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Deer Crew Diaries - Entry XX

Posted: June 15, 2016

Our crews had a very vanilla week.
Losey Vista at dawn, Susquehannock State Forest (click image for larger view)

Losey Vista at dawn, Susquehannock State Forest (click image for larger view)

It’s been an intense few weeks.  Fawns get faster every day.  Good for the fawns, bad for our crews.

[Comments in brackets are by Jeannine and Duane]

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From the Northern Crew:

Dear deer people,

I was away last week attending my best friend’s wedding. While I enjoyed my time in Wisconsin, it’s good to be back in PA! Thankfully, I have an all-star crew that took on the added responsibilities in my absence. I can’t thank them enough! Of their own free will, they have been working 15-hour days, sunup to sundown, trying to find as many fawns as possible given the brief time we have to do so--and it’s paying off.

We are up to 28 fawn captures in the Susquehannock, but they are becoming more & more difficult to catch with each day that goes by. Our largest fawn so far was almost 16 pounds! [Now that’s a vanilla fawn!]  I saw one that I briefly mistook for an adult (until I saw its spots) it was that big. We had another fawn bust right through the bottom of the pillowcase we use to weigh them. [And that’s why they are tagged and collared BEFORE they are weighed.]  Sadly, we couldn’t get a weight on that fella… but we have the photo evidence to show for it.

Large fawn

All fawns are being monitored twice a day for mortality signals.

In the afternoon hours when deer are less active and more difficult to spot from the trucks, we occasionally meet up to comb through open areas along the forest edge or recent timber sales hoping to find bedded fawns. So far, we haven’t had much luck with this approach. However, with a group of 9 people this week, we did kick up one fawn that we managed to get a hand on briefly but it was still too speedy for the likes of us measly 2-leggeds.

Searching for fawns

Given their increasing size and speed, this upcoming week will probably be the last for fawn captures. We still have 3 VITs that haven’t been expelled, but I’m starting to think maybe those does aren’t pregnant… time will tell! [since this was written 1 of those VITs was expelled, but no luck finding a fawn]

-Hannah
Field Crew Leader
PGC Deer and Elk Section

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From the Southern Crew:

Hi all,

We managed to capture 4 more fawns this week bringing our total captures to 18 in the Southern Study Area.  Tying us up with last year. This week, we missed at least 10 additional fawns in the hay fields, all too fast and furious for us to catch.

You would think that the thick hay would trip them up but really the hay fields have provided them with a semi-open area to escape with few barriers. They have no problems running through the hay while we sometimes struggle to pick our feet up while chasing after them. 

We were given dip nets to help us catch the fawns that had been outrunning us for a week, but we ended up capturing a very young fawn on the very same day that we got our first dip net. Funny how things work out!  So far, the nets have helped us capture one fawn, our 18th

Small young fawn

We were quite surprised to find out that two of our VIT fawn siblings are separated by about 700 meters. One fawn resides in the hay field/wood line near where it was born, while the other has taken refuge on top of the mountain. These fawns are a little over two weeks old and the fawn on the mountain traveled there within the first week after birth. [By day 2, twin fawns are on average 90 meters apart. This distance increases each day for the first 8 days of life.] 

I instantly thought that the fawn had been taken to the mountain by a predator, but did not understand why the collar had not gone into mortality mode. Then, I thought that maybe there had been some sort of bad signal bounce.  So I spent days walking the area trying to find the sweet spot. After about a week of continued confusion, I finally decided that we needed to check this out.

Levi and I found a driveway that took us to the top of the mountain where the signal of the collar was very strong. We spoke with the landowner and he said that his dogs had been investigating the same brushy area for about a week. The area the landowner led us to was the same area that my antennae was pointing. Using the telemetry, I located the bright-eyed fawn who was hiding only a few feet from me. I reached down to remove the mountain laurel from in front of the fawn and …ZOOOOMM… off he went! We were shocked and very excited to find out how far apart doe 17175 had separated her fawns.

In other news, the crew stumbled upon a sow with three cubs outside of Rothrock State Forest. I’ve been missing out on some of the fawn capture fun as I spend much of my days obtaining locations on the fawns.

Sow with cubs

Unfortunately, we’re beginning to think that the fawn capture season will be wrapping up for us soon, probably within the next week. We’ll be sad to have to say goodbye to this capture season. C’mon, just a few more weeks, please!

-April
Field Crew Leader
PGC Deer and Elk Section

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