Tough times for our white-tailed deer


As most of us have feared, this winter looks like it could be a doozy for our white-tailed deer population.  I suppose after a handful of mild winters we are now paying our dues, so to speak.

And bitter cold temperatures this year are the least of the deer’s problem. They can handle the cold but it’s the snow I’m worried about!

Snow conditions, with a weak crust formed by our mid-winter melt and pack, make travel and escape more difficult than usual. So far, we are a long way off the massive snow depth experienced back in 2008- 2009, but with higher than average snowfall this winter and a meagre crust unable to support a deer’s weight, times are tough indeed!

Our friend imacdon has witnessed the results first-hand in these graphic deer kill images taken around his property:




It is very disappointing to think that after more than 5 years of a population on the rebound, our whitetail herd could be in store for another big hit.

And with a healthy, relatively uncontrolled, predator population in eastern ON and western QC our whitetails will need to pull out all the stops this year in order to survive. Since December  my trailcams have captured scant few deer images, even in the whitetail wintering area. The number of coyote images captured has; however, remained steady.

I know I am crossing my fingers for the deer this year….and my toes too!


So,  what can we do to help? Here are three options (I’ve been practising option #2)

1)Backyard feeding

When carried out properly, supplemental deer feeding is a wonderful past-time and can be of benefit to these animals when snow depth reaches more than 1 metre. Finding the proper balance between protein and fibre for the deer’s diet can be tricky and without knowing it many backyard feeders may actually be hurting the animal’s chances of survival.  If you had not started a feeding program during early season, it is probably too late to start now, as the animal’s digestive system would have needed to adapt to the supplemented diet. 

2)Improved Access and predator control

There are other ways we can help deer during the colder months besides feeding.  By creating new access trails and cutting fresh browse, we greatly increase their food availability and expand travel corridors. A network of hard-packed trails will serve as escape routes from predators. By improving access to winter habitat and cutting additional feed, we go a long way to helping these animals make it through the winter. For folks who are looking to help deer this winter, perhaps get out for a little coyote hunting in areas where it is permitted.  It is a challenging sport and less predators around would also help the deer’s chance of survival.

3) Call upon MNR for assistance

Through the Emergency Deer Feeding Program – The MNR ‘s Snow Network for Ontario Wildlife looks at risk assessment and on the very rare occasion will implement an emergency feeding program in certain areas. Over the past 15 years, I believe I’ve only seen this program implemented once! During the winters of 2008-2009 when RECORD snowfall was recorded in Central Canada, no measures were put in place to provide aid to whitetail deer in Ontario. An estimated 30% of the population died-off in just two years!

For more information on the Snow Network for Ontario Wildlife:




60 thoughts on “Tough times for our white-tailed deer”

  1. Jeff, the cold is bad for the deer as well, the colder it is, the more energy the deer use to keep warm, and because food is in short supply they get closer and closer to starvation. The best thing that could happen now for both the deer and us is to have an early spring.
    I have a friend up Calabogie way that once every week or two goes out and cuts down a big cedar tree and drags in back to his house, the deer come in and strip the tree completely. Kind of neat to see, The browse line is so high that the deer have a hard time reaching the much needed food source but not if you cut one down. It’s nothing to see four or five deer at the downed tree at one time

    1. Iggy, your pal’s tree cutting in Calabogie falls perfectly into option #2!

      What I’ve been doing is snowshoeing through the wintering area…hopefully offering some extra travel routes
      for the deer. I walk back over my trails twice to pack it down. Once my snowshoe pads freeze, they provide a nice
      solid platform for deer to travel on. The snowmobilers do a good job at that too.

      I see the deer traveling the cross-country ski trails all the time too..right along with the yotes unfortunately.


  2. the deer have vacated my bush for the yards however coyote activity remains pretty high. This year I have managed to get quite a few more pictures but mostly at night. They are definitely spooked by the camera where as deer seem to tolerate it, or at least get used to it.

    1. johan, you are absolutely right about yotes and trail cams. I don’t know how many pics of having of coyotes staring at the ‘glow’ of the infrared flash. Even my completely black cams seem to attract their attention. They have gotten used to them but they sure know they’re there, whereas the deer seem to walk by without a care in the world. Except when I start out with a new camera location, deer spot those right away!


