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Help wildlife the responsible way.

Dear Bowhunter,

This letter is in response to the letter, "When Food is Scarce," in the Between Bowhunters section of the December 2005 issue of Bowhunter. Amanda from Little Falls, New York, expressed her desire to care for her local whitetail herd by feeding them in the winter. She, like many hunters, loves the very animal that she hunts, and has a strong urge to help them survive during the winter months. I want to take the time to say that in no way am I picking on Amanda in my letter to you. Rather, I would like to thank her for helping to make it clear that hunters do care about and respect game.

It's Amanda's approach to feeding the local herd that is my concern. There are two main reasons for not feeding deer. The first reason is to limit the transfer of communicable diseases like tuberculosis, CWD, and cranial abscessation syndrome. The second reason is that we can alter a whitetail's ability to properly digest and absorb nutrients. A whitetail deer is a ruminant (meaning like cattle, they have a four-part stomach that requires chewing and bacterial breakdown for digestion to occur). What many people are not aware of is that during different parts of the year the bacteria inside the stomach changes to match up with the food it needs to process. A whitetail can actually die of starvation with a full stomach due to the lack of the proper bacteria. Mother Nature does a good job of assisting the whitetail in the transformation period from spring to summer to fall and eventually winter. Those people feeding deer in the winter could, in many cases, be causing a change in metabolism and bacterial stomach contents, thus actually causing a deer to starve.

I encourage Amanda and others to feed deer, but do it the correct way. Take that same energy and money you wanted to use during the winter months and apply it in the spring and summer. In my neck of the woods, I often find areas that are choked out by small saplings. Try cutting these trees down to two feet. Browse will often sprout off of the trunks. If you're lucky, you'll find some soft or hard mast trees to leave standing. Apply a few tree spikes around these trees. Raking leaves will allow natural growth of the forest floor. I could go on and on, but my point is learn and apply conservation to the property in your area. You already help keep the whitetail numbers in check through hunting. Why not go one step further and spend a little time helping the woods provide more natural foods for deer and other wildlife.

Phil Wilson, Frewsburg, NY
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Title Annotation:Between Bowhunters: Letters From Bowhunter Readers
Author:Wilson, Phil
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:May 1, 2006
Previous Article:Really!
Next Article:Reader has idea for how-to article.

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