Deer management seminars set for Saturday in Hutchinson

A day dedicated to deer management education is slated for Saturday in Hutchinson.

Cody Barilla, event director and Kansas State University extension agent, said five workshops will be led by three wildlife experts at the 8:30 a.m. event at Hutchinson High School.

“I did one last year in Pratt and it went over really well,” Barilla said. “There seems to be a lot of people who want to learn more about managing deer. We had 80 people last year and we’re shooting for 100 or more this year. I think that’ll happen. The interest is out there and people can learn a lot.”

Barilla said the featured presenter will be Grant Woods, a nationally-known whitetail researcher and host of the Growing Deer TV program.

One of his presentations will deal with the hunting strategies for a big-antlered, mature whitetail buck. Barilla thinks it may be the most popular seminar at the event. “That’s the thing that keeps guys awake at night,” he said. “They have this really big buck on their trail cameras and they’re trying to figure out how to harvest him. This program will have the hunting strategies on how to bring the big one down.”

Wood will also present a program on predator control. Barilla said much of Kansas has “a serious coyote problem and they’re really hammering the fawn crop.” Coyotes, he said, have learned how to concentrate on killing fawns, especially those in agricultural areas where combines often flush the little deer from wheat fields during the summer harvest. The program will also teach people how to manage populations of animals like bobcats and raccoons.

Charlie Lee, a K-State wildlife specialist, will make a presentation on the nutritional needs of Kansas deer. Much of Lee’s presentation will be on how people can improve their local herd by working on increasing plants on which deer naturally browse.

Lloyd Fox, Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism big game program coordinator, will speak on the current status of deer and deer hunting in Kansas.

Experts will also be on hand to measure antlers and age the jaw bones of deer brought by the public. A number of vendors of deer hunting-related products are scheduled to be at the event.

The cost is $10 for those who pre-register by Thursday, and $20 at the door. To register or get more information call 620-662-2371 or email cbarilla@ksu.edu.

Summer rains help — Biologists say the heavy rains that have soaked most of Kansas since early July are good news for most kinds of wildlife born this spring.

“One of the main things is that it was after the peak of the (upland bird and turkey) hatch, when it could have been a bigger problem,” said Jim Pitman, Wildlife and Parks small game coordinator. “We may have lost some late-nesting broods, but we needed the rain a lot more.”

Pitman said habitats for young pheasant, quail and turkeys have grown tremendously since the rains began. With the weeds come the insects on which such chicks are almost totally dependent for food the first several months of their lives. While the vegetation could lead to good chick survival, Pitman said there were so few pheasants in many places that populations still may not be very high for this fall’s hunting seasons. This summer’s rains, however, could end up being great nesting cover next spring.

The moisture has been great news for the state’s deer herd, too, according to Fox. Most fawns are very agile by July 1 and should be able to escape rising flood waters.

The rains also decreased the likelihood of another serious epizootic hemorrhagic disease outbreak in Kansas. The last two summers saw some of Kansas worst EHD outbreaks, especially in eastern Kansas. Some localized areas lost a sizable percentage of their local deer herd to the disease.

The disease is spread from deer to deer, or cattle to deer, by insects that thrive on the small pools of stagnant water where deer are often forced to water during drought. “We’ll have some animals die from the disease, we do every year,” Fox said, “but not nearly as many.”