PSU Deer Study

Our trapping crews had a great week but neither are looking forward to the spring-like forecast for this week.

[Comments in brackets are by Jeannine and Duane.]

From the Northern Crew:

Dear deer people,

Week 6 stats:

  • 12 captures (2 recaps)
  • 7 bucks (3 juvies, 4 adults)
  • 5 does (1 juvenile, 4 adults, all of which received a VIT & radiocollar)

We now have 48 tackles under our belts, 33 newly marked deer, & 11 VITs on-air in the Susquehannock.

This was, surprisingly, one of our better weeks thus far. Even with the unseasonably warm temperatures & complete lack of snow cover, we managed to catch 5 deer & place 2 VITs on Tuesday alone!

Monday, we captured a fawn in one of our Clover traps. Coincidentally, we had a trail camera taking 1-minute videos on this trap, so we captured everything from beggining to end (and in-between)! [Thanks to Bushnell for donating these game cameras]

The video begins with the fawn walking in the trap

She then triggers the trip-wire (at 8:49AM) and its mom comes back to hang out (almost immediately).

The camera takes 1-minute video when there is motion. The next video is not recorded for over 2 hours. The fawn appears to be eating and scratching – watch it throw dirt!

The crew arrives at 12:33PM. This was, at the time, the smallest deer we’d had in a trap, so she was easily manageable.

The fawn was processed and released at 12:36PM.  

Our first capture on Wednesday was a deer we initially tagged & collared on February 19th of this year. We have now caught this buck 3 times–twice in the same trap, once in the next trap down the line. Despite only being a yearling (1.75 years old) this is the most energetic, feisty deer we’ve had so far–took 2 guys to restrain him when we were attaching the radio collar–and Tony has been the lucky tackler all 3 times! [Looks like another trap-happy fellow. Perhaps he will be back next year too.]

Deer-Forest Study

After checking Clover traps on Thursday, we decided we should probably give the trucks a proper rinsing before taking them into the auto shop for oil changes the next day. Forgot what color they were under all that mud–what a difference!

Friday, my crew moved a few trap lines & baited some new sites while I ventured down to State College to reprogram VITs we were giving us technical problems.

Here’s to breaking the 50-captures milestone in week 7! And seeing what trapping produces with high temps in the 50’s & 60’s all week…

Field Crew Leader
PGC Deer & Elk Section

From the Southern Crew:

Greetings all,

We had a total of 15 captures, 3 of which were recaptures. Eight deer were caught in Clover traps and 7 deer were caught in rocket nets throughout the week. 

We recaptured our very first deer on Tuesday—a yearling doe. She was originally captured on February 8th. We sent her on her way ASAP. We also recaptured a juvenile male from February 23rd and our 2nd GPS-collared buck which is his third time stopping by since February 19th [Trap-happy #3 – it’s interesting to note that all of our trap-happy deer are bucks.]

We rocket-netted three times this week, and captured deer each time. We caught 3 adult bucks, 1 adult doe, and 3 fawns in total. 

At our first rocket netting operation on Monday, we saw 14 deer headed for our rocket net at 6:30 PM. We set the maximum of deer to rocket net at 12. Luckily, only 8 of those deer ended up in the rocket net at once; however, some were standing in front of the rockets [a no-go for firing the rocket net] and then a distant noise spooked them. Emily and Ben, the two crew members in the blind were planning to close the net up at 9:30 PM, but 5 minutes before closing, a large deer came in. It ended up being a shed-antler adult buck.

Thursday was a successful day for us. We captured 7 new deer and had 1 recapture (our 2nd GPS-collared buck). Four deer were captured in our Clover traps—3 adult bucks and a young doe. When we approached one of the traps in our trucks, we noticed a deer standing outside of the trap, watching us. We began to back up, and then I put binoculars on the trap again. There was a deer bedded in our trap. He didn’t know we were there either.

At our rocket netting operation, we captured 3 fawns (2 does, 1 buck) and 1 adult doe. We deployed our second VIT. We are having a tough time capturing mature does, so we were pleased to finally get another VIT out.

We ended our week with 1 new capture, a juvenile male. He was also napping in the clover trap when we approached.

Some noteworthy trail camera visitors from these past few weeks include at least two gray foxes and a coyote. A gray fox has stopped by a few different times to snack on our bait, even in the presence of deer. We’ve also realized that if we’re doing anything at all this spring, it’s aiding the squirrel population in finding an easy meal. [Another noteworthy occurrence when feeding/baiting deer is that you are feeding all sorts of other critters too!]

We spent the rest of our time moving traps and continuing to monitor our sites. We’ll start our work week on Sunday by setting Clover traps, moving traps, and checking our rocket net sites. We hope to have volunteers along most of this week, for which we are very grateful. They can be extremely helpful when we’re rocket netting. The weather is expected to be warmer this week, so that may affect our capture numbers. 

Field Crew Leader
PGC Deer & Elk Section

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