  3. Thanx for the tips Jeff…I’m pretty much snow bound here, my little ’49 Ford 8N will not make it back to the bush…they winter next door in the dark hemlock/cedars.

    County of Renfrew is widening a road near Ashdad, counted 22 deer last Thursday in broad daylight, 19 the week before, snackin’ on the downed brush…alas, no cam with me…

    And no, have not had a chance to shoot my new Mathews Heli~m too much…(it is very cool), but was down to Richmond to see Rob and picked up an uber fast QAD drop away rest, that actually captures the arrow @ 80 degrees, you can still hunt & not worry about your arrow falling off the rail…when you draw, it comes up to 90 degrees, when you release, the rest drops and stays dropped, unlike some others, so your dart does not touch anything except air… Cheers!

    BTW…anyone been Elk hunting yet?…I would like to plan a bow hunt in Bancroft…any takers??

    1. BlueGood, sounds like Renfrew county is doing ok deer-wise thats good news. Regarding the elk hunt, isnt there some restrictions in the draw for folks who live outside of Bancroft area? I could be wrong…


  4. the state of my deer herd where I hunt is dismal. usually we are chasing them out of the orchard and shooting the odd one with permits .. this year their is not one single track in the orchard . and have only seen one deer on cameras in the last month .. no tracks at all. with in a few mile circuit . I fear for the worst

  5. We’ve seen a definite decline in coyote activity in the woods in our area. I’m worried that they are benefiting from this situation and are more successful with deer kills.

  6. In our neck of the woods we went into the fall and early winter with only a few bucks showing on the cameras. Unlike the year before when we had 7 different 10pters wandering around. This past fall we only seen 2 good bucks on the cameras, a 9pt and a 8pt. there were a bunch of spikes around. As i said in a earlier post this was by far the hardest fall i have hunted in 20yrs. Our guys all hunt with bows as well as guns and spent a lot of days in the bush and out of 14 guys i only heard of 5 deer that were shot including the 2 does. There were a fair number of does and some big enough you could have thrown a saddle on them. So if the bucks took a beating last winter and possibly this winter to we are in serious trouble this fall. As far as coyotes go i have only seen 1 and he was a big lad. Cross your fingers guys.

    1. Paul, it’s funny..some folks are reporting deer numbers up in their area this past fall while others say the opposite. I know in my deer woods, the number of young animals is way up and I’m hoping they make it through the winter to keep the rebuild going.


  7. Good point on packing trails Jeff, I was thinking that snow mobiles could be easily used to pack escape trails for the deer. A few passes through strategic areas in the woods would sure go a long way. I regret getting rid of my machine years ago – never thought of it back then….
    This winter my bush is woefully absent of any sign except the odd single pass through. In years past I at least had regular activity through the winter. There is a farmer about a mile or so away that never got his corn off. It was pretty crappy corn anyway but there’s gotta be a 100 acres or more, maybe they’re down there…
    Hope it’s not a sign of the coming fall…

    1. Herman, my backwoods went from fulltime winter the occasional pass through to now where I have no deer whatsoever in behind my place. In recent years they have found refuge in the cedar swails adjacent to larger agro tracks of land. I think they feel more protected up there than in the little bush beside my place. Once the snow is gone, a group of them will return to around my place.

      In the olden days, before the coyote explosion they had no need to leave in winter..and at one time I was feeding approx. 20-25 deer each winter.

      Times change I suppose…


  8. All good suggestions Jeff.

    We cut a lot of wood in the winter; cedar, maple, ash, birch, and it’s amazing how the deer will converge to eat the dormant buds of any of those fallen trees. High in carbohydrates, in winter we call sugar maple tips, ‘deer candy’.

    With deep snow like this, even the normal ground-level brouse is buried under the snow.

    Cedar is probably what the deer are most aclimatised to in a winter like this, if they’re lucky.

    Going to cut some extra today!

    1. Hey Maple, nice to see you out doing your part! Gotta keep active in your retirement, ya know….I hear imacdon is doing the same during his recent retirement. Can you tell I’m envious??


