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Discussion Starter · #161 ·
The Real Does of the Deer Forest Study: Maternity Ward
FEBRUARY 16, 2021
Doe 12866, heavy with fawn, has made her way to State College after an all night trek. The only plausible reason for this movement is fawning. Why else would she leave her home range this time of year?
I mentioned birth site fidelity in the last episode of The Real Does. Birth site fidelity is the behavior of returning to the same location to give birth. Over her life time a doe she gets better at successfully raising fawns. And we know from our own research and that of others that fawns born in agricultural settings have a higher survival rate. We have documented collared does moving out of the forest and into surrounding agricultural areas to have their fawns.
Maybe Doe 12866 is following that trend. If she experienced success in fawn rearing here in the past, it is not surprising that she returned. It just happens to be over 6 miles away from home. Which, of course, begs the question of how she “stumbled” upon this area in the first place?
Does close to fawning chase away their yearling offspring. This is why we see a dispersal pulse in the spring. Males are the most notorious for dispersing with 75% of all yearling males leaving home and never returning. Nearly half of that happens in the spring. Females disperse at a much lower rate but all of it happens in the spring and those that don’t disperse do make forays. Killing time before they can go back home to mom.
Doe 12866 may have learned about this area by following her mother there but that isn’t a given from what we know about deer behavior. Maybe she found it as a yearling on a foray and filed it away? Regardless, this is where she decided to have her fawn.
Doe 12866 gave birth to a bouncing baby girl on May 30, Memorial Day of 2017.

Her hiding spot seems perfect for a fawn. However, this is not deep in the wilds of Penn’s woods. Here’s a picture of the crew as they were searching for “Rose” (the nickname the crew gave her).

Adult does normally give birth to 2 fawns but only Rose was found – close to the VIT. The datasheet of Rose’s capture notes that Doe 12866 gave birth in a thicket of multiflora rose, barberry, autumn-olive, and honeysuckle which was also Rose’s hiding spot. Doe 12866 wasn’t far from her baby either, only about 50 meters in the tangle of vegetation that was nearly impossible for the crew to get through.
Rose received a catlogger so we have movement information for her too! Check out the travels of mother and daughter during her first week of life. Keep in mind as you watch this video that the accuracy of the fawn GPS collar is not as good as the adult collar so it looks like she is always moving and sometimes in places that don’t make sense (like in a house or on the road).


And here are their movements in the second week of life.


This is what that woodlot looks like today.

The little woodlot that Doe 12866 used as a maternity ward is no more.
The saga of Doe 12866 doesn’t end here. She wore that GPS collar for a year. How long was she in State College? Did she go back home? Did she take her fawn?
-Jeannine Fleegle
Wildlife Biologist
 

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Discussion Starter · #162 ·
Deer Crew Diaries – Entry 21-4
FEBRUARY 18, 2021
[Comments in brackets are by Jeannine and Duane]
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From the Northern Crew:
We’ve been pretty busy with deer captures this week, but we’re seeing a lot of recaptures in the traps that we’ve been running for a while. One deer, in particular, who was first tagged as an adult buck in 2019, has been recaptured 6 times this year! [this is the very definition of a freeloader] In fact, we’ve caught him every morning for the last four days. He’s been trapped in a couple different traps, the furthest two being about three quarters of a mile apart. He’s usually bedded down when we first approach the trap, and he doesn’t put up much of a fight when we restrain him to let him go. He knows the drill. [Apparently, it’s not hard to pattern this adult buck]
We’ll be moving traps to some new lines where we will hopefully catch some new deer. One trail that has been closed to us due to logging is now open and past crews have had a lot of success there. The benefit of using the logging road is that we won’t be sharing it with snowmobile traffic and can use it even on the weekends, so we’re looking forward to that. However, we’re watching the weather as some winter storms are in the forecast that could make taking the trailer out difficult.
We also had our first truck break-down of the season [Wow, almost 2 months without a problem – and some readers said it looked like we had some nice trucks for a change this year? LOL]. One of the trucks developed a transmission fluid leak and had to be towed to the shop. It should be fixed by next week.
-Amanda
Northern Field Crew Leader
PGC Deer and Elk Section

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From the Southern Crew:
Hi all,
Although we are still pretty limited with where we can actually travel in the study area, we still managed to capture a few deer! A total of 5 deer in our Clover traps but we should have had 7 or 8 due to some unfortunate trap malfunctions. Based on the tracks beside one trap, the deer squeezed itself between our trap and the rhododendrons and must have bumped the trigger bar causing the door to shut early. There were still tracks around the trap so maybe we’ll get that one next time the trap is set!

The other deer got out because although the trap had been patched up a year or so prior, the rope was very brittle. The deer was able to break enough of the rope to slip out of the patch. When checking traps, we usually give them a good kick-and-shove to check the patches but, unfortunately, we missed that one. Good news is that the Clover is all fixed up and we are only about halfway through the season so should definitely be able to capture [and hold] another deer.
We are still constantly scouting and trying to drag new traps deeper into our study area. There are 2 roads in Rothrock that are well traveled and easy for us to trap but there are already collared deer in that area. With a few collars still needing to be deployed, we are concentrating our trapping efforts elsewhere until we can get them out.

We’re hoping that this new storm doesn’t accumulate that much snow because even with all 4 tires chained it has been rough going. The crew is still learning how to drive in the snow through some hard-learned lessons. Especially since these lessons usually end with anywhere between 20-60+ min of snow shoveling. The most difficult thing is that we spend a day or two making some nice ruts with the trucks but then a pack of snowmobiles comes through and essentially “erase” our trail. And we have to start all over again. But everybody is pretty pumped about being able to where a t-shirt this spring and show off all of their “field” muscles from shoveling pounds of snow, stacking clovers, and restraining deer!
Have a good week!
-Levi
Southern Field Crew Leader
PGC Deer and Elk Section
 

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Discussion Starter · #163 ·
The Real Does of the Deer Forest Study: Love and Loss
FEBRUARY 22, 2021
When last we left Doe 12866, she had fawned in the little State College woodlot 6+ miles from her established home range. The crew had quite a time locating little Rose, as they called her. The understory was thick and after much searching only one fawn was found. An adult doe having only one fawn is a bit unusual, but we cannot rule out the possibility of another fawn getting the best of the capture crew given the conditions.
When I say “little” Rose, I really mean it. Rose weighed 2.195 kg. That’s less than 5 lbs. A reproductive study done on captive deer showed that does fed a low nutrition diet produced half as many fawns with an average of 1.11 fawns per doe compared to those on a high nutrition diet and their fawns weighed on average 5.7 lbs.
Another study showed that natal body mass varied with doe age. Older does produce larger fawns. And single fawns were significantly heavier than twins.
Was Doe 12866 under nourished? Was she a “young” mother?
On June 18, Rose dies. She is collected for necropsy to determine cause of death. The necropsy was unremarkable. No signs of trauma. Only grassy digesta found in stomach. COD: Abandonment/starvation.
The southern study area had over a third of fawns die from natural causes so this is not anything out of the ordinary. And until Doe 12866 auditioned for The Real Does of the Deer Forest Study, we didn’t think much of this mortality.
But we have movement data for both doe and fawn here. Look at their movements during the last 4 days of Rose’s life. Notice anything?


