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Fair weather: Too pleasant for hunting

Fair weather: Too pleasant for hunting
Strong winds and heavy rains ushered in the opening weekend of deer season, however by Sunday, most hunters were forced to trade in their boots and warm woolies for a t-shirt and sunscreen as temperatures pushed into the 70s under bright, sunny skies. Summer weather has been the norm this fall and deer dont move much in such heat. Were still waiting for a killer frost. The storm did knock down alot of the leaves and open the woods a bit. The contours of the land are becoming more evident while exposing the little hilltop knobs and patches of greenery, which provide ideal cover for deer. Foliage has already advanced into its golden age as the vibrant reds, crimsons and oranges of peak color are replaced by leaves of dull yellow, gold and tan. In a few weeks, these trees will be reduced to mere skeletons, except for the conifers. Even the High Peaks, which sported winters white cap for several days last week, are again bare. Adirondack deer are difficult to pattern, since they dont move to and from established feeding areas as they do in agricultural lands. Whitetails are browsers; feeding as they walk through the forest. Depending on the food source, they may be in the hardwoods after beechnuts or acorns; in the lowlands after ferns or in the berry bushes nipping buds. A successful hunter can recognize these major sources of deer feed and will be there at the appropriate time. This year, it seems even this has changed as Wayne Failing, a longtime hunting guide from Lake Placid, recently explained. Ive just spent the last seven days in the woods. The dry summer didnt produce much of a mast crop, Failing revealed, And the deer werent up in the hardwoods after beechnuts where we usually find them. Its been too dry. We took two and their stomachs were full of grass. No nuts!, he continued, Its been so dry that theyre bunched up around water. Youll find them by the streams, the ponds, the green areas. For New York hunters, Wayne Failings description constitutes a double-barreled dose of bad news! Read on...... New deer disease found in New Yorks herd
Initially, it was Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a disease of deer and elk. The potential threat of CWD shut down a time-honored tradition of supplemental feeding of deer across the state; a ban that continues to ruffle feathers across the North Country. The first case of CWD discovered in New York occurred in April, 2005, on a deer farm in Onieda County. Subsequent investigations revealed that CWD had spread to at least two deer in the wild population in close proximity to the affected farms. The discovery of the disease in New York was the first case of CWD located east of Illinois. However, it has since been confirmed in West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. After the discovery, a containment area was established in the vicinity of the initial cases. Hunters are still required to present all deer harvested, within the Oneida-Madison Containment Area, for inspection. Since that time, the NYSDEC has tested over 5,000 deer annually statewide. Fortunately, no further positive cases of the disease have been found. Although CWDs initial threat appears to have been contained, another deadly, exotic disease has recently reared its ugly head in the Empire State. It happened in early October, 2007, when the DEC confirmed that Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) was discovered in several deer found dead in Albany County. While EHD is new to New York, it has been around for years in other states along the eastern seaboard. Currently, conditions are ideal for the disease to spread. Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD), like CWD, is common to white-tailed deer, but rarely affects other species. It occurs in the driest part of the year when conditions are just right for biting gnats, the carriers of the disease. The disease is not contagious from one animal to another, and it is not transferable to humans. It comes from a virus carried by biting gnats that live in or near water and wet, muddy areas. It is transmitted to deer that congregate at such watering holes during warm, dry weather. The spread of the disease is usually cut short when colder, wetter weather spreads deer out and away from gnat-infested areas, or the first hard frost, which will kill the disease-carrying gnats. Since the incubation period for the disease is five to 10 days, afflicted deer may be observed up to a couple of weeks after frost. Deer in the early stages of EHD may appear lethargic, disoriented, lame, or unresponsive to humans. As the disease progresses the deer may have bloody discharge from the nose, lesions or sores on the mouth, and swollen, blue tongues. They become emaciated because they stop eating. Sometimes they even stop drinking, although many die close to or in water. DEC is requesting help from hunters and the general public to help contain this latest threat. Dead or sick deer found anywhere in the state should be reported to the nearest regional DEC office as soon as possible, or to 1-800-TIPP-DEC.

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