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Author Topic: 2017 Winter Kill  (Read 14067 times)

Offline Mr Mykiss

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2017 Winter Kill
« on: January 10, 2017, 12:46:07 PM »
Since this topic has been mentioned in a lot of posts regarding hunts and states I thought we could discuss it here. I have a few questions...
1. Is it too early to call it or is there a chance that this will still be a "mild" winter?
2. Does it really affect game populations that much? What's the potential percentage loss here? 20%? 50%? 90%?
3. Does it affect deer more than elk?
4. Will the 2017 winter have the potential to change your applications and hunts for 2017?

Online go4steelhd

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Re: 2017 Winter Kill
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2017, 05:57:30 PM »
For #1 in Oregon  and Idaho there will be a winter die off this year. This is past the mild stage. The question for this will be how bad will it be.
#2 in bad winters It will be 60 or 70% on deer. They say it can be 90% on fawns. The last one like that in Idaho was 1992 followed by another tuff winter in 1996. The deer really never returned to old numbers from there. In 2016 it was the best numbers I've seen since  1992.
#3 deer are the ones greatly affected party because of size. Elk are a big tuff animals, they have big hoofs and generally a large herd can dig down to good feed. I have not seen a noticeable difference in there numbers from year to year by winter kill.
#4 not really

Offline huntnnw

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Re: 2017 Winter Kill
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2017, 09:59:23 PM »
Really boils down to a specific area...certain areas I know in WA and ID that this winter is not hurting the deer and some areas can be just 15 or 20 mi aways be a totally different winter for them. its to broad to say a winter kill in a state.

Offline Mr Mykiss

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Re: 2017 Winter Kill
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2017, 10:53:54 PM »
As per the OP I wanted to talk winter kill in general, it's a bit early but I'm sure by mid Feb we'll have more than a few specific areas to talk about :(

Offline 2MANY

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Re: 2017 Winter Kill
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2017, 09:05:45 AM »
If the spring green up happens too fast they will overindulge and die.

Offline Dhoey07

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Re: 2017 Winter Kill
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2017, 09:36:24 AM »
My hunting buddy and I were just talking about this on Monday.  I'm worried about it, to say the least.

Offline h2ofowlr

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Re: 2017 Winter Kill
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2017, 09:46:26 AM »
It's probably going to be a bad winter kill this year.  Lot of cold and snow compounded by habitat loss.
Cut em!
It's not the shells!  It's the shooter!

Offline jrebel

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Re: 2017 Winter Kill
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2017, 09:52:25 AM »
The snow this year (in my area) is not the issue.  It is soft powdery snow with little to no crust.  It is so lite....Most has blown off the ridges and south facing slopes.  Really quite mild as the snow is concerned.  NOW......The caviat to this problem......The cold has been fridged cold for long periods of time.  This is very bad.  Hope the sub freezing temps end soon. 

Offline Magnum_Willys

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Re: 2017 Winter Kill
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2017, 09:55:49 AM »
Just when Idaho was getting good Im afraid two steps back.  Arghhhh

Offline autodink13

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Re: 2017 Winter Kill
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2017, 09:58:37 AM »
It seemed like the animals came into winter very healthy. That's a plus.


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Offline BULLBLASTER

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Re: 2017 Winter Kill
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2017, 10:17:46 AM »
It seemed like the animals came into winter very healthy. That's a plus.


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:yeah: in the areas I hunt there was still growing green feed at crazy levels into December. A month or so later than a normal year due to warm temps in November.

Offline Pathfinder101

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Re: 2017 Winter Kill
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2017, 10:21:55 AM »
As per the OP I wanted to talk winter kill in general, it's a bit early but I'm sure by mid Feb we'll have more than a few specific areas to talk about :(

This seems to be my experience.  December snow doesn't kill deer.  FEBRUARY snow kills deer.  When they're in good shape, they usually seem to come out of it OK as long as the really bad weather ends in January.  Both bucks we killed here in WA had good fat on them this year.
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.  That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

Offline The scout

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Re: 2017 Winter Kill
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2017, 11:00:02 AM »
The area I hunt in Montana seems to get a high % of bucks that die, I relate it to an early harsh winter not late, I think the bucks never get a chance to put back on the fat they loose during the rut. About 5 yrs ago we found about 10 different bucks as a group and I think 2 does. My washington buck had good fat this yr as well but I can almost guarantee if I would have killed it at the end of November he would have burned through most of his fat content.

