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More Whitetail Deer Now then at the Time of Columbus?

Discussion in 'Hunting' started by <*(((><, Dec 3, 2019.

  1. ridgerunner1965

    ridgerunner1965 Member

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    this thread reminds me of a guy I used to work with. him and his mom and dad lived in a little 2 room house with his 6 brothers. and I mean a little house. it was prob 12x 16. its still standing.

    he said the conservation guys turned out 6 deer on their place around 1960. he said they was so poor and hungry they hunted everyone of those deer down and ate them. he wasn't proud of it but they was litterlally starving.. they didn't have any guns but a few single shot 22 rifles and couple single shot 12 ga shotguns.

    the same place today is teeming with deer
     
  2. Loyalist Dave

    Loyalist Dave Member

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    Because it's stated wrong. It's supposed to be something like, "Based on the estimates of what the North American forest could support for whitetail and mule deer, prior to sustained contact with Europeans..., it is estimated that current deer populations in North America are higher than at the period before sustained European contact." You are correct that we don't "know" what the population was. The food supply is larger, and deer are not a primary protein source, nor a primary source for clothing, as they were prior to sustained European contact.

    LD
     
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  3. <*(((><
    • Contributing Member

    <*(((>< Contributing Member

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    It's good to hear all the replies, I mainly posted this as a reminder of the obvious (at least in my mind it's obvious) that hunters play an important role in game management in today's society here in the US. There seems to be a trend towards bringing animals up to the status of humans in today's society, when there are obvious differences, we humans are stewards of the land. And good stewardship is maintaining balance, it just so happens that over time the balance has tipped in favor of the deer.

    I just find it's a good reminder to have this in our heads when we get involved in a conversation with a person who is of another opinion about hunting in general. It's a good piece of information to have to talk about as well as the benefits of wild game in the provision of good, healthy, affordable protein source to many in the US. There are a lot of low income families that rely on venison to sustain their families through the year, and it is not at the expense of a dwindling deer population.


    No way to know, Sacajawea is long gone to ask. But I'm sure there is adequate data to suggest that the statement this thread is about is true. And no I don't have that data. With anything "created" energy has to be put into it; I think agriculture and population controls on animal predators has provided great resources for deer to thrive. I think a problem that needs to be thought about is the use of deer feeders (and I know I'll get some flack over this) back east promoting diseases within the populations due to grouping up.

    Without getting into religion too far, it is the sin of man that causes the destructive path. Like everything in life, actions have consequences. I would agree with your statement above, but I also would say that "man" is the most important species on the planet and follow that up with and being so we should example good stewardship.

     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2019
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  4. 40-82

    40-82 Member

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    Once it was a staple of Virginia Game Commission publications that we have more deer now than when the first settlers landed in Jamestown. As far as I know, they haven't backed off that assertion. In recent years, they talk about something else. There's no question that the bulk of our deer population is on well-managed farmland and not on ridges deep in the national forest.

    For the most part our national forests are reclaimed timberland and relatively poor habitat. The American chestnut is gone, so too, the eight-hundred year old oaks. The deep woods of times past offered food sources for wild game that are gone. The native populations did burnings as well leaving clear-cuts, which were good for game as well.

    Old records are scanty. We know the early settlers and the native populations hunted, exactly how consistently successful they were is hard to piece together. When I talk about killing enough to get through the starving time in March, it's mostly a joke; a couple hundred years ago it wasn't.

    Whether we have more deer now than then is an interesting question, one I don't know how to answer definitely.

    My great uncle, a World War II veteran killed the first deer ever taken on my farm in modern times in '47. The years after, especially my formative years, were lean, and I learned a deep thankfulness for every one I killed. The values I learned in those years stayed with me. Some of them strike most of the people I know in the modern world as primitive. To me, the concepts of man and rifleman are indistinguishable. How can a man be a man and not a rifleman as well?
     
