Steve D

Most Deer Survived Harsh 2018-19 Winter Conditions

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A map showing the winter severity index for whitetail deer across New York State.For most, this past winter didn’t appear overly harsh for whitetail deer. Several mid-winter thaws reduced snow depths, and overall temperatures were slightly more moderate than prior winters. The Winter Severity Index (WSI) map confirms these assertions. WSI is calculated by adding the number of days with a snow depth of at least 15’’ to the number of days when the minimum temperature was 0°F or below. However, there are many other factors that play a part in a whitetail’s ability to withstand winter conditions. Here are some reasons why this past winter may have proven a bit harsher than indicated by the WSI:

  • Limited natural foods in the fall—Portions of NY experienced mild drought which lessened production and nutrition of grasses, forbs, and soft mast (berries, cherries, apples). Then, hard mast (acorns, beechnuts) production was lower than average as well, so many deer went into winter with reduced fat reserve.
  • Early snow— November’s snowfall was double its average. Deep, heavy snow blanketed much of NY, hampering deer movements to late season food sources. Bucks burned more energy searching for does during the rut as well.

Seemingly, most deer pulled through despite some mortality reports. Hopefully this winter serves as a reminder to the importance of managing deer herds and habitats for a sustainable future. Cutting brush, opening the canopy, and removing adult does when necessary facilitates healthy deer populations. Consider ways you can improve habitat quality through forest management and creation of young forest to better equip deer to withstand New York’s dynamic winters.

Edited by Steve D

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From what I've seen on my hunting properties this spring, the deer came through the winter just fine.

Man, deer are some tough critters. And I gain more respect for them each year.

Edited by grampy
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Good news for us. Bucks made it out in better shape and more doe around. Hopeing the harvest numbers will coaberate with this article come deer season. Already excited for what it holds

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We noticed a ton of deer this winter and spring in 8P. 

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"We Feed 'em"

"He Breeds 'em"

Legends Lodge, "Where Legends are born"

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