Offline Mr Mykiss

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Re: 2017 Winter Kill
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2017, 11:33:23 AM »
Does anybody have a link to some sort of snotel data site that might show the trends and or amounts of snow throughout the western states? Current snow levels and percentage of "normal" snow levels for the year type of stuff?

Offline Dhoey07

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Re: 2017 Winter Kill
« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2017, 11:39:36 AM »
Does anybody have a link to some sort of snotel data site that might show the trends and or amounts of snow throughout the western states? Current snow levels and percentage of "normal" snow levels for the year type of stuff?

http://www.accuweather.com/en/us/winter-weather

Offline Mr Mykiss

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Re: 2017 Winter Kill
« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2017, 11:53:14 AM »

Offline Griiz

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Re: 2017 Winter Kill
« Reply #16 on: January 11, 2017, 01:18:01 PM »
I harvested an older mature mule deer in mid-Nov. in Washington and he had zero fat and looked unhealthy. I think it was a combination of age and the rut. I would be surprised if he would have made it through the winter. Hopefully we get an early snow melt, but I have a feeling this winter is going to be hard on our deer herds.

Offline Mr Mykiss

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Re: 2017 Winter Kill
« Reply #17 on: January 11, 2017, 02:02:49 PM »
Here we go...animation of snow depth daily through the season: https://www.nohrsc.noaa.gov/nsa/js_animate.html?nsteps=92&year=2017&month=1&day=1&type=nsm_depth&region=National&ts=24&large=1
If only we could zoom...

Offline DOUBLELUNG

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Re: 2017 Winter Kill
« Reply #18 on: January 11, 2017, 03:29:11 PM »
The answer to all questions (drum roll): It depends.

1.  Some areas can still be called mild.  In others there will be some significant fawn losses.  In a few areas where December had really frigid conditions and/or deep crusted snow, some dominant bucks probably winterkilled, unable to recover from post-rut stress.

2.  Yes, it really can affect populations, however, with the exception of post-rut dominant bucks, most increased mortality occurs in the fawn population.  Adult doe non-hunting mortality averages 15% annually, regardless of weather.  Average overwinter fawn mortality is 55%, December - May, but can vary from less than 5% to greater than 95%.  Since fawns make up anywhere from 25-50% of the post-hunt population, it is quite possible to lose 30-50% of the population in a bad winter. 

3.  Usually deer are affected more than elk.  In some areas, where high densities of elk are maintained year-round and the herd can be forage limited, significant elk die-offs can occur - usually due to wildfire followed by a cold early winter, or following a severe summer drought.  Like deer, the elevated mortality will occur in calves.  Unlike deer, elevated bull mortality rates almost never occur post-rut, as they have a couple of months to recover body condition and as larger animals are more robust to winter-related stress than bucks.

4.  A severe winterkill, if the game agency is on the ball, is usually followed by a drastic reduction in antlerless opportunity.  It could affect where a hunter puts in for doe or cow hunting.  Since the largest component of the buck harvest is 2.5 year old bucks under normal conditions, a high fawn die-off has the greatest impact on buck hunting the second season after the winter kill.  If we have a high winterkill in GMU xyz this winter, the buck success will tank in 2018.  It wouldn't normally affect where I put in for 2017 quality opportunities, but because general and special permit deer hunting in my quality areas sucked in 2016 - I have already decided to not put in for those usual areas. 

On another note, one of my most reliable indicators for local winterkill rates is how early in the winter I see bald eagles leaving the open water and coots of the Columbia to cruise the sagebrush foothills.  In really bad years it starts in early December; in mild years they stick to the river until early March.  This winter along the Columbia in Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan counties, bald eagles started hitting the winter range in early January.  My eagle ball tells me the bucks didn't take a hit post-rut, but that fawns started tipping over a couple weeks ago, representing average to above average winter kill.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2017, 03:39:45 PM by DOUBLELUNG »
As long as we have the habitat, we can argue forever about who gets to kill what and when.  No habitat = no game.

