From the Northern Crew:
Dear Deer People,
Is it spring? This last week, I think we hit just about every temperature from all 4 seasons. It has been quite the week of moving traps and getting everything re-established.
We have been keeping a detailed daily log of every bait site and the total history of that site from start to finish. This has been a big help to us since we can then visually see over time what baits simply aren’t working out, when traps need to get moved and what traps are the most successful. We started to see a lot of our new bait sites were getting hit hard and other active trap lines starting to slow down. It was time to start moving. By Wednesday, we had moved almost all of our traps onto new trap lines showing good potential.
When we move large numbers of traps, we try to put them on a bait site that has gotten hit at least two nights in a row. When this happens we simply place the new trap about 5 feet from the bait and leave the stakes and break away bars against the trap. We do this to make sure that the deer get used to this new obstruction. When they do, if they do, we move the bait to the door of the trap and stake it down. Then the final step is to move the bait to the back and trigger it. This was the name of the game over this week.
We had seven captures this week. It felt like a pretty slow week after capturing 20 last week. We also sat a couple nets. We currently are maintaining 5 rocket net spots with cameras which we check daily. With all the temperature changes, wind and abnormally “hot” days, it is hard to pattern these deer. We have been battling one net spot in particular – a grassy log landing on top of a hill, with thick woods to the front of you and clear cut to your back. There are a ton of deer there, but the wind on top of the hill always seems to get us busted. We finally got to launch on a deer here after sitting a few unsuccessful nets.
Toward the end of the week the weather had warmed up quite a bit which made for messy trapping. One capture was a fawn buck that had probably been in the trap long enough to breakup the ground and turn the inside of the trap into a soupy mud pit. Although messy, Kim jumped into the trap to restrain the deer. We later had to hose most of her clothing down back at the office.
This week we will have most of our traps triggered and be moving a few more to better spots in order to get them triggered. It is supposed to be close to 70 degrees here on Tuesday and Wednesday [and it was]. We may have to close down some of our trap lines in order to not rut them up. We are hoping for the cold winter weather will return soon.
Field Crew Leader
From the Southern Crew:
Ahh, those variable trapping conditions! Gotta love them! With the rising and falling temperatures, some of our trap sites have become mucky. The good news is that much of the ice melted off of the roads, but we are in need of some snow and cooler temperatures to keep our trap sites active. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy working outdoors in the mild temperatures, but I would totally be fine with freezing to catch a few deer! The milder temperatures are also bringing the bears out. We came across a few sets of tracks this week.
We were once again capped at two captures, both in Bald Eagle. Both deer—juvenile female and yearling male—were captured at the same trap site, only a day apart. To be fair, we only had one of our trap lines open at the beginning of the week in Rothrock. The rest were shut down to save us time to bait and check rocket net sites. They were to be moved at the end of the week anyway.
We were also trying to avoid capturing a yearling buck for the third time this year. He seems to be patrolling a particular trapline in Rothrock. In addition to our two successful captures this week, we had one yearling buck escape as I opened the door to slip in. He was at the back of the trap when I opened the door, but quickly turned around. He bounced off of the right side of the trap, knocked me over as I was coming in, and went straight out the door. We believe that this was a recaptured buck from the first day of trapping though we cannot say for sure. He wasn’t much fun to handle anyway.
With better road conditions, we were able to reach our stranded trapline in Bald Eagle. We had deer activity near multiple trap sites and tracks inside a few traps. We set this trapline in hopes that it would produce at least two more deer, but we caught nothing. Looks like the end of the road for this trapline.
Our rocket net looked alright though! Thankfully we had snow at the beginning of the week, so the deer were easier to pattern at this site. We did however have to completely change our rocket net set up. The deer are unfortunately entering the rocket net site from the east which is the direction the wind blows most of the time. Disrupting the site caused the deer to disappear for a few days. Some returned by Thursday, but not in full force. Most activity was from a hungry 8 point buck. We are also getting photos of two deer—a buck and a doe—captured in the same trap and collared on 01/29/2018. With rain expected for the rest of Thursday night and through Friday, we chose to save our hours for better trapping conditions. Overall, just an odd week at each of our rocket net sites for deer activity.
We did get caught up on prebaiting and moving Rothrock traps. About half of our traps were pulled and moved to new capture sites in Rothrock. We are rocket netting Wednesday and Thursday or Friday, depending on site conditions. Jeannine will be out this weekend, so we are running Clover traps on Saturday as well [which means we won’t catch squat!]. We really hope to get on some deer, regardless of what the weather looks like. Tuesday and Wednesday may not be so favorable, but we can hope for the best and keep trying!
Field Crew Leader
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