  9. Went to the cottage yesterday to check up on it and saw about 8 deer on the road in, they all look healthy. Put out a little bird seed on the ground for a small treat, and also hear on radio 1310 an MNR scientist talking about this very thing. Said pretty much the same as Jeff said, pack down trails and leave them be. There is no crust at the cottage so they don’t seem to be having a hard time moving around, although the snow is pretty deep, one or two more big snowfalls and that could all change in a hurry. This is coming up to the critical time, the month of March and early April, lets hope for a quick thaw and an early spring, for more reasons than one. Off to Cuba soon so my spring will be here early

    1. Iggy, do you recall who, from News 1310, was doing the interview? Was it Scott Smithers by any chance?

      Glad to hear the deer around your cottage are doing ok..I know the snow around hunt camp is deeper than hell, buddy of
      mine was just up there on weekend taken snow of camp roof!


  10. We spent the weekend in our deer woods. We cut down any cedar we could find. The deer we saw, including the ones on our trail cam, looked healthy. However, we did come across two kill sites. There were wolf tracks around the second site; pretty sure they were too big to be coyote.

    1. Hunting mom, depending where your cottage is located it could very well be timber wolves..of course, with all the big brush wolves up there behaving like timber wolves, it makes it very difficult to tell them apart.

      A fellow was telling me recently about a large number of deer killed out on the ice of Blue Sea Lake…apparently they were all bucks too and it appeared that the coyotes had run them out onto the ice and taken them down one by one.
      (Iggy, apparently Rob has pictures of those deer kills..they still had racks)

      If I’m not mistaken, it was 4-5 bucks killed within a small area…the fellow I know has a cottage on the lake.

      Very sad to hear that sort of thing happen but this winter it may become more common.


  11. i have seen most of the deer in the same area in Almonte but have already seen 2 deer collisions with vehicles in the same area where a neighbour is feeding deer in his yard which vectors off a roadway i have informed him what this is possible doing and he has moved it over 200 yards or so . i have seen quite a large amount of deer feeding here which is good the food choice is a high in protein and nutrients he pays for this with his own money hay ,sweet feed alfalfa etc.. what is weird is that he doesn’t hunt wild game but loves to eat it . it’s nice to see that some people do get it and the payoff is better than what could be ,as soon as the weather gets warmer he changes up the food for the doas that might be expecting a little bundle in the summer Jeff this is what makes me pround to say i live in a great community where people care about the wildlife

    1. Hey Mike..sounds like you guys know what’s going on..up there in Almonte!? Your neighbour evidently starts his supplemental feeding program early in the season which is important.

      Great job!!


  12. close to home .. the apple orchard about 2 min north of port hope…. the deer usually winter in the cedar behind the orchard fence ..

    1. Chessy, I dont know what it is with you and just walk into the woods and the deer run out the other side.
      Same thing happened in the Park!


  13. Outdoors guy, the two kills that we found were both out on the ice. The same scenario as you described. We will be keeping a close eye to see how many more we find before spring. Hopefully,the cedar will help to keep them going.

  14. yes very bad year… for deer .. the deer are usually in the orchard by now but with the big snow they may be laid back in the woods hopefully the storm nocked the cedars down so they can eat. first snow melt i will be at he orchard to see what is going on but at this point looks depressing

    1. Ok Iggs, I have a lot of women in my life and I think its starting to rub off…

      Speaking of women, don’t forget everyone..this weekend is Family Fishing Weekend..the Morrison Clan will be celebrating in an ice hut at Petrie Island – Oziles.

      Can’t wait!!


  15. hey jeff i have a great story a man in almonte braved danger by approaching a deer with a wire fence stuck on his head the deer was very tired and he managed to unwind all of the fencing and removed it without hurting the deer, it layed there for about half an hour then he brought a bowl of yes porridge with berries in it and the deer ate it all stood there and just glanced at him and his wife then just scooted away makes you feel good when people really care about nature to risk they’re life to help an animal in distress

      1. Finally got imacdon’s deer kill images uploaded, sorry it took so long.

        Sadly we’ve witnessed more of that around this winter…if they can just hold out another 6 weeks or so!!


  16. predators have to eat too and I would suspect a certain percentage of ‘kill sites’ are from dead or sick deer, and may not necessarily have been hunted down and killed. I can’t imagine what the coyotes in my bush are eating right now, mice are deep, and rabbits scarce, so no wonder they are still digging near the apple trees.

