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Interesting results from an aerial survey at Raystown

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Interesting results from an aerial survey at Raystown

Old 03-07-2005, 09:21 PM
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Default Interesting results from an aerial survey at Raystown





Eye catching
By Bob Frye
TRIBUNE-REVIEW OUTDOORS EDITOR
Sunday, March 6, 2005

Jeff Krause hears more than occasionally from hunters who are convinced that there are no deer left on the U.S. Army Corps' Raystown Lake property in Huntingdon County.

He also encounters hunters who tell him of having seen plenty of deer every time they've gone into the woods.

So who's right? Everyone, it seems.

If there's one thing Krause -- the Corps' wildlife biologist at Raystown -- has learned from an infrared count of deer that was conducted on the property, it's that deer are not spread evenly across the landscape.

The Corps conducted an infrared survey of 20,616 acres at Raystown in November, using the same technology and the same firm -- Vision Air Research -- that's being used to count deer right now on state forests.

Raystown's fly zone was separated into two-square-mile compartments before the study was done. Deer were then counted in each compartment.

The survey revealed 1,636 deer in 518 groups. The compartment with the fewest deer had 18 per square mile, while the one with the most deer had 80. Across the entire Raystown property, the average was 52 deer per square mile, or more than double the Pennsylvania Game Commission's goal for wildlife management unit 4A.

That's a lot of deer, Krause said, though it doesn't mean hunters should expect to trip over them every time they go into the woods.

"A lot of people, in their mind, think 52 deer per square mile means a deer behind every tree, and that's not the case," Krause said. "It's a perception issue."

A square mile takes in 640 acres. Even if 52 deer were spread evenly across that land, hunters would still have to walk nearly 12.5 acres just to see one deer, Krause said.

Deer are not distributed evenly like that, though. In the compartment that had 80 deer per square mile, for example, the deer were bunched in groups, with a 300- or 400-acre section having no deer.

It's quite conceivable that a hunter could spend all day in that section of woods and not see a deer, despite the fact that there are a lot of deer overall, Krause said.

Interestingly, the heaviest concentrations of deer were found in the same areas that are most accessible to hunters. The compartment that had 80 deer per square mile is bisected by a five-mile-long road that's been kept open for the two weeks of rifle deer season every year for the last 15 years.

"We count 89 to 100 cars parked along that road every year on the first day of deer season," Krause said.

By comparison, the Terrace Mountain portion of Raystown -- which is less accessible and harder to hunt because it's so steep -- had just 28 deer per square mile.

The point is that the one thing that most determines which areas have the most deer is the available habitat, Krause said.

In conjunction with its infrared survey, Theresa Laurie of the Student Conservation Corps has been doing a study at Raystown examining the amount and kind of browse available.

Not surprisingly, the big woods areas of Raystown offered the least for deer to eat, Laurie said. The mature forest of Terrace Mountain, for example, supplies only about one eighth the browse that can be found within recent clearcuts, Laurie said.

Creating habitat is not as simple as going in and cutting more trees, though, said Krause.

"Foresters are told to look at what's on the forest floor before they cut what's above them because that's the forest that's going to grow tomorrow," Krause said.

The problem at Raystown is that, unless they're fenced out, deer are browsing back preferred species like oaks and beeches and leaving a forest of striped maple and birch. Because those species don't produce mast, cutting timber in a situation that will allow them to take over will only hurt wildlife -- including deer -- in the long run.

The key is to lower deer numbers a little bit more, so young oaks and beeches can survive long enough to grow beyond the reach of deer, then cut, Krause said. He's hoping the infrared deer counts -- another is planned for this month -- will help people understand that.

"None of us are arguing we have more deer than we've ever had. We all hunt here, and we all know deer numbers are down," Krause said. "Our message has been that you have to look at the habitat and the carrying capacity of the land."


The most curious thing I noticed was that in an area with 80 dpsm, they were all in less than half that. This is public land surveyed at a time with no human pressure. Just imagine how the numbers can get skewed even further with private land and hunter pressure involved.

No wonder hunters who aren't seeing deer think the guys who are are crazy and vice versa. sure makes you wonder......
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Old 03-07-2005, 09:33 PM
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Default RE: Interesting results from an aerial survey at Raystown

Sure they think the other is crazy! They could be hunting down the road from each other and one can see 30 deer and the other none in the same day! You know they would think the other was making it up!
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Old 03-08-2005, 07:26 AM
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Default RE: Interesting results from an aerial survey at Raystown

odd that this report only mentions the survey was done in November and not dated. Also fairly obvious that the deer move from the easily accesible areas when those 80-100 cars holding hunters tramp into the woods.
odder still is who paid to have these flights done...the same group whom want no deer to eat browse in their woods (seems they forget the woods belong to every US citizen) i'd be willing to bet those DCNR boys are trophy hunters!
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Old 03-08-2005, 07:30 AM
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Default RE: Interesting results from an aerial survey at Raystown

Man the truth hurts.
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Old 03-08-2005, 07:38 AM
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Default RE: Interesting results from an aerial survey at Raystown

yeah it sure does, here I was thinking there were too many deer!
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Old 03-08-2005, 08:26 AM
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Default RE: Interesting results from an aerial survey at Raystown

Depends on what you consider "many".
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Old 03-08-2005, 08:34 AM
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Default RE: Interesting results from an aerial survey at Raystown

well if I was in the minority of hunters whom think of themselves as a trophy hunter I'd say if I see 1 hot doe with 35 rack bucks chasing her that is just about right!
But then again if I was in the majority of deer hunters here in Pa I want to see something more than tweety birds when I go deer hunting.
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Old 03-08-2005, 10:04 AM
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Default RE: Interesting results from an aerial survey at Raystown

A lot of people, in their mind, think 52 deer per square mile means a deer behind every tree, and that's not the case," Krause said. "It's a perception issue."

A square mile takes in 640 acres. Even if 52 deer were spread evenly across that land, hunters would still have to walk nearly 12.5 acres just to see one deer, Krause said.
52 sounds like too many to me. Of course, I'm willing to walk 12.5 acres, maybe more
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Old 03-08-2005, 10:15 AM
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Default RE: Interesting results from an aerial survey at Raystown

yes I'd walk 12.5 acres to see 1 deer ....as long as it is a button buck and I could blast it to pcs......yum yum button buck backstraps with fried onions--- pure 100% protein!
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Old 03-08-2005, 02:09 PM
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Default RE: Interesting results from an aerial survey at Raystown

Where is Ulysses? Pretty soon lost horn will be here??
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