Putnam 27th as deer harvest down but still top-10 season
Friday, March 7, 2014
The Putnam County harvest ranked 27th among Indiana's 92 counties in highest overall harvest with 1,772 deer taken during 2013. Of those, 787 were antlered deer, ranking Putnam 30th last year in that category.
Hunters took just under 1,000 antlerless specimens in Putnam County during 2013, harvesting 985 deer with antlers.
More deer were taken in 2013 in Putnam County than in all neighboring counties except Parke (2,445, including 907 antlered deer).
The 2014 deer harvests in the other contiguous counties were reported as Owen, 1,712 total deer; Morgan, 1,344; Montgomery, 1,120; Clay, 1,051, and Hendricks, 639.
The full harvest report is available at wildlife.IN.gov, under Featured Topics.
"Down about eight percent is very similar to what we're seeing in a lot of other Midwest states, so we're par for the course," Stewart said. "We're still harvesting a lot of deer. The 125,635 shows we're down but not collapsing."
At least two and possibly three factors contributed to the lower harvest -- carryover from a widespread outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) in 2012 and more in 2013, a record antlerless harvest in 2012, and the second season of new hunting regulations aimed at lowering deer densities in some areas of the state.
EHD, a viral disease transmitted by biting flies, was confirmed or suspected in 67 counties in 2012. It was reported in 23 counties in 2013, with 20 of them taking a hit for the second straight year. EHD is often fatal to deer.
"We had a record antlerless harvest in 2012 on top of a major disease outbreak, which tells us there were a lot less deer going into the season," Stewart said. "It was pretty easy to predict the harvest would be down."
It's less certain how much of a role the new hunting regulations played.
"It really complicates things as far as interpretation," Stewart said. "It's not clear if deer numbers were down because of EHD or our management efforts or a combination of both."
The number of deer harvested in individual counties ranged from 91 in Tipton County to 3,454 in Harrison County. The 2013 harvest exceeded 1,000 deer in 57 counties; 2,000 deer in 19 counties; and 3,000 deer in three counties.
Harrison County had the highest harvest with 3,454 deer. Washington, Switzerland, Franklin, Steuben, Noble, Parke, Jefferson, Lawrence and Orange counties rounded out the top 10.
Harrison County's total made it one of 10 counties with unofficial record harvests, compared to 35 record-setting counties in 2012.
Steuben, which had been the perennial top county until 2012, reported its lowest harvest total (2,652) since 1997 but still ranked fifth in the state.
Tipton had the lowest reported harvest with 91 deer, followed by Benton, Blackford, Hancock, Rush, Clinton, Wells, Howard, Shelby and Marion.
The firearms season accounted for 57 percent of the total, followed by archery at 27 percent. The muzzleloader (8 percent), late antlerless (5 percent), and youth season (2 percent) made up the rest.
Hunters had three options to report their harvest -- traditional in-person check stations, online or by phone. It was nearly an even split between check stations (64,740) and the online/phone method (60,895). Last year, just over 60 percent were reported at check stations.
The antlered buck harvest exceeded 1,000 in three counties, while the antlerless harvest exceeded 1,000 deer in 31 counties compared with 42 in 2011. Antlerless deer composed at least 50 percent of the total harvest in 90 of the state's 92 counties in 2013, similar to 2012.
Deer proliferation disrupts a forest's
the surface and
digging up the dirt, Cornell researchers have
a burgeoning deer population forever alters the
progression of a forest's
natural future by creating environmental havoc
in the soil and
disrupting the soil's natural seed banks.
by Altering Aboveground
Vegetation and Belowground Seed Banks,"
was published online March
7 in PLOS ONE.
natural establishment. In fact,
the deer are preventing forests from
establishing," says Anurag Agrawal,
Cornell professor of ecology and evolutionary
biology, a co-author on the
plants and rebuff invasive
species. The study showed that when deer
consume native plants, the
non-native species are left to flourish,
dropping seed in the soil.
overbrowsing(left)-low density deer
As forests normally mature, their grasses give way to
herbs and shrubs, and then new trees eventually
take root. Expanding deer populations in the
Northeast, however, stall forest development and
promote the growth of thorny thickets of buckthorn,
viburnum and multiflora rose bushes. If deer leave
the forests alone, such trees as cottonwood, locust
and sumac can sprout and grow unimpeded.
grazing on vegetation were severe and resulted
in bare soil and reduced plant biomass, less
recruitment of woody species and relatively
fewer native species. And the deer's negative
impact on seed banks resulted in significantly
decreased overall species richness and relatively
more short-lived species of both ann
ual and biennial plants.
professor of weed ecology and management, and
research technician Scott Morris gathered soil
cores – from both within and outside of fenced
"deer exclosures" – and germinated the seed.
They found the soil cores from outside of the
exclosures contained many more seeds from
Deer select forests for their trees but in doing
so disrupt forest system growth trajectories, concludes
above-ground species, but it's like an iceberg. There
are major effects below the soil surface. We are seeing
a divergence of seeds contained within the soil from
what should be there," says DiTommaso. "We are
not seeing the seeds of woody plants. Instead, we're
seeing an escalation of non-native seed and the
virtual elimination of woody plant seeds."