  17. Hate to break it to you Jeff but the MNR no longer has that program. If the deer are in that much danger and I think they are , How about the VOICE OF ANGLERS AND HUNTERS take some of the 6 or 7 million they have left over in the bank every year and feed some deer, or would that affect there pay raises in the spring. a lot of people buy memberships and tickets for such things but when it comes to buying something the ofah does nothing because they can not profit from this … and yes I had rage for breakfast this morning

    1. Chessy, I know in recent years it ‘felt like’ the Emergency Winter Deer program didn’t exist, however I did read something about OFAH being involved in this initiative – either in conjunction with the MNR or on their own. I’ll have to find it again, but I know I saw it somewhere last winter.

      Perhaps the MNR handed the ’empty shell’ of this program over the OFAH and they ran (limped?) with it?

      From what I’ve seen, it was pretty much a farce from the beginning anyway! From what I saw it was only ever used once back in the 1990’s…


  18. the MNR gave the money to the OFAH to implement the feeding, but now no money . Could never understand why you would give someone x amount of money so they could spend it, when money is handled by 2 or 3 organizations they need to have there hand in the pie as well…

    1. WHAT?????????!!!!!!!!

      OK Chessy, according to that publication this is very recent news..or at least, its only just recently that the MNR has come out to say the program no longer exists…friggin nice eh?!

      I need to dedicate a New Blog post on this…just terrible in my opinion..yours too I gather?

      I’ve been writing about this mysterious elusive Deer Program for years, extolling its virtues to some extent and now’s it cancelled…of course, I always wondered if it ever really did exist.

      I mean, if it really was in operation back in winter of 2008-09 and was never called upon, my guess is the money wasn’t around even back then!!

      If in fact there was money, where the hell did it go??? The whitetail certainly didnt benefit!!

      Great, think I’m having rage for dinner now!


  19. Where the hell are the ofah they have a program .. but they won’t spend the money .. not once have you heard about this program .. i googled it . i have not heard of them stepping up to the plate

    Jeff try contacting them and see what they have to say…. here is a website c/p of the program
    When Ontario’s harsh winter weather puts our whitetail deer population in crisis, it’s no coincidence that anglers and hunters come to the rescue through participation in the OFAH DeerSave emergency winter feeding program. In conjunction with the Ministry of Natural Resources, the OFAH DeerSave program was created to coordinate volunteers for breaking trails, browse cutting and emergency deer feeding in areas where high snow levels and extended periods of extreme weather could cause large-scale starvation in deer wintering areas.

    Uninformed winter deer feeding can reduce the health of animals, and even kill them if it is not done properly. Anyone thinking about feeding deer should contact the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) first. Feeding deer straight grain or corn, alfalfa, or hay can do more harm than good. Feeding under the DeerSave program takes place only under strict OMNR emergency feeding guidelines.

    The DeerSave Action Plan, and Fund Applications are available by contacting Mark Ryckman by email at or at the OFAH’s Head Office:

  20. oh ya and further more which some how i left out .. if you donate to the program it is completely tax deductible what a load of crap .. they would rather spend money on atlantic salmon and have been doing so for 7 years and have not seen any success from the program … the worst part is today is family day and the beer store and the LCBO is not open….. and i don’t even drink .

  21. Jeff, sorry for the late response…Yes we’ve only got about 6 Yotes. And we have a quota of 10 Fisher which we get every year. We have a very healthy and sustainable Fisher population on our trap line.

  22. On another subject but to do with the OFAH.
    There will be a spring bear hunt this year in parts of northern Ontario. One of the fellows that has been pushing the MNR very strongly is a fellow that goes by the name BigR on a lot of the hunting boards. He is an avid bear hunter out of Sudbury. there has been a lot of pressure on the MNR to bring this hunt back because of all the nuisance bear problems all throughout the north. Finally the MNR has agreed to have a very small spring bear hunt. And guess who just came along for the ride, yup the OFAH, now they claim they have been pushing the government for this hunt. What a load of crap. They were the ones who agreed to go along with it’s cancellation as long as the outfitters got cash. And how’d that work out for them?

    1. Iggy, our pal Keebler put me on this story this am..he’s got a big Facebook campaign going and I’m hoping to get something out soon!


  23. Don’t blow a gasket men; deer have survived for thousands of years without human intervention and they will continue to survive if we don’t get in the way too much. If you want to cut down a cedar or two that’s awesome, but to outright feed a wild animal 3 times a day is likely doing more harm than good.

