Bread Deforms Ducks: Angel Wing Syndrome

February 12, 2013

Bread Deforms Ducks: Angel Wing Syndrome

Hunters beware, mutant ducks could be on the horizon. No, these birds won’t be shooting laser beams or strutting around with an adamantium skeleton and some cool sideburns. They are in fact suffering from a symptom known as “angel wing.” Some ducks with abnormal diets will develop wing feathers that grow faster than their bones will support, leading them to splay out in the sides instead of lying flat across the body. The condition is incurable in adult birds and keeps the animal from flying properly, or sometimes at all.

According to KTXL FOX40, bird advocate Judy McClaver has been studying the problem for years.

“I did some research, and found out it’s caused by us, from the human food we feed them,” McClaver told FOX40. She specifically mentions bread, which can cause imbalances in the birds’ diet. Feeding ducks is a popular pastime in many parks across the country, but many people now know to feed the birds a healthier mix of seeds instead of bread.

A study by the city of Spokane, Washington found that the carbohydrates in bread is what’s causing the deformities.

“It all goes back to the public dumping bread into park ponds believing they are helping feed the wild ducks, when instead they are really harming them,” said Parks and Recreation Supervisor Steve Nittolo.

Angel wings are especially prevalent in waterfowl that have regular contact with humans. To help safeguard the birds, parks have put up no feeding signs, but that only seems to exacerbate the problem as it deprives the animals of a trusted food source. McClaver says she visits her local park several times a week to hand out bird seed to passersby as an alternative.

Despite being a large problem for the waterfowl population, little research is being done on the subject. Currently scientists are unsure if two mated ducks with angel wing could produce offspring with the same deformity.

The video below shows a family of ducks with the illness:

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Take Care of Pregnant Does Now with Rack One’s Overload

January 15, 2013

Take Care of Pregnant Does Now with Rack One’s Overload

While the excitement of the rut may be just a fond memory, this time of year is the most important time to properly care for the herd, especially the does. As winter turns to spring, does require a lot of protein and fat to bring their bodies back to health while simultaneously providing nutrition for the growing fetus or fetuses. That is where Rack One’s Overload comes in. As part of the IGNITE Whitetail Hunting System, Overload is packed with 20-percent protein and a guaranteed analysis of nine-percent fat content with six-percent fiber. This is a perfectly balanced diet for a pregnant whitetail.

By feeding the mothers-to-be a healthy diet of Overload, they are able to immediately begin to recuperate from the winter and will be much more likely to maintain a healthy full-term pregnancy. If a doe is not healthy, her body will naturally abort that pregnancy in order to survive. This leads to a higher rate of mortality, which will decrease the number of deer in the herd in the future. This creates what is commonly referred to as a generation gap. The doe could also give birth to a low weight fawn, causing smaller antler growth and other issues in a new generation of the herd.

Does are also very stressed when lactating and caring for their offspring. Most of their energy is used to protect and feed their hungry fawns. If the doe’s nutritional needs are not properly met during this critical time period, she will be in very poor body condition by late summer or early fall. This is when rut begins again, and she will not be prepared to sustain a healthy pregnancy. The negative stress cycle of the herd begins once again.

“That is why ranchers and deer managers need to take care of the does very carefully during this critical time of year,” said Casey Keefer, vice president of marketing. “One season of poor nutrition can throw the whole herd off.

“The does are the key to a successful herd, and you have to take good care of them,” Keefer concluded.

All in all, the Condition Phase is one of the most important chapters of the Rack One Ignite Whitetail System. By using it properly, hunters and land managers can ensure their herd remains healthy and in good balance, thus leading to more successful days in the field come fall.

The suggested retail price of a 20-pound bag of Overload is $29.99. Buy it online at, or ask for them by name at your local sporting goods store.

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Follow “Rule of Halves” in Managing for Florida Turkeys

January 2, 2013

Follow “Rule of Halves” in Managing for Florida Turkeys

Whether you oversee a large tract of land or own a smaller parcel, there are many wildlife management techniques you can use to help attract and keep wild turkeys on your property.

Wild turkeys, like deer, are “edge species,” because of their need for more than one type of habitat. Most of the time, with large tracts of land, this isn’t a problem because the vast landscape is diverse enough. But in the case of small-acreage, one-habitat properties, it’s up to you as the landowner to create varied, preferred habitats if you expect turkeys to use the property.

For optimal turkey habitat, most experts believe a “rule of halves” should be applied to the landscape. What that means is that half of the area (and if you own a small tract, then include surrounding properties) should be in mature forests and the other half in early-succession openings, such as fields or clear-cut and plantation-cut landscapes.

