Albert Einstein is credited with more sayings than…. well…. than he really said. Nevertheless, the two Einstein quotes which follow, seem to have originated with this one-of-a-kind intellectual wonder:
The only source of knowledge is experience
If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
While we have all likely experienced, in real time, the Global Covid Pandemic, we are still seeking knowledge based on our singular and collective experience. Social distancing aside, there seems to be no simple cause/effect explanation; because there is a lot about this bug that we simply do not understand.
Ironically, and with reference to but irrespective of the Pandemic, Mississippi River and Backwater Flooding in 2019 and 2020 had already forced Tara Wildlife to begin a form of social distancing, as Tara was forced to postpone or cancel most ongoing programs and management processes. Many of you, as Tara’s seasonal guests, have been and continue to be negatively affected. Covid 19 has added a tangible and cogent sound to the slamming of doors on prospective plans and calendar events for 2020 and beyond.
Rut Hunt Starting November 29
One bright spot ahead, is the upcoming rut hunt at Tara; a hunt in which some of you will be able to participate. Beginning on November 29, just three days after Thanksgiving, Tara Wildlife will welcome its first bowhunting guests since 2018. Consistent with recommendations posted in the 1 st QTR 2020 Tara Blog Post, hunts at Tara Wildlife during the 2020/21 Mississippi Deer Season will take place in the November 29, 2020 thru January 9, 2021 time frame. Harvest will be limited to one buck per hunter.
Prior to going into the field, all hunting guests will be exposed to an orientation program, during which current observations and expectations will be discussed. Special emphasis will be placed on each hunter completing observation cards. These cards will be furnished prior to going to the field. This year, as never before, buck harvest will focus on older age class animals which exhibit specific but readily identifiable physical characteristics. Antlerless deer harvest will not be allowed before, during or after the planned November – January hunt dates.
Recent camera surveys at Tara have produced impressive results, with cameras recording multiple buck photographs/per camera set-ups in continuous 30-day periods. As expected, with no hunting pressure during the 2019-2020 deer season, buck numbers at Tara have been optimized. Adult buck age structure has, by default, expanded to include significant numbers of quality older age class bucks. There is no doubt that skipping a year of hunting and delaying 2020 hunt dates, as prescribed, has been the right call and that the upcoming rut hunt should produce some exciting days afield.
Even with diminished numbers and dismal animal condition in the Fall of 2019, the rut at Tara was truly phenomenal. Multiple bucks chased does to exhaustion and the 2020 fawn crop was projected to be a good one. Turn the clock forward and time has not disappointed. The 2020 fawn crop at Tara is, in fact, hugely impressive.
Paradoxically, reducing the Tara deer population to levels which are currently “still below carrying capacity”, has created a perfect environment for mature whitetails to reach their full biological and physiological potential. Furthermore, as has already been mentioned, the total lack of harvest/hunting pressure following the 2018 season, has maximized carry-over of animals into 2020 and the scheduled November 29, 2020 – January 9, 2021 harvest period.
Food Plots Planted & Progressing
Food plots have been planted and are progressing nicely. Purple Top Turnips and mixed cool season fall plantings are flourishing, having benefitted from rich delta soils and frequent rainfall. Ironically, however, the reduction in deer densities has improved both the quantity and quality of native browse, and planted wildlife openings appear to be a secondary dietary preference versus previous years where these plantings would be eaten to “lip high” levels by December/January.
Timber Harvest Conducted
Some selective timber harvest has been conducted, as Tara continues to address some localized forest health concerns created by prolonged flood events in 2019 and 2020. These freshly harvested areas furnish both food (browse) and cover for whitetails, as well as many other animal species. Persimmons were produced in abundance this summer/fall at Tara, and while that soft mast deer candy will be diminished by late November, native hard mast crops of pecans and acorns are abundant and currently falling. Deer are beginning to pattern on these and other important fall/winter native food sources that will carry them into the New Year and beyond.
Guides Placing Stand Locations
Tara Guides are currently busy placing stand locations in selected areas of heavy use and with a critical eye relative to wind direction and hunter accessibility. The excitement at Tara is palpable, amongst both the guides and management, as the countdown to November 29 draws near.
Information on Safety Measures
As per the current Pandemic and associated social distancing, food service, facilities use, etc., Tara Wildlife is preparing information to furnish to hunting guests in the coming days and prior to your arrival at Tara. Such information will be consistent with federal/state/local mandates and will be implemented in such a way as to maximize your enjoyment of the property and facilities, as well as your safe interaction with fellow hunters.
Wishing all a safe and successful hunting season, and a Covid Free 2020 and beyond,
W.H. “Bill” Tomlinson
Certified Wildlife Biologist/Registered Forester
Sustainable Resource Managers, LLC