    1. johan, in this case it’s not so much that deer need the feed, so much is it fact that this ‘so-called’ DeerSave program was supposedly there all those years but never called upon. Part of the program was winter deer yard management to help with shelter and travel corridors etc..but what appears to have happened is the MNR dumped this ‘shell’ of a program onto the OFAH and now there is not sufficient funds to do anything with it.

      My guess is the program was set-up as more of a PR campaign..ya know, looked good on paper, but was never meant to be put into action…and now has been passed along to die a miserable death (somewhat like the deer)


  24. The ofah still openly asked for donations for the program it is on there web site but by the looks of it they are not taking any applications for clubs or members to get the money …

    1. chessy, I will get back on the DeerSave program soon, but wanted to get something new up on the proposed spring bear hunt, since it’s up on the EBR at the moment.


  25. I emailed Rykman, Here’s his reply:

    thank you for contacting us about the DeerSave Action Plan. Unfortunately, I am unable to provide an electronic copy of the document at this time (it was recently updated, and is awaiting final approval). However, I have included the MNR Guidelines for Winter feeding of deer, which is what the OFAH document is based on.

    Generally speaking, the OFAH does not recommend feeding deer in the winter unless it is an emergency. At this time it is a little too early to tell whether or not winter deer conservation activities (e.g. emergency winter feeding) will be required. The MNR biologists have established an early warning system for decision making about emergency winter feeding. We just recently received the first series of MNR estimates and predictions of winter severity in the near future, especially given the cold snap that Ontario has just experienced. MNR is predicting an 80% chance of a severe end to winter across much of central and northern Ontario.

    A few things to keep in mind:

    · The DeerSave Fund is an OFAH account that houses money that can be provided to volunteers and clubs IF the MNR determines that intervention is required.

    · The MNR uses a Winter Severity Index (updated periodically throughout the winter) as the main source of information when determining if intervention is required. Details are provided in the attached document.

    · If the MNR determines that intervention is required, they will contact OFAH Head Office and we will immediately put the call out to our Zones, clubs, and members.

    · Objectives of DeerSave are to: help recruit and volunteer resources for emergency winter feeding; to help educate those who are feeding deer currently to help ensure it is done correctly; to help provide resources to assist volunteers and provincial and local wildlife managers for emergency winter deer feeding, trail breaking, and browse cutting.

    · When contacted by concerned landowners and hunters, we typically recommend (as a starting point) that they break trails through snow between cover and browse habitats, and then cut preferred browse species (maple, birch, aspen, basswood, ash, hemlock, cedar, sumac, dogwood, honeysuckle, etc.) in areas that are adjacent to deer yards and concentration areas. Only as a last resort, and only after the MNR deems it necessary, do we recommend emergency feeding of deer.

    · We recommend that only commercial pellets that are formulated specifically for deer be used, or a mix of corn and oats (no more than 50% corn).

    I hope this information is valuable to you, and please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions or comments.

    Yours in Conservation,


    Mark Ryckman, M.Sc.

    Senior Wildlife Biologist

    4601 Guthrie Drive

    Peterborough, ON K9H 6N1

    T: 705.748.6324 x239

    F: 705.748.9577

    1. Trapper, that document he referred you to has been on the MNR Website for probably 20 years..I think I’ve read it a hundred times.

      Seems that’s what the OFAH and MNR fall back on when asked about the DeerSave program…


      1. I just checked..that MNR reference document is from 1997 so I was wrong, it wasn’t 20 years old…only 17.

        According to what chessy or Iggy were told, the DeerSave program was put into effect 2-3 times over the years which is news to me, I’ll have to look into that.


  26. wow now the program is to educate people?? so they spend money educating people.. they should just say this is how much money we have this is what needs to be done.. more money spent on hiring people to educate us.. and it really is surprising how much money is available…. trapper are you a member of the ofah or know some one who is.. email them your membership number and ask them how much is in the account.. for feeding deer and how much for educating .. lets see a breakdown of what percentage is for what

  27. Hello Been doing some investigating of the deer save program and came across this Blog. I have read most of the comments and would like to share with you what I have found while searching . I am a member of the ontario out of doors site. I have posted a lot of questions on this exact issue on that forum, here is one of a few emails I have back from the O.F.A.H
    Hi Mark –

    The last time that the extensive deer feeding occurred in Ontario was in 2000/2001, but smaller feeding programs were also done in 2008/2009. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to predict how much money is required to save deer in any given year, for a variety of reasons. It is difficult to predict how long winter will last across the province, which will ultimately determine how many deer are at risk. We generally do not provide current account balances upon request, except for members. If you could provide me with your member number, I can provide you with an estimate. However, I can tell you that the current balance would likely be inadequate if emergency feeding were required in several different areas of the province.

