Well, it’s the 1st of April, 2008, and Jim and I are starting to see some stress on the deer herds. The police shot a large doe that had been hit by a tractor-trailer just down the road and Jim and I showed up as next of kin to claim the body. Although she looked to be in reasonably good shape, underneath that long winter coat was the real story. Her back-bone was a very predominate ridge and there wasn’t a vestige of fat on her frame. She was having a rough time of it.
She was, however, in much better shape than a few bucks that I’ve sighted in my back forty. “Skeletal” would be the most appropriate descriptor. We have been putting out some sustenance in few strategic locations in the hopes that this will help them escape the grim reaper – or at least postpone the appointment until next October/November.
The next few weeks will be critical. Normally there would only be snow along the fence lines and in the forests at this time of the year, and our deer would be grazing the green stuff along the field edges. But there is still 2 – 3 feet of hard-packed snow on the fields and the bald-headed liar (my Dad’s term for our local TV weatherman) is predicting a cool spring – which means a slow melt.
Car-deer collisions have spiked in the last few weeks on highways near a local yarding area. We think that hunger is forcing these animals to forsake the security of the yards in search of food. The white cedar-browse lines in those areas is six feet high and in some places maple saplings have been completely stripped of their bark from ground level to five feet up.
Now that the snow cover is packed, the wolves and coyotes are doing a lot better than they were a month ago. However, both Jim and I have had relatively few predator sightings lately. We know that local hunters have had a good season “putting the lead” to them, and this – combined with the difficult snow conditions in December, January and February – has probably helped Bambi considerably.
We will keep you au courant on the effects of Old Man Winter on our deer herds and update you on the 2008 Hunting Regulations – as soon as they are posted by the Ministry.
Check THE SCRAPE regularly.