Doe 12866 never leaves her fawn. The fawn survival study included cool stuff like catloggers to track fawn movements and saliva collection to measure stress by monitoring cortisol (a stress hormone).
Tess found that fawn survival probability decreased as cortisol concentrations increased. Compared to other fawns, Rose had the third highest cortisol level in the study. Given her cortisol level, Rose had a 50% probability of dying.
Retrospectively, Rose’s chances of surviving were slim to none. Very low birth weight coupled with high stress hormone levels tell me this fawn had something else going on beyond what we could see in a standard necropsy.
Doe 12866 was only mom to Rose for 18 days. Did she have another fawn that we just didn’t find on May 30? She stays in State College for the remainder of the summer. A couple of trips to the top of the ridge in July and again on Labor Day weekend maybe for a cookout but she goes right back to her woodlot.

Fall and breeding season are fast approaching. What will Doe 12866 do? Return to the state forest or live the college life?
-Jeannine Fleegle
 

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Discussion Starter · #164 ·
FEBRUARY 26, 2021

[Comments in brackets are by Jeannine and Duane]
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From the Northern Crew:
Trapping hit a lull this week while we prepare to move to some new trap lines. We had planned to set up one new trap line during the week and another on the weekend, but our plans were interrupted by a series of unfortunate events.
We got a few inches of snow overnight Tuesday, but we didn’t think it would cause much trouble – until we got back into the forest and realized it had been sleeting there for the past few hours! The consistency of the snow on the trails changed , and we kept getting stuck in areas that we used to be able to drive through with no problem. A big thanks to the DCNR trail groomers for pulling our trucks out of the snow twice this week!
It wasn’t all bad, though. While we were stuck, several groups of friendly snowmobilers stopped to see if we needed help — we had a few nice conversations about the project and the state forest, and even met someone who had volunteered on the Deer-Forest Study last year.
On top of the snow conditions, one of our trucks is still in the shop, and another one needs service before we can use it to tow traps out into the field. Next week seems like it’ll be more productive. Our goal is to set up two to three new traplines by the end of the week…if the deer keep coming to the bait and the trucks stay in working order. The trailer is loaded and ready to go tomorrow!
Amanda
Northern Field Crew Leader
PGC Deer and Elk Section

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From the Southern Crew:
Hi all,
This was a very slow week for deer captures in the Southern DFS area. A lot of that is due to us trying to plan around this weather and opting not to set traps for 3 nights this week. With weather calling for a foot of snow on Monday then an additional 8 inches on Wednesday night through Thursday, we decided not to have traps set those nights. We didn’t need a repeat of earlier this month when we set traps followed by 18+ inches that had us scrambling.
We were happy when that first foot of snow turned into freezing rain. It may have turned our traps into solid popsicles but at least we could still drive into them! It took some serious stretching of the net to get the doors to shut properly with all that ice. Some of the doors needed to have a thick birch or maple stick zip-tied to bottom so they were heavy enough to drop due to the ice build-up in the netting. Our deer trapping has still been limited to Rothrock State forest. We are anxiously waiting for some sleds so that we can finally access the Bald Eagle side of our study area.

This was also a bad week for leathermans. Somehow in the same day, 3 of the 4 of us all lost our leathermans at different points. Talk about having a little panic attack when you reach for where your multi-tool ALWAYS is and there is nothing but empty space! Thankfully it wasn’t all too hard to retrace our steps to find them. I sat mine on top of a tire while putting on chains and then drove away leaving it in a little hole in the middle of the road. Makayla did almost the same thing. She forgot hers on the hood and we found it 200 yards down the road. Bailey’s flipped out of her pocket while scouting some new sites. Sammi was the only one able to hold onto hers that day!

Have a good week!
-Levi
Southern Field Crew Leader
PGC Deer and Elk Section
 

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Discussion Starter · #165 ·
The Real Does of the Deer Forest Study: Holiday Drama and Life Lessons
MARCH 2, 2021
If you know anything about deer, you know that fall is a very important season in their life. I know I have said it multiple times on this blog, but I can’t stress it enough – the ultimate goal of every individual on the planet regardless of species is to perpetuate their genes. Because of this selfish trait, their genes and the species as a whole benefit.
Because there is more than one way to skin a cat, there are many approaches employed to successfully reach this goal. Colonial nesting (like my fav gal Wisdom, who by the way returned again this year and hatched a chick at the age of 70 earlier this month!), harems (elk and lions), spawning (salmon), dominance hierarchies (elephants and deer…sometimes) – are all useful techniques in this endeavor.
There are also nuanced differences within a species usually based on sex. Duane and I have written what feels like endless posts on male behavior and movements during the rut. I advocate for equal time for the sisterhood, so does have had their side of the story told as well.
Here’s the cliff note version of deer breeding: Bucks roam and does stay home.
The other key factor is timing. Which is ridiculously consistent. Peak breeding for deer in Pennsylvania is mid-November. And by this date, 40% of does are bred. By the end of November, 85% of does are bred.
So what of Doe 12866? When we last checked in, she had just returned to State College from an end of summer Labor Day cookout atop the ridge…and there she stayed until November 23!
Then Doe 12866, like many Americans, decided to travel home on Thanksgiving. She left early to beat the traffic (0300) and arrived 7 hours later.

But there must have been some family drama (again similar to American Thanksgivings across the country) because she didn’t even stay the weekend. Doe 12866 left less than 24 hours later taking 2 days to return to State College. She must have needed some time to cool down.
Having second thoughts about what she said to Aunt Ginny over the candied yams, she decided to go back and apologize but realized halfway home that the annual deer hunger games were underway. Aunt Ginny’s apology would have to wait!

