You’ll find out down at the end of this column.
Meanwhile, Kentucky wildlife officials say there are no plans to shorten or close the gun deer season, set to open Nov. 11, because of an outbreak of EHD.
The initials are short for epizootic hemorrhagic disease, a malady that strikes white-tailed deer and is almost always fatal.
It’s been around for more than half a century and strikes the deer herds of Ohio, Kentucky and other states about every four or five years.
The disease is carried by a midge, an insect no bigger than a gnat, which has piercing mouthparts for sucking blood. Deer become infested by its bite, occurring during warm weather of late summer and early fall.
A deer must be bitten by a midge carrying the virus to become infected. Not all midges carry the disease.
White-tailed deer develop signs off illness about a week after exposure. They hemorrhage in various parts of the body, lose their appetite, grow progressively weaker, salivate excessively, and carry a fever. Sometimes they’re found lying dead in a body of water, which they sought to reduce their body temperature. They can die within 36 hours of infection, according to studies conducted by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
The first occurrence and subsequent identification of EHD came in 1955, when several hundred whitetails died in Michigan.
Sometimes only a hundred or so animals from the herd in the affected area die. But in 2012, Michigan wildlife officials reported, the die-off happened in 30 counties across the southern half of the state’s Lower Peninsula and 14,898 died.
There were no confirmed cases of EHD in the state in 2014 or 2015, so deer herds, so prolific in reproduction, can recover quickly.
No deer are affected after the first frost, when the midge is gone.
NO AFFECT ON HUMANS
The disease cannot be passed to humans.
And there’s no evidence to show that hunters who kill a deer impacted by the disease should be concerned about eating the venison.
However, deer with hemorrhagic disease might be susceptible to other diseases and eating sick-looking animals is not advised.
Kentucky wildlife biologists say the impact on the deer herd will be minimal and over for this year with the coming of cold weather.
The best and only practical means of regulating deer populations, they say, remains through recreational deer hunting, including the harvest of antlerless deer.
Kentucky’s deer herd remains substantial. For the past five straight years, hunters for all seasons (bow, modern gun, muzzleloader) have harvested more than 130,000 healthy deer.
I’ve had no reports, from bow hunters, squirrel hunters, or hunters out scouting for prospects of the coming gun deer season, of finding dead deer.
Kentucky wildlife officials ask that anyone finding adult deer either sick or lying dead to report it to the department.
The easiest way is to call the toll-free information number, 1-800-858-1549. Or you can write in Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources on a Goggle search, or write to the department at #1 Sportsman’s Lane, Frankfort, KY 40601.
OLD MR. RUFF
There is one creature of the woodlands that perhaps, more than any other, most epitomizes a wild creature’s ability to flourish in the more wild sections of hills and hollows found in southern Ohio and northeastern Kentucky.
We’re talking about away back in there, where the little streams of pure water trickle down from the heads of hollows and where underbrush and vines and briars seek to keep intruders out, not welcome them in. Where wildcats walk atop windfalls that could be the bed of a black bear.
This creature we speak of is the ruffed grouse. He seeks no handout from mankind. Just go your way. He’ll soon show you the folly, if you should have such an intention, of hoping to serve him up as the center piece on your dinner table, on a platter, steaming hot and succulent.
Save yourself some hide and frustration. Go to the market and get a chicken.
More than once I have come home from a grouse-hunting trip reduced to a bundle of nerves and headed for a sleepless night. They fly just as fast in my dreams as they did on the flushes out there in the wild.
Grouse hunters are offered plenty of time to get a few grouse in the freezer for Thanksgiving. In Ohio, the season opens Oct. 14 and runs through Jan. 31, 2018. The daily bag limit is two.
Kentucky’s season opens Nov. 1 and the first part runs through Nov. 10, when it closes through the first two days of deer gun season, then reopens Nov. 13 and runs through the end of February, 2018. The daily limit is four.
Ohio’s deer gun season opens Nov. 27.
HOW BIG IS A GROUSE?
WNXT announcer Sam McKibbin was showing Dr. George Pettit his new wristwatch.
“What kind is it?” asked Pettit.
“It’s a Henway,” McKibbin answered.
“What’s a Henway?” Pettit asked.
“ …‘bout a pound and a half,” McKibbin said.
And that’s about how much a ruffed grouse weighs – about the same as a pound-and-a-half chicken.
Reach G. SAM PIATT at email@example.com or (606) 932-3619.
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