[Comments in brackets are by Jeannine and Duane]
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.
Northern Field Crew Leader
Game Commission Deer and Elk Section
From the Southern Crew:
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!
Southern Field Crew Leader
Game Commission Deer and Elk Section