It's shaping up to be a tough winter on whitetails, especially in northern locations. A combination of heavy snow cover and sub-zero temperatures will no doubt take its toll.
Research done at the University of New Hampshire found that the average mature doe enters winter with a three-month supply of fat on her body. In tough times of heavy snow and super cold temperatures, this is what she will live on. Every day she can’t find food or doesn’t get out to forage, she burns fat to stay alive. The colder the winter and the more snow on the ground, the more fat she will burn. Once the fat is consumed, the body starts burning muscle until starvation and death. Are your deer in danger?
Deer researchers in most Northern states keep track of winter stress by looking at snow cover and temperature. They use a tracking tool called the Winter Severity Index (WSI). Basically, the WSI tracks snowfall and temperature from December 1 through April 30 and gives an indication as to its impact on deer. Any day where temps drop to zero or under gets scored as a 1. Additionally, any day where there is 18 inches of snow or more on the ground also gets scored as a 1. So, if 12 days in January had an 18-inch cover of snow and 6 days dropped to zero or below, the score for January would be 18. A seasonal score of 50 or under = mild winter, 51-80 moderate, 81-100 severe, and over 100 very severe. Severe and very severe winters generally mean reduced deer numbers due to winter kill. The fawns generally go first followed by the infirmed and finally healthy deer. [ Read Full Post ]