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2017 Winter Severity Index

Discussion in 'Michigan Whitetail Deer Hunting' started by Luv2hunteup, Nov 29, 2017.

  1. Trophy Specialist

    Trophy Specialist

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    I my neck of the U.P. it is very rare to see the abnormally small, fawn during the fall or abnormally small yearling deer, either bucks or does. If they are born late, they just don't survive. Also, most of the late born fawns are caused when fawns or yearling does are bred, which is also rare in my area (big woods, non-ag). In my area, on a good year, we only see about .5 fawns per doe in Nov. After hard winters, that ratio is worse. The small, weak ones just don't even make it to fall as they fall to predators since they are easier to catch than more well developed deer. It's easy to tell the difference between a fawn winter killed deer and older ones if you can see the skull, lower jaw, or even hoofs. Like I said before, I have only seen one winter in my area that killed a massive number of adult deer (1997). Other than that, the vast majority of winter killed deer remains that I have found were fawns even after years when yearling numbers may have been higher than fawns.
     
  2. Cork Dust

    Cork Dust

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    Here I thought I said that they had broadly similar risk of Winter-Kill with fawns where their surface area to volume ratios overlap, as well as that their degree of overlap with fawns is greater than the observer is able to detect by body size alone as a distinguishing criteria. But. since you have appointed yourself my official biographer, I'll defer to your "expertise". As I said earlier, the deer you call yearlings can be distinguished from fawns by tooth aging at 1.5YO or older. As a 'Trophy Specialist', I assume you already knew that...yet you didn't mention it in your definitive post on what weight range of deer constitutes a yearling and a fawn.

    So how many of the 52 WDCs do you do a walk-through each spring to support your statements regarding Winter-kill impacts only acting on fawns?
     

  3. Trophy Specialist

    Trophy Specialist

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    This year, if it's like the past 20 years, I will likely log hundreds of miles of "boots on the ground" in various WDCs in the central U.P. My observations concur with about every study I've ever read on deer winter kill in the U.P. in that the vast majority of those moralities are fawns.

    Now in the rare event that a fawn and a yearling have the same body size, then yes I would agree that they would likely have similar winter survival rates. But in my area of the U.P. it would be rare for a yearling deer to be the size of even a large fawn, so that point is moot in the big scheme of things. .
     
  4. Waif

    Waif Premium Member

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    We ought to be taking the deer' s side.
    Weight and mass are not a detriment going into winter when on the plus side of the scale.
    We know that.

    On the yarding site of the highest death rate encountered ,the group I was with agreed (unscientifically )that those deer that could not reach the very high browse line were the ones most stressed prior to dying.
    Making height ,and the ability to stand on hind legs to take advantage of it... the difference between browsing and starving.
    With fawns most vulnerable. Most dead were fawns.

    Yes that discounts temperature in a severity index. Winter was a major player with snow causing yarding in thermal cover in the first place though. Freeze or starve , or both combined. Once skeletal reserves are pulled on too hard it's over.
    Yarding areas providing thermal cover are finite. As is the browse in them.
     
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  5. Trophy Specialist

    Trophy Specialist

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    One thing that I've noticed in recent years is that browse in the WDCs in my area is coming back big time. Since deer numbers plummeted it has given the yards a chance to regenerate like I've not seen in my life. Cedar is sprouting all over the place and even maple is regenerating like crazy, which was unheard of years ago when deer numbers were higher. Right now, the deer in my area have virtually unlimited browse as long as they can get to it. On top of that wolf and coyote numbers took a plunge last year due to distemper, however bear numbers are sky high, so that advantage for the deer may be negated.
     
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  6. Waif

    Waif Premium Member

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    Good to read of the browse volume T.S !
     
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  7. Luv2hunteup

    Luv2hunteup

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    5 weeks and no update. The DNR’s wildlife budget must be real tight to not to be able to post an biweekly update.
     
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  8. Luv2hunteup

    Luv2hunteup

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    Not good, the DNR has removed the Winter Severity Index Page. Either they are in the process of updating it or the budget won’t allow for data collection anymore.
     
