The youth waterfowl season as well as the regular waterfowl opening weekend has come and gone. The weather was certainly less than desirable. It was more like golf weather instead of duck hunting weather. Sunny, south winds, and short sleeve weather is not ideal for waterfowl movement.
However, we made the best of it. I was actually impressed with the numbers of ducks that we saw despite the warm weather. Mallards, teal, and a gadwall were part of the bag. The resident geese population has become unreal. Unfortunately, these birds get harder and harder to hunt as the older and wiser birds are teaching the youngsters how to stay safe. The weather prediction looks like it is going to turn more “ducky” by mid week, so hopefully that will help with the success.
• Outdoors enthusiasts interested in learning to field dress and butcher their own white-tailed deer are encouraged to attend a free informational workshop provided by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife on Wednesday, Nov. 8, Trained professionals will cover topics such as field dressing, skinning and butchering deer.
The workshop will be held from 6-9 p.m. at the Wildlife District One Office, located at 1500 Dublin Road, Columbus, 43215. The workshop is free of charge. Pre-registration is required as space is limited. Register by calling Derek Klein at 614-644-3925, or email Derek.Klein@dnr.state.oh.us. The course takes place outdoors and is hands on. Please dress appropriately for the workshop and for the weather.
For information on Ohio’s deer seasons, please visit wildohio.gov.
• The 2017 acorn mast survey conducted on 37 wildlife areas throughout Ohio shows a below average year for white oaks and above average red oak acorn production, according to the ODNR. Ohio’s fall crop of acorns is an important food source for more than 90 forest wildlife species, and mast crop abundance can influence hunting plans.
ODNR Division of Wildlife employees scanned the canopies of selected oak trees on wildlife areas to determine the percentage of trees that produced acorns and the relative size of the acorn crop.
Results showed that an average of 29 percent of white oaks and 57 percent of red oaks bore fruit this year. Over the past five years, acorn production has oscillated from above to below average, and this year red oaks were just above the 13-year average, while white oaks remained below average for the third year in a row.
In addition to determining the presence or absence of acorns, observers estimated the percentage of each tree’s crown that was covered with acorns. For 2017 average crown coverage of acorns for white oaks was just over 7 percent. Average crown coverage of acorns for red oaks was 21 percent this fall. Average crown coverage this year remained well below average for white oaks, while reds were slightly above average.
Wildlife prefer white oak acorns because red oak acorns contain a high amount of tannin and taste bitter. White-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and squirrels concentrated near areas with heavy crops of white and chestnut oak acorns. In areas with poor acorn production, these animals are more likely to feed near agricultural areas and forest edges.
Past years with poor acorn production has translated to improved deer hunter success rates, particularly among archery hunters. This year’s poor white oak mast crop will likely cause deer to spend more time searching for food in areas where white oaks dominate. Conversely, the above average red oak mast crop could lower hunter success in areas dominated by red oaks.
Acorns are an important food source for many forest wildlife species. Numerous studies have linked the abundance of acorn mast crops to body condition, winter survival, and reproductive success of wildlife including white-tailed deer, wild turkey, black bears, gray squirrels and ruffed grouse.
This is the 13th year the ODNR Division of Wildlife has completed the acorn mast survey.
• The ODNR continues to monitor Ohio’s deer herd for Chronic Wasting Disease. Portions of Holmes and Wayne counties will retain their designation as a Disease Surveillance Area 2015-01 as part of the state’s ongoing surveillance efforts for Chronic Wasting Disease, according to the ODNR. This designation requires that additional rules be followed in this area.
In 2014 and 2015, 19 captive white-tailed deer tested positive for CWD at a shooting preserve and a breeding facility in Holmes County. Since discovery of the first positive in fall 2014, ODNR Division of Wildlife staff have tested nearly 1,600 wild and captive deer within the DSA with the cooperation of hunters and local landowners. CWD has not been detected from any wild deer tested from DSA 2015-01.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing
Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.