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  1. Lou 20. Sep, 2012 at 7:39 pm #

    Does New York have enough nutrition and habitat to support our whitetail deer population?

  2. Dick Henry 20. Sep, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

    Great question, Lou…. Does NY have enough habitat and nutrition ?

    Unfortunately it’s really not a simple “yes” or “no” answer because there is considerable variation in both quality and abundance of good deer food throughout the state.

    That’s why there are 96 Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) in NY. There was a time decades ago when NY only had three deer “zones”; that was expanded in the 1960’s and 1970’s to about a dozen areas and then concept of managing by specific WMU’s began in the mid 1980’s. Minor adjustments to the boundaries have occurred in recent times, however, the boundaries will never be perfect, no matter how much tweaking occurs.

    Having said that, some units are in decent shape, although many are not when it comes to quantity and quality of food, particularly winter food. I had the opportunity to get into some locations this past spring, where I did winter browse surveys and dead deer surveys decades ago and was amazed at the loss of under-story and preferred deer browse. Forests mature, sunlight doesn’t hit the forest floor and regeneration (browse) suffers. This is especially so within the Catskill Forest Preserve as Scot notes. (As an aside, changing the Forever Wild clause entails a change to Article 14 of the NYS Constitution and requires approval by the Legislature in two sessions, followed by a public referendum in the next General Election. None of us should hold our breath for that to happen.)

    I am pleased to see that NYSDEC is planning to address the issue of forest habitat quality in their recently released Deer Plan, but in some areas restoration of the nutritional base is long overdue and may be difficult to achieve. Alternative harvest strategies such as AR’s can temporarily increase a local population, but ultimately the factors that affect long term recruitment to the population should settle out if properly timed and regulated female harvests are realized.

  3. Ron 03. Oct, 2012 at 8:17 pm #

    Dick, last year i participated in your deer aging class at Jim Browns taxidermy shop and you had mentioned that you may do another one this year. Do you have any intention of doing another class? im sure many local guys would be interested. Thanks.

  4. Dick Henry 04. Oct, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    If there is interest, I’ll be glad to do another deer aging class for members of HVS.

    Deer aging by the tooth wear and replacement method is not that difficult to learn. I have a collection of about 300 jaws and in the class I build a complete set of age classes from fawns all the way up to 10.5 year old deer, year by year, in front of each group of two participants. With my current inventory of jaws, I can handle 16 participants and the class can be done in about 4 hours.

    I do not seek to make a profit off the backs of sportsmen. I have used commercial locations and was never comfortable with their much higher charges to participants. For logistics, I need a location with tables, chairs and electric. A firehouse, sportsmen’s club or community center works well. Numerous handouts are included and I only ask that HVS members reimburse me for my materials and handouts which figures out to about $8 a head.

    If there is interest, let either Ron or I know. It’s better to do it before the rut kicks in and if someone can offer up a location, that would make easy to do.

    Being able to put an age to your deer adds another dimension to your deer hunting.


  5. Doug 08. Oct, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    I found a scrape hunting yesterday afternoon.I looked from a few feet away and noticed different sized prints.Last year I was told there are two kind of scrapes community and single scrapes.Are community scrapes usually the first ones to show up? Also reguarding rubs a good friend told me they usually face bedding or feeding areas.So when looking at a rub thats rub faces the direction the buck came from?

  6. Brownie 08. Oct, 2012 at 8:20 pm #

    My shop is available again, be happy to do it. Brownie

  7. Dick Henry 10. Oct, 2012 at 12:07 pm #

    Thanks for your question about scrapes and rubs. There has been considerable research and volumes that have been written about the role and purpose of rubs and scrapes over the years. Scent post behaviors play an important role in white-tailed deer reproduction and are a key to timely, successful breeding especially in populations with a balanced age and sex structure.

    More than one deer will use a scrape, and higher deer densities can result in more noticeable “community scrapes” while lower deer densities tend to produce single owner scrapes. In the case of community scrapes it can allow for a hierarchy of dominance and is more likely in locations that have a balanced age ratio among the bucks. Some studies have documented that younger bucks with limited pheromones quickly yield the scrape sight to the older boys.

    Here’s a link to one of the better discussion of scrapes:


    Rubs are generally on the side of the tree from which the buck approached, so yes, it is likely that the buck’s route of travel can be determined from rub. However, this may not be the case with smaller rubs by younger bucks who may be wanderers and have little fidelity to the area.

    Here’s a link to one of the better articles about rubs:


    (Dr. Karl Miller, of the University of Georgia, is an excellent source of information on white-tailed deer.)

    White-tailed deer breeding behavior is both variable and complex. As we enter the eighth year of yearling buck conservation in some of the Ulster County WMUs, we are experiencing a deer herd that has not been seen by our hunters in many decades. There is a dynamic of the deer herd that is missing when doe-to-buck ratios are skewed and normal buck age structures are absent. Sign post behaviors of older, mature bucks are one of the key satisfactions of deer hunters.

    Good luck hunting this fall !!