  5. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    There is reason to assume that forest foods were much higher back in the pre industrial era. The forests we have are very different from the pre industrial age. Timber companies have logged out deciduous trees, that is Oak, Hickory, basically any of the nut trees, and replaced them with pine trees. I have hunted enough to see the difference in wild life population in little groves with nut producing deciduous trees and pines. The pine tree forest have far less animals. I think it is very possible that the deer then had lots of food in the forest. Food that has disappeared by the industry practices of pulp wood forest concerns. I had a tour of a pulp company and asked about their wood mix, they used majority pine. It was fast growing and it broke down in the vats. When they logged out an area, they plant pine trees. Estimates are only 7% of the forest left is old growth forest. We live in a vastly changed forest environment than pre industrial.

    American Indians had very weak bows and atlatl's. Even though I have thrown atlatl's, they are decidedly a very short range weapon. I think the extreme lethal range for an Indian bow would be 50 yards,and an atlatl less than that.

    Jcb9CAR.jpg

    pgZp6Vt.jpg

    Everything I read about game, particularly the enormous game bags taken by sports hunters post Civil War, leads me to believe there was a lot more wildlife, of all species, before humans destroyed wildlife populations. Many of those species are gone forever and thus, because people don't know their history, don't see them, and don't suspect they ever existed. I believe that deer populations could have been much higher than now, but they were pretty much wiped out by cartridge feeding rifles.
     
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  6. crestoncowboy

    crestoncowboy Member

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    All the old sportsmen I knew growing up as a hunter and trapper said that deer were a rarity before the 50s and 60s. Many say that they had never seen one at all here in the Appalachian mountains. In the 00s and now it's not uncommon to see 30 or 40 in a single days hunt. I see 30 or more on my commute to work which is 7.5 miles.

    There was also an article I read about finland (iirc) where deer were introduced in 1935. 4 animals were introduced. Now there are over 30k and that was years ago when I read it
     
  7. shoobe01

    shoobe01 Member

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    First, estimates are not totally pulled out of thin air. There are people who research this stuff on many fronts. One I know of is meals. Archaeologists deeply investigate things like trash piles.

    http://www.deerfriendly.com/decline-of-deer-populations

    Anyway, all figures I see are along these lines:
    USDeerPop%202017%20Long.jpg

    Huge pre-columbian populations, European settlers wiped out simply everything. Now, bounced back to unsustainable levels due to the deforestation we've done for agriculture and development, and we're trending down to figure out what a sustainable population will be with this environment.
     
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  8. Patocazador

    Patocazador Member

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    I just bought 150 acres that had been clear-cut 2 years ago. It is ugly looking. The locals all deride the previous owner for "ruining" it. However, the deer bed, and eat in this cut with head-high dog fennels and briars. I have already taken 2 deer off these areas while the neighbors with thick tall pines don't kill much at all.

    Grown-up clear-cuts are hard to hunt but full of game. Fire used to be the way these lands got cleared but full-blown fires are fought vigorously for obvious reasons.
     
  9. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    From what I have read, American Indians and all indigenous peoples kept their forests clean and open through fire management. They understood that a lot of dry under brush would create the sort of Dresden like firestorms California is currently experiencing. Indigenous people through out the world set fires when "the ground told them". Their burns had less fuel than the horrible accumulations of burnable materials that moderns have allowed, and so they rapidly coarsed through the forest without creating the ungodly heat of a modern forest fire. The reference I provided claims fire blowups have max temperatures of 2,192 F which is just under the melting point of stainless steel. Of course, Indians were not mismanaging their utility companies and letting their power transmission lines collapse and set their forests on fire!

    Their forests would have been less under brush, but more food for deer, elk, squirrels, rabbits, etc.
     
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  10. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    but they did allow people to poop outside...:)
     
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  11. mustanger98

    mustanger98 Member

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    While I can't comment on the atlatl, I once read a book on the history of hunting in the Great Smokies. One chapter on the Cherokee in particular cited Spanish accounts. According to that, Cherokee bowmen could shoot a longbow with an estimated 125lb draw approximately 100yds. They mention seeing a spaniard's horse shot from head-on... complete pass-through. For comparison, IIRC, an English war bow was a 120lb draw and used a big heavy iron broadhead to punch through armor.
     
