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Deer Management 2009: top researchers gathered in Virginia to discuss the status of whitetail deer and deer hunting in America.


THE SOUTHEAST DEER STUDY GROUP meets once a year to present and discuss the latest deer research. Though the groups name implies a regional meeting, for the past 32 years it has been far more than that. This year the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, or VDGIF, regulates fish and wildlife in Virginia. It is managed by the Director of Game and Inland Fisheries and overseen by the Virginia Board of Game and Inland Fisheries.  and the Conservation Management Institute at Virginia Tech hosted this professional conference in Roanoke, Virginia Roanoke is an independent city located in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The city of Roanoke is adjacent to the city of Salem and the town of Vinton and is otherwise surrounded by, but politically separate from, Roanoke County. , and 133 deer scientists from all over the country presented 37 papers on whitetail deer.

As always, Bowhunter Magazine was there, and our purpose in attending is to bring you the latest deer research that impacts you and your hunting. We can't report on all the papers (it would take too much space), but here is our annual summary of the "good stuff."

Responsive Management is a wildlife survey company in Virginia, and their president, Mark Duda, presented some interesting data on public attitudes about hunting (spanning 26 years). For example, our motivation to hunt has changed. In 1980, 43 percent of hunters listed "meat" as a primary reason to hunt, but in 2006 that had dropped to only 16 percent. Duda noted that hunting participation is decreasing because of an aging society, less access (and less land to hunt on), and less free time (our lives are more structured than they once were). In addition, urbanization is diluting the hunting culture. Note that 92 percent of all youths who hunted in the past year came from a hunting family. Since hunting families are decreasing, the future does not look good.


To continue the urbanization problem a bit further, Clayton Nielsen from Southern Illinois University Southern Illinois University, main campus at Carbondale; state supported; coeducational; est. 1869, opened 1874 as a normal school, renamed 1947. It has a center for archaeological investigation and a fisheries research laboratory. There is also a campus at Edwardsville.  talked about the expansion of human development and the related impacts on deer management. Consider the fact that anything within 300 yards of a human structure is a hunter-restriction zone in Illinois. That may not sound too bad, but in fact, this restriction eliminates 31 percent of Illinois from hunting. This is a sign of the times A Sign of the Times was a 1966 single by Petula Clark. Written by Tony Hatch, the uptempo pop number juxtaposed Clark's driving vocals with a powerful brass section. She introduced the tune on the Ed Sullivan Show on February 27, 1966. , and this phenomenon is only going to get worse in most states.

We are also seeing a huge change in harvest trends. Kip Adams, with the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA QDMA Quad-Division Multiple Access
QDMA Quantitative Debris Monitor Mission Alert
QDMA Quick Direct Memory Access
), presented data showing that from 1999 to 2005 the nationwide percentage of yearling yearling

an animal in its second year of age, e.g. yearling cattle, yearling filly, yearling colt.

yearling disease
rinderpest in wildebeeste in the Serengheti.
 bucks in the harvest declined from 51 percent to 45 percent. Doe harvests increased by 10 percent, and buck fawn harvests declined. Twenty-two states now have some form of antler-restriction program. Indeed, times are changing.

And, relative to urban deer hunts, look at what is happening in Howard County, Maryland Howard County is a county located in the central part of the U.S. state of Maryland, between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.. It is considered part of the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area.  (between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.), where there are over 1,000 people per square mile. There, Phil Norman has been running various hunts on county parks since 1998. While animal-rights protestors oppose the hunts and claim to represent all citizens, a 2008 phone survey showed that 83 percent felt that management hunts were the only viable option to curtail deer numbers. Considering the location, this represents huge support for hunting and for the safety of such hunts.

A company called Eccologix presented data showing why the urban public likes these bowhunts. They work! The next time an animal-rights group tries to prevent an urban hunt in your town, show them some data. In 2007, Eccologix-certified bowhunters in a suburb of Philadelphia took 568 deer, of which 551 were does. Since harvesting does lowers deer numbers, and that is the objective in these urban hunts, it is obvious that bowhunters can get it done.

One final bit of information on the human dimensions side--Susan Guynn talked about a course she now teaches at Clemson University designed to introduce women to hunting. Consider that since 1991 hunting license sales in the United States have decreased by 11 per cent but women participation in hunting is up nine percent. Sounds like it's the right time for that college course!

Now, let's look at the deer. Researchers at North Carolina State University History

Main article: History of North Carolina State University
The North Carolina General Assembly founded NC State on March 7, 1887 as a land-grant college under the name North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts.
 and Chesapeake Farms in Maryland presented a very interesting paper on intracranial intracranial /in·tra·cra·ni·al/ (-kra´ne-al) within the cranium.

