From the Northern Crew:
Week two flew by! Our crew is learning to work as a cohesive unit already having faced several challenges in the field. With one truck already in the shop (it was bound to happen at some point!), we have been confined to one truck providing lots of time for team bonding!
With warmer weather this past week, we lost a valuable tool for assessing deer sign. Without tracks in the snow, we searched for tracks in the mud, piles of scat, nibbled browse, and buck rubs. Buck rubs can be few and easy to miss, but several sites we examined had over 10 obvious rubs! With such promising signs and hunting season just about over, we are very excited to start baiting next week.
We made our second trip to State College, this time for CPR and First Aid training. Along with reviewing the classic course information, we practiced practical applications of tourniquets and Israeli bandages on each other. While some crew members may not have appreciated our coworker’s enthusiasm with the tourniquets (they hurt when done correctly!), we highly valued the experience and appreciated the real-life stories from our game warden instructors.
One of the more frustrating tasks this week was attempting to remove a couple of low-battery collars from two does in our study area. Combined, our crew has 9 field seasons of telemetry experience with several different species (deer, wood turtles, box turtles, bog turtles, northern bobwhites, bats, and lemurs), but due to some unfavorable topography, power lines, bodies of water, and likely crafty deer, we were unable to drop the collars, even after several hours. The search is ongoing with our equipment charged and ready to go for a spare moment.
The beauty of the Susquehannock Forest still amazes with daily sightings of bald eagles, ruffed grouse, and many other wonders. The busiest part of the season is about to get underway. Cheers to a successful trapping season with lots of deer!
Northern Crew Leader
From the Southern Crew:
Preseason week #2 started off with a bang quite literally. To demonstrate for the crew how to correctly and safely set up a rocket net, we test-fired a shot. Everything went off without a hitch. Although this won’t be our primary method of capture due to the lack of available open spaces to place a large net, it’s a great option to have if we manage to get small groups of deer hitting bait.
This week we attended the annual First Aid/CPR training session provided by several PGC game wardens. The training consisted of CPR practice on dummies, the use of tourniquets, and several other techniques. Fingers crossed that we’ll never have to use what we learned, but it’s a good thing to have in our toolkits should the situation arise. While in State College, we swung by PSU to pick up a new batch of GPS collars. Only a handful of collared deer from previous years are still on air, so we have a fair amount of work to do to achieve the quota.
We saw our first actual deer in the study area this week; proof that they have not actually been extirpated from this area! It sounds lame, but it’s the little things that keep you going, right? As far as other sightings, we have a pretty dedicated birder on our crew, so we always keep our eyes peeled for notable sightings of the feathered kind. Outside of a bevy of juncos and chickadees, highlights this week included a small group of turkeys, all sporting long beards, and a barred owl. We also stumbled across a beech tree riddled with bear claw marks; I wonder how many generations of bruins have used that very tree?
Taking advantage of the unseasonably warm temps in the 40’s and 50’s, we patched up the rest of our Clover traps. Most were in relatively good shape and simply needed more foam padding, as well as spider webbing on the rear corners to prevent mortalities from deer injuring themselves on the hard corner posts of the trap. We picked up our first load of corn and are set to begin pre-baiting next week after all deer seasons are over. After assessing which areas have been actively used, we’ll begin to put out Clover traps. Then let the cage match rodeos commence!
Southern Crew Leader