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Final Report: The Season of EHD—and How It May Affect Next Season

Although the threat of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) ended with the first hard freeze here on the Plains, its effects are still being felt by deer hunters, and will be for several seasons to come. It’s hard to say just how many deer died from this year’s outbreaks, but I can promise you the official reports are extremely low. For every dead deer reported by hunters and landowners, it’s hard to know just how many carcasses went undiscovered.
 
What I can tell you is anecdotal evidence gathered from talking to hunters across the region points to a greatly reduced deer herd on the Plains, especially in Nebraska and South Dakota. Without exception, every hunter I talked to or heard from via e-mail and text messages reported seeing significantly fewer deer than in previous years. And since the pheasant opener in late October, I’ve heard from several bird hunters here who found dead deer while they were afield, adding to the already high numbers of reported EHD kills.
 
Of course, hunters in Nebraska had been enjoying some banner years lately, with herd numbers at record levels, so maybe we’re a bit spoiled here. But it’s no secret the Game and Parks Commission in that state has been doing everything it can to balance the desires of hunters for more opportunity (and the dollars that generates) with the complaints from farmers clamoring for depredation tags. Up until now that has meant bonus tags, late antlerless seasons, and other methods to increase the deer harvest. Early indications coming out of recent informational town-hall meetings is that some of those opportunities may go away in 2013.
 
Considering that drought exacerbates the spread of EHD by concentrating deer herds around water sources, the worst may not be over. Much of the Great Plains is still experiencing drought conditions, and it’s going to take some heavy snowfall and an extremely wet spring to replenish the area’s lakes, rivers, ponds and reservoirs. Another EHD outbreak next summer would likely be devastating to deer herds on the Plains, although there is evidence that surviving deer exposed to EHD develop antibodies that may protect them from the virus in coming years.
 
Still, the 2012 season wasn’t all bad. In addition to the few photos of EHD-killed bucks like the one above, my inbox was full of pictures of happy hunters with their hands wrapped around some impressive antlers. And, despite the reduced deer numbers, the rut went off like a bomb in some areas, and with more of a slow burn in others – just like usual. Sure, we may have to get used to a new normal after more than a decade of inflated deer populations, but deep down, deer hunters are forever optimists, and despite the gloom and doom of 2012, we’ll all still be raring to get in the field come next fall.
 
We’ll see you then.

Comments (7)

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from uglymike wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Landowners clamoring for depredation tags? I knocked on over 100 doors this spring in my central Nebraska area, asking to hunt does only and was told no EVERY TIME! EVERY TIME! Are these the same landowners leasing their land for thousands of $$$, those leasing take a couple monster bucks, then go back to Alabama, Texas, or wherever with the incredibly liberal preference given to out of state hunters over Nebraskans? Why don't you report this reality of deer hunting in Nebraska?

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from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

EHD is not done affecting deer this season. The chronic form of the disease is still affecting deer. I know of at least 3 deaths within the last week that were initiated by EHD, but the final cause of death was likely infection. All of these deer had sloughed hooves, which is a symptom of the chronic form of the disease. It is possible that the chronic form of the disease can make affected deer more susceptible to secondary infections and thus death.

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from dbenear1985 wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Mike join the club it aint much diffrent here in kansas. I was told of a landowner getting depradation permits from one of they wildlife resource officers her in ks. I called to ask for permission to hunt and was told he already had a guy that was going to hunt the property and had feeders and cameras up for 6 months prior. Why is this landowner getting depradation permits if he is trying to attract deer to his land 6 months prior to deer season. Makes no sense to me you have a problem with deer but you feed them to keep them around, just plain senseless. Then not to mention the number of hunting leases around unless you got money its tough to find a place to hunt. All the farmers complain about the deer but dont want to let anyone hunt.

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from amoor983 wrote 1 year 16 weeks ago

I think landowners are becoming more concious of liability.

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from Joshua Wildin wrote 1 year 16 weeks ago

Mike you are right on. Same thing here in KS. Listen to landowners griping like crazy about the deer population, but then they won't let you hunt unless you have $2-3,000 for a lease that only gets hunted 2 or 3 times in the season. Getting very hard to enjoy my most favorite past time. Even harder that I may not get to share it with my kids. @amoor983. It has nothing to do with liability and everything to do with greed.

