Deer Crew Diaries - Entry XVIII
Posted: June 2, 2016
Those little buggers have been keeping our crews very busy. So busy, they don’t have time to write!
[Comments in brackets are by Jeannine and Duane]
From the Northern Crew:
Dear deer people,
Despite some setbacks, we managed to find another 7 fawns this week bringing our total up to 14 in the Susquehannock. Some days were more successful than others. Monday was a good one—we radio-collared 4 fawns that day alone!
However, as the week went on and the temperatures got hotter, deer seemed less active during daylight hours which made our job of spotting does with fawns more challenging. Tuesday and Thursday we didn’t capture a single fawn.
Tuesday we were preoccupied attempting to retrieve 4 VITs that had supposedly been expelled. Since it can take upwards of a day to receive the expulsion location from our GPS doe collars, the best we can do is estimate the VIT location (by biangulating the signal) and walk in from the nearest road. This entire process—from the telemetry walk-in to actually finding the VIT then grid-searching for fawns—can take hours (depending on distance, topography, and understory thickness).
To make matters worse, we discovered that 2 of these 4 VITs were not actually expelled. So we ended up spending the better portion of an afternoon trying to locate VITs that were still in does moving around (toying with our emotions and sanity)! On the flipside, we did find fawns with 2 other VIT expulsions earlier in the week.
Other news: I saw my first wood turtle this week! We have wood turtles back in Wisconsin too, but they are listed as threatened there. I also saw my first slimy salamander! A species not found in Wisconsin. Loving these PA critters.
From the Southern Crew:
Sorry for the delay. Fawn capture has kept me very busy! ☺
Where to start?! It was an amazing week! We captured a total of 9 fawns in Rothrock between 5/23 and 5/29. Five fawns were captured on Sunday 5/29 alone! A new crew member, Kara, also joined us in our fawn capture efforts.
First fawn capture for southern crew!
Two of our VITs in the Southern Study Area were expelled on 5/23 and 5/27. Due to the lack of cell service where my crew and I spent a majority of our day on Monday, we were not aware that the first VIT was expelled until about 1730.
We didn’t even get into the site until about 1900 and to our surprise, we had an easier time locating the fawn than we did the VIT. The VIT was deep into a thicket of barberry, honeysuckle and multiflora rose, while the fawn was on the side of the hill above the thicket. I don’t think we could have gotten any luckier that late in the evening.
The second VIT was expelled on Thursday night. Friday morning, our crew and Tess went in to find the VIT and hopefully fawns. Sure enough, this VIT site produced 2 fawns. The doe was just inside the thicket but sniffed us out and ran away before we got the chance to see her. Sarah and I did see the doe near her fawns while getting locations on Sunday though. She was running up the edge of the woods and continuously stopped to grab a bite to eat. Great to see!
Another fawn was captured and tagged on Tuesday in a woodlot. On the same day, Sarah and I saw a doe and a fawn in Rothrock, but they immediately ran out of sight. Although we were unable to capture this fawn, this was a good sign.
Seeing two fawns in one day meant the peak season was on its way! Wednesday, we actually saw one of our GPS-collared does in the same field that she had her fawn(s) last year. We were slowly seeing more individual does.
On Sunday, we captured 5 fawns. We actually couldn’t believe it! Three were captured in a single field, two of the three are likely siblings. The last two were captured in the woods.
Our final fawn capture of the day on Sunday came with a little help. We saw the doe earlier in the day and knew that she definitely had fawns. I spoke with some landowners and found out a fawn had been seen with the doe in that area a day prior. So after we finished pushing a field, I sent Julie and Levi to scout for the fawn before they headed home. They had impeccable timing and actually saw the fawn and doe together.
In other news, while separately driving around Rothrock searching for fawns, both trucks were lucky enough to come across Timber Rattlesnakes. One truck saw a yellow phase and one saw a black phase! Plenty of wildlife and wildflowers out now!
Field Crew Leader