I have been going to Bayfield County for gun hunting season for 28 years. Even though I now have my own land the tradition to go up North with the same group kept me going back up. Well I got an email from the owner of cabin that we stay at asking if we were coming back this year. So before I booked cabin I figured I would call DNR Biologist to ask how bad this winter was. He estimates that 30 % of the deer died due to this winter. He said that they were checking car killed and almost all were showing signs of severe starvation. He also said that almost all the surviving deer were now along the highways due to the ditches being the 1st for greenup making deer numbers appear to be still high which wasn't the case. He also said that it would be at least 3 years or more for numbers to get back to normal if we didn't have another severe winter. Our group only saw 3 deer last year hunting from 1st light until dark for 6 days. Looks like the tradition of going up North for gun season may be over.
This is very interesting....last winter was the last year of a 3 year winter kill study. Has anyone seen the results from this year? The first 2 years of the study indicated more deer were dead in the southern location, than the northern zone with much harsher conditions. This makes alot of sense to me because when you have an overpopulation, there is less browse....much less food. Since there is few deer "up north" to begin with, along with the constant logging. The deer always have food.
I had 60 deer eating on my neighbors red norway pines. They climbed up the snow bank along the road for the extra reach. Many parts of my area have 0 regeneration, and there is an overpopulation of deer. Easily over 100 deeer/ square mile of habitat, in some locations. Our coyote group found just over a half dozen dead deer, which surprised me. A few might have been wounded, but the majority were starvation. I didn't hear much about starvation from anyone either.
Far and away, most deer survived the winter. I don't know, you could say maybe a 2% mortality rate. It's interesting to see what that mortality study says. I just can't see such a drastic flop between the north and the south.
I know the antler devolpment is gonna suck again. But those old hags had 3" plus on their backs going into January. I would think they get pretty beefy up north too, but I've never shot a doe up there?