Doe 12866 stays in State College through December 16. Once the hunger games are over, she travels back to her state forest home range and makes amends with Aunt Ginny staying for an extended visit. On Christmas, we get one location for her back in State College. Then on January 2, she shows back up in her original home range (Duane said she must have wrapped her collar in tinfoil as there are no locations to track her trips).
Doe 12866 last fully tracked trip to her state forest home range (Dec 16)
So other than traveling for the holidays, Doe 12866 stayed in State College ALL of breeding season waiting for her various dates to arrive. This means Doe 12866’s dates were State College frat boys and not princes of the forest. Whaaaa????
We’ve seen this type of home range split before. And we’ve also seen unrelated females captured at different locations with separate home ranges travel to the same location.
Understanding the “whys” behind these movements are impossible but there are 2 important lessons here. First, state forests are not deer havens encapsulating movements or even containing them. These are not migrating deer. But there is fluidity in their movements over the landscape to areas we might not consider important. Doe 12866 will never be able to fawn in her State College maternity ward again. She expended energy to get there. Deer do not do that lightly. It was obviously important for her.
The second is disease expansion. It is no secret that chronic wasting disease (CWD) is affecting a larger portion of Pennsylvania every year. We know about dispersal, what factors affect it, and the role it can play in disease spread. But what about the Real Does of the Deer Forest Study? If Doe 12866 were infected with CWD, she just carried it 6 miles north in less than one day. Bucks may have an inflated home range for a few months of the year, but I would argue does like 12866 may have a larger impact on disease expansion than any adult buck.
Our chronicles of Doe 12866 end on January 13 just short of a year from her capture date (we dropped off her collar due to a failing battery). As far as we know, she is still alive as no one has reported her (she was gifted ear tags worth $100 when she was captured). Where she fawns now is unknown but I’d bet real money that it’s going to take more than a housing development to deter this real doe.
-Jeannine Fleegle
All Posts in this series:
The Real Does of the Deer Forest Study: The New Norm?
The Real Does of the Deer Forest Study: Pregnant and On the Move
The Real Does of the Deer Forest Study: Maternity Ward
The Real Does of the Deer Forest Study: Love and Loss
The Real Does of the Deer Forest Study: Holiday Drama and Life Lessons
 

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Discussion Starter · #166 ·
Deer Crew Diaries – Entry 21-6
MARCH 4, 2021
[Comments in brackets are by Jeannine and Duane]
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From the Northern Crew:
At the end of last week, we had established two new bait lines that looked promising, and we hoped to have some traps out by the end of this week. However, the deer aren’t actually coming to the bait. A couple sites are doing well, so we put a trap out at one. The others have had deer visit once and then never again, or not at all. Interestingly, some of the areas we baited had heavy deer sign through last week but haven’t had any new sign since.
The abrupt disappearance of deer sign coincides with the change in weather – warmer temperatures and snow melting in some areas especially places that receive a lot of sun. Has this caused a change in deer movements? Either way, we’ll keep baiting those lines and hope deer hit the bait soon. Luckily, we’ve got another promising bait line ready for traps this week. We’re just waiting for snowmobiles to use to get back there.
Shoveling out the gate!
Speaking of snowmobiles, we had snowmobile training scheduled so we can use snowmobiles to access the harder-to-reach trapping areas. Everyone on the crew is looking forward to never getting a truck stuck in snow again (knock on wood)! With warmer weather in the forecast, we’re going to work as quickly as possible to get traps out along the snowmobile trails while the good trail conditions last.
We’ve had some concerns about one of our trucks producing a strong rubbery smell when it’s working hard in the snow. I have an oil change appointment for it and they’re going to check it out for us.
-Amanda
Northern Field Crew Leader
PGC Deer and Elk Section
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From the Southern Crew:
Hi all,
It’s been a good trapping week for us in the Southern Deer Forest study area! We were still only capturing deer in the Rothrock portion but plan on concentrating heavily in Bald Eagle next week. So this was our last big push for deer on that side. Our captures were a mixture of new (never been captured) deer along with a few 2021 recaptures but we have also had a handful of re-caps from previous years.
I don’t know the history of every deer we catch but we caught a doe that was still sporting the old silver tags that we previously used on some deer. I remember using these old tags back in my very first PGC position helping with fawn captures in 2015. Hopefully, we can get an update on where and when she was originally tagged! [she was captured in 2015 as an adult doe, which means she is at least 7 years old]

I’m sure you have noticed but we are going through a pretty dramatic spring thaw in the last couple of days. Due to the heavy amounts of slush in the road and the ice bed underneath, we still need to chain up our trucks. However, we have noticed that many people must also be getting a touch of ‘spring fever’ and are trying to drive into the state forest. We have had to help many people either dig their way out or simply provide instruction on how to drive in the conditions and where they can safely turn around to get out. Thankfully, we haven’t encountered a disabled vehicle that is blocking our way to a trap yet.
We have been trying to prepare for taking snowmobiles to check and set traps in Bald Eagle. We’ve got the snowmobiles but need a trailer for transport. Well, after digging it out and flipping it over to knock some snow off, the plywood deck of the trailer just fell off in large rotten chunks while the bolts holding it on were rust welded to the frame. After a quick trip to the hardware store and some help, we were able to make fairly quick work of getting the snowmobile trailer ready for duty.
Once all of our equipment was in order, we were able to attend snowmobile training with DCNR. Now that everybody is officially trained on the equipment, we can head out into previously abandoned portions of our study area and catch some deer!
-Levi
Southern Field Crew Leader
PGC Deer and Elk Section
 

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Discussion Starter · #167 ·
Murdered by Pirates?
MARCH 8, 2021
As we live through the reality of COVID winter, we know the safest place is home. We know who lives there. We know where the food is. We know the bottom step of the stairs is loose so take care when climbing up or down. Home is familiar. Home is stable. Home is secure.
To venture out into the world is a risk. The risk at the forefront of everyone’s mind is, of course, COVID-19 but the risk of leaving home was there before the pandemic. We face strangers, traffic, unfamiliar grocery stores, and uneven sidewalks every time we leave the house. Leaving home can be scary and dangerous.
A notable segment of the white-tailed deer population leaves home every year to face the unknown. Like Westley in the Princess Bride, many yearling deer set out to seek their fortune. About 75% of yearling males disperse and 12% of yearling females disperse in Pennsylvania. It is often assumed that many that embark on these epic journeys also share Westley’s fate – murdered by the Dread Pirate Roberts. Well, they probably aren’t murdered by pirates, but you get the point.
Yearlings encounter unfamiliar landscapes and roads and ring up an energy expenditure bill without knowing if they will be able to pay it.
Take this daring doe for example. She took 55 days to disperse, traveled 146 miles, and ended up establishing an adult home range only 17 miles from her birthplace. Check out the obstacles she encountered on her journey. She crossed I-80 twice!


