Today is Sunday, August 20, 2017

If you hunt deer, read this

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A healthy two and one-half year-old buck.

Too cold and nasty to go fishing. Hunting season closed for anything I care to hunt.

Perfect day to just consider stuff over which I have no control and in many cases, little interest. Truth is, most of it confuses me.

Cougars in Tennessee
Doesn't matter what you call them -- cougar, mountain lion, panther, wild cat-pretty much all the same animal.

As I predicted a few years ago, we now have them in Tennessee in sufficient numbers to start getting pictures of them.

And I don't mean the ones with dyed blond hair and implants.

I suspect we have always had a few in the mountains. But as I explained years ago, they are expanding eastward, following the river systems out of the western mountains and as habitats decreased they expanded home ranges.

They showed up in Nebraska, then Iowa, Missouri, Kentucky and now they are here. Don't worry about it and don't kill one unless it is self-defense and you can prove it.

It will be a while before there enough to do any real damage. And they pose zero threat to the deer herd in terms of it being decimated.

Coyotes, bobcats & foxes in town
Why sure. As I say on a somewhat regular basis, if we insist on building houses on top their normal habitat, they, (all of the above), will live right alongside us. Don't worry about it. Only the coyotes can pose a potential problem.

Coyotes will attack and kill pet dogs or cats, especially small, yappy kinds of dogs.

If you should encounter one, stand your ground and start yelling. Be aggressive but do not be threatening.

Above all, do not run from one. They are accustomed to chasing running prey. But you want to know what they mostly eat? Cotton rats and persimmons.

During deer fawning season, they eat almost totally deer fawns. At least that is true of the 353 coyote scat samples some folks at the University of Georgia found out. Sounds like a dirty job, to me.

907 acres
For all you armchair deer biologists, here is something to think about. The average fall, home range of a mature whitetail buck, is 907 acres.

But here is good news. His core area, where he will spend at least half his time is only 142 acres. Some biologist at Auburn, (I think), figured that out.

Speaking of deer biologists, looks like the ones in Tennessee have done a good job over the past few years.

If you can believe the figures I found online a few days ago, the deer kill this year exceeded the kill last year even with the last juvenile hunt in West Tennessee being closed due to flooding.

Let me state right now. I do not know if these figures are accurate.

Frankly, I am skeptical but they are just what I found.

Statewide, hunters killed approximately 166,000 deer this year compared to about 165,000 last year.

And remember, due to hunter pressure, the buck limit was reduced from three to two.

So how is that really shaping the deer herd? Well, let's take a look. And remember, these figures are approximate.

Statewide buck kill
2014/15 v. 2015/16
Male deer killed
2014/15: 95,520
2015/16: 89,976 (-5,544)

Racked bucks
2014/15: 76,622
2015/16: 78,564 (+1942)

Button bucks
2014/15: 8,278
2015/16: 8,352 (+74)

Antlerless bucks
2014/15: 10,620
2015/16: 3,060 (-7,560)

Does killed
2014/15: 69,445
2015/16: 76,644 (+7,199)

Wilson Co. buck kill
Male deer killed
2014/15: 1592
2015/16: 1392 (-200)

Racked bucks
2014/15: 1360
2015/16: 1218 (-142)

Button bucks
2014/15: 124
2015/16: 123 (-1)

Antlerless bucks
2014/15: 108
2015/16: 51 (-57)

Does killed
2014/15: 1108
2015/16: 1242 (+134)

Does anything strike you about those figures? It sure slapped me in the face.

After implementing the two buck limit due to hunter pressure, the racked and button buck kill went up, not down.

Now, look at this. The doe kill went up as well. This past season, Tennessee hunters killed 7,199 more does than the year before.

But the striking comparison is this. After three years of hovering around 10,000 - 11,000 buck fawns killed, it suddenly dropped to 3,060.

The doe kill went up 7,199 and the buck fawn kill dropped 7,560.

Always remember this, an antlerless buck killed is no different than a 10 point. Both are male deer. Only age differentiates them.

In Wilson County, the number was just about cut in half. I can't explain that. Everything is just about as I would expect except for the antlerless male deer kill. That should be higher as hunters would be expected to kill more does and would shoot antlerless deer.

It is my guess that hunters checked those buck fawns in as does to keep from losing a buck tag.

So take a close look at those figures. See if they make any sense to you.

One thing I am sure of, the reduction in the buck limit will have just about the same impact on the deer herd as the cougars.

And for sure, if the deer killed is a male deer, it should be counted and tagged as a buck if you want to get an accurate picture.

Contact the author at jsloan1944@gmail.com

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