The Kansas deer herd, including whitetails and mule deer, is stable at about 650,000 animals combined, says Lloyd Fox, Big Game Program Coordinator for Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.
“The herd is doing fine,” says Fox. “There is CWD [chronic wasting disease] in the northwest quarter of the state but it has not caused population changes yet. There was an EHD [epizootic hemorrhagic disease] die-off in the eastern third of the state last summer and fall but it did not appear to cause a significant decline in the herd level. It was widespread but spotty and with minor mortality.”
Does came into spring fawning in fine shape, and, with decent amounts of precipitation over the winter and into the spring, forage was abundant and healthy. That forage was still fair by mid- summer, but drought was beginning to take its toll, reducing the available browse and compromising the nutritional value of remaining vegetation.
By early August, Kansas landowners were reporting dead deer on their properties, most often in the vicinity of water–usually a sign that EHD was involved (as deer afflicted with the disease become extremely thirsty). While the vast majority of these reports involved only a deer or two, it is noteworthy that the reports fielded by Wildlife and Parks came from at least 24 counties in north-central and eastern Kansas.
Said Fox, in an agency press release, “EHD probably occurs to some extent every year in Kansas. Occasionally, there are years when the disease causes high mortality. The department adjusts future management [in that case], such as antlerless-only seasons and numbers of permits, as a result of those events.”
Deer hunters have their fingers crossed that the EHD will remain spotty and that such adjustments won’t be necessary.
The Midwestern Regional Report
Winter in the Midwest was mild to nonexistent, and deer herds came into spring in very good shape. However, drought could be an issue in some states. “Hard and soft mast crops will likely be compromised, and clover and row crop production is threatened by dry conditions,” says Iowa deer biologist Tom Litchfield. In parts of Indiana and Illinois, some farmers were forced to plow under failing corn or chop it up for cattle feed in midsummer. Deer numbers are stable to growing in most locales, though disease is taking a toll in several states. North Dakota is still reeling from last year’s EHD outbreak, CWD is spreading within Illinois and Wisconsin, bovine tuberculosis is still a concern in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, and Nebraska and Missouri experienced EHD outbreaks this summer.
Top Trophy Zones
IL: Pike, Adams, Brown, and Fulton counties.
KS: Units 11, 12, and 16.
KY: Christian, Grayson, Hardin, Hart, Muhlenberg, and Ohio counties.
MI: Calhoun, Cass, Jackson, and Washtenaw counties.
MN: Zone 3. This fall will be the third year of antler-point restrictions here.
MO: Saline, Putnam, Calloway, Chariton, and Cooper counties.
NE: Since 2005, hunters have taken 44 record-book mule deer bucks in Cherry County, including a 171 2⁄8 typical in 2010 and a 210 4⁄8 non-typical in 2005.
OH: Muskingum County.
WI: Buffalo, Trempealeau, and Waupaca counties. Between 2005 and 2010, the Dairy State led all other states with 383 Boone and Crockett entries.