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How Many Deer Are Out There? Using 30-06 Mineral and Trail Cameras to Estimate Deer Populations By Matt Harper Photos by the Author

T

he cool mid-October breeze blew lightly from the northwest, brushing against my right cheek and drifting up a steep bank where I knew no noses would detect me. The creek behind me — the one I used to play and fish in when I was a kid — gurgled and babbled as if in a conversation as it meandered eastward. The late-afternoon sun was in that special place where it saturated everything with vivid color, from the emerald-green food plot to the orange and yellow leaves that still clung to the oak and hickory trees up the ridge. It was perfect — a wonderful day in God’s spa, which, for a hunter, beats anything money can buy. Well, it was almost perfect, because although the setting was ideal, there weren’t any deer — not even an overconfident fawn that had not yet learned to avoid hunters. Other critters abounded: the ever-present fox squirrels that chased each other above me, a red-tailed hawk screeching his hunting song, a curious opossum that was fascinated with my tree stand and even a blue herring waded the creek looking for suckers. It was my first sit of the season, and I began to question whether there were deer anywhere on the farm. Had a gang of trespassers chased everything away? Maybe there had

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been a marauding band of coyotes that swept down from the hills to the north. Maybe it was those damn black helicopters. OK, I really didn’t blame black helicopters, but when you see no deer, you begin to question everything. You might think my thoughts were irrational, but if you’re a hunter and spend enough time in the field, you’ll experience days when deer seem to disappear. Logically, you know they are there based on the sign of tracks, trails, rubs and scrapes, but your mind fights and pushes back against logic. In the past, sign was all we had to rely on as hunters. However, with the advent of trail cameras, we now have photographic proof. www.whitetailinstitute.com

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Whitetail News Vol 30.1  

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