Minn: Rare Two-Headed Fawn

minn 2 headed fawnFrom Fox News: A mushroom hunter’s discovery of a conjoined white-tailed fawn in a Minnesota forest two years ago is being hailed by researchers as a landmark case among oddities in nature.

The fawns, which were stillborn, are believed to have been the first recorded case of a conjoined two-headed deer to have reached full term and born by their mother, according to a study recently published in the science journal American Midland Naturalist.

“It’s never been described before,” Lou Cornicelli, co-author of the study and a wildlife research manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, told FOX9. “There are a few reported cases of two-headed ungulate fetuses, but nothing delivered to term. So, the uniqueness made it special.”

Laboratory tests and scans performed on the carcass, which had been preserved and frozen for study, revealed the fawns had two head-neck regions joined along the spine. The fur, heads, and legs were normal, but the animals had a shared liver, extra spleens, and gastrointestinal tracts. Scientists said that with that anatomy they could never have survived.

Another example of how amazing and awesome nature is: The mushroom hunter found the two-headed fawn just hours after it/they were stillborn. As you can clearly see in the picture, they were in a serene and natural state and groomed, indicating the mother doe had tried to care for them after delivery.

When Are Deer Fawns Born?

fawns 1When will whitetail fawns start showing up this spring?

A Pennsylvania study found that more than 80% of adult does are bred during a 6-week period from late October through the first week of December, with most of them conceiving in mid-November.

From conception date, the whitetail deer has a gestation period of 200 days.

Fast forward to the next spring and do the math. According to my calculations, in regions where the deer breeding season occurs from late October through early December (most of the country), more than 80% of fawns will be born from approximately May 12 through June 25, with the vast majority of little deer being dropped from May 29 through June 10, give or take a few days.

In late May and early June, there is plenty of food in the woods, which allows does and fawns to pack on pounds quickly. After 10 weeks, fawns are responsible for feeding themselves.

The Pennsylvania researchers point out that in an area with a late October to mid-December breeding season, the probability of a fawn being born after August 2 is 2%; after August 13 it drops to 1%. Two of every 100 fawns were conceived very late and are born very late the following summer.

Mule Deer: Why Antler-Point Restrictions Don’t Work

mule deer 2 ptMost western states and provinces have, over the years, implemented some type of antler-point restrictions during mule deer hunting seasons. On the surface, antler restrictions make sense: If by law hunters cannot shoot young fork-horns and other immature bucks, those deer will grow older and bigger next year and the next. More mature bucks is good for the health of any herd, right? And most hunters want to shoot a deer with big antlers, right?

Not necessarily, say experts with the Mule Deer Working Group (MDWG). These researchers and biologists report that antler-point restrictions have proved to have limited potential to produce more trophy bucks, and they result in a myriad of challenges and problems. For example:

– Available data and experience from across the West suggest that antler restrictions result in no long-term increase in either the proportion or number of mature bucks in a herd, or the total deer population. Antler-point restrictions have been shown to actually reduce the number of trophy bucks in a herd over time by protecting only smaller-antlered young bucks.

–Antler-point restrictions do not increase fawn production or herd population size.

–Antler restrictions dramatically reduce hunter participation, success and total harvest. They can cheapen the value of young bucks by changing the threshold for success from “any buck” is good to a quest where “only a big buck will do.” Antler point restrictions may discourage hunters (especially beginning and young hunters) because it can be difficult to locate and identify legal deer.

WORST UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCE: Antler-point restrictions increase the number of deer shot and illegally left in the field; this can be significant and has been documented in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Nevada, and Montana.

The MDWG says that after decades of disappointing results, most western states and provinces have discontinued statewide antler-point restrictions (although some local jurisdictions still have them in limited areas). The two main reasons for abandoning them are: (1) unacceptable accidental-illegal kill, and (2) increased harvest mortality focused on the very age class of buck of it was intended to promote.

Today, according to the MDWG, most states and provinces have concluded that rather than antler-point restrictions, the best way to improve mule deer numbers (including number of mature bucks) and buck:doe ratios is to reduce the annual harvest through 1) a limited-quota licensing system that decreases overall total buck harvest while allowing for some level of doe harvest; or 2) setting a very short hunting season in early fall (before rut) when mature bucks are less vulnerable.

