The total deer harvest figure for the last seasons,
ended in January of this year, for all seasons and all harvest tools is
124,427 deer, according to assistant deer biologist Chad Stewart, who spoke
at last week’s Hoosier Outdoor Writers annual meeting.
Stewart said the deer harvest tally is third best
of modern times, behind totals of 125,526 in seasons of 2005, and 125,381
Last year’s total harvest was undoubtedly affected
by EHD, the deer disease that played havoc with deer populations in seven
southwestern counties. Stewart said the seven counties where the antlered
deer harvest was down at least 20 percent were Crawford, Davies, Dubois,
Perry, Pike, Spencer and Warrick.
That, of course, begs the question: will the dread
disease do an instant replay this summer in the same counties or other
areas of the state where infestations were lighter. The odds are that EHD
will not strike there again this summer, but it could show up in other
Interesting enough, Stewart says the disease crops
up most often in drought summers. He adds that deer survivors of EHD (epizootic
hemorrhagic disease) tend to build up a tolerance (or immunity) to it.
Thus, it is almost certain that the disease will
not occur in counties that were affected badly last summer, but that it
could occur elsewhere in the state.
Stewart says EHD is transmitted by the bite of
a nearly-microscopic fly (from the family of no-seeums). Of course, they
prosper in dry spells.
This unhappy, but natural, set of circumstances
(maybe Mother Nature is intervening in our deer population problems . .
. whatta you got for geese?) harks back to the ‘50s when we used
to vacation on Rondaxe Lake near the sleepy little town of Old Forge in
the Adirondack Mountains.
The annual visit with Uncle Harold and Aunt Edith
was unadulterated joy, and it was not tainted by the trips Uncle Harold
and I Jeeped into the mountains to small native brook trout waters. They
were, at times, hair-raisingly wild.
This one day, however, Uncle Harold had been called
back to Rome (as in N.Y.) to work. Thus, I was to solo into the mountains,
and to worsen matters, I had no wheels (my wife needed our Jeep).
We came up with the notion that my wife, Nancy,
would taxi me to the jumping-off place, and that I then would hoof it to
the creek (the Independence River) to fish for brookies. She would then
return just before dark to pick me up.
The plan worked perfectly until she dropped me
off and headed back over the mountain to Camp. It was then, as I assembled
my little Heddon Black Beauty bamboo fly rod, that I noted, in frustration,
that my little green bottle of insect repellent was not about. The deer
flies, and black flies (as big as house flies) were already feasting on
me, Still, the urge to get chummy with those little fire-engine red-bellied
critters intervened and I headed for the river, realizing en route that
the bugs operate best in the shade. Furthermore, I thought, the wind might
rise to quell their dive-bomb tactics.
I was fighting flies, and not catching much, when
in late afternoon I I chanced upon a fast-moving stretch of shallow water
(a gravel bottom riffle) that flowed into a big millpond.
The plot thickens, I told myself, as I soft-shoed
into the swift water to cast my little gray nymph downstream to the deep,
quiet waters of the pool, all the time picking deer flies off my bare neck
and dropping them into the swift water.
For a spell, the feed I expected did not materialize,
but I kept picking flies and casting. After a few minutes, trout started
rising to something in the pool, and even my faulty cerebellum deduced
that my fly picking flies could be creating a brookie smorgasbord in the
The rest is history--the happy kind. I had a ready
source of bait. I punched pinched flies onto the hook of the little fly
and merely cast them to the still water. Presto! The best brookie fishing
I ever had.
There were whole fried brook trout, eggs, and
blue berry muffins for breakfast.
As the old saw goes: “What goes around, comes