- Last Updated on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 14:44
- Published on Thursday, 10 January 2013 00:36
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Despite the effects of Hemorrhagic Disease (HD) and the likely lower harvest figures, hunters are beginning to see deer again. It’s as if the deer have a calendar and hunting regulation booklet: they began coming out soon after the season ended and some even before.
While I am not downplaying the tough season, the loss of our deer, or the harvest figures which were trending much lower last time I got an update from VDGIF, I am saying that a number of deer are still in the area. Gary Sanders, a good friend of mine, was driving north on Rt. 17 from Tappahannock recently and he counted 50+ deer in a five-mile stretch in a few fields. This is the same area where some hunters were complaining there were no deer to be found. He also shared that on the last day of the season they did a drive on a piece of property he hunts and jumped over 20 deer! They had not jumped more than a few deer all season and then on the last day hit the jackpot. During the last week of the season I felt pretty bad about the lack of deer on my property when, lo and behold, two walked across the back portion of our yard and disappeared over the hill. Later when out looking for foxes at night, two deer, possibly the same two, were spooked in my back field and numerous tracks were seen. I also spotted three along my driveway one evening that last week of the season. After the last day of the season when it had expired and nightfall had overtaken us, I was driving along and made a turn on a secondary road where my headlights swung across the field. In this particular field, deer were not seen the entire gun season. On this night, mere hours after the final shot rang out, a huge buck with a rack well past his ears and a pair of does were feeding peacefully in the field. I could only shake my head. Perhaps we should leave our trail cameras out and see what kind of inventory we happen to be able to take on these elusive creatures! Lastly, a schoolteacher told me she saw a huge buck cross the road. OK, so it was one buck, not a huge deal. Well, it came from property where I hunt and had not seen a deer for months! A school bus driver told me deer are showing up in his back yard feeding near his bird feeder now that the season is out. I am interested to see what Todd Engelmeyer, VDGIF wildlife biologist, has to tell us at the Landowner/Hunter meeting on Feb. 12 at the Sheriff’s Office. I plan on going and will update the readers about what we are told. If you gave up on deer hunting, maybe you did so a bit too soon. Deer season may be over but scouting for next year has just started. Now is the time to figure out where the deer have been during the last few weeks of the season when the woods are bare. Look for fresh droppings, tracks (especially after a rain) and consider putting out a trail camera now that the woods have settled down again. This is also a great time to look for sheds. Bucks started dropping sheds a few weeks ago according to anecdotal reports, but the majority of the bucks will drop them in the next few weeks. Look for antlers in thickets and areas where they can be knocked off easily or rubbed off. I have found them in fields where saplings grow close together. Fencelines and fences are also common areas. If you find one keep looking because you should be able to find the other in the general vicinity. Mark Fike