Surely survival is lower for these explorers compared to those who remain at home.
The oodles of data in Pennsylvania allowed Eric Long (former graduate student at the Coop Unit) and colleagues to answer this question: Does natal dispersal decrease survival?
After analyzing data from 398 juvenile males and 277 juvenile females, the answer is no! Survival rates of dispersers did not differ from that of non-dispersers.

I was surprised to hear this but then Duane pointed out that if this is truly a high risk behavior with lower survival for those that participate, then why would it be so pervasive in the population? Yes, why would it? Particularly for yearling males – 75% of those set out to seek their fortune.
But just like Westley, turns out they aren’t murdered by pirates either! The high seas aren’t that dangerous after all. Yearling male dispersal is characterized as quick (often <12 hours), direct (no wandering, they pick a direction and go) and relatively short (median distance is just over 3.6 miles). Strategies that make leaving home less risky.
I guess the same can be said of us right. To stay safe, make your travels quick, direct, and short – and remember to wear your mask and wash your hands.
-Jeannine Fleegle
Wildlife Biologist
PGC Deer and Elk Section
 

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Discussion Starter · #168 ·
MARCH 11, 2021

[Comments in brackets are by Jeannine and Duane]
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From the Northern Crew:
The big news this week is that we took (and passed!) the snowmobile certification class which allows us to use snowmobiles for trapping work. We’ve been using snowmobiles all day, every day this week to check traps, bait sites, and move traps around, thanks to our handy snowmobile trailer. It’s certainly less comfortable than working out of trucks, but we’ve been able to access trails we weren’t able to get to for weeks, and we can work on the weekends without being concerned about our trucks competing for space on the trails with recreators. We have noticed high snowmobile traffic this weekend, as it might the last good weekend on the trails before the weather warms up. We’ll use the snowmobiles as long as we can, but with temps hitting the mid-50s for several days in a row next week, we probably won’t be able to use them long.

We’ve opened up traps on two new trap lines. We are working on targeting some new areas where the deer have been hanging out lately as potential new trap sites too. Many of our previous trap sites “dried up” as deer are moving onto south-facing slopes and into low, wet areas as the snow there starts to soften. The good news for us is that as snow depth decreases our ability to rocket net increases, and we put out a couple new cameras on promising sites this week.

So far we’re catching 50% recaptures in our new traps – all deer tagged in previous years. One deer, in particular, has a long history with the project. He was first captured in 2017 (and multiple times since) meaning he is at least 5 and a half. He was given a collar back then, but it was blown off. [More on this deer later!] I wonder how often we’ll see him this year! Every past capture data sheet marks him as “difficult to restrain”, and we found that to be true! He is probably the largest buck we’ve caught yet. We gave him his second GPS collar, so he’ll continue to provide data for the project.
-Amanda
Northern Field Crew Leader
Game Commission Deer and Elk Section

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From the Southern Crew:
Hi all,
Last week the crew and I were finally able to get back into the Bald Eagle State Forest side of our study area and begin trapping deer! With the snowmobiles all fueled up and all of the equipment we could possibly need, we rode out to check our 17 traps that we haven’t laid eyes on since the big snow dump at the beginning of February. Those first few days were a little miserable because it rained all day, and as you can imagine, working off a snowmobile in full rain gear isn’t the most enjoyable experience. However, due to the weather being so rainy there was nobody else out in the forest. No road sharing! It was perfect for everyone to get more familiar with operating the equipment.

A few of our traps still had some remnant deer sign around them but many of the deer quit coming since we hadn’t baited in so long. But with bait back in the traps, we were able to pull a handful of deer into our Clover traps and into our lives again.
For some reason we’ve been fighting a lot of false trips this trapping round so we have been finding some new ways to keep our traps from going off so easily but also not miss a deer. As of right now, many of our traps are rigged with sticks and string, and maybe even some extra pieces of wire. They might look ugly, but they should work!

Hopefully this warm weather doesn’t slow down the deer captures that much this upcoming week but the more the state forest roads melt, the easier it is for us to get around and the more traps we can set. We were finally able to get up into some of the larger log landings to scout and bait some prospective rocket net sites. I know my crew is pretty eager to get in some rocket net time and I’m hoping we can have one set up by the end of this week!
-Levi
Southern Field Crew Leader
Game Commission Deer and Elk Section
 

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Discussion Starter · #169 ·
Serendipity
MARCH 15, 2021
serənˈdipədē; noun; the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.
Research is a combination of a lot of things. Hard work. Creativity. Smart questions. Good ideas. Clever analyses.
There’s also some luck involved that arises in unpredictable ways.
The Deer-Forest Study is all the above and we have compiled a summary of what has been learned by design, what we have learned due to good fortune, and what we hope to accomplish going forward.
You can read all about it here, The Deer-Forest Study, 2013-2020.

And, as always, all our published deer research is available on the Publications page of this website.
-Duane Diefenbach
 

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Discussion Starter · #170 ·
MARCH 17, 2021

[Comments in brackets are by Jeannine and Duane]
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From the Northern Crew:
The landscape has completely changed in the last week with temperatures staying above freezing for nearly four straight days. The snow is almost completely gone in many areas, but stubbornly persisting in others. We had to move traps to follow the deer as they moved with the snowmelt. Now we’re seeing them move back into areas where we haven’t seen deer sign for weeks. We’ve been busy because of this running bait lines in almost 2/3 of the study area trying to pin down areas deer are currently using. We also put out our first two rocket nets, and hope to sit at one in the next few days.
We had to stop using snowmobiles at the end of last week mostly due to the trails being icy and one of our snowmobiles not having a studded track. The trails aren’t quite clear enough for the trucks to pass through without any issue though, and we’ve gotten stuck a couple more times. We did have to contend with a different sort of trail access problem this week – a tree down over one of the trails! With some sawing and a tow strap, we were able to break and move it.
Photos from our trail cams show two thieves eating our deer corn – a red fox and a gray fox! [Deer corn is never just deer corn]
Red Fox
Gray Fox
-Amanda
Northern Field Crew Leader
Game Commission Deer and Elk Section

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From the Southern Crew:
Hi all,
I hope that everybody got a chance to enjoy those few days of spring that we had last week. Thanks to the rising temperatures we were able to leave the sleds at the nursery and go back to working out of our trucks! We continued to rock our tire chains due to the ice, but it is smooth sailing compared to the snow from just a few weeks ago.

