For hunters, fishermen and conservationists up the Valley, my Pembroke Daily Observer Outdoors Column is out today; in print and online:
White-tailed deer herds in Eastern Ontario in need of urgent overhaul
Our region’s once burgeoning deer population appears to be in peril and, in this writer’s opinion, urgent game management is required.
As a passionate conservationist and hunter for the past 35 years, I have studied big-game management, counted pellets groups for the MNR and managed winter deer yards. I have been called a biologist, outdoor writer and a highly dedicated deer enthusiast. During the winter months, as many of you know, I operate a small backyard feeder where I monitor behavioural patterns on a small local herd, while photographing the majestic animals that venture into my back field.
What I witnessed this year firsthand and following several reports from hunt camps across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, our deer friends are evidently not in good shape!
Deer population in decline
Over the past few years things in my Quebec deer woods appeared to be on the rebound, however, numbers this fall are noticeably bleak. Predator levels continue to soar in most regions and whitetail populations are in obvious need of assistance in order to rebound correctly. As I continue to micro-manage my own deer, it is discouraging to see a herd in such a state of disarray. My family territory serves as a grim reminder of how bad things really are.
Following five days of solid hunting, which includes some proven deer drives and not a single whitetail was observed. Folks, there is no longer room for ‘meat hunters’ under the current condition of our whitetail woods. From what I witnessed this fall it will take several years of controlled harvests, improved winter deer yard management and wise management choices from both Quebec and Ontario wildlife agencies to get back on track. Better still, close the season down completely for a year or perhaps two, but of course governments would never go for that.
Shades of 2008
Moving through the new millennium was a turning point in Central Canada as deer herds were blossoming big time. By the fall of 2006 and 2007 whitetail numbers and annual harvests where highest they had ever been. Deer populations in eastern Ontario reached densities as high as 14 deer/km2 and Quebec saw their highest annual harvest in 2007 with an impressive 75,000 animals. Hunter success rates continued to soar and all seemed right in the deer world. Then the record-breaking snowfall of 2008 was upon us like a cloak of darkness – spelling doom and disaster for ungulate populations. Whitetail numbers in some areas plummeted by more than 1/3.
It has been a very slow rebuild since that time and now whitetail numbers appear to be faultering again back to levels seen in 2009 – 2010. We need hunters and government agencies on-board in order to properly address this issue, and for goodness sake let’s hope it isn’t too late!
Not only is ice hut registration a requirement by law it goes a long way in preventing wayward huts later in the season. Abandoned huts which end-up in waterways after the thaw will create havoc for boaters and early season fishermen. To register your hut in Pembroke District, please call the ministry office at: (613) 732-3661 .
New local hunting and fishing magazine to launch this fall!
Following my announcement of the new hunting and fishing magazine – Fish, Hunt & Ride (FHR) featuring yours truly as editor-in-chief, there have been more exciting developments. When FHR is distributed early December, sportsmen up the Ottawa Valley and throughout Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec will be given a real treat. FHR Mag not only includes a regular column by Pembroke native Jordan Durocher (and a selection of other great writers from QC & ON) but the one and only ‘Uncle’ Ted Nugent will also be a HUGE part of FHR with his own regular column. Check out our website: http://www.fishhuntandride.ca/