that there can be a 20-inch shift in rack score from a wet year to a dry year!
The wet spring/summer of 2015 will also have a positive effect on the health and antler growth of immature bucks on down the road, especially if next spring is wet or at least not in drought. Biologists say that buck fawns born during a wet spring with lots of food, and when the mothers are healthy, will begin solid skeletal growth. It takes 3 years to complete skeletal growth in a deer, so a couple of good, wet years allow a buck with potential to get off to a big start.
From a hunting perspective, one thing to keep in mind though: The more good food that is available for deer, the less bucks have to move to eat. The less they move, the tougher they are to see and kill. We know we’re going to have good crops and browse…if it’s a good acorn year too in your area, seeing and shooting a good buck, especially with your bow, could be tough.
But heck, that makes it more fun and challenging.
How’s the habitat looking where you live and hunt?