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      Under the gun: whitetail deer struggle for survival

      If you're a whitetail deer you have to assume that danger lurks just over the next ridgeline. And it usually does. Harsh weather, hunters and the occasional front end of a Chevy are only a few adversaries worth mentioning. Many of the deer's rivals aren't gunning for the biggest buck or even counting points.

      â??You had EHD downstate that in some areas decimated their deer herd. That disease is really prevalent when you have dry, warm weather.â?? Thatâ??s according to Brian Reynolds, President of U.P. Whitetails.

      So far, EHD or Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease and other often deadly ailments havenâ??t done well in the Upper Peninsula. Department of Natural Resources wildlife specialist, Brian Roell shared a few words on some of the most common diseases affecting whitetail deer. He said, â??The ones that mostly we're talking about are TB, the chronic wasting disease, or the encephalitis. Those are diseases we hope we don't find in the Upper Peninsula. We're still lucky. We're still doing surveillance for those kinds of things.â?? Harsh winter weather is more deadly for deer than nearly all other dangers combined. The month of March is a pivotal time for deer. Imagine being a deer, having to forage through the snow and ice for acorns.

      Brain Roell said, â??The extended winter into our typical spring was very difficult for the deer in the high snowfall regions. So we know we did loose deer to starvation and winter stress. But it also affected the adult does that actually did survive the winter which resulted in lower birth-weights of those fawns, which in turn goes right into the survival of those fawns.

      Many hunters choose to lay bait down, in order to lure the deer back to their hunting site. A majority of hunters that try it find that method beneficial. However, experts say baiting deer has its limitations as well.

      â??You know, the bad thing about baiting if you get some type of a disease, you're hurting the deer.â?? Thatâ??s according to Early Bevins, President of the Big Bay Sportsmanâ??s Club.

      Many diseases flourish in situations where high population density allows viruses and other parasites to spread easily from one organism to another.

      Whether you've decided to use bait or you prefer the challenge of stalking your prey, remember to follow hunting rules and regulations and stay safe. Hereâ??s to another successful season on the woods!