Hunting white-tailed deer focus of field day

Johnny Morgan, Melvin, Debbie, Sanders, Dearl E., Myers, Pamela J.

Debbie Melvin, LSU AgCenter nutrition agent in Lafourche Parish, displays the different meat packaging products at the wildlife field day May 2 at the Bob R. Jones Idlewild Research Station near Clinton. (Photo by Johnny Morgan. Click on photo for downloadable image.)

News Release Distributed 05/07/09

CLINTON, La. – White-tailed deer were the focus of a wildlife field day May 2 at the LSU AgCenter’s Bob R. Jones Idlewild Research Station.

Dr. Dearl Sanders, resident coordinator at the station, challenged participants to guess the age and weight of four pen-raised deer. He offered $1,000 to the person who correctly guessed the age and weight of all four.

“Well, again, I get to keep the money,” Sanders said. “Several people came close, but not close enough.”

Sanders said the purpose of the exercise was to let the participants know how shooting young deer rather than older deer could affect the overall herd. The weight of deer normally corresponds with age, he said.

“If you shoot the seven-year-old deer, she’s probably only going to live another year anyways, so you’re actually only taking out, potentially, three deer,” Sanders said. “But if you shoot the fawn, you could potentially be taking up to 25 deer from the herd over its life span.”

Justin Thayer, an LSU graduate student, has been tracking deer for the past three years in the bottomland hardwood forest area of West Baton Parish to determine their range.

“Every deer caught got an ear tag, and deer over 80 pounds also got a radio collar,” Thayer said.

His results show that where habitat quality is good, adult bucks normally stay within a 300-acre area, and an adult doe’s home range is about 86 acres.

Jim LaCour, a veterinarian with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, told about diseases hunters should be aware of in white-tailed deer and feral hogs.

The most common diseases and conditions affecting Louisiana white-tailed deer included epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus or the “blue tongue virus,” nasal bots, arterial worms and liver flukes, he said.

LaCour said that hunters should never handle or consume an animal showing the following conditions:

– Neurological signs such as circling or wobbling or appearing “dumb” or unaware of surroundings.

– Appearance of being depressed, weak or unable to rise or does not try to escape.

– Having a fever or generalized lymph node swelling.

He said human consumption of animals with most of these diseases is not a problem, as long as the meat is thoroughly cooked to 160 degrees.

“The important thing to remember about all of the swine diseases is that the pigs quite often show no outward sign of disease,” LaCour said. “People should wear rubber gloves and should not eat or drink while handling feral swine.”

LaCour said the common diseases in feral hogs are swine brucellosis, Leptospirosis, trichinosis and swine flu.

LSU AgCenter nutrition agents Debbie Melvin of Lafourche Parish and Pam Myers of East Feliciana Parish and Manual Persica, a research associate in the LSU AgCenter School of Animal Sciences, discussed proper handling of harvested deer.

Melvin said not keeping meat at the proper temperature can cause a range of problems. She explained that showing off the kill just happens to be one of the worst things a hunter can do.

“They parade that trophy deer around town on the hood of the car or truck, not realizing that the engine heat increases the spoilage time of the meat,” Melvin said.

Melvin and Persica demonstrated butchering and packaging of a deer to show the proper way to care for the meat from the site to the freezer.

Sanders said the field day was cosponsored by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Quality Deer Management South Louisiana Branch.

For further information on white-tailed deer management and other research, visit the LSU AgCenter Web site at or contact Sanders at 225-683-5848.

Johnny Morgan

5/8/2009 12:27:41 AM
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