    Yours in Conservation,

    1. Hello mark, welcome to the outdoors guy blog….. surprised it took you this long to find us.

      There are contributors here who have spend time on the OOD site as well… I must say that is a very interesting response you received.

      Funny thing is I’ve been writing articles on this topic for many years… including a piece I wrote for Outdoor Canada magazine (about whitetail die-off between 2008 -2010) and nowhere in my research did I find evidence of DeerSave being used in any capacity during the 2008-09 season. Unless it was called upon in such a small capacity, in some isolated area of the province and no one was ever notified. I receive press-releases from the MNR on a regular basis but never got one about DeerSave that year..or any other year for that matter, even though I included something on the program in my Ottawa SUN column every winter, which I KNOW the MNR used to read. You’d think if DeerSave was put into effect they’d want someone like me(or another outdoor writer in ON) to write about it??

      I knew there was a reason I always encouraged hunters and conservationists to do their own winter deer management..seems we are on our own in that regard.

      Thanks Mark for your input and stop-by anytime!


  28. Severe Winter Puts Ontario’s Deer Herds at Risk
    OFAH FILE: 842
    February 24, 2013

    Severe Winter Puts Ontario’s Deer Herds at Risk
    White-tailed deer in parts of Ontario are experiencing one of the worst winters in recent memory.
    “Deep snow, hard crusts and frigid temperatures could result in significant mortality of adult deer and the loss of this spring’s fawn crop,” says OFAH Senior Wildlife Biologist Mark Ryckman. The MNR reports that most deer entered this winter in really good shape thanks to an abundance of natural foods in 2013; however, it remains likely that this year’s harsh winter conditions will still have an impact on many of central and northern Ontario’s deer herds.

    In 1995, the OFAH established the DeerSave Fund to help members, clubs and partners deliver emergency winter deer conservation activities, such as browse cutting, trail breaking and emergency feeding. Mild winters have limited the need for emergency winter deer conservation in recent years, but the DeerSave Fund has been called upon when needed to provide targeted funding to aid struggling herds.

    To learn more, call the OFAH at (705) 748-6324 extension 239 or visit

    “We may not be in an emergency situation yet, but it is looking more and more likely that intervention will be required somewhere in the province,” said Ryckman. The OFAH is initiating discussions with MNR regional biologists to determine areas of the province that would benefit most from winter conservation efforts. In the meantime, concerned conservationists can help deer by packing down trails in areas frequented by deer, and by cutting preferred browse species (maples, birch, dogwood, sumac, hemlock, cedar, etc.).

    “Conservationists can also help by contributing to the OFAH DeerSave Fund so we are ready to provide help when and where it is needed most,” added Ryckman.

    Like other outdoor activities, it remains critically important to respect private property and keep safety in mind at all times when performing winter conservation efforts. The Federation only endorses deer feeding in emergency situations, and only according to science-based MNR guidelines.

    With over 100,000 members, subscribers and supporters, and 710 member clubs, the OFAH is the province’s largest nonprofit, fish and wildlife conservation-based organization, and the VOICE of anglers and hunters. For more information, visit


  29. President of our local club.
    It seems MNR can never get the fact people who put the time in are usually right.
    With the MNR they have a habit of standing behind degrees that may or may not mean anything.
    All to often they never have boots on the ground or discuss with hunting groups issues at hand. These people who spend a lot of time in the outdoors
    tend to know what’s going on with the wilderness and wildlife.
    Im sure the MNR’S attitude hasn’t helped to stop there demise.
    If we al trusted and communicated better we could get lot more accomplished for the greater good. It seems citizens groups that are popping up are one of the reasons for government distrust and to get things done right.

