Deer season looks promising

Published 10:50 am Thursday, November 15, 2012

Marvin Lanier use his trail camera to capture these bucks sparring on his Wakefield farm on Nov. 8. SUBMITTED

WAKEFIELD—Deer damage to the soybeans on Marvin Lanier’s Wakefield farm was down this summer, but now that it’s fall, he’s seeing more deer.

“It’s picking up right now,” said the 64-year-old Wakefield Farm Service retiree. “We’ve seen some nice bucks.”

Aaron Proctor, a wildlife biologist with Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries whose district includes Isle of Wight and Southampton counties, expects hunters to have a better year than last year when the seven-week deer gun season opens Saturday, Nov. 16.

“I’ve seen some nice bucks,” Proctor said. “Hunters in the peanut belt are very lucky. We have the genetics and the place is loaded with food plots. The deer have no shortage of food.”

Last year was different.

“It was a very quirky year,” said Proctor, noting the harvest was down two percent.

The region experienced an above-average year for deer deaths due to hemorrhagic disease, which occurs during dry spells. Also hurting the harvest were the full moon during the rut and warmer than normal temperatures.

In Southampton County, 6,556 deer were taken compared to 7,174 one year earlier; the county also had the second largest harvest among Virginia’s 95 counties. Bedford County led with 7,969. Isle of County had a harvest of 2,489 deer in 2011.

Hurting the harvest was a dry spell from June 2011 that drove deer to watering holes, where flies that carry the virus blamed for hemorrhagic disease congregate, Proctor said. Dead deer were found near shaded water sources because they become very thirsty as they approach death.

“We did get reports from hunters who saw dead deer,” he said.

A full moon coincided with the rut, which means the deer were more active at night.

John Rush, a conservation police officer with VDGIF’s Charles City office, said he’s also seen more nice bucks this year. He attributed that to a good acorn crop and genetics.

“There’s a lot of nice deer around,” Rush said.

Most regulations remain unchanged. The bag limit for deer is two a day and six within a license year. Of the six, no more than three may be bucks and at least three must doe.