Daily Archives: August 11, 2012

Hunters Donate 11 Million Venison Meals

Food banks and individuals are thankful for such generosity

When you’re passing the turkey and stuffing around the Thanksgiving dinner table, here’s a story to tell–one that would not be possible without the thoughtfulness and generosity of hunters.

A new study commission by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and conducted by Mile Creek Communications reveals that last year 11 million meals were provided to the less fortunate through donations of venison by hunters. Nearly 2.8 million pounds of game meat made its way to shelters, food banks and church kitchens and onto the plates of those in need.

“Given our challenging economic times, hunters’ donations of venison have never been more important to so many people,” said Stephen L. Sanetti, president and CEO of NSSF, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry. “These contributions are just one way hunting and hunters are important to our way of life in America. Learning about these impressive figures makes me proud to be a hunter. I have donated game meat during the past year, and I urge my fellow hunters to strongly consider sharing their harvest.”

The study revealed that donations were largest in the Midwest and the South. The Midwest provided 1.3 million pounds of game meat, amounting to 46.1 percent of total donations, with the South close behind at 1.25 million pounds and 45.7 percent. The Northeast contributed 7.2 percent of total donations and the West 1 percent. Though lower than other regions, the West’s contribution still accounted for 108,520 meals.

“Certainly the Midwest, South and Northeast benefit from having large populations of white-tailed deer,” said Jim Curcuruto, NSSF’s director of statistics and research. “These figures are from confirmed sources, but annual donations could easily be double this amount if ‘direct’ donations from hunters to friends and family are included.”

Curcuruto added that NSSF commissioned the study to better understand the size and scope of these venison donations.

Groups often cooperate to ensure a successful donation program. In Georgia, according to the Athens Banner Herald, the Georgia Wildlife Federation pays for the meat to be butchered and packaged at state-licensed processors, the state Department of Natural Resources oversees the program and the Georgia Food Bank Association coordinates distributions. Additionally, the game meat satisfies shelters’ need for nutritious food items. Dave Williams, who manages food resources for a northeast Georgia food bank, said in the Banner Herald that he is focused on acquiring more nutritious items and noted, “Deer venison is such a low-fat, high-protein item, agencies greatly appreciate getting it.”

Another recent news report out of the Indiana-Kentucky-Illinois area pointed out that one deer can feed up to 200 people. Ground venison is a versatile food, with cooks using it in pasta sauces, chili, tacos, meatloaf, burgers and other dishes.

Individual hunters donate game meat and even pay for processing, though many hunters choose to work with organizations dedicated to the cause of helping the hungry. Many of these groups were sources for the NSSF study and include Hunters for the Hungry, Farmers & Hunters Feeding the Hungry, Hunt to Feed and Buckmasters, among others. Visit this website for more information about groups active in various states.

Moonlighting for Crappie during August

If you use a floating light or lantern, the crappie will concentrate around that light. The main concentration of crappie fishermen at night is around bridge pilings, vertical structures that allow the crappie to move up and down in the water, on the edges of old river or creek channels.

However, you may catch more crappie by looking for spots where underwater creek channels run into the main river channels. These natural highways for crappie easily will concentrate the baitfish under lights and lanterns, just as effectively (if not more effectively) than fishing under bridge pilings where all the other anglers are fishing. The real secret is not to go home early. You may need 2 or 3 hours after dark to concentrate enough baitfish and crappie around your lantern or light along these crappie highways. Generally, you’ll catch the crappie close to the bottom when you first start fishing, and as more and more baitfish move to the surface, the crappie will come away from their deep-water haunts and move-up higher in the water column to feed on the bait. Often just before daylight, you may catch crappie as shallow as 1-1/2- to 2-feet deep. The crappie aren’t the only fish that travel the edges of the channels. You also can catch white bass, catfish, largemouths and even hybrid white bass and stripers using this strategy.

The angler who introduced me to this hot-weather crappie tactic explained, “If you don’t stay all night, you won’t catch many crappie, because the bite often comes an hour or two before daylight.” I’ve found this advice to be absolutely true. From 9:00 pm until 3:00 am, you only may take 8 or 10 crappie. But often from 3:00 am until 5:30 am, the fishing and catching will be nonstop. You may be able to catch a limit and even release the smaller crappie. Sometimes if the fishing and catching are fast and furious, you may have to put a dead minnow right back on the hook and in the water. Before I have caught as many as 5 crappie on one minnow.