Even though spring is beginning to show itself in the forms of vernal pools, spotted newts, and blooming coltsfoot, we are still having good luck with our Clover trap line. It was very unexpected, but we caught 5 bucks in one day – 3 adults and 2 fawns! The crew and I are still a little bruised and muddy from that day but black and blues mark of a successful trap line. There haven’t been many deer coming to any of our rocket net sites so far, but with the better forest road conditions we are able to have a much larger trap line that stretches into both study areas.

As we continue to scout for new trapping locations, we are keeping our eyes out for sheds [my favorite springtime activity!]. So far, each member of the Southern trapping crew has found one. Now we just have to wait and see who is going to find their second shed of the year. One thing that grabbed our attention wasn’t a shed but a porcupine skeleton. The entire skeleton and skull were still relatively intact. We reconstructed the skull poking around for a minute or two to find all the teeth. We ended up finding every tooth except for the front incisors…oh well, back to trapping!

-Levi
Southern Field Crew Leader
Game Commission Deer and Elk Section
 

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Discussion Starter · #171 ·
The Wheels Fell Off
MARCH 23, 2021
We are all familiar with this phrase and probably used it more than once in the past year. Life was going along as usual last February until…you guess it…the wheels fall off the wagon.
I can most relate to this phrase while running a marathon – I’ve done this 3 times now, so I am familiar with the training and the effort it takes. However, even after 4 months of training that includes 20-mile long runs, the wheels fall of my wagon around mile 18 on race day and I question my life choices for the next 8 miles.
At home, at work, on race day – things are going according to plan then an unforeseen, unknown, or crazy thing happens and BANG! Your wagon is wheelless.
It happens in the field too, of course. Things are chugging along. There are the normal minor hiccups – a lost leatherman, truck repairs, weather woes, and the like. Then there is a string of odd happenings like several mortalities in a short period of time. Those always catch our attention but more often than not they are unrelated and unpreventable.
This time the wheels really did fall off the wagon. And I’m not talking about trapping mortalities or falling apart at mile 18.
I MEAN THE WHEEL ACTUALLY FELL OFF OUR WAGON!

The northern crew was going about their business moving traps when the wheel came off the trailer they were towing – not the tire, the whole wheel slipped off the lug bolts. The holes on the rim were worn so that they were big enough to just slip over the nuts and off the axle. I mean how does that happen?!?!?
Note that the crew, truck, trailer, and traps were all unharmed in this unfortunate event.
The trailer was abandoned on the trail for several days until we could get our wheel back on the wagon. Then it was back to business as usual…until the next wheel falls off.
-Jeannine Fleegle
Wildlife Biologist
Game Commission Deer & Elk Section
 

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Discussion Starter · #172 ·
Deer Crew Diaries – 21-9
MARCH 25, 2021
[Comments in brackets are by Jeannine and Duane]
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From the Northern Crew:
Despite winter being officially over, we’ve actually seen an increase in trapping success these last few days. Even several of our long-untouched bait piles are starting to get hit again. Our trailer spent several days on the bench while we did a few repairs, but we were able to get it fixed and move several new traps out into the field. We have just one more doe collar to put out, and with these new traps we will hopefully have it out by the end of the week. We’re aware that things could start to green up any day now, so we’re pushing ahead with as many traps as we can set.
We’ve sat at our rocket nets a couple times this week, but no success yet. We’ve seen deer, but it always ends with them blowing at us and running off, even when they’re directly upwind from us. We’re moving our nets around to some new spots where the deer hopefully aren’t as all-knowing.
MOULTRIE DIGITAL GAME CAMERA
In other news, the roads are so much better now that things are truly melting. We did have a mishap where the foot-thick ice on the trail broke underneath a truck, and we had to tow it out of the hole. There’s always some new way to get stuck!
We’re keeping our eyes peeled for sheds, but so far none have been found on the job – the techs have found two during their off hours, so there’s hope.
-Amanda
Northern Field Crew Leader
Game Commission Deer and Elk Section

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From the Southern Crew:
Hi all,
It’s been another slow week down here in the southern study area. Most of our Clover traps are being visited by squirrels, birds, and raccoons instead of deer. You’d be amazed how much corn a group of little dark-eyed juncos and chickadees can remove over a short period of time! They never seem to make it far though because you can see all the kernels of corn they drop in the bushes right beside our traps.
Since our clover traps aren’t producing, we are really focusing on our rocket net sites. We haven’t had a chance to capture deer with one yet, but with the help of our trail cameras we are able to really pattern the deer and attempt to put the odds in our favor. There are a few sites with tagged deer coming into them, but most appear to be adult females with a fawn or two.

Our goal as a crew was to capture 40 brand new deer for the 2021 trapping season and right now we are sitting at 33. Hopefully with a little more luck and some successful rocket nets in our future we’ll be able to hit our goal!
-Levi
Southern Field Crew Leader
Game Commission Deer and Elk Section
 

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Discussion Starter · #173 ·
An Old Friend
MARCH 31, 2021
Recaptures are a part of deer trapping. You read this in some of the crew diaries. Recaptures increase the longer a trap is in the same area and if you get a trap happy deer. Recaptures are kind of a wasted capture. Still takes crew time and energy but this has no project benefit.
Sometimes though recaptures can be fun and interesting. The northern crew recently got acquainted with a long time study participant.
Buck 12842 was first captured on Valentine’s Day in 2017 as an adult (minimum age of 2 years old in 2017). He was outfitted with ear tags and a GPS collar. Unfortunately, the collar was malfunctioning, so it was dropped shortly after. But as luck would have it, he wandered into the Clover trap again on March 27 and the crew outfitted him with their last buck collar. Two days later trapping season ended for the year.
Not much happens with deer in the summer on the Deer Forest Study. Long time blog readers know that if a deer lives through hunting season, it’s smooth sailing until the next hunting season. Buck 12842 lived through the summer as expected, but Duane received an email with a concerning photo of him on September 8, 2017. That collar was causing quite a bit of difficulty, so it was dropped on September 11.
As you can guess, this would not be the last time we would see Buck 12842. He visited twice in 2018; 4 times in 2019; and 4 times in 2020. Apparently, that collar mishap in 2017 didn’t deter Buck 12842 from pressing his luck.