Within the cranium.
 abscessation. Before you turn the page, hear me out on this one. Intracranial abscessation is an abscess abscess, localized inflamation associated with tissue necrosis. Abscesses are characterized by inflamation, which is due to the accumulation of pus in the local tissues, and often painful swelling.  on the outer linings of the brain caused by bacteria which leads to nine percent (nationwide) of all the natural mortality of bucks, especially older bucks. In a five-year period, they found abscesses in nine (35 percent) of 26 necropsied bucks that were over 2.5 years of age on Chesapeake Farms on Maryland's Eastern Shore. However, they did not find the infecting bacteria in 10 bucks examined from the King Ranch in Texas, but it's not known why. Somehow the bacteria gets from the environment into the buck's brain, and it is believed that an injury to the base of the growing antler antler: see horn.  in early fall, or a head injury during rutting activity, may be the cause. I talked to Mark Conners, wildlife biologist and manager of Chesapeake Farms, and he noted that there is irregular antler casting (the timing when antlers antlers

metaphorical decoration for deceived husband. [Western Folklore: Jobes, 395]

See : Cuckoldry
 drop) at Chesapeake Farms, and this bacteria and subsequent skeletal damage may be the cause. He notes that some sheds have a foul odor--indicating infection--and some also have parts of the pedicle pedicle /ped·i·cle/ (ped´i-k'l) a footlike, stemlike, or narrow basal part or structure.

1. A constricted portion or stalk.

 from the skull still attached. Abscessation is an interesting phenomenon and could impact efforts to get bigger bucks via management. I'm sure we will hear more about this disease in the future, and Bowhunter will bring it to you.

Remember the huge outbreak of hemorrhagic Hemorrhagic
A condition resulting in massive, difficult-to-control bleeding.

Mentioned in: Hantavirus Infections


pertaining to or characterized by hemorrhage.
 disease (HD) two years ago? Researchers in Virginia looked at factors that may allow the prediction of HD outbreaks. A midge midge, name for any of numerous minute, fragile flies in several families. The family Chironomidae consists of about 2,000 species, most of which are widely distributed. The herbivorous larvae are found in all freshwaters; the larvae of some species live in saltwater.  transmits the disease, and being able to predict the insect's emergence is the key. In Virginia, a low June rainfall means a better chance that there will be a late-summer outbreak of HD because that creates favorable breeding sites for the midge and diminishes food and water sources for deer, thus increasing stress.

Texas researchers at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute went to the King Ranch to learn if buck movement patterns in the rut were correlated with age, antler size, and body condition. They tracked 30 radio-collared bucks (at 15-minute intervals) and expected to find that older bucks would have larger home ranges, giving them increased contacts with does. However, the study showed that home-range size in the rut did not vary for bucks of different ages. They concluded that "The lack of strong relationships between several physical characteristics and movement patterns of bucks suggests large individual variation."

Speaking of movements, left Kolodzinksi of the University of Georgia Organization
The President of the University of Georgia (as of 2007, Michael F. Adams) is the head administrator and is appointed and overseen by the Georgia Board of Regents.
 followed 15 adult does in parts of Maryland where there were high deer numbers but near equal sex ratios. They found oscillating os·cil·late  
intr.v. os·cil·lat·ed, os·cil·lat·ing, os·cil·lates
1. To swing back and forth with a steady, uninterrupted rhythm.

 trends with three to five peaks every two weeks. These peak times differed for each doe, so moon or weather was not the cause of these movements. They did see 9 of 10 does making an excursion from their home range that lasted one full day during the rut and suggested that they were looking for Looking for

In the context of general equities, this describing a buy interest in which a dealer is asked to offer stock, often involving a capital commitment. Antithesis of in touch with.
 potential mates even when mature males were abundant.

Another study done in Oklahoma showed that moon phase, temperature, wind, relative humidity relative humidity
The ratio of the amount of water vapor in the air at a specific temperature to the maximum amount that the air could hold at that temperature, expressed as a percentage.
, and barometric pressure had little to do with deer movements. While other researchers in South Texas showed that hot temperatures definitely reduced daytime movement and forced deer to feed at night. What impacts deer movement in one area may be different in another area.

Finally, the evidence showing high impacts of coyotes on deer is increasing east of the Mississippi River. Research in Georgia compared two large areas, one where 23 coyotes and three bobcats were removed between January and August, and another area nearby where no predators were removed. In September, the fawn-to-doe ratio was 0.72 in the removal zone and 0.07 in the non-removal zone. Obviously, coyotes have an impact on fawn survival in that area.

There's more, but space won't allow us to cover it all. The good news is that next February 29 these deer biologists will meet again in San Antonio, Texas “San Antonio” redirects here. For other uses, see San Antonio (disambiguation).
San Antonio is the second most populous city in Texas, the third most populous metropolitan area in Texas, and is the seventh most populous city in the United States. As of the 2006 U.S.
, to add to our knowledge of whitetails. These meetings are open to anyone who wants to register, so if you're interested, you can get details from the Texas wildlife agency website ( See you in Texas!

By Dave Samuel, Conservation Editor
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Title Annotation:WHITETAIL SPECIAL 2009
Author:Samuel, Dave
Date:Dec 1, 2009
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