To learn more tactics about how to catch crappie when the weather sizzles, check-out John E. Phillips’ book “Crappie: How to Catch them Spring and Summer” at http://www.amazon.com/Crappie-Catch-Spring-Summer-ebook/dp/B007IV9A14/. Too, you can go to http://www.amazon.com/kindle-ebooks and type-in the name of the book to find it. You also can download a free Kindle app that enables you to read the book on your iPad, computer or SmartPhone.

Poll Shows Strong Bipartisan Support for National Parks

According to a new public opinion poll commissioned by the National Park Hospitality Association (NPHA) and the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), national parks are cherished by an overwhelming 95 percent of likely voters who want the federal government to ensure the parks are both protected and available for enjoyment.

The new poll finds that more than 80 percent of those likely to vote in 2012 have visited a national park at some point in their lives, and nearly nine in 10 say they are interested in visiting a park in the future, and 60% want to stay overnight in a park lodge. National parks are viewed as embodying the American experience, and voters want to see them enjoyed, honored, cherished, and cared for, not left to crumble into disrepair.

Young Birders get a Boost

  In late July, a group of enthusiastic young birders gathered at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in IthacaNew York, to participate in the Lab’s special Young Birder Event. This year, the event was sponsored by Carl Zeiss Sports Optics.

This series of events began in the summer of 2009, and it has since become an ideal way to connect and inspire promising teenage birders. Ten high-school-aged young people are chosen to participate, and for a weekend packed with activities they are exposed to a variety of creative and diverse ways to hone their birding skills. They learn from professional ornithologists as well as Cornell University graduate and undergraduate students about careers that center on birds. They try making sound and video recordings of birds, along with learning something about Neotropical birds, taxonomy, nocturnal flight calls of migrants, field sketching, taking field notes, and much more.

“These young birders will be the next generation of leaders in ornithology and conservation,” says the Cornell Lab’s Jessie Barry, one of the hosts of the event.

Already, plans are underway for the 2013 session, including a search for promising young birders in grades 9 through 12. For more on this year’s Young Birder Event at Cornell see here:www.birds.cornell.edu/roundrobin/2012/07/17/this-weekend-young-birders-flock-to-cornell-lab/

QDMA’s Rack Pack Website Goes Live

The Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) is pleased to announced that the website for its youth education and outreach program, the Rack Pack, is now live at www.rackpack.qdma.com.

QDMA will officially launch the Rack Pack at its 12th annual National Convention in NashvilleTenn., August 9-11. The QDMA National Convention will be held in conjunction with the Bass Pro Shops Land & Wildlife Expo at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.

The goal of the Rack Pack website is to promote interaction and engagement with QDMA and youth from around North America. The Rack Pack program strives to recruit individuals 17 years of age and under and to provide them learning opportunities to enrich their hunting and outdoor experience.

“I am very excited that we have launched the Rack Pack website,” said QDMA’s Youth Education and Outreach Director Daniel Bartley. “The launch of the website marks the beginning of the Rack Pack program and QDMA’s ability to accept memberships to the Rack Pack team. The website is designed to promote interaction among youth from around North America and provide learning and hunting experiences that will build the next generation of whitetail hunters. I hope this program will recruit and enrich future hunters and leaders in conservation for many, many years to come!”

The website features some great interactive and informational components. One such component is the Track the Pack section. This section includes blogs and stories from youth 7- to 18-years-old. From articles and blogs to photos and videos, the group that is sharing their experiences is dedicated to providing this content on a regular basis. To check out this section and the many other features of the new website, including membership, visitwww.rackpack.qdma.com.

Sick and Dead Deer Reported in Eastern Kansas

Public asked to notify KDWPT of deer that act ill or are found dead

July through early October is a time when people occasionally see sick and dead deer and wonder what is happening. The disease most often associated with these losses is called hemorrhagic disease (HD). It is caused by a virus, and it is transmitted to deer and other ruminant animals by biting midges. People and their pets are not affected by this virus, and the disease stops in the fall after cold weather kills the midges.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) is asking anyone who sees a sick or dead deer to phone local KDWPT staff and report where and how many deer are involved. To help identify the extent of the disease, an online survey is also available for people to report fresh or decomposing carcasses. The public survey can be found at surveymonkey.com/s/WHZKVNS.