Buck 12842 is at least 6 years old and his swagger is still intact as the 2021 northern crew got to meet the veteran study participant on March 6.
Amanda was pretty excited to learn the history of Buck 12842 and we were even more excited to learn that she fitted him with his second collar. She notes that he was so large and difficult to restrain even with 2 people that they decided to sedate him for everyone’s safety. Deer captured in Clover traps are not sedated as they are processed and released before drugs can adequately take effect.
So what secrets will be revealed with this new collar? We only have locations for Buck 12842 from March-September 2017. Will we see a difference 5 years later?
We’ve had bucks collared for multiple years before. Their movements are not that remarkable from year to year. It’s home and that’s where they stay. Of course, finding exactly what room of the house they are in come November or December is easier said than done. Buck 12842 hasn’t had a problem outsmarting all hunters in the area for the last 5+ years.
-Jeannine Fleegle
Wildlife Biologist
Deer and Elk Section, Game Commission
 

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Discussion Starter · #174 ·
Deer Crew Diaries – Entry 21-10
APRIL 2, 2021
[Comments in brackets are by Jeannine and Duane]
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From the Northern Crew:
This past week was fairly good for trapping despite being so late in the season. We’ve been enjoying working in the warmer weather, although the traps and trails are starting to get a bit muddy. The two big accomplishments we made this week were 1) our first successful rocket net capture and 2) getting our last collar out!

After three long, uneventful sits at rocket nets over the last week and a half, we finally had deer approach the bait just half an hour before we were going to head out for the night. We caught two adult does, both recaptures. Looking back at their capture history, we found that these are the oldest (known age) deer we’ve caught this season.
The doe we collared was first captured as an adult in 2013 and given her first collar in 2015. The second doe was also caught as an adult and given a collar in 2015. So the first deer is going on 10 years old this spring, at least, and the other is going on 8. You’d think a 10-year-old deer would be wise enough not to get caught in a rocket net with humans sitting in a blind just 100 yards away! [everyone has a bad day or a lapse in judgement]
It looks like this coming week will be our last for trapping before switching to FLIR surveys.
-Amanda
Northern Field Crew Leader
Game Commission Deer and Elk Section

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From the Southern Crew:
Hi all,
It is well into the slower portion of the deer trapping season but we had a great week down here in the southern deer forest study area! There were only 4 deer captures this week and of those, 3 were recaptures.
The one was an adult doe that had been collared previous to our 2021 trapping season. Her collar seemed a little bit loose an easy fix. We refitted with a slightly smaller setting and put some fresh new hardware on it. Although she had obviously been through this entire process before, she was still a very strong and capable doe that required our entire team.
That same day, 2 traps down the line, we captured a very squirrely adult male. I’m glad that I was on lead and went into the trap first because he might have been one of the strongest deer I’ve clover trapped in the 5 years I’ve been doing this! It was definitely worth the struggle because we were able to put our last male collar out! Good thing our crew functions like a well-oiled machine because once he was restrained, the process was smooth sailing. Everyone had doubts about getting that collar out but now it’s out there collecting sweet, sweet data.
Although we’ve been trying, we still haven’t had a successful rocket net night. The deer seem to be patterning well on our cameras until the night we sit there and they decide not to show up. Or, they come from a direction and we get busted. There are still a handful of nights left to get some rocket net sits in and we definitely plan on having some success in our future. Especially now that we are getting our set-ups a little more dialed in.
There was a mortality signal that the crew and I investigated in Bald Eagle state forest. The GPS point we had was close enough to a hiking trail and we were able to ‘cheat’ a little bit and hike in. But that only got us so far. It wouldn’t be working in central PA forests without a good ole bushwhack through mountain laurel and rhododendrons!

It’s pretty fun being out where not too many people venture. I mean, it’s not for everybody, but crawling on your hands and knees to navigate the twisting branches and relentless greenbrier is fun in its own special way. When we arrived at our GPS point the collar was right where it should be! [that’s a bit shocking]

Unfortunately, that was about all that was there. During our mortality investigation we only managed to find a few legs, 3 ribs, half a pelvis, both scapulas, and a chunk of hide. That doe definitely provided a few meals for all of the other creatures trying to make a living in that forest as well!
-Levi
Southern Field Crew Leader
Game Commission Deer and Elk Section
 

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Discussion Starter · #175 ·
Time to get ready!
APRIL 6, 2021
Last deer season may be a memory, but NOW is the perfect time to start prepping for next season. We’re not kidding.
Duane: Don’t wait until the ranges are busy and the clock is ticking to sight in your rifle with non-toxic ammunition. Ammo, especially non-toxic ammo, can be difficult to find at the last minute. Don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself. That’s the deer’s job.
Jeannine: Duane and I have been promoting the advantages of non-toxic ammo for a while now. But to make that switch, it requires planning. What better time than now?!?!
Want to see what removing lead from big game hunting can do? On April 8, Penn State Arboretum is hosting a virtual meeting featuring Chris Parish, Director of Global Conservation for the Peregrine Fund. Learn what lead did to the California condor and what less lead is doing now.
The Peregrine Fund is a founding member of the North American Non-Lead Partnership formed to expand the coalition of hunters, anglers and other conservationists dedicated to improving ecosystem and wildlife health by choosing non-lead options.
Chris Parish was featured in the documentary Scavenger Hunt which I saw in 2013. It completely changed my view of the use of lead ammo in deer hunting.
Duane: If you hunt and care about wildlife, now is the time to take the opportunity to reduce lead in the environment. Pennsylvania is home to eagles and vultures and other fabulous scavengers that are affected by lead poisoning. And Pennsylvania gun hunters harvested over 246,000 deer this past hunting season. That’s a lot of lead going into the woods, some of which inevitably ends up on your dinner table.
But I discovered another reason to use copper bullets, which is the minimal damage to meat. Copper bullets have much more controlled expansion and little fragmentation. The bullet in the photo is one that I recovered from a deer last year. It was 180 grains when it went in the deer and is now 178 grains. The lost 2 grains may simply be the missing plastic tip.