  8. Mike 14. Oct, 2012 at 9:55 am #

    Dick, I was wondering what your predictions are for the peak rut time this year. i live in sullivan county, thanks

  9. Dick Henry 15. Oct, 2012 at 10:48 am #

    Thanks for your question about the peak of the rut, Mike.

    While there are many who attempt to predict the timing and sequence of white-tailed deer breeding activity, few do a more thorough and concise job than Charlie Alshiemer. His predictions hinge on the second full moon after the Autumn Equinox and it’s a little earlier this year.

    Accordingly, his predictions for the 2012 season are as follows:

    Seeking Phase: From Oct 29 thru Nov 5

    Chasing Phase : Nov 2 thru Nov 9

    Breeding Phase: Nov 9 thru Nov 16

    There is some overlap in these projections and certainly other events such as intense climatic conditions, sex ratios and local disturbances can effect deer reproductive behavior on a small area scale.

    Limited recent research done in NYS from 2006 to 2008 regarding deer conception dates tends to show a similar trend, with an average peak of breeding occuring around November 16 in portions the Southern Zone. However depending upon when opening day of the regular gun season occured, that date could be questionable. As many as 45% of the bucks are often killed on opening day and dead bucks don’t breed.

    All things considered, early to mid Novemeber is a great time to be afield deer hunting in NY.

    Good luck hunting this fall !


  10. Brownie 20. Oct, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

    Hi Dick. Is there formula for estimating the weight of a Black Bear, using length , girth or some other measurement. Thanks Brownie

  11. Dick Henry 24. Oct, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    Thanks for your question on bear weights, Jim.

    Tools for estimating black bear weights have been studied in many bear ranges in North America. Trying to derive a single formula for estimating live weights has been pretty elusive. Bear feeding preferences, the quality of their range and available forage have resulted in some significant statistical variations. Most of the research has focused on chest girth and weight relationships, and even that will vary between the sexes. Accordingly it has been pretty difficult to derive a single, one-size-fits-all formula for estimating bear live weights throughout the many individual black bear ranges.

    When DEC was working on the Catskill bear research in the 1970’s and 1980’s we attempted to weigh every bear taken by hunters in an effort to relate size and age by sex. Since black bears can gain as much as two pounds a day when they are engaged in their fall food eating binge, body weights could very quickly increase. To the best of my knowledge a formula using chest girth/body weight that was specific for New York black bears was never developed.

    However, if you have a dressed weight there is a simple live weight/dressed weight relationship formula that was developed for New York black bears when both weights were determined during field examinations.

    If you know the dressed weight of a bear, you can get a reasonable estimate of its live weight using the following calculations:

    – For a bear with a dressed weight of 250 pounds or less, add 11 pounds and divide by 0.9 to estimate live weight.

    – For a bear with a dressed weight over 250 pounds, add 15 pounds and divide by 0.9 to estimate live weight.

    You will come pretty close with these calculations.

  12. Brownie 24. Oct, 2012 at 6:58 pm #

    Thank You Dick, I kind of thought that. I’ve seen Black Bear weights vary so much when they are the same length.I don’t have any trouble estimating weights on smaller bears, but when they hit that 400 lb. Mark it gets tricky. Thanks again. Brownie

  13. Tadeybug 12. Nov, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    Hi Dick. This morning I saw a doe that had two inch spikes on her head. Is that from some sort of mutation, crossed up genes or a specific gene that is passed down to offspring. Thanks, Lance

  14. Dick Henry 16. Nov, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

    Thanks for your question about a doe with antlers, Lance.

    White-tail does will occasionally grow antlers, and it is usually the result of a hormone imbalance. Does normally have just a trace of testosterone in their bodies, however in rare cases it can occur in much higher levels, resulting in antler growth. There are three surges of testosterone during the antler cycle: the first surge causes antlers to begin growing, the second surge causes velvet to be shed and the third surge results in the antlers being shed. Doe antlers are usually a single, unbranched spike and often they can be permanent antlers if there are no subsequent surges of testosterone. In very rare cases where the deer was a true hermaphrodite (both sex organs present) antlers were grown and shed just like a regular buck.

    Interestingly some other members of the deer family such as reindeer and caribou, the females will also grow and shed antlers annually, although the female antlers are generally considerably smaller than male antlers.

    Some authorities have speculated that the likelihood of a white-tail doe growing antlers is about 1 out of every 5,000 deer. Suffice to say that it is rare. I’ve seen about a half a dozen among all the thousands of deer I’ve field checked. I had a skull from a road kill doe with antlers that looked like two stubby, six-inch carrots.

  15. Tadeybug 25. Nov, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

    Thanks for your response Dick, very interesting. While we are on antlers, what dictates the color? Some chocolate brown and some almost white. Thanks again, Lance.

  16. Dick Henry 26. Nov, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

    Antlers are bone and are among the fastest growing tissue known to man. You would expect all of them to be white in color, however they often show color variations. Velvet can be completely shed in a little over 24 hours and during that peeling process there is considerable blood present on the antlers. If there is no rain during the time of velvet shedding, the blood can dry and further oxidation will stain the antler shades of brown. However, if there is rainfall during the period of shedding of velvet, the blood can be washed off before it has a chance to dry and stain the antler.

