Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tough Year for Whitetail Deer...

..And a tough year for the deer-hunter too.

Though for us clad in orange, and carrying guns, thing were not quite as tragic of course...

- Montana' this past year recorded one of its worst ever EHD outbreaks' affecting whitetail deer; and in many regions kill-offs were as many as 50% of the herd!

EHD stands for 'epizootic hemorrhagic disease'; which is why hard-core deer hunters call it "EHD" or "blue tongue"; otherwise we'd all sound smart instead of crazed lunatics obsessed with killing big bucks for their antlers.

While death to said deer is ultimately the goal in 'deer hunting', no one wants to see any animal die this way; but such is nature; and she's often as cruel as any of us...(bitch)!

EHD does a real number on deer and its not kind as far as ailments go. It's a virus transmitted to white-tailed deer by biting gnats and once infected takes the life of the deer within a week to ten days usually. Its not transmitted from deer-to-deer as many think, but shows more of an impact when the biting gnats hit in regions over-populated with whitetail deer..as many parts of Montana are (or were) before the outbreak.

With this year’s wet spring and late fall (in Montana), it created conditions for large numbers of the midges to hatch and linger late into the season.

This meant dead deer were found quite regularly by hunters and even anglers this year; as the infected deer go to water as a way to replenish in response to a depletion in body fluids caused by hemorrhaging. Some were even reported found dead beneath the waters' surface; as its theorized they submerge themselves 'to fight off the fever associated with the infection'.

Obviously some survived (as pictured in this PE) and even deer-hunting continued as Montana has had a large population of whitetail deer and they will certainly rebound.

Muledeer,antelope, and elk, also are affected sometimes, but apparently have better imune systems to fight the disease than do whitetails (or so I read).

Some of this was from memory when I dabbled in Fish and Game, but since my memery is about as good as my spelling I gathered a bit too from recent news articles in the local paper to share what we now know about this outbreak.

Some parts of Montana, like the area I actually live in (Region 3), saw no EHD outbreak and wildlife biologists are still trying to figure that one out; as to 'why we are immune on this side of the hill' (Bozeman Pass).

Common sense - at least from my southern perspective would steer toward it being balls cold most of the damned year, but aparently that's not it.

Regardless of the actual reason, I'm still using EHD as an excuse as to why I did not take a monster trophy buck this season; nor an elk either (big surprise on that last part).

In fact, I didn't even take a doe for the freezer since a dozen people offer me venison (and occasionally bison and elk) every year; and then of course had to dodge at least five of the crazy things standing in my driveway - when I pulled in from my last 'hunting trip'.

So I might have to fill one of these 309 antlerless surplus-tags before the year is completely up I guess...just for the sake of doing my part on earth as a deer hunter (can hunt them in Region 3 till Jan 1)?!


Oh and for the record: I'd have shot any of these bucks I photographed above (except that little fella in pics 3 & 4), but of course these bad boys all stood there boldy and only let me take their pictures; as they knew they were on private property and I couldn't shoot them with my gun.

- That and these were all taken within the last three days of the season and the rut had turned otherwise elusive bucks into hormone crazed morons.