Offline packmule

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Re: 2017 Winter Kill
« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2017, 06:11:10 PM »
The answer to all questions (drum roll): It depends.

1.  Some areas can still be called mild.  In others there will be some significant fawn losses.  In a few areas where December had really frigid conditions and/or deep crusted snow, some dominant bucks probably winterkilled, unable to recover from post-rut stress.

2.  Yes, it really can affect populations, however, with the exception of post-rut dominant bucks, most increased mortality occurs in the fawn population.  Adult doe non-hunting mortality averages 15% annually, regardless of weather.  Average overwinter fawn mortality is 55%, December - May, but can vary from less than 5% to greater than 95%.  Since fawns make up anywhere from 25-50% of the post-hunt population, it is quite possible to lose 30-50% of the population in a bad winter. 

3.  Usually deer are affected more than elk.  In some areas, where high densities of elk are maintained year-round and the herd can be forage limited, significant elk die-offs can occur - usually due to wildfire followed by a cold early winter, or following a severe summer drought.  Like deer, the elevated mortality will occur in calves.  Unlike deer, elevated bull mortality rates almost never occur post-rut, as they have a couple of months to recover body condition and as larger animals are more robust to winter-related stress than bucks.

4.  A severe winterkill, if the game agency is on the ball, is usually followed by a drastic reduction in antlerless opportunity.  It could affect where a hunter puts in for doe or cow hunting.  Since the largest component of the buck harvest is 2.5 year old bucks under normal conditions, a high fawn die-off has the greatest impact on buck hunting the second season after the winter kill.  If we have a high winterkill in GMU xyz this winter, the buck success will tank in 2018.  It wouldn't normally affect where I put in for 2017 quality opportunities, but because general and special permit deer hunting in my quality areas sucked in 2016 - I have already decided to not put in for those usual areas. 

On another note, one of my most reliable indicators for local winterkill rates is how early in the winter I see bald eagles leaving the open water and coots of the Columbia to cruise the sagebrush foothills.  In really bad years it starts in early December; in mild years they stick to the river until early March.  This winter along the Columbia in Chelan, Douglas and Okanogan counties, bald eagles started hitting the winter range in early January.  My eagle ball tells me the bucks didn't take a hit post-rut, but that fawns started tipping over a couple weeks ago, representing average to above average winter kill.

Great summary Beau, thanks for the good information!

Offline crabcreekhunter

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Re: 2017 Winter Kill
« Reply #20 on: January 12, 2017, 01:18:42 AM »
Doublelung, been watching the deer around us here and most seem pretty healthy, glassed a few winterkills up when the cold hit.  Just came through town at 1 am and seems like alot more deer in the yards this week now.  I think last years winter was worse in our area.  Looks like warmer temps mid next week.
"Courage is simply fear that has said its prayers"

Offline Mr Mykiss

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Re: 2017 Winter Kill
« Reply #21 on: January 12, 2017, 06:41:52 AM »
Thanks DL!!
You dropped some good knowledge on us there!! I've never freaked out over winter kill, much less thought about it. Apparently you have, thanks.
It begs the question...what is a 2.5 year old deer?
Answer: It depends. :)

Mr Lung please continue to stay on board this thread as conditions change!!

Offline theleo

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Re: 2017 Winter Kill
« Reply #22 on: January 12, 2017, 09:58:31 AM »
Just when Idaho was getting good Im afraid two steps back.  Arghhhh
:yeah:
What few animals that remained that the wolves hadn't killed are now dead from the snow. Idaho is a complete loss now. :'(

Offline 2MANY

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Re: 2017 Winter Kill
« Reply #23 on: January 12, 2017, 10:24:48 AM »
Oh my.

Offline muzzlebuck

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Re: 2017 Winter Kill
« Reply #24 on: January 12, 2017, 11:26:15 AM »
Here is another good weather resource, you can graph the weather data from specific areas.


http://weather.wsu.edu/

 

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