Unquestionably, the annual Southeast Deer Study Group meeting is the largest concentration of minds focused on deer. The participants traveled to Virginia to share their knowledge with anyone with equal interest and respect for whitetails.
In a casual environment, 33 deer researchers presented their most recent findings. All in all, there was much good news to be shared.
Women Hunters Forge Ahead
At present, women represent only 9 percent of all hunting licenses sold. According to Dr. Susan Guynn, of Clemson University, increasing this number requires the consideration of issues important to women. These include traditional gender roles, lack of female mentors, opportunity, family-oriented hunting activities and peer pressure.
To circumvent this problem, a course was designed and offered in the Fall 2008 semester to introduce women to hunting. Because women normally have the most influence on their children, the development of female hunters in courses like the one taught at Clemson could not only impact the number of female hunters, but their children as well.
Healthier Herds, Older Bucks
From 1999 to 2005, the average percentage of yearling bucks in the harvest declined from 51 percent to 45 percent, and the antlerless harvest increased approximately 10 percent.
Fawn recruitment rates have remained relatively constant, yet the percentage of buck fawns harvested declined. Adult sex ratios remained relatively constant or improved, with most states reporting a sex ratio of one to two adult does per adult buck.
Urban Deer Hunting
One solution to controlling deer populations in our suburbs was addressed by Joseph Maddock of Eccologix, which implemented a deer management plan that significantly reduced deer numbers in a Philadelphia suburb.
This program provides evidence that hunters are as adaptable as the deer they pursue, and if deer populations are to be controlled with safety emphasized in the suburbs, bow-hunters represent an effective method to accomplish the task.
More Proficient Bow-Hunters
Research conducted on the Naval Support Facility Indian Head in Maryland by Andy Pederson has provided significant evidence that bow-hunting is much more effective than reported in the past.
Based on their estimates, qualified bow-hunters “were able to recover one deer for every 1.4 shots."
Lyme Disease Research
University of Tennessee graduate student Michelle E. Rosen and her major professor Graham J. Hickling investigated the distribution, abundance and pathogen status of the black tick in Tennessee through examination of ticks collected from deer at check stations across the state.
They demonstrated for the first time that black ticks in Tennessee exhibit the same host-seeking behavior that results in elevated risk of Lyme disease in humans.
Daytime Deer Activity Study
According to Stephen L. Webb, a Ph.D. candidate at Mississippi State University, the moon phase apparently had no effect on daily, nocturnal and diurnal deer movements.
The take-home message for hunters here is — the ultimate time to pursue whitetails is simply whenever you can.
New Insights on Pressured Bucks
The take-home message from research by Gabriel R. Karms is the fact that deer will often seek out refuge when disturbed.
This fortifies the importance of designating deer sanctuaries on a property, affording bucks some protection in order to increase the number that reach the older, larger antler-producing age bracket.