To create even better and more varied habitats for turkeys, you should offer differing age classes of forests and early-succession areas – and make prescribed burning a big part of your management plan. This will enable new growth of succulent, woody ornamentals, native grasses and weedy-type flowers.

Hardwood lowlands provide travel corridors that turkeys and deer use extensively and feel comfortable moving through. Most wild turkeys prefer to roost in trees over or near water, so it’s important to leave these areas undisturbed and free from timbering.

Buffer strips of native grasses and woody ornamentals should be left unmowed where clear-cut areas meet pine or hardwood forests. Hens require this thick understory cover for nesting.

In Florida, most hens begin laying their eggs in late March or early April and the eggs take about 25 days to hatch, so take care not to burn or mow through August. After hatching, poults will roost on the ground for the first 14 days, and during this period, approximately 70 percent of these young birds won’t survive, primarily because of predation from raccoons, hawks, coyotes, foxes and bobcats.

Attempts to control these predators are usually ineffective and economically unfeasible, so your efforts are better spent creating and maintaining good-quality brood habitat.

Good brood habitat should hold food in the form of seeds, insects and tender, new-growth vegetation for young poults to feed upon throughout the summer. It should consist of 1- to 3-foot-tall grass and weeds open enough to enable the young poults to move about, yet dense enough to provide cover from the above-mentioned predators.

There is great interest nationally in the planting of food plots for wildlife, including for turkeys. Within extensive closed-canopy forested areas, food plots and/or game feeders are essential to keeping turkeys on your property. Where an open forest structure is maintained by adequate timber thinning and the use of fire, such supplemental feeding is not as necessary because there is enough natural browse vegetation on which game can feed.

On very large tracts of land, sufficient supplemental feeding can be quite expensive. In these cases, proper use of burning and timber-thinning management are more economical ways of providing food for turkeys and other wildlife.

Food plots, though, are a lot more cost-effective at feeding game than using feeders on moderate-sized pieces of property. In cases of smaller tracts, perhaps where food plots can’t be utilized because the landscape is all lowland and you have a closed canopy, game feeders filled with corn or soybeans are your only option for attracting turkeys.

When thinking about good food plot sites, avoid excessively wet or dry areas, and don’t place them along heavily used roads to minimize disturbance and possible poaching.

Look to create these openings along an edge where upland pines meet a hardwood drain. This way, you’ll have an area where three separate habitats converge. Keep in mind that it is recommended that 2 percent to 3 percent of the land should be in these permanent openings.

The best food plots are long and narrow rectangular shapes that follow the contour of the land. When possible, create food plots where the length (longest part) runs east to west. That way, the planted crops will receive the most direct sunlight.

In the fall, cereal grains like wheat, oats and rye can be planted along with Austrian winter peas, clover and brassicas like turnips, rape and kale. Except for clover, these crops grow well in most of Florida.

Clover requires a higher soil pH – between 6.5 and 7 – and it often won’t grow in the sandy soils that make up most of our state, unless you apply enough lime to bring the pH level up. In the northern-tiered counties that border Alabama and Georgia, the soil is richer with red clay, and several varieties of clover and other legumes will grow well there.

All of the above-mentioned cool-season forages can be planted by “broadcast” method after Oct. 1. At least twice as much fertilizer should be applied. Slightly cover the seed by pulling a drag over it, and try to put your crop in the ground when the soil is holding some moisture and rain is in the forecast.

In the spring after May 1, you can plow under your “browned-up” fall crop and replace it with any combination of soybeans, cowpeas, browntop millet, sorghum or peanuts. If you can afford it, turkeys are especially fond of chufa. That, along with the other warm-season forages, can be broadcasted and planted just like the cool-weather crops.

Hopefully, using some or all of these wildlife-management practices will help bring in turkeys and increase your property’s carrying capacity for birds. If you need assistance, contact the FWC’s Landowner Assistance Program, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Natural Resources Conservation Service or your county agricultural extension agent. Here’s wishing you luck obtaining your management goals and objectives.

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Maine DIFW Schedules Public Hearings on Fishing Regulations and Supplemental Deer Feeding

October 19, 2012

Maine DIFW Schedules Public Hearings On Fishing Regulations and Supplemental Deer Feeding

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will hold public hearings over the next two weeks on fishing regulations and supplemental deer feeding.

