[Comments in brackets are by Jeannine and Duane]
From the Northern Crew:
Captures started to pick up this week with the help of some snowfall. We got at least 12 inches total snowfall this week, maybe 14 or 15 inches in parts. It must have reminded the deer that it’s still winter.
After that snow, we started to see fresh deer sign all over the woods, something that has been sorely lacking over the last month. Our first trapping day after the snow yielded four deer captures in a single day! Not bad for how tough this year has been for us. We managed to start a new trapline in an area with some great consistent deer activity, though a bigger snowstorm on Friday night led us to shut some traps down.
We’re enjoying our higher rate of captures for now, but the weather forecast might make it short lived. After tonight, the temperature is to stay above freezing for the next two weeks straight – and if it does dip below freezing, it’ll only be by a few degrees. All this snow will be quick to melt, but we hope the deer won’t lose interest just yet.
Northern Field Crew Leader
Game Commission Deer and Elk Section
From the Southern Crew:
Last week in the Southern study area we finally racked up another two captures! I know that’s not breaking any records, but both of those deer were able to get a collar so it was pretty exciting! A nice strong doe and a buck, both in Rothrock State Forest.
We think this same buck actually escaped our Clover trap named “Metal Hill” just a few days earlier because the door was ripped open, and he must have popped out an ear tag in the process because that was all we found sitting on the ground. But two days later, we caught this nice buck in the same trap and guess who had a freshly popped out ear tag! So now he has a new ear tag and a nice GPS collar to go with it.
For those of you wondering, it’s named Metal Hill for two reasons:
1: There are some old culvert pipes sticking out of the ground close by.
2: It is actually down a pretty steep hill, so you need to really pay attention while you make your way to the trap!
In other news, we are still trying to move some Clover trap lines before the end of the season. With April approaching quickly and warm temps in the forecast, this might end up being the last time we move our trap lines until it is time to pull them for the year. The hope is to also squeeze in some additional rocket netting in the evenings/nights. There are deer coming into most of our rocket net sites but the problem is trying to find a place for our blinds where the deer will be less likely to wind us while we are trapping.
Our first rocket net attempt was unsuccessful for this reason. The blind was placed in the one spot where we hadn’t seen any deer tracks but then, right around 1830 when the first group of deer should be coming, a deer started blowing and stomping just a few yards behind the blind. We think the same deer might have tried to come back an hour later, but it did the same thing. It seems like this deer really wanted to come in but apparently it wasn’t worth the risk with the weird blind sitting there. The plan is to set up a tree stand and see if we can have better success being off of the ground.
While driving around our study area, we have been noticing more and more ruffed grouse which is always a fun bird to see. Typically, they are walking down the edge of the forest road where they are fairly easy to see. But the second they take a few steps into the leaves, they almost vanish right in front of your eyes.
The crew and I have also been watching some of the locals get their sap lines and sugar shacks running. There aren’t many sugar maples around once you actually get to where we are trapping, but there seem to be plenty on the outskirts of the study area. While setting a new trap the other day, there were a few striped maple saplings that we had to cut down for the trap to fit. After seeing all the sap collection happening and the sap run out of the freshly cut tree, Erika decided to try some sap for herself [no word on her recommendation, perhaps there is a market for striped maple syrup(?)].
Have a good week!
Southern Field Crew Leader
Game Commission Deer and Elk Section