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  12. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    I guess we are in another mine is bigger than yours discussion,that is who had the bigger canon, who had the fastest plane, who had the bigger V-8 engine. There has been a lot of discussion of the pull weight of an English Long bow.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_longbow

    I think any Indian bow the pull weight of a long bow would be a rarity. The Indian bows I have seen in museums and pictures are short and thin.

    PLAINS INDIAN BOWS & ARROWS (Plains Indian bows and arrows made by a Lakota Sioux Bowyer)

    Our Sioux Bowyer makes hand crafted bow to the specifications and traditions of his Lakota Grandfathers. The bows are short when compared to modern traditional archery. They are between 38-48" long, so don't expect a draw length of 28". Because of their short length it is too much stress on the limbs. Draw lengths range from 18-25" depending on the length of the bow

    Plains Indian Weapons—Part I: Bow and Arrows

    The sinews of buffalo or elk are dried, pounded into fine threads, and glued to the back of the bow in layers using glue made from hide scrapings/sinew scraps mixed with water. This layering of sinew and glue has the effect of making the bow faster-shooting, more powerful, and sturdier against breakage (avg. draw-weight of 50-70 lbs). Some men would even go a step further by gluing rattlesnake skins over-top of the sinew backing, to protect the backing from the weather.

    draw weight

    No, they are not. The ELB were that big because of the heavy draw weights and draw lengths that they had. Since a Cherokee bow would be about a third the draw weight and a smaller draw length, they would be much shorter, thinner, and narrower. The Cherokee bow would usually be made of black locust, but hickory, elm and ash would also be good choices. The Cherokee bow would have a less pronounced taper down it's length. The ELB would have horn nocks and a rounded belly while the Cherokee would have a flat belly and diamond shaped carved nocks. Native bows would often also have a narrowed, thicker handle section whereas the ELB would have the thickest, widest point at the handle.

    Here's a couple of pictures I took of a Cherokee bow from the early 1800s. Not great quality, but I was in a hurry. The handle is from a bow a few decades newer.


    Most of the deer I've shot with my native type bows were very close shots, several not more than five yards. But in all of these shots I was using 60lb. bows . I could have easily taken much longer shots but this is why, that even with modern compound bows, long shots are not a good idea. Several years ago I took a 35 to 40 yrd shot at a deer standing broadside in an open field. I was in a tree just inside the edge of the woods. It would have been a perfect heart /lung shot except the deer took a step forward just as I released my arrow. The arrow(stone tipped) hit him in the paunch, not a good place. My dog and I found him the next morning but a paunch shot deer leaves little to no blood trail. So I think native hunters prefered close shots to insure the deer would not "jump the string" as this deer did. Also, a heavy bow is fine in fare weather, but when it gets cold out drawing a heavy bow can become much more difficult. A lighter bow is just so much more easy to handle when its cold and most native hunters hunted all winter long. On average, I think 35 to 60 was about right for native bows but I have read of bows of 90 lbs in south america. I would not be surprized if some woodland bows went very heavy, in ancient times when the bow was the primary weapon it is probable that "war bows" were heavy. I have read one very early account of hodenashoni bows as being too strong for a white man to bring to full draw. So no doubt some men used very heavy bows just as today among traditional archers, some use light bows and some use very heavy bows.



    https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/english-longbow-vs-native-american-bows.728682/



    Silent Death


    Indian bows were made in a variety of configurations, such as straight bows, or single or double recurve bows. As a rule, Indian bows ran about three feet in length, although they occasionally reached as long as five. Records show that their bows seldom exceeded what we know as a 60-pound pull, the necessary force to bring the bow to full draw.

    American Indian bows were never as strong as Turkish or Chinese bows. Historical draw weights of Qing bows the list of bow types is divided into 160 and 173 pound pull weights.

    I had read of Turkish bows that took 300 pounds to pull and shot arrows over 700 yards. These bow technologies were developed because of war. Armor required that more powerful bows had to be developed, we know of the longbow, Chinese and Turkish bows from their use in wars . American Indians did not have chain mail, plate armor, nor horsemen sweeping down in organized formations. I cannot see an advantage for an American Indian to create a bow heavier than needed for hunting. Before horses, you carried your equipment. Ounces mattered.
     
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