    Once the bucks begin sign post behaviors later in the fall and create rubs on small trees, their antlers can also acquire coloration from the bark of the trees that they rub. Trees that have significant amounts of tannin in their bark can color a buck’s antlers various shades of brown. However, as bucks begin to spar with one another, the antler tines will often return to a lighter color, while the pedicels and bases will remain dark.

  17. Darren Karmolinski 08. Dec, 2012 at 4:41 am #

    Mr.Henry I have 3 jaw bones from 3 different bucks taken on our hunting club .I was hoping to see if you could age them for me. I will be happy to meet you whenever possible.my cell is 845 399-4749 thank you

  18. DXT 27. Sep, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

    Hi Dick, I have a doe near my house that has her tounge hanging out the right side of her mouth. She has been like this for a few months or so, my wife and neighbors had been telling me about her but I didn’t really think much about it until I saw her. I have seen her twice in the past few weeks and am very concerned about her. Her tounge appears to be limp and somewhat swollen, the coloration is fleshy and looks normal. I watched her for five minutes today but just couldn’t get a good picture. She was eating and when she would swallow her tounge would swing out to the side a little but is lame. I am concerned that this could be a fatal disease? I am also concerned that it will freeze in the winter. Apparently she must be able to get a drink?
    Have you ever seen or heard about such a thing? And what do you think?
    Thanks in advance Matt

  19. Dick Henry 29. Sep, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

    That’s an interesting observation Matt.

    My first thought was that it might possibly a case of Hemorrhagic disease, which can exist in several different forms. Classically there are two types of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) and five types of blue tongue virus (BT) that could result in a swollen, darkish tongue and visible from the outside. It typically occurs in more southern climates and September is the prime time for it at our northern latitudes. Commonly, the tongue has blueish tint in color and will be seen hanging partially out of the deer’s mouth. We have had several incidents of EHD in recent years in NY, notably in the southern portions of our state. While some deer can die within 48 hours, other less virulent strains of EHD can show these symptoms for longer durations. Typically at our latitudes it is more common in mid-September, hence my original thought. The vector is a flying insect called a midge that is prevalent in late August and September.

    Still another possibility is the presence of an arterial worm which can sometimes result in food impaction in the lower jaw, and in turn, can result in a weakened and deformed lower jaw. There have been some reports where the tongue and mouth tissues were swollen because of so much tissue in the mouth and the tongue again appeared to be hanging out. It is more common in older deer, probably as a result of teeth on the lower jaw being worn down to the gum line and food more easily impacted in the gum tissue. I have several of these deformed jaws that I use in my deer aging classes to show abnormal deer jaws.

    Lastly, there is another scenario where the tongue will hang out of the mouth and that is where a deer has been hit by a car and suffered a broken jaw. I have seen one instance many years ago at the Fair Oaks Deer Check during the season where a deer had suffered a broken jaw many months earlier. During the healing process, one side of the jaw didn’t have much movement and the hunter reported that the deer had the tongue hanging out of one side when he shot it. The break in the jaw bone had healed, with the jaw in a permanent partially opened state.

    If you have an opportunity, try to get a picture of the deer when you see it again.

    Nature can be a strange mistress.

  20. DXT 01. Oct, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    Thanks Dick, I will try to get a picture of her, it’s really bizarre. If she has EHD will the meat be Bad?

  21. Dick Henry 01. Oct, 2014 at 9:23 pm #

    One of the common charactoristics of the various strains of EHD and BT is extensive internal bleeding. You probably would not want to consider trying to eat the meat if there is extensive internal hemorrhage.
    Keep an eye on her.

  22. Ron Lambertson 19. Oct, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

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  23. Dick Henry 19. Oct, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

    I did a Google search on “deer with tongue hanging out” and got several dozen hits from around the country, although most came from Southern and Central US States. .

    As I noted earlier there is a long list of possibilities for this condition, including EHD, Blue Tongue, mechanical injury (broken jaw), mouth infections, food impactions, etc. etc. There are also a number of great pictures with dangling tongues similar to your submission. Some appeared to have this condition over a prolonged period of time and have experienced no negative impacts.

    All things considered, she looks to be in good body condition otherwise, with solid musculature, alert behavior and appearance and no other apparent normalities. some reports descibe the deer being in that condition for an extended period of time. If by chance she does get worse, or does go down, reach out to me and I’ll make arrangements to get her to the Patholgists at DEC’s Delmar lab

  24. DXT 19. Oct, 2014 at 10:27 pm #

    Thanks Dick. It’s really weird looking, but it seems as though she has adapted to the condition. I saw her with her head straight up in the air, I believe she was doing that to help swallow. I believe it will freeze in the winter, that may be a problem? Maybe I will take her if I can. I never saw any thing like it.
    Thanks again Matt

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