deer in winter forest

There’s nothing sweeter or finer for our deer trappers but where is it?

deer in winter forest

Deer trappers don’t need love to keep them warm. They need perfect winter weather. What’s the perfect winter weather you ask. Cold temperatures (just below freezing is ideal) and some snow. Six inches of that light fluffy stuff covering up food sources but fun and easy to travel in. That’s sweet and fine. 

What we don’t like is warm weather in winter. Deer don’t get very hungry which means bait isn’t very tempting. Warm weather also makes rain. Rain makes mud. We hate mud.

And while cold and snow is good, we don’t what Mother Nature to get carried away. If it’s too cold, fingers start to malfunctions making ear tag application and radio collar fitting a chore. Too much snow – trucks and deer refuse to move. Snow with an icy coating sends all parties (trucks, people and deer) into revolt.  

Pennsylvania hasn’t had much of a winter this year. Despite that lack of winter weather, our crews have been catching some deer.

Everyone seems to be out and about. Check out my trail camera videos this week. 

The fawn is investigating a scrape that was very busy this fall. Even now, male and female deer continue sniffing the ground and licking the branches above. Some may not know this, but scrapes are used year-round. Like a community communication board.

Mild or severe, foxes and squirrels LOVE the winter regardless of weather. Mostly because they are looking for that love to keep them warm since its breeding season for these species. 

While still active in winter, deep snows restrict porcupine movements with home ranges 80-90% smaller than in summer. But not this year! Fortunately for me and the dogs, we don’t have a lot of them around my property.

To illustrate just how absent winter has been, our favorite trash detective doesn’t even need to go off duty. 

Putting on fat in the fall to make it through winter, raccoons tend to avoid the really cold and snowy portions of winter by retiring to a den (e.g., a tree cavity) until conditions are more favorable. Breeding season is in full swing for them as well. Females are more likely to use tree dens, but in more developed areas, they are happy to take out a lease on an outbuilding or storage sheds. Males lean toward the frat house mentality communally denning if the need arises.

Even this guy is out and about. Skunks don’t hibernate but they are usually dormant underground all winter – coming out in February to look for a date before heading back down for a nap. 

But when you see Phil outside of Punxsutawney in January, things just crossed a new threshold.  

Fortunately, it looks like this woodchuck could see his shadow. February has just begun, we may still have a good year for trapping deer after all!

-Duane Diefenbach

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