There will be four public hearings next week on the Department’s annual packet of proposed rule changes for open water and ice fishing including but not limited to changes to fishing derbies, bass fishing regulations and landlocked salmon regulations, in addition to a proposal to prohibit the use of live fish as bait on 16 waters that hold native and wild brook trout.

The packet of proposed changes can be obtained by visiting the Department’s website or by contacting the Department for a copy.

The hearings will be held:

  • Monday, Oct. 22 – Presque Isle Inn & Convention Center, 116 Main Street, Presque Isle
  • Tuesday, Oct. 23 – Northern Timber Cruisers Snowmobile Club, Millinocket Lake Road, Millinocket
  • Wednesday, Oct. 24 – Ellsworth City Council Chambers, 1 City Hall Plaza, Ellsworth
  • Thursday, Oct. 25 – Brunswick High School, Multi Purpose Room, 116 Maquoit Road, Brunswick

The Department will also hold two public hearings the following week on supplemental deer feeding.

In accordance with new legislation, the Commissioner is proposing to adopt rules to regulate the feeding of deer in certain instances to minimize potential public safety hazards or detrimental effects on deer.

The hearings will be held:

  • Tuesday, Oct. 30 – Northeastland Hotel, Red Room, 436 Main Street, Presque Isle
  • Thursday, Nov. 1 – Lincoln Plantation Town Hall, Route 16, Lincoln Plantation

All hearings start at 6:30 p.m.

The public is encouraged to attend these public hearings and present testimony on the proposed changes.

For those who cannot attend the hearings, written comment can be submitted to the Department until 5 pm November 15th, 2012, at the above address.

For more information, go to

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Deer Water Hole Improvement 101

October 1, 2012

Deer Water Holes Improvement 101

This is the water hole location that started it all for us…at least the importance of water when it comes to evening feeding patterns and all-day rut activity! Starting with shovels and followed by a lot of expansion throughout the years, our first water hole was in need of improvement.

Using the same 110-gallon tanks that have been a huge success in three other locations on the property, our oldest water hole will again be one of our best. During the last several weeks the waterhole would be dry within a week following the addition of close to 100 gallons of water. Our experience over the last few years with various tanks has taught us that by using the 110-gallon tank, that same amount of water can last two months or more depending on temperatures and the amount of rainfall. Last year a new waterhole was installed in May, filled with with 60 gallons of water and it still held an inch of water in late October!

Each of our deer water holes offer incredible stand locations while reinforcing movements between bedding and feeding. Each is also located within a traditional rut cruising area.

During the past couple of years dozens of my clients have used similar containers with similar results. It may take a month or two for the mature bucks to use, but when they do it becomes a highly predictable pattern.

Think you have enough water already? That’s not the point. Where a water hole is extremely effective is when it is located between a “dry” bedding area and an evening food source. When that situation is created, then that water hole can be one of the most consistent movement patterns for an afternoon hunt. Bedding to water to food source – it’s a pretty cool pattern to take advantage of!

The waterhole was “ok” the way that it was, but always featured an inconsistent level of use, mostly subject to the whims of mother nature. But not anymore!

A trip to Tractor Supply Company, $75, and a good friend to help dig it in and you too can create an outstanding water hole. I personally like to place this particular container about a half-foot into the ground, so that a deer does not have to kneel to get to the last several inches. What that also helps me to do is to keep from having to re-fill the tank during critical times of the season because the water level is too low. Instead, any deer can easily reach water while in a standing position, even if the level of water is towards the bottom of the container.

Its important to leave a stick in the container for small rodents to use as an escape bridge, and I also like to add some soil to the water to produce a more natural taste and smell. The stick will also keep the container from cracking during the winter months.

This particular location has offered water a portion of the time for many years. Because this is the same container that has been used at other locations, and because this area has offered water for so long…I am hoping that the local mature bucks will become used to the location quickly! And if they don’t, well, our old waterhole was holding very little water anyways and it was time for an improvement.

By Jeff Sturgis,

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Research Suggests Many West Virginia Coyotes Feed on Deer

May 2, 2012

Research Proves That Majority of Coyotes Feed on Deer

A recent study conducted by West Virginia scientists has put forth evidence that as much as 60 percent of coyotes feed on deer. The conclusions come after a 20-month study that took samples of 969 coyotes’ stomach contents and manure samples across different regions of West Virginia.

Specifically, deer remains showed up in 59.9 percent of the samples examined. Grass and twigs were present in 39.7 percent of samples, small mammals (like mice and other rodents) were in 19.3 percent, fruits and seeds were in 18.4 percent, squirrels and chipmunks in 11.4 percent, birds in 4 percent and rabbits also in 4 percent. These percentages add up to more than 100 percent because samples frequently contained more than one grouping of items.

