Another archery season start with summer weather

Many different deer species may be infected with EHD, and white-tailed deer are highly susceptible, and experience high rates of mortality.

Much like October of last year, the weather is just too darn humid and warm to immerse myself full-bore into archery hunting.

This past Friday was my first excursion afield. The afternoon was cooler than the earlier part of week (but not by much), and with the urge to climb a tree and sit in my stand in the middle of a wild place digging away at my thinking, I headed to a first-rate bow-and-arrow place I’ve hunted uncountable times.

I was settled by 4:30 p.m. under cloudy skies, with no discernable winds. After about a minute or so of enjoying the feeling of once again hunting deer, insects started buzzing around my head.

Although I could have easily hunted in a short-sleeved shirt, I wore one with long sleeves. On my left hand, I wore a light glove, more for hiding that hand out of habit than any other reason, certainly not coldness. Within a minute I felt a prickle at the gap between the shirt sleeve’s ending and the glove’s top. Lifting the arm I saw two mosquitoes poking my exposed skin. A quick smack ended that, but the swatting and swinging at flying irritations never ended during that outing.

I did have a mature doe and her young fawn skirt past me at about 25 yards a half-hour before I returned to the ground as the woods darkened, which was rewarding. But I swore to myself not to return to trees with my climber until the colder weather comes, perhaps this upcoming weekend.

Speaking of bugs … A few blogs past, I wrote of warm weather and the possible problem of EHD (epizootic hemorrhagic disease) carrying midges biting and inflicting whitetails with the sickness, and causing their likely demise. Ironically enough, a short time after my writing this, news came of a serious deer die-off not too many miles from where I live and at an area I hunted often in years past.

In the Berks/Chester county area around French Creek State Park and a bit beyond, people started reporting many dead whitetails. According to Game Commission personnel I spoke with, the reports were within a few different townships in northern Chester and southern Berks counties.

The Game Commission confirmed dozens of dead deer, with some so decomposed that they were beyond testing. But the samples taken from deer still viable for testing did prove EHD as the culprit. Absurd as it is, a minor outbreak of EHD occurred last year in the same area, but was of a different strain of the disease. It is highly unlikely for the same EHD strain to strike in back-to-back years in the same area, but apparently possible for different strains to occur and kill deer.

In time, the herd will recover in this area, and perhaps there now exists a couple of survivors that carry the genetic marker that will allow future deer that have received this marker through their bloodlines the ability to survive future outbreaks of EHD.

As the earth warms and we do nothing about it, these current out-of-sight, out-of-mind problems caused by a midge that once was limited by early frosts may well become a large future problem. And that’s a scary thought.

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Pennsylvania – Ron Steffe, Whitetail Deer

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