So far this year, KDWPT has received reports of dead or sick deer from at least 24 counties in northcentral and eastern Kansas. These counties include Jewell, Cloud, Cherokee, ShawneeClayWashingtonWilson, Doniphan, JacksonMiamiFranklin, Crawford, Labette, Linn, Douglas, Osage, Wabaunsee, Pottawatomie, Lyon, Riley, Anderson, Bourbon, Dickinson, and Marion. Most of these reports have involved a single sick or dead deer, with occasional reports of multiple mortalities.

Test samples can be taken from deer if the carcass is found soon after death. Samples are submitted to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study (SCWDS) at the University of Georgia to determine cause of death and occurrence at the county level. Recent results from a case in Wilson County confirmed the epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus, serotype 2 (EHDV-2), a variation within a subspecies of the virus.There are two related classes of viruses that may cause hemorrhagic disease — epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus (EHDV) and bluetongue virus (BTV). The virus and serotype most often associated with death of deer in Kansas is EHDV-2.

Both BTV and EHDV infect cattle, but in North America, clinical disease in infected cattle is rare and generally mild when it does occur. Sheep are not affected by EHDV, but severe disease can be caused by BTV. Midges can carry both viruses and feed on many species of ruminants, and the viruses may produce a variety of symptoms in deer.

When HD occurs, people normally find sick and dead deer along streams or near ponds. Midges reproduce in nutrient-rich substrate near stagnant water, and deer are often found near those sites in the late summer. Deer with HD frequently have a high temperature and may seek cool water. They also often allow people to get very close. Sick deer may be standing or lying down, many times right in water, and they occasionally have an open mouth with their tongue hanging out and swollen.

The clinical signs of HD in deer can be highly variable. The virus can damage the deer’s blood vessel lining, which can result in leaking blood vessels and an accumulation of blood and fluid in tissues. This hemorrhagic appearance gave rise to the name for this disease.

This year many deer are responding severely to the disease. These animals will sometimes die within a couple days after they are first infected by the midges. That does not mean that all deer infected with the virus will die. Some deer will not show any symptoms, and their immune system will produce antibodies for this virus. Those antibodies can give the deer some protection from the disease in future years. Other deer will survive the initial infection, only to develop complications from tissue damage during the early stages of infection, a form known as chronic HD.

The chronic signs of HD typically observed by hunters in the winter or by people who encounter a sick deer in the spring include fever rings on the hooves (cracked or sloughed hooves on three or four feet) and emaciation. Thin deer are generally the result of the disease’s effects on the lining of the rumen (a digestive organ similar to a stomach in other animals). Those animals have a decreased ability to effectively digest food. Chronic HD can further lower the immune response of deer and leave them vulnerable to bacterial diseases such pneumonia. The virus itself is not a threat to people, but deer with bacterial infections are unfit for consumption.

What can be done about HD? There are no effective treatments or vaccines for HD. Even if there were, it would be nearly impossible to treat enough wild deer to have any effect on the annual outcomes of this disease. Some individual deer have high levels of immunity to the disease. Deer in western Kansas generally have antibodies for various serotypes of EHDV and BTV, and a significant die-off in the western two-thirds of the state is rare. Deer in eastern Kansas generally do not have antibodies for the disease, and when events like the one this year occur, there can be high numbers of sick and dead deer.

The best advice for people concerned about HD on their land is to make sure deer are not concentrated at feeders and that deer are not being fed high levels of corn, which may lower their ability to mount an immune response if they become infected. KDWPT will continue to monitor the spread and extent of HD this year.

“HD probably occurs to some extent every year in Kansas,” explains Lloyd Fox, big game program coordinator for KDWPT. “Occasionally, there are years when the disease causes high mortality. The department adjusts future management, such as antlerless-only seasons and numbers of permits, as a result of those events.”

Fox explains that HD is a traditional disease of deer, and while there may be high numbers of dead deer in a particular area, the deer herd will generally repopulate the area within a few years.