From the Northern Crew:
Dear Deer People,
I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
It was wonderful spending a week back in Wisconsin with family and friends. Although it was great to be home, I was anticipating my arrival back into the deer world.
On Tuesday, I completed a quick mort run to make sure everyone was still alive. I did end up filling out a censor data sheet for the one fawn that had gone missing in the beginning of December. After the mort run, I picked up the truck that blew its serpentine belt. I got two trucks all ready-to-go for the crews since “my” truck was still in the shop with exhaust manifold bolt complications [the theme continues].
On Wednesday, I got to meet the crew bright and early to start a long day of training. Kim, Tom and Brian are now the newest additions to the deer world. During our first day together, I showed them around the DCNR office and where all the capture gear was. We then packed into one of the trucks to go over timesheets, mileage logs, and go for a general tour of the study area.
We went on the main roads throughout the study area and a few of the main trap lines. They followed along on the maps I had created so that they could start getting a grasp on their new stomping grounds. We then went over the capture packs and how to use the capture equipment. I also showed them the clover traps and gave them a brief overview on how and where we would be setting them up.
After a lot of dull administrative stuff, it was time to get out in the field. We went to find a malfunctioning doe collar. It is one of 9 collars that need to be blown off hopefully before trapping begins. This doesn’t count the other 11 collars that would be nice to blow off too. Unfortunately, there was a lot of signal bounce and it was starting to get dark so we decided to call it a day.
On Thursday, it was a very early morning with a 6am meeting time to head to State College for orientation. It was a nice relaxing day of learning: immobilization information, onboarding tasks, and trapping procedures. It was interesting to see where everyone was from and hear of their other experiences. After orientation was done, we collected supplies from Bret and Chris and were back off to the Northland.
Friday was Clover Trap Repair Day. We hauled some Clovers into the heated work shop that DCNR so graciously let us use. These repairs simply would not have been possible in the -17 degree wind chill weather. I was able to purchase 300’ of rope which may seem like a lot, but it didn’t go very far – fully repairing only 4 clovers, not 30. The crew wrapped up Clover repairs for the day, mostly due to using the 300’ of available rope, so we went back to the auto shop to pick up my truck after about a month of it being in the shop.
I have already ordered a bunch of rope for all of the Clovers, plus I found that Lowes in Mansfield has quite a bit to keep us going until the order comes in. We will continue Clover repairs and collar retrieval. We will be picking up our first shipment of corn on Friday for the start of baiting next Monday.
Let the deer trapping season begin!
Field Crew Leader
From the Southern Crew:
I met Bret bright and early Tuesday morning shuffle a truck. When we finished, I headed straight into Rothrock to look for doe 17155 whose collar sent a mort email on 12/29. I picked up her collar signal but it was transmitting in live mode. I decided to walk around to locate the direction. I discovered that the signal was overlapping with her last known location which was transmitted on 12/26. I decided to hike in towards the signal in case the doe was dead.
Since this was a collar that needed blown off, I brought the drop-off device along as well (in case she actually was still alive). When I was about 140m from the last known location, it was clear that I was also getting closer to the collar as the gain on the receiver was dropping. I transmitted the drop-off signal at that point and continued on. I reached the last known location first, but the strength of the signal indicated that I was nearly on top of the collar. About 15m from her last known location laid the GPS collar! The drop-off mechanism was wide open and no deer was in sight. The leaves were disturbed where the collar laid and there was heavy deer sign scattered throughout the area. [I guess she was surprised]
On Wednesday, I met my new deer trapping crew—Nick, Randi and Graham—at 0730 and we dove right in. We moved the equipment between trucks. I spoke about our arrangements at Penn Nursery, parking, the plan for the next three weeks, timesheets, mileage sheets, getting gas in the state trucks, Clover traps and more! We conducted a fawn mort run and I gave Graham a crash course in radio telemetry. I drove the crew out to the Alan Seeger pole shed in Rothrock where we store our equipment. We also picked up tire chains for the crew truck. I showed the crew a few Clover trapping sites and a rocket net site in Rothrock. I then took the crew on a brief tour of the Bald Eagle study area and showed them a few Clover trapping sites there. Afterwards, we visited a few hardware stores that we use to get supplies. I also ordered some more rope and wire to repair clover traps.
Thursday was Deer Trapping Orientation on the Penn State University Park Campus. All trapping crews attended to learn about the immobilization drugs, record keeping, tagging deer, basic aging of deer, monitoring vital signs of deer under sedation, responding to complications potentially associated with using immobilization drugs on deer, and prevention/responding to accidental human exposure to the prescription drugs we use in the field. I also received some supplies from Chris and trail cameras from Duane. Afterwards, all crews visited the Animal Diagnostic Lab to see where/how we drop off deer for necropsy.
Friday morning we assessed our clover traps and began hauling some over to the table shop to be fixed. Annetta and her crew were nice enough to heat the table shop for us, so that we weren’t stuck fixing the Clover traps in the frigid temps. Nate and I also discovered that we are in the same boat with fixing Clover traps. We ended up needing quite a bit of rope to not only repair holes, but to also add sections of netting to the critter bars. Due to the limited time and because we can begin baiting in about a week, we are focusing mainly on getting netting on the critter bars and patching holes. Unfortunately, there won’t be much time to replace entire sections of netting this year.
Next week, my crew and I will continue making progress on the Clover traps. I will also show them how to set up a rocket net, use tire chains, use a come-along, and set up a tree stand (though most are already briefed in this area). We will pull out each of our rocket nets and make any necessary repairs. Bret and I are also conducting a rocket net/Clover trap demonstration for the Penn State Mammalogy Lab on Wednesday. Finally, I hope to blow off three GPS collars.
Field Crew Leader
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