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from jsreynolds wrote 1 year 16 weeks ago

Well with land prices at a premium, drought, and taxes. If I owned a land in Kansas "which I have been shopping for three years" I think I would be reluctant to let someone hunt my land unless they put the effort in. Meaning helping the owner. I have never leased any land but have looked in to it. I buy gravel, mow, fix barns, run my loader, excavator, plant grass seed, and do just general labor for all my places. Then they still drive through food plots, walk through, and generally make it harder to hunt. Most don't put effort in to get permission. That's the world we live in things are tight get used to it. Greed HA. Ehd seemed to be hard on mature buck this year especially? Spent 150 plus hours in the stand only two and three year olds.

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from Steward wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Is it possible that our management techniques keep the herd at an "unnaturally" high level, resulting in heavy losses during bad years? Just wondering. As per the topic above...I offer huge thanks to the land-owners who have allowed me to hunt their property. At the same time, if I owned land as I would like to, the hunting rights would probably be reserved for immediate family, with a few rare exceptions.

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from uglymike wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Landowners clamoring for depredation tags? I knocked on over 100 doors this spring in my central Nebraska area, asking to hunt does only and was told no EVERY TIME! EVERY TIME! Are these the same landowners leasing their land for thousands of $$$, those leasing take a couple monster bucks, then go back to Alabama, Texas, or wherever with the incredibly liberal preference given to out of state hunters over Nebraskans? Why don't you report this reality of deer hunting in Nebraska?

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bioguy01 wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

EHD is not done affecting deer this season. The chronic form of the disease is still affecting deer. I know of at least 3 deaths within the last week that were initiated by EHD, but the final cause of death was likely infection. All of these deer had sloughed hooves, which is a symptom of the chronic form of the disease. It is possible that the chronic form of the disease can make affected deer more susceptible to secondary infections and thus death.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from dbenear1985 wrote 1 year 17 weeks ago

Mike join the club it aint much diffrent here in kansas. I was told of a landowner getting depradation permits from one of they wildlife resource officers her in ks. I called to ask for permission to hunt and was told he already had a guy that was going to hunt the property and had feeders and cameras up for 6 months prior. Why is this landowner getting depradation permits if he is trying to attract deer to his land 6 months prior to deer season. Makes no sense to me you have a problem with deer but you feed them to keep them around, just plain senseless. Then not to mention the number of hunting leases around unless you got money its tough to find a place to hunt. All the farmers complain about the deer but dont want to let anyone hunt.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from amoor983 wrote 1 year 16 weeks ago

I think landowners are becoming more concious of liability.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Joshua Wildin wrote 1 year 16 weeks ago

Mike you are right on. Same thing here in KS. Listen to landowners griping like crazy about the deer population, but then they won't let you hunt unless you have $2-3,000 for a lease that only gets hunted 2 or 3 times in the season. Getting very hard to enjoy my most favorite past time. Even harder that I may not get to share it with my kids. @amoor983. It has nothing to do with liability and everything to do with greed.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jsreynolds wrote 1 year 16 weeks ago

Well with land prices at a premium, drought, and taxes. If I owned a land in Kansas "which I have been shopping for three years" I think I would be reluctant to let someone hunt my land unless they put the effort in. Meaning helping the owner. I have never leased any land but have looked in to it. I buy gravel, mow, fix barns, run my loader, excavator, plant grass seed, and do just general labor for all my places. Then they still drive through food plots, walk through, and generally make it harder to hunt. Most don't put effort in to get permission. That's the world we live in things are tight get used to it. Greed HA. Ehd seemed to be hard on mature buck this year especially? Spent 150 plus hours in the stand only two and three year olds.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Steward wrote 1 year 6 weeks ago

Is it possible that our management techniques keep the herd at an "unnaturally" high level, resulting in heavy losses during bad years? Just wondering. As per the topic above...I offer huge thanks to the land-owners who have allowed me to hunt their property. At the same time, if I owned land as I would like to, the hunting rights would probably be reserved for immediate family, with a few rare exceptions.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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