A kill shot to the chest requires placing the bullet right behind the deer’s front leg. Just an inch or so too far forward and a lead bullet will create lots of tissue damage to the front shoulder. With a copper bullet this tissue damage is greatly minimized.
I will never go back to lead bullets for this reason alone.
Check out the presentation on April 8 and the other resources linked in this post. Remember your actions DO make a difference.
-Duane and Jeannine
 

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Discussion Starter · #176 ·
Deer Crew Diaries – Entry 21-11
APRIL 8, 2021
[Comments in brackets are by Jeannine and Duane]
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From the Northern Crew:
Trapping slowed down this week, though we did have a few more captures to help us close out the season. The warm weather early in the week led to some muddy capture events – our bibs and coats are going to need a good wash over the weekend – but the weather turned cold again, and we actually got a couple inches of snow.

Over this trapping season we had 72 deer captures in the Susquehannock. Of those captures (which includes recaptures), 40 were adult bucks – about 55%. We had several adult bucks who came back again and again being recaptured many times. I guess these large bucks weren’t willing to pass up a free meal!

Leaving recaptures out of the equation, we caught 35 deer that were brand new to the project adding to the number of ear-tagged and collared deer running around the state forest. 12 collars were deployed, 6 on males, and 6 on females.
Now begins the effort of hauling all of the traps out of the forest and clean up of equipment. All four of us are looking forward to enjoying our first real weekend in months and some well-deserved time off!
-Amanda
Northern Field Crew Leader
Game Commission Deer and Elk Section

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From the Southern Crew:
Hi all,
We just finished up with our last week of trapping for the 2021 Deer Forest study season! We picked up an extra doe collar to attempt to put out but ever since we’ve had it, we have only captured adult bucks and fawns.

With our clover traps showing zero deer sign and being robbed of all corn from squirrels and raccoons, we focused all of our remaining efforts on rocket netting. The week was extremely slow with our only capture coming from a rocket net in Rothrock State forest. And guess what? It was another adult male!

This ended up being our only successful rocket net but not from a lack of effort. We sat on a net almost every night this week. There were a few opportunities to capture other deer while we were sitting but we could tell that the deer standing at the bait were NOT adult does which is what we needed. There a few times that we really had to restrain that itchy trigger finger and let the deer walk away in hopes that an adult doe would come back later that night.
There was even one net that had about 5 or 7 coming into bait every night so the plan was to stay until we captured a deer. Well, once 0230 came around and no deer, it was apparent that we must have been beat by the deer and that our trapping season was officially over. But with 49 total captures, 36 new deer, and fighting 2+ feet of snow, I don’t think we could have had a better season! My crew did a fantastic job and we can all happily hang up our deer trapping bibs until next year.
Now, it is time to begin pulling Clover traps and rocket nets out of the woods and packing them away for next year. The forest roads have definitely made the quick change from snow and mud to dry and dusty…and I mean DUSTY!
Makayla and Sammi are back there somewhere.
Once traps are pulled, we will begin our evening/night FLIR population surveys. As long as the equipment cooperates with us, we should have some nice and relaxing drives in our future.
-Levi
Southern Field Crew Leader
Game Commission Deer and Elk Section
 

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Discussion Starter · #177 ·
If Momma Ain’t Happy
APRIL 13, 2021
With the spring equinox behind us, longer warmer days are in our future. Daffodils are in bloom, the peepers are peeping, and robin calls are in the air. Ah spring!
I love spring! I’m happy to see temperatures over 50 and no snow in the forecast. After a long, gray, cold winter, everyone is in a good mood…unless you are a pregnant doe.
By the time mid-April rolls around, pregnant does are over it. Over the long winter. Over caring for her adolescent offspring. Over being pregnant. With 50 days of pregnancy still on the calendar, it’s time to start preparing the nursery and they have little to no patience for their “teenagers” still living at home.
Pregnant females begin to isolate themselves prior to giving birth. This is out of necessity. Fawns take several days to bond with mom and during this period they will follow any large moving object like other deer or even a person. After toting that fetus around for 200+ days during the worst time of year, mom isn’t going to let some good-for-nothing teen (or any other brown look alike) make off with her investment. And she makes that abundantly clear.
Photo Credit: John Cowan
Mom’s sour attitude sets a chain of events in motion. One with which every deer biologist and researcher is familiar. That, of course, is dispersal. Yearling deer have 2 distinct dispersal periods – spring and fall. We’ve discussed it many times – for males and females.
While pregnant does associate closely with their yearling offspring prior to fawning and they are often on the receiving end of her ill mood, she is not the only one giving them the business. The more adult females in the area, the more males AND females disperse in the spring. Pregnant does are seeking isolation, not just from their offspring but from everyone. When it comes to deer social status, yearlings have none. They are frequently subordinate to their female relatives and most females with overlapping home ranges are related in some way.
Where are all the adult males you ask? Laying low and trying to stay as far away from females as possible. Bucks are regrouping in the spring. Having survived another hunting season, they are yucking it up with (as well as sizing up) the boys, regrowing antlers, and saddling up to buffets that are reopening with a new spring menu. In other words, prepping for another breeding season. They can’t be bothered with females or teenagers.
So tread lightly around momma. Because if she ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. A truth that is universal to all species!
-Jeannine Fleegle
Wildlife Biologist
Deer and Elk Section, Game Commission

Special thanks to John Cowan for suggesting the topic and providing the photo!
 

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Discussion Starter · #178 ·
Deer Crew Diaries – Entry 21-12
APRIL 16, 2021
Crews are transitioning from trapping to FLIR surveys as the end of field season draws near. [Comments in brackets are by Jeannine and Duane]
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Last week the crew headed down to Penn State to receive training in the use of FLIR thermal cameras for roadside deer surveys. We got started on surveys that same night and have been running them every night since (not quite done with the weekend work yet!).
It’s been a busy week with trap clean-up during the day and surveys after sunset. So far in addition to deer, we’ve seen raccoons, opossums, porcupines, and other small mammals during the surveys, plus one very cool encounter with a bear!