Bottomline for those of you planning a mule deer hunt anywhere out West: Anticipate more draw/quota hunts, and perhaps more and shorter seasons in early to mid-October.

Photo above: The problem with antler-point restrictions. While this 2-point buck is fully mature and should be fair game for any hunter, he would off-limits in an area where “one antler must have 3 points.” Also, while an antler-point restriction rule would unnecessarily protect this older buck, all he’ll ever be antler-wise is a 2-point… most hunters are looking for at least a mature 3-point and more typically a big 4.

Top 8 Bowhunting States

ct buck brianA ton of interesting information in the QDMA’s 2018 Whitetail Report, including this: Can you guess the top 8 states where the highest percentage of the annual deer harvest is with bow and arrow?

#1 New Jersey: Estimated 2016 total deer harvest 49,246; 58% or 28,563 with bow.

#2 Connecticut: Estimated total deer harvest 10,412; 50% or 5,206 with bow.

#3 Ohio: Estimated total deer harvest 182,169; 45% or 81,976 with bow.

#4 Massachusetts: Total deer harvest 12,249; 42% or 12,249 with bow.

#5 (three states tie): Kansas: Total harvest 84,065; 37% or 31,104 with bow.

Illinois: Total harvest 144,304; 37% or 53,392 with bow.

Michigan: Total harvest 341,287; 37% or 126,276 with bow.

Mills Buck 172 6/8: Virginia’s No. 4 Archery Non-Typical

wayne mills giant buck 2016Yesterday I took this picture of Wayne Mills and the incredible buck he shot in Rappahannock County, Virginia, in October 2016.

I had seen pictures of this deer, but to see it in person was amazing. Main-frame 12-point with split brow tines…21 score-able points and stickers for character. Net 172 6/8 non-typical. Number 4 all-time in Virginia according to the latest Pope and Young book.

We spend a good 2 hours filming a video segment with Wayne and this giant, and you’ll see and hear the story on a new episode of BIG DEER TV this fall. Here’s the written version in Wayne’s words, which first appeared on the blog in November 2016:

I was given permission on a new place and began scouting it in early October.

The set up was classic. There was a good bedding area in a deep ravine, consisting of multiflora rose, honeysuckle and cedar trees with a small stream running through it.  There are pasture fields on both sides of this bedding area, which is about 100-200 yards wide and 300-400 yards long. Downhill from the bedding area there is a strip of hardwoods 60-80 yards wide, running perpendicular to the ravine with another pasture beyond.

When I scouted it, I noticed white oaks and several persimmon trees loaded with fruit.  The oaks were heavy with acorns.  I set my stand 20 yards off an outside corner of one of the pastures in an area with heavy trails crossing about 25 yards away.

The heat wave we had been having kept me out of the woods for a week after I hung the stand.   I also knew that the wind had to be from the North to hunt this setup. On Friday, October 21st we had a front moving in and forecast for winds to swing from the SW to the North after the front came through.

I got in the stand about 2:00 and waited for the shift in the wind.  By 3:30 the wind had started blowing from the North.  About 4:30 ruckus from birds alerted me to a gray fox moving along the field edge.   At 5:15 the birds alerted me again, and I looked toward the ruckus to see a deer moving through the brush about 40 yards away, coming out of the bedding area.

I saw a rack.  At first look, it looked unusual.  I saw that it had good mass and spread and attached my release to my bowstring and no longer looked at his rack.  As the deer moved down the trail it stopped and looked to its left.  I saw a doe feeding under some oaks.  My thought was “oh no, don’t go that way.”   The buck continued moving along the same trail and passed 17 paces from my stand, offering a broadside shot.

I drew when he stepped behind a tree and shot as he reappeared.  It was a steep angle, and I hit the deer high in the shoulder. He went right now, and expired right there. When I got to him I was awestruck…obviously buck of a lifetime.—Wayne Mills

Postscript: The buck weighed 195 pounds field-dressed. “I weigh 150, so getting him out of that ravine was a chore,” Wayne said. “After I wrestled him out of the ravine to a field, I got a tractor and loaded him into my truck.”