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Survival School

Posted: November 23, 2017

The most dangerous 2 weeks of the year are here…if you’re a deer.

I fly several times a year.  I can’t really concentrate on a flight so reading is not an option for me.  I can’t even leaf through the SkyMall catalog anymore to browse for bug vacuums and NapAnywhere pillows.  Why?  Because Wi-Fi and inflight entertainment killed it.  That’s ok.  I find this an acceptable substitute and I don’t have to worry about a purchase I might later regret.  

Discovery is one of my preferred inflight entertainment channels and I can usually catch several episodes of whatever is on the menu.  My most recent inflight guilty pleasure was Dual Survival with Joe and Cody, two survival experts.  Each episode places them in a different survival scenario.  I found it entertaining and slightly educational.  I mean who knows when I might find myself stranded in the South African bush.  

Since my last inflight viewing, Joe and Cody had a major falling out and have since been replaced.  Hey, survival can be stressful.  Just ask deer!

Next week 750,000 people armed with rifles and shotguns will enter the woods…looking for them!  What’s a deer to do?  Luckily, we here at the Deer-Forest Study have tips, strategies, and advice for those looking to make it through the most dangerous 2-weeks of the year. 

Since 2013, we’ve been tracking adult deer with GPS collars every 20 minutes during the gun season.  Here are the basics:

  • Deer are still most active at sunrise and sunset
  • Deer don’t necessarily take retreat on private ground
  • Deer don’t leave their home range

So if this is the case, how do they survive the upcoming invasion?  Some don’t but many more do.  The secret to celebrating the new year for a deer is having a hiding place and knowing how and when to use it.

Case Study: Hillside Doe

You may remember Doe 8921.   Living though one hunting season is key to surviving subsequent seasons.  That’s because a good hiding spot has already been identified and the minute hunting season opens that’s where she goes.  And boy is it a good hiding spot – rocky, thick, and steep. Inaccessible from every direction!  

Case Study: Super Smart Bucks

Buck 8917 uses a hiding spot too but he likes to be king of the mountain.  Bucks use ridgetops with significant vantage points.  They, like hunters, play the wind.  Buck 8917’s hiding spot allowed him to survey the prevailing winds from the west and provided a barricade from the east.  A fortress, if you will, where he was protected in all directions.  

It turns out deer don’t need tips, strategies, and advice for surviving hunting season.  Deer have graduated from survival school with flying colors.  Instead, it’s hunters that need tips, strategies, and advice for a successful hunting season!  

So how can you outsmart the smartest deer in the woods?

  • Don’t give up on afternoon hunts – many deer begin moving after lunch
  • Reconsider the tree stand – the older, smarter deer are sitting still just like you
  • Hunt cooperatively – you’re never going to sneak up on their hiding place…or get there before them
  • Look at topography and habitat and identify potential hiding spots

Deer make Cody and Joe look like amateurs.  So good luck next week.  You’re taking on a critter that wrote the book on survival.  

-Jeannine Fleegle and
Duane Dienfenbach

 

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