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  9. DirtySteve

    DirtySteve

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    Not sure why they ever did a bi weekly update to the public anyway. Seems kind of like a bit of a time waste to report out so often. As long as they are collecting the data they need once or twice a season a season is plenty for a report out to us. It isn't like my knowledge of the situation bi weekly is affecting anything. There is nothing that irks me more at work than preparing for a report to people who do nothing with the information.....just because.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
  10. Luv2hunteup

    Luv2hunteup

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    I can understand that when you live where there is only a few weeks of winter and the worst day of winter is like a mild November day in the UP.
     
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  11. Liver and Onions

    Liver and Onions

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    How much time is needed to do this type of update ? Nothing new is written. Dots are placed on the chart and a line is drawn to connect the dots.
    Someone has to collect and enter data, but they have been using this method for a long time so I would think that this is a smooth and quick procedure.

    L & O
     
  12. sniper

    sniper

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    Sounds to me like Dirtysteve is no dummy..
     
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  13. jr28schalm

    jr28schalm

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    Dumpster and no snow or clean and snow, guess I'll take clean and snow
     
  14. Trophy Specialist

    Trophy Specialist

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    Heaven forbid that the DNR should make public information of interest people.:rolleyes:
     
  15. Cork Dust

    Cork Dust

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    I like good fiction! You never told me that you actually age the dead deer you observe...no bias there.

    Okay, let's play the game according to your rules:

    1.) Only fawns die during winter 2.) Yearling bucks are larger than does, so they survive at 100% other than gun mortality. 3.)Does survive winter as well from yearling age on at 100%. 4.) For demonstration, zero mortality due to car-deer accidents, disease, and predation. 5.) Winter kill of fawns is a constant(not too far off the mark since we have not had a severe winter in several years).

    Start with identical cohorts of 150,000 yearling does and 150,000 yearling bucks. Let's assume a 40% hunting mortality with no doe season,which is UP representative right now. in year two, you would have 150,000 does and 90,000 bucks. Now, let's apply 30% as hunting motality, which puts us at 150,000 does at 3.5YO and 63,000 bucks. Now, lets apply a realistic 10% hunting mortality value for this last fall for these 4.5 YO deer, yielding 150,000 does and 56,700 bucks, at a 3:1 doe to buck ratio which is ideal. Now, let's sum these cohorts to build a deer herd that would consist of 600,000 does and 359,700 bucks, excluding fawns; nearly a million deer and a doe to buck ratio of less than 2:1. You can play with the the fawn winter kill value, to alter the yearling cohorts sizes, but this doesn't alter the sex ratio enough. The hunting mortality percentages are accurate representations as well. HMMMMMMMMMMMMM!

    So, if it is only fawns who die due to winter-kill events, or mostly fawns, this scenario does not "build" a herd that is realistically representative of what is out on the ground; confirmed, as you state, via your extensive scouting via boots on the ground in hundreds of miles covered in WDCs. If you add-in predation, which would be skewed toward more does dying, due to their greater abundance in the herd, you can't create a herd that is representative. IF you factor-in immature bucks who run themselves into the ground, elevating CPK levels and kidney failure from Rhabdo or winter-kill. you start to get to a representative herd, but this violates your premise that bucks are bigger so they don't suffer winter-kill. So, help me understand how your perspective is valid. Where did all those larger bodied bucks go over time to shift the doe to buck ratio up to a range of five to one or greater in the U.P.? Why did the herd not recover to higher values of these older age cohorts? Predation doesn't account for the elevated losses. Loss of winter habitat and consequent winter-kill does, particularly for bucks at older age classes than young of the year, specifically yearlings who doe the vast majority of the breeding via a hunt and chase approach wasting precious body fat.

    At the time of those two deadly winters in the mid-1990s the U.P. contained enough winter habitat to carry roughly 750,000 through a normal winter, yet we eventually ended-up with a herd of barely over 200,000 deer (some folks whose opinions I value, tie to the Upper Peninsula Haitat Working Group put this number at just over 150,000000 and the NRC talking about a season closure...