West Virginia University graduate student Geriann Albers coordinated the research along with Professor of Wildlife and Fisheries Resources John Edwards. Albers presented her findings at the 68th Annual Northeast Fish and Wildlife Conference on April 16.

The state’s Division of Natural Resources commissioned the study to determine whether coyotes might be having an impact on whitetail herds and to what degree. Research showed that coyotes were having an impact on whitetail herds, but it was impossible to conclude how the deer was taken. While Albers estimates that a good percentage of deer remains found in samples were the results of predation, it’s also likely that coyotes scavenged from the carcasses of deer that perished by other means.

The percentage of deer remains in coyotes’ stomach contents and stool samples dropped to just 38 percent between September and December, even though that period includes deer hunting season. Albers and her team speculate that drop is attributed to easier food source opportunities during that time when coyotes can scavenge for fruit, nuts, or squirrels which are easier to find than a gut pile left by a hunter.

The study’s results further implied that coyotes feed most heavily on deer between January to April. Deer showed up in more than 70 percent of coyotes’ stomach and stool contents then, possibly because snow is deep so coyotes have an easier time preying on deer and many deer die of winterkill during that time. The time between May and August contains the fawn birthing period during which 55 percent of samples contained deer remains.

The findings support the theory that coyotes are opportunistic feeders that will eat just about anything. Remains of skunk, oppossum, even remnants of trash like napkins and sandwich wrappers were found in a small percentage of samples. Additionally, deer remains were only half as abundant in coyotes in West Virginia’s southern coalfields because deer populations are sparse there.

It was also found that coyotes do not sustain themselves much with turkeys or turkey eggs as those remains did not often show up in samples. Only 4 percent of samples contained bird remains, half of which were from ground-nesting birds such as turkey and grouse.

Further research may involve how much predation of specific species by coyotes is actually occurring.

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Evolving Your Habitat: Food Plot Construction Tips

March 26, 2012

Evolving Your Habitat: Food Plot Construction Tips

Wildlife food plots are a key part of building bigger and healthier animals. Whether you are planting chicory, alfalfa, clover, or perhaps turnips, you must know that a plant must have an assortment of resources to reach its maximum growth peak.

A seed must have proper soil, fertilization, minerals, pH levels, and an adequate amount of sunlight in order to thrive to its full potential. If you happen to lack in any particular area mentioned above, you are not only cheating the groceries in your food plot, but also short changin’ your consumers – deer, turkey, and other wildlife.

Plants must have the essential ingredients in order to provide your wildlife the best nutrition available. Otherwise, you are simply wasting your time. Whitetail deer digest the plant matter in order to grow larger racks and beef up their bone structure. Food plots that lack in any specific category will hinder your plant’s natural growth cycle and provide inadequate nutrition to the animals digesting it.

A food plot must have a sufficient amount of sunlight to survive. However, too much is actually not a good thing. If your plot experiences more than 6 hours of harsh sunlight, it is apt to grow thirsty and dry. Shade or a tree canopy becomes an unsung hero in this case.

Soil testing is one of the most important steps before spreading any seed onto the ground. You must figure out your property’s pH level to uncover your nutrient deficiencies. After you acquire your pH level, you may want to spread lime and fertilizer to increase the maximum potential of the seed’s growth.

Another critical asset you must understand is the size of your food plot. An important step before planting your food plot is deciding how large it should be. The average plot most outdoorsmen allocate to wildlife may range anywhere from ¼ acre to ½ acre. In most cases, size matters, however size does not comply in this case.

A strong and healthy ½ acre of groceries is a lot of great forage. In fact, it can produce up to two tons of forage in simply one year if you take the necessary steps in assuring your soil is up to par as well as your other variables.

Evolved Harvest is one of the leading manufacturers of whitetail forage and nutrition. They offer premium mixtures of perennial and annual forage seeds to create a highly digestible food plot with the greatest possible protein and mineral content. The annual brassicas serve as a cover crop to protect the clovers and chicory until your perennial plot is established.

Large and expansive food plots will only increase cost, time, maintenance, and efforts without truly benefitting the deer herd in a way that is worth your while. As you also may realize, whopping food plots are extremely tricky to hunt considering all the space it occupies, which decreases your odds of getting into bow range of a buck.

These tips are a basic outline of what you need to know before, during, and after planting season. You may want to check out the Evolved Harvest virtual Planting Map that details what seeds work best in your region of the country here:

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