If you see a lot of smiling hunters these days, all you have to do is check the weather for an explanation.
A relatively mild start to November changed last weekend and brought a string of downright chilly mornings. That helped duck hunters celebrate Sunday’s final day of the East Zone duck season, continued the spectacular duck hunting in the state’s West Waterfowl Zone (the West’s first split runs through Sunday), and triggered movement by whitetail deer.
It’s that deer movement that spurred David Moreland’s latest deer report.
Moreland, the retired state Wildlife Division chief, knows cold weather makes deer move. The reason is deer need to increase calorie intake to fuel body heat during the long, cold nights.
“With the abundant mast crop - there are acorns everywhere - hunters need to find what the deer are eating to understand where the deer are moving,” Moreland said.
He’s talked long and hard about acorns, about how large, white oak acorns are prime whitetail food, and the incessant need for deer to consume acorns for the fats, oils and tannins contained in these nuts. And Moreland has become a believer in “a picture is worth a thousand words” adage.
While his photo of the stomach contests of a deer he recently took from the Atchafalaya Spillway isn’t something you’d leave on a coffee table, it illustrates his insistence to hunters that finding oaks that have littered forests and swamps with acorns is the best way to ensure hunting success.
“Lots of acorns along with soybeans, fruits of the cucurbit plant and one locust pod is what this deer was eating,” Moreland said, adding he suspects with the broad landscape showing first-rate mast (tree nuts) production that deer across the southern parishes have a similar diet.
There was more to the cold front than the freezing temperatures: Moreland said the best part of the recent coldest cold snap of the season is the three days of rain that came with the front.
“These rains should help the plantings (food plots),” Moreland said, explaining that plots help deer and hunters, too, in the late season when “the native browse declines and deer desire succulent vegetation to go with their acorns.”
The Associated Press reported folks in Oxford, Miss., have come up with a way to take care of a burgeoning deer population: 32 bowhunters signed for the city’s urban deer hunt program.
The AP story said the program began last year after complaints about deer-vehicle collisions and animals wrecking gardens and landscaping.
Jimmy Allgood, the city’s emergency management coordinator, said hunters accounted for only 44 of the 109 deer killed inside the city last year. He said most of the rest died after colliding with cars.
The four-month bow hunt runs throughout the 2011-12 deer season. Hunters are assigned only where landowners request them. The city isn’t eradicating the deer but only thinning the population. The process is expected to take years.