Northeast Pennsylvania White Belly Deer Forecast: December 4
Six days of rifle hunting remain in Pennsylvania. Conditions will be rather favorable for hunters to either fill the freezer or score on a trophy buck. Deer movement on cameras and from hunter reports has slowed as last week progressed. Thankfully the pesky squirrels kept my camera taking pictures, otherwise, I would have questioned whether they were on. Check out this video about those pesky sons a bitches.
Our deer herd is about to experience a drastic change in their diet with winter approaching. With the lack of standing crops, fruit and plants, our deer will need to transition to winter food sources such as twigs and buds. Most of their nutrition in winter comes from buds. Inside the bud is a baby leaf that will unfold in the spring. Some varieties of trees and shrubs are more palatable and it is essential during this time for our deer herd to beef up before the harsh winter comes.
Leftover acorns will also provide a source of protein to the deer. In my area, the acorn mast was plentiful, but the deer seemed to leave the red acorns alone. Now that other food sources such as crops and herbaceous plants are gone, the acorns will look better. The focus for a whitetail deer in the coming weeks is to beef up for the winter ahead.
Speaking of beefing up, the deer that I have seen being processed are carrying more fat than I can remember. A few old-timers have predicted that we are in for a rough ride this winter. Whitetail will lose a good amount of weight over the next few months, but food is not all that they need. Minerals that we all think of for antler growth are also needed for immune system health and disease prevention.
All of this information brings us to a hot debate among hunters, animal lovers and the Game Commission. If the Game Commission had its way it would ban all supplemental feeding for wildlife. Feeding wild animals and especially deer can promote the spread of diseases among the herd.
Many diseases are spread through the deer’s saliva and multiple deer eating off the same pile of corn can spread the disease. By putting out food in an area, deer become more concentrated. Concentrating deer in a small area can also lead to the spread of disease and also have an impact on the habitat. Deer will not only eat the corn pile, but they will browse on the way to and the way from the corn pile.
In my area, a few of my neighbors feed throughout the year and one of my neighbors told me she feeds 100 pounds a week. I have to tell you, her feeding could not possibly be more detrimental to my hunting efforts. A ton of deer lay in a small patch of woods in her backyard and rarely traveled across the street to the woods where I hunt. I have no doubt that without her feeding, I would see more deer and have many more opportunities for success.
I have also heard from people that feeding corn in the wintertime kills deer. Does it? What are they like trout? So in their opinion, if a deer eats corn in the wintertime, that deer will drop over and take a dirt nap. How can this be when other states allow baiting and the primary food used to bait is corn? I guess you could still justify your argument by saying that those deer continue to eat corn throughout the year. To understand where this misconception comes from we have to look at how digestion changes in wintertime.
First and foremost, deer movement slows in wintertime drastically, much like you sitting on your fat behind and putting on that winter 15 pounds. Conversely, though, our deer actually lose a good amount of weight during this time. While corn or supplemental feed is an ideal food source for deer in the summer and fall seasons, it is not the intended food for this timeframe.
There is an adjustment as deer move from summer and fall food sources to winter food sources but isn’t there the same adjustment as deer move from winter to spring food sources? When a human switches from cheesesteaks and cheeseburgers to keto or some other bullshit diet, isn’t there an adjustment? Deer are resilient, and I find it incredibly hard to believe that a kernel of corn or two would drastically harm a badass deer.
So what is the answer to supplemental feeding in Pennsylvania? The answer in my opinion is consistency. The Game Commission needs to have the same rules for hunters as nature lovers. If my neighbor can feed the deer to watch them frolic with their fluffy little tails, then I can also feed the deer to shoot them and make them jerky. I tried really hard not to get pissed off in this article and now I’m doing it, so I better wrap it up. Conditions, as you can see, below are very good for this time of the year.
Take advantage of it. Good luck this final week, and check out the store for some cool gear.
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