The warm weather and minimal snow reduced the willingness of deer to enter our traps and stand in front of rocket nets. However, the crews still had some success to report this week.
[comments in brackets are by Jeannine and Duane]
From the northern crew:
Dear deer people,
Week 4 stats:
- 6 captures (4 of which were recaptures)
- 3 does (1 juvenile, 2 adults)
- 3 bucks (all adults)
- 3 radio collars deployed (1 buck, 2 does including 1 with a VIT)
This week’s 6 captures bring our running total to 25 deer in the north, all in Clover traps. We attempted another rocket net this week, but the deer are just not too keen.
We sat frozen (literally) in the blind when we heard them snorting in the woods as they approached (never a good sign…) & then we only managed to catch a glimpse of 1 deer at the edge of our baited net before it fled.
The freezing rain & sleet on Tuesday morning was pretty miserable to work in & made for slow going on the forest roads–which were bogged down by icy branches & fallen trees–but we managed to get 2 more does radio-collared that day, 1 with a VIT–so it was worth it!
We caught our friendly trap-happy buck again this week for the 3rd time this year. Last year’s crew caught him 3 times as well. We will be moving most of our trap lines this next week, so no more free meals for him! At least until next year… [this trap-happy behavior is extremely rare in deer – usually we might recapture them once and only then with different trap types – like a Clover trap one time and rocket net the second]
One of our 7 on-air fawns is currently MIA, but this deer in particular is always difficult to pick up a signal (I even stood on top of the truck from a high vantage point & still couldn’t hear anything with the telemetry equipment). It was very windy on Saturday when we were listening for her (it’s a doe fawn), so we will try again Monday morning & hopefully have better luck.
We deployed our last buck collar this week, so now we’re just trying to get more VITs in adult does. Cross your fingers & pray for snow! Which has all but melted in a matter of days…
-Hannah, field crew leader
PGC Deer and Elk Section
From the southern crew:
We had a slower trapping week here in the southern study area. In addition to the holiday on Monday, the ice at the beginning of the week slowed us down a bit and delayed trapping.
Normally, the crew would set the traps on Sunday to check Monday, but since I was off on Monday, my crew and I were unable to do this. The crew focused on re-baiting our Clover traps and rocket nets.
We got a late start on Tuesday because of the freezing rain. Before we set out for the state forests, we checked to make sure the tire chains we had would fit the new tires on Greenie. We spent the rest of the rainy day setting 21 of our clover traps.
Wednesday, we did not capture any deer in our Clover traps. Wednesday evening, we sat at a rocket net. As many as 9 deer came into our net at once. At one point, all 9 deer were feeding at our bait pile with their heads down at the same time—sounds like a tempting capture. We, however, were not equipped to handle 9 deer.
Seven of the deer on the bait left at once, which left an adult doe and a fawn. Avery and Chad, fired the net over those two deer—in hopes that we would capture the adult doe to deploy a VIT. The doe was caught at the edge of the rocket net but at the very last second was able to escape. Lucky for her, but not so lucky for us.
Friday, we captured a yearling doe, a doe fawn, and a large buck. The fawn and buck were both captured on our new trap line in Rothrock. We put a GPS collar on the buck and sent him on his way. We were surprised at how calm he was with both Emily and Ben (crew members) restraining him. Even though he was blindfolded, his head was lifted and he was very alert. Any time someone got up and walked through the crunchy snow, his head followed the sound of their footsteps.
Friday evening, we rocket netted at a site on the eastern side of the study area in Bald Eagle without success.
Saturday we started earlier to check traps and continued our scouting efforts. We searched for a doe, whose collar was in mortality (seems to be a reoccurring thing with her collar) and found only deer scat, tracks and a possible bedding area at the GPS location. We closed the rest of our traps for Sunday, because even the deer crew needs to rest for a day.
-April, field crew leader
PGC Deer and Elk Section