Porcupine video courtesy of the Southern Crew
We were too busy watching it to get any pictures before it walked out of sight — maybe next time. We figured out how to use our phones to control the camera and to take photos and videos, so hopefully this week we’ll get some good footage.
-Amanda
Northern Field Crew Leader
Game Commission Deer and Elk Section

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From the Southern Crew:
Hi all,
We began this week by meeting with Tess and the Northern DFS Crew to have a FLIR training to become familiar with the equipment and ask Tess any questions about our new surveys. All of the equipment is pretty simple and easy to use as long as it decides to cooperate with us!
We use a Bluetooth enabled rangefinder that connects to and can communicate with a special computer that has GPS. As we all know, Bluetooth items can always be a little finicky and ours doesn’t like to connect…but in the field we always have a back-up plan.
So far our deer surveys have felt more like porcupine surveys because it seems like we spot at least 5+ porcupines a night. Other animals we have been spotting are exactly what you would expect in Penn’s woods. Plenty of racoons, squirrels, mice, and even a grouse! Of course, some creatures don’t cooperate for a picture, but I did get raccoon and deer picture – one is in white hot and one in black hot. There are multiple settings you can use with these cameras, including ones with all the crazy colors you see on TV, but you can only stare at that for so long before your eyes begin to hurt. So we typically use either the white or black.

We have pulled our final traps out of the woods for the year! I think the crew and I are all missing trapping season already. We may spend a little time fixing the traps up here and there since they took a beating this season, but for now it’s a FLIR every night.
-Levi
Southern Field Crew Leader
Game Commission Deer and Elk Section
 

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Discussion Starter · #179 ·
Trapping Facts and Figures
APRIL 21, 2021
We receive many questions about our deer trapping efforts. So we decided to celebrate the close of the 2021 trapping season by answering some of our more frequently asked questions (FAQs) with Deer Forest Study facts!
Question 1: How do we age deer?
Aging deer down to the year can be very inaccurate.
Because aging deer is difficult (especially live deer), we do not determine the yearly age of each deer and instead classify individuals as fawns, juveniles, and adults.
Fawns are the easiest. We catch them in summer when they are still dressed in their cute little white spots. But we don’t catch fawns all that often.
Most of our deer are captured as juveniles and adults each year in January through March.
Determining whether an individual is a juvenile or an adult is a bit more difficult. Generally, body size and tooth replacement can be used to classify each deer as a juvenile or adult.
For our purposes, adults are ≥ 1.5 years of age.
Juveniles are approximately 8 months old at the time of capture, born during the previous calendar year.
Below you can see how many juveniles and adults we capture each year (keep in mind we did the fawn study in 2015-2017)!

Question 2: How many deer do we capture each year?
Deer captures vary a lot depending on the project and location. The Deer-Forest Study has caught 656 deer – not counting recaptures!

Question 3: How many males and females do we capture each year?
We usually capture more females than males each year. But the numbers are pretty close!

Question 4: What about adult bucks compared to juvenile bucks?
In the past (think 2002), we caught way fewer adult bucks than any other sex or age class because of hunting pressure. After antler point restrictions, we saw many more adult bucks in our traps.

But that was back in early 2000’s – so what’s the trend now?
Well, now we catch more adult bucks than juvenile bucks (or about the same amount)!

Question 5: How many deer do we recapture each year?
Trapping crews love new captures (Question 1) but sometimes they are disappointed with returning customers.

And just for fun…what is the record number of times we have caught a single deer?
The record belongs to our very own Buck 12842 being caught a total of 12 times. However, Buck 16189 has been caught 11 times. First caught in 2019, Buck 16189 visited our traps twice in 2020 and 8 times in 2021! 2022 might be the year he pulls ahead.
-Tess Gingery
Research Associate
The Deer-Forest Study
 

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Discussion Starter · #180 ·
Deer Crew Diaries – Entry 21-13
APRIL 22, 2021
[Comments in brackets are by Jeannine and Duane]
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FLIR thermal surveys continue to make up most of our work hours this week. Some nights we see no deer at all, and some nights we see plenty – so far, the biggest group we’ve encountered is 12 deer, all bedded down together. No more bears have been seen, unfortunately – I’d love to get a video of one. The weather has been a bit chilly lately, and this past week it snowed a couple times during our surveys. Falling so heavily at times we had to stop because it obscured the camera’s view
During the day we’ve been finishing the trapping season clean-up. Our last traps were removed from the field this week, and all 30 are now back at the office waiting for next season. The snowmobile helmets are packed away, and the tire chains are stored in the shop – I’m hoping it’ll be a good long time before I need to get them out again!

Our trucks were full of bits and pieces of trapping supplies that accumulated over the course of the season, but after a long afternoon spent cleaning, they’re back in shape (as clean as a field truck can be, anyway). Lastly, we completed the removal process of all PGC materials from our two field trucks that no longer run – everything down to the license plates! They’re ready for auction. We’d like to thank Otis and Wilma for their service on the project and wish them a happy retirement 😉
-Amanda
Northern Field Crew Leader
Game Commission Deer and Elk Section

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From the Southern Crew:
Hi all,
It’s been an interesting week down in the Southern DFS study area! We have still been chugging away doing our FLIR surveys every night. We change it up between surveying Bald Eagle and Rothrock state forests. Early in the week we were doing a survey back a logging road and everything was running smoothly as we slowly made our way down the trail. We actually even saw a few deer on this route which was a bit of a surprise.
But then, on our way out, the 4-wheel drive went out on our truck. There was just enough mud combined with the small rocks and grass of the logging road that our truck had no chance of getting out with only rear wheel drive. The crew and I spent a good chunk of time jamming sticks, stones, doormats, and even Sammi’s sweatshirt under our tires to try to get us out. At one point we finally got some momentum and made it about 40 yards only for the truck to slide out and get stuck once again.
Shortly after that a stray thunderstorm rolled in and dumped on us. That’s when our 10% chance of getting out ourselves went to a big fat 0. Thankfully, there is a single spot in the forest out there that gets one bar of service and it was only a 30-minute hike away! And even better, Bret was home, answered his phone, and was able to come rescue us! For a nasty situation, it happened in the best spot possible. The next day I gave our friends at DCNR a call and they were able to come pull out the truck with their backhoe with no issues whatsoever. Thanks for the help everybody!

We also had some mortality investigations to go on this week that was something fun to do before we’d head out to do our FLIR surveys. The one deer took us a while to find because the telemetry signal was really bouncing and was difficult to follow. Eventually, the collar was found cashed in a pretty deep hole and buried in leaves and dirt. It was also right next to fairly large body of water so maybe that was causing the signal to trip us up.

Our other mortality wasn’t as difficult to find because it ended up being only about 30 yards away from the provided GPS point. The crew found the carcass at that site, but she provided a few meals to some critters before we found her! The crew all had the opportunity to play CSI and go through our mortality and field necropsy process which is always a good time.

-Levi
Southern Field Crew Leader
Game Commission Deer and Elk Section
 
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