The winter of 2007 – 2008 will no doubt go down in the books as one of those “good old fashioned” winters. Eastern Ontario has seen snow accumulations that have not been recorded since the 1970’s, and although the temperatures to date have been relatively moderate (no sub-thirty nights), the heavy snowfall may yet take a toll on those deer herds that go into a yarding mode.
Oddly enough, in many areas the heavy snow-cover that burdens our whitetails has also acted as a benefactor: thousands of acres of corn remain standing across eastern Ontario – a welcome source of protein for whitetails when the browse-line in the cedar swamps is six or seven feet high.
And I suppose the snowfall has proven a Godsend in another way – it hasn’t helped our wolves and coyotes with their venison diets. The tracks along the deer trails are telling the story: deer that are being pursued simply bounce off the deer trails into the deeper stuff whenever these predators put pressure on them; after a few hundred yards the chase is abandoned and the deer get back to doing their thing.
There is a sentiment among certain local hunters that the deer population is declining…an opinion that is shared by Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR). The MNR relies heavily on data collected from hunting surveys (voluntarily completed by a “representative” sample of the hunting population) as a basis for determining whitetail population estimates. There is no method in place to check the veracity of the surveys.
Remarkably, deer-car collision rates across the province don’t support the contention that the whitetail population is in a decline – which leads Jim and me to speculate that more unsuccessful hunters complete their surveys than do their tagging brethren. We (UCO) have seen definite year to year deer population increases in all of our hunting areas.
The 2008 Ontario Hunting regulations have not yet been posted. When that happens we will keep you up to date on any major changes.
Check THE SCRAPE regularly.