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Inconceivable!

Posted: February 19, 2015

The 2014 Deer Hunger Games have concluded. The tally of winners and losers has yet to be determined. But one winner and one loser will have you shaking your head in disbelief.

A few months ago, I spun a tale about the biggest 2-weeks of the year for deer and a majority of those who pursue them. I told you about the Katniss Everdeen of deer, a 13.5-year-old doe living in WMU 2G. This is an amazing feat but nearly a third of does in 2G are 6.5 years old or older. So while Ms. Everdeen may be the grand dame, there are a lot of old ladies with regard to the deer world in 2G.

Remember, this is quite different from does living in other areas of the state. Close to 90% of does will survive the hunting season each year in 2G. In WMU 2D, less than 70% survive their second season. As for old ladies, with only 7% of the does in 2D being 6.5 years old or older, the geriatric crowd is much smaller.

When I received a call last week regarding a doe that was harvested in 2D during the muzzleloader season that was also a PGC research alumna, I didn’t get that excited. While we have been tagging deer in that area since 2002, our last active trap year was only 4 years ago.

But when I checked the database, I did get excited! We first met this lovely lady in March 2003 not far from Echo, PA. Since she was tagged during the winter trapping season, she would have been classified as a fawn (~10 months old, born the previous year) or an adult (at least 22 months old or older). If she had been a fawn at time of capture, she would have been 12.5 years old when she was harvested. However, she was tagged as an adult. With no way to confirm her birth year, her minimum age would have been 13.5 years old. Astounding!

Now get ready to have your mind blown. When I checked my email this morning, a colleague received a report of an ear tagged deer making regular visits to someone’s back yard near Kittanning. Here it comes. This doe was tagged just a few hundred yards from this location in February 2003 as an adult…which means she is closing in on her 14th birthday this spring. But again this is a MINIMUM age for this girl. That’s 2 does tagged a month apart in Armstrong County over a decade old reported to us in under a week. What are the odds???

Our lovely lady from Echo won’t be getting any older but her “sister” is still keeping it real in ArmSTRONG County. Ms. Everdeen may still be out there too. That makes 3 confirmed reports of does in the last 4 months that are 13.5 years old from 2 different areas! Maybe I should start playing the lottery.

-Jeannine Fleegle, biologist
PGC Deer and Elk Section

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