Too bad we didn't have a bow along with us when we spotted this guy, huh?
|Photo by Tom Bangs|
|Photo by Tom Bangs|
|Did you know Pronghorn Antelope are the fastest North American land animal? |
Take that, Alex Trebek!
Photo by Tom Bangs
What has me concerned this year is the massive outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease among whitetail deer in this part of the state. Usually simply referred to as hemorrhagic disease, it has what had up until now been burgeoning populations of whitetail quite stymied. The deer are bit by small insects called Biting Midges, which are basically a type of gnat, and who are carriers of the disease. The disease incubates within the infected deer's body for 7-10 days and then the deer dies slowly from uncontrollable internal bleeding. The deer, not feeling so well, typically wander back to their favorite nearby watering hole for what they hope will be a drink of water that might make them feel better. The water is no use. The deer dies anyway and meanwhile gets bit by a new gnat, who now becomes a new carrier for the disease, and then goes on to bite another deer... and the cycle continues. Personally, I'd rather be shot by a hunter than left to bleed out internally until I died. Sounds pretty horrible, doesn't it?
You can see how a highly contagious disease like this could quickly and effectively impact an animal population. Don't be too alarmed-- there is no risk to people or dogs of catching the disease either from a Biting Midge or by encountering a dead or infected deer. We researched this topic thoroughly after Harvey found a dead deer in a neighbor's yard and promptly began rolling all over and around the stinky deer carcass, as dogs are wont to do. Apparently, you can even eat meat from an infected deer and be just fine! Although, that doesn't sound very appetizing. "Hey guys! This year we made hemorrhagic disease jerky! Who wants to try some!?" I think not.
Many farmers in the area have talked about happening upon multiple deer carcasses in their fields as they were harvesting their crops. In fact, it seems like it has become more common to see a DEAD whitetail than to come across one trotting around happy as can be. Jeff and I spotted a very small whitetail fawn the other day bounding across the road--alone. I suppose it's evolution or Darwinism as a perfect example. Only the strong survive. It nevertheless made me sad, seeing Bambi all alone. Bleeding heart that I nurse under my supposed tough-girl exterior. Ha.
At this point, we haven't heard anything from Fish and Game as to pending restrictions on whitetail this year, which Jeff and I both think is a little unnerving. Even when there are restrictions released, some people choose to ignore them anyway. With no restrictions, what will happen to the whitetail population? Hard to say.
The bottom line as it relates to hunting season is that the whitetail population is already greatly reduced by the disease. If you are planning to come to this area to hunt, please be aware that whitetail are not going to be very numerous and consider only hunting antelope, mule deer, or elk, and hope for a rebound in whitetail populations in seasons to come.