"We check very few old bucks at meat lockers each year, but do check some older than 5 and a half every year. I checked a 10-and-a-half-year-old buck a few years ago that had a decent 10-point rack but looked to be in pretty poor body condition," he said.
Nevertheless, Reed said some of the assertions made during the show sound plausible.
For example, it is well documented that bucks lose body condition during the rut - at times losing 20 percent of their body weight - and must rebuild fat reserves following the rut to increase their chance of survival.
An early onset of severe winter weather can make putting those reserves on even more difficult, he noted.
But, Reed said the harsh weather and poor nutrition here plays as big a part in bucks, and does for that matter, dying at a young age as the rut.
And, Reed said, DEC staff rarely find a dead buck in the deer yards during their annual spring dead deer surveys.
"Our whitetails have been dealing with the rigors of breeding and harsh winters for many thousands of years, so I think they have evolved a solid strategy for survival," he said. "Evolution favors the strategy that leads to the perpetuation of the species, not necessarily the longevity of individuals."
Air rifle, firearm safety training offered
Warren County 4-H is offering a great course on air rifle training for kids age 10 or older. The class will take place in three sessions - Thursday, Jan. 28, from 6-8 p.m.; Thursday, Feb. 4, from 6-8 p.m.; and Saturday, Feb. 6, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and will include all fundamental safety steps for handling a firearm. Examples include muzzle control, use of personal safety equipment, range rules, developing a sight picture, etc. The air rifles, pellets, pellet traps, and safety glasses are all provided for this event by Warren County 4-H.
Warren County 4-H instructors are all either state, or nationally certified in their area of discipline. Safety is always the primary focus of the program. The students must attend all three classes to participate.
All participants must be registered 4-H members to participate for insurance reasons. The $5 fee for non-members includes a membership in Warren County 4-H. The program is free for current 4-H members.
For more information or to pre-register, call 623-3291 or 668-4881.
John Gereau is managing editor of Denton Publications and an avid outdoorsman. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.