- Published on Tuesday, 27 November 2012 11:11
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A Pennsylvania deer tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) prompting Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) to announce that deer hunters who are successful hunting in the Keystone State may not bring back a whole deer to Virginia. Only boned out and wrapped meat, quarters of
deer that do not include the spinal column, hides and capes without the head, clean skull plates (antlers permitted to be attached), antlers with no meat, upper canine teeth, and finished taxidermy products are allowed. Pennsylvania joins Alleghany County in Maryland, Hampshire, Hardy and Morgan counties of West Virginia as carcass restriction zones.
So far, Virginia has had four deer test positive for the disease since testing started. Since that time VDGIF has implemented strategies to reduce the likelihood of it spreading. For instance, deer in the “zone” where the disease has been detected are continuously sampled. Deer may not be taken out of the zone to other parts of the state, the body parts face the same restrictions, and no deer may be rehabilitated in the zone. Feeding deer on Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah and Warren is prohibited year around and the seasons and bag limits on private lands on those counties have been liberalized too in an effort to reduce the population of deer.
Where are all the deer?
That seems to be the question of the year from many deer hunters. It is no secret that deer numbers seem to be down. Some hunters are arguing that we took too many deer last season. Some say the deer all died off from disease and others say they are not out and about like they were. Perhaps all three statements hold a little truth. Out of the last five years last season was the fourth lowest for total harvest with 2010 being the lowest.
See chart at end of story
So, what other factors play into deer harvest? We did have some HD outbreak. Hemorrhagic Disease did take some deer out. While some hunters are complaining about lots of deer being killed off, reports from sources I have asked about in King George are reporting one or two deer at most on properties. Certainly those one or two deer do make a difference but not a substantial difference.
The last major piece of the puzzle is the amount of food available to deer this year. The acorn crop is still piled up on the ground in the woods! Deer simply don’t have to move much to get food provided there are oaks around. It will be interesting to see what the deer do next month when those acorns are pretty much gone or if we get a good snow.
I have to say that I am with most hunters expressing dismay and frustration not seeing deer. I have seen far fewer this season than I have seen in a long time. By now I am usually transitioning to duck and small game hunting. At this point I cannot even consider it.
The good news is that there is still plenty of season left and some nice bucks have been seen. Don’t give up yet. We just have to work a little harder to get the venison put up! More fawns/yearlings have been observed this past month, which translates into a good year next season for deer hunters.
I hope to have the professional opinion of our biologists here in a few weeks. Those guys have been in the field and I have not caught up with them yet. Once I do I will update you. Until then safe hunting!