  30. Locally in the Shawanaga deer yard just north of Parry Sound one woman, concerned about deer starving and the potential decline in the population stopped talking and took action. At her personal costs, initially and with the help of family and friends, she organized brush cutting and supplemental feeding after speaking with Parry Sound MNR and local gun and rod and conservation groups to no avail. Her personal costs were well over $1500 not to mention the time she put in travelling from Victoria Harbour which is 1.5 hours south of the yard. She got some initial suppor from her Facebook friends and family then from the Whitestone Rod and Gun Club out of Dunchurch. With no support from MNR or others including OFAH initially, she went ahead. Willing to ‘suck it up’ she was told by Ryckman (OFAH deer biologist) that she would have had to apply for Deer Save funds in February and it would have to have been through a club. Admittedly I don’t know the protocol or procedure. When Whitestone Rod and Gun Club approached OFAH, they initially got $500 from Deer Save eventually followed by $1000 toward this woman’s costs.
    ‘Yours in conservation’ should have a codicil attached with it being only if you and your club members pay membership dues to OFAH. Conservation is not a priviledge owned by OFAH and should not be a conditional. Two questions. Is OFAH a not for profit organization and if so what % of dollars received through memberships, donations and government grants go to overhead?

  31. lol the ofah is a joke and most of us know it .. they recive about 1mill from governments . and they spent 1.2 mill on office supplies. there lottery lost money 2 years ago and they sold 850000 in ticket sales and gave away 300000 in prizes so how did it loose money … the list goes on and on .. and we all knew they would not release money to people … it would hurt there bottom line… and what about the new land that was left to them on a lake and only head office people can use the land or the chalet that sits on it … go figure

  32. Hey Outdoors Guy, l’ve been searching for who helps injured/at risk deer in Southern Ontario and l can’t find any sites. Do you know of any? Also, you note above that back yard feeders can do more harm than good (assuming you mean aside from common concerns about helping deer survive, thus increasing population to eat more vegetation.) So l’m wondering what is appropriate to feed in the rougher winters? l don’t have the resources to cut branches from trees – l usually feed peanuts and fruit. ls this appropriate feeding?

    1. Hey Tracey:

      Nice to hear from you!

      Managing whitetails in ON is, what you might describe as, a work in progress. As far as assistance goes in southern may have read about the province’s Emergency Feeding Program which, for the most, is a useless bit of gov’t pr.

      Conservationists are left micro-managing our own deer herd which, on some occasions, requires winter feeding. As you may have read in some of my winter feeding articles, there are several ways to help….1) providing improved access to natural browse 2) actively cutting natural browse 3) Offering supplemental feed.

      The first two options are more labour intensive than anything.while #3 requires some research into proper feeding techniques and money! In my post where I mention that “backyard feeders can do more harm than good”…has mostly to do with the fact that whitetails will ‘adapt’ to the feed you provide, so we must be mindful to not only NOT overfeed, but also consider the type of feed we are providing.

      In my opinion, peanuts and fruits are NOT a good choice for a winter whitetail diet…sorry.

      Since deer’s digestive system slows considerably..almost to a hault..during winter months, food too high in carbs, or too high or fiber are not a good idea. Deer are accustomed to eating only small amounts of feed during these months..which is the main reason they fatten themselves us up during summer and fall in oreparation.

      Although I have fed my deer such supplemental feed as alfalfa and cracked corn(easier to digest than whole corn) in past..I’ve stuck to a nice pelletized livestock feed in recent years..which provides a nice balanced blend and won’t run the risk of being ‘too rich’ for these animals at a time when they metabolism has slowed to a crawl. The pellet feed I offer isn’t far off cattle feed, but is slight smaller and lighter and therefore easier for the deer to break down in their system.

      We must always remember that we are ‘supplementing’ their diet..not providing them a sole source of food. I order my deer feed in 40 KG bags at Richie’s Feed & Seed here in Ottawa, and always keep my feeding trough full during winter months. (Oh, keep in mind you’ll need a covered feed trough as pelletized feed gets soggy fast from snow and rain)

      If you start to feed during late fall, you MUST continue throughout the entire winter as the animals would have adapted to your supplemental feed.

      Stopping your feeding program mid-winter is really worse than not feeding at all!

      Hopefully this sheds a bit more light on the joys of winter deer observation and supplemental feeding. Please stop-by anytime!

      Google Outdoors Guy winter deer..and you’ll see lots of my feeding photos!


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