News: Base bow hunting season closes, deer management continues
Story by Nathan Hanks
ALBANY, Ga. - For most Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany hunters, the 2012-2013 bow hunting season ended successfully, despite a slight decline in the total number of bucks and does harvested.
Archers hunted about 1,100 acres of land aboard the base during the hunting season, which began Sept. 18, 2012, and ended Jan. 15.
There were 109 registered hunters who hunted the 160-day season, according to Julie Robbins, natural resource manager, Environmental Branch, Installation and Environment Division, MCLB Albany.
Archers were allowed to hunt seven days a week during the hunting season.
“The average buck harvested was larger this year compared to the 2011 deer season,” Robbins said. “Hunters also reported seeing less disparity in the doe-to-buck ratio. Equal sex ratios helped to ensure a healthy deer density, which improved the hunter’s opportunity to encounter more mature bucks.”
The harvest quota for the 2012 deer hunting season was 39 does and 16 bucks.
Although there were some semi-mature to mature deer harvested from the base, the harvest quota was not met. There were 35 does and 8 bucks harvested this year, which is a slight decline from the 2011-2012 hunting season, according to Robbins.
“In past years, spotlight surveys conducted by Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the game warden and volunteers, helped to determine harvest quotas,” she said. “These quotas help to ensure the deer population is in balance with the environment.”
The lower numbers of bucks harvested may be attributed to a shorter than expected rut, she added.
The rut is the breeding season and deer activity during daylight hours increases substantially as bucks search for receptive does, according to Robbins.
“Generally more bucks are harvested in late November during the breeding season, Robbins said. “This year, however, a brief rut occurred in late October and a second occurred in December making it more difficult for hunters to encounter mature bucks during hunting hours.”
Hunting pressure may also have impacted hunter success, she noted.
“The small size of Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany and the large number of hunters can push deer to become more nocturnal and cautious,” she said. “This makes hunters have to work harder on base than they would on private land or leases to harvest deer.”
Al Belanger, game warden, Environmental Branch, said overall, as deer management is concerned, he considered the season a success.
“Our goal is get the deer population to 2-to-1, doe-to-buck ratio,” he said. “It’s taking some time, but we are getting there.”
Seven bucks with seven points or more were downed this season, according to Belanger.
“There was one buck with seven points, two bucks with eight points and four bucks with nine points,” Belanger said. “The average weight for a buck taken was 161 pounds with an average, inside antler spread of 15.5 inches. The average weight for the does harvested was 83 pounds.”
The average weight and antler spread of the bucks were slightly higher this year compared to the 2011 season, according to Robbins.
Michael Garve harvested the first deer of the season Sept. 8, 2012, a 117-pound doe, while Michael Gross harvested the largest doe of the season, Nov. 10, 2013, weighing 120.6 pounds. Danny Black harvested the heaviest buck of the season, Nov. 17, 2012, weighing 220.5 pounds.
Black downed his 9-point buck, Nov. 17, 2012, which scored mid-130s class in the Pope and Young classification, is a universally-accepted scoring system, which sets the standards for measuring and scoring North American big game for archery.
Throughout the season, hunters received additional assistance from two tracking dogs.
“Beagles Daisy and Dexter, owned by Matt Calstrom and Steve Dzuiban, helped track and find ten deer during the season,” Robbins said. “The beagles enabled hunters to find deer in thick cover and significantly improved recovery rates. Hunters were very grateful for the two teams of trackers.”
Belanger said considering the number of hunters this year and the amount of land available, if this was a hunting preserve, there wouldn’t have been more than 10 people hunting.
At other commercial plantations, it would cost $800 to $1,500 for a similar hunting experience.
Deer hunting registration on base costs $35 for officers and $30 for enlisted Marines, he added.
Belanger attributes the success of the deer season to archery qualifications conducted in early July.
Per Base Order 1720.17R, hunters are restricted to using a bow or crossbow aboard the base when hunting deer and other types of game.
Before the season began, hunters qualified with their bows at the Base Archery Range, attended a mandatory safety brief and had their hunting equipment inspected.
The qualification course requires archers to demonstrate they can hit a 3-D deer target at three different distances, which are typically, 20, 30 and 40 yards from an elevated stand.
“The purpose of the course is to test the accuracy and skills of each hunter before they are allowed to hunt,” Belanger said. “It also ensures the hunters’ equipment is safe and they are proficient with a bow. This greatly increases their ability to harvest an animal as humanely as possible.”