Throughout the summer of 2019 the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) has hosted workshops on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in West Tennessee counties where the disease has been documented. Experts from the TWRA and University of Tennessee have been on hand to answer all the complex and confusing questions hunters are sure have, such as:
What exactly is CWD?
How can it impact my hunting?
I hunt the next county over from where CWD has been found, should I be worried?
Can I carry a buck carcass home I shot in another county?
Can I use deer urine?
Can I eat the meat from a buck I shot in a CWD area?
Is deer meat possibly contaminated—can it hurt my family?
Should I have my deer tested for CWD? How and where do I do that?
When I heard earlier this summer of the TWRA holding these meetings, I applauded those deer managers for having the vision and spending the money to do this, and I asked that all state wildlife agencies do the same in regions where CWD has been documented.
Happy to report that my home state of Virginia is doing it in a new CWD zone before the 2019-20 deer season.
Earlier this year, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) confirmed Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in a buck legally harvested in Culpeper County during the November 2018 rut.
CWD had been documented in far northwest Virginia (Frederick and Shenandoah counties) for about 10 years, and hunters in the Northern Piedmont had been holding our collective breath that it would not spread.
But it has. The infected Culpeper buck was shot some 50 miles south, in an area that had never knowingly had a case of CWD before.
In response to the new case of CWD, the DGIF created a Disease Management Area that includes Culpeper, Madison, and Orange counties, and variety of new regulatory changes have been enacted within the area to minimize the spread of the disease.
The CWD public meeting to inform and educate hunters and the general public will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 28 in the Culpeper County Administration Building, 302 N. Main St., Culpeper, VA.
I applaud my home state for doing this, and again I implore all states with a CWD problem to do the same. There is a ton of information on CWD out there, and more coming online every week. Much of it is complex and confusing, and hunters need to be educated about CWD and specific regulations for their area.
Hunters and wildlife agencies working together is the best way to fight CWD!
Earlier this summer South Carolina became the 9th state to ban the use of urine-based scents for deer hunting. In a press release, the South Carolina DNR said in part: “the department is following the lead of other states in proactively prohibiting the use of (urine) in order to minimize the potential for CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) introduction into South Carolina.”
In response to this and other state bans on urine-based scents, two major scent companies—Wildlife Research Center and Tink’s, have issued this response:
The argument made by rule makers to ban these products is that they unnaturally congregate deer like bait or feed, thereby increasing interaction between animals and possibly increasing the spread of disease. While a scent set-up can effectively attract the interest of deer nearby for a short period of time to the benefit of a hunter, putting a small amount of deer urine on some wicks is insignificant regarding the overall “congregation of animals” argument. It would cause no more congregation than using a call or decoy and is a natural occurrence of deer already in the area.
A typical deer releases about 64 oz of urine per day in good weather conditions and 42 oz in bad weather conditions which calculates to approximately 150 gallons per year. We have never verified the frequency on camera, but our assumption is that each deer urinates on average 4 to 6 times per day. That’s over 1,800 times per year. The point is that deer are naturally urinating exponentially more urine in the general area already versus a hunter using 1 or 2 oz of urine that lasts a few hours to attract deer closer to his hunting location. Even with deer lure, you still have to be in a good spot where deer already exist. It does not bring in dozens of bucks from far away for extended periods of time like bait or feed might. The animals do not eat the scent and do not spend long periods of time there interacting with each other like they would at a bait pile. The animals that are attracted live and urinate all around that area already.
Over the last 3 decades I have used a lot of deer urine and have hunted over a lot of corn and other feed in states where baiting is legal. As I look at this issue from this dual perspective, two valid points from the above statement jump out at me:
While a scent set-up can attract the interest of deer nearby for a short period of time…putting a small amount of deer urine on some wicks is insignificant regarding the overall “congregation of animals” argument…
(Scent) does not bring in dozens of bucks (or does) from far away for extended periods of time like bait or feed might. The animals do not eat the scent and do not spend long periods of time there interacting with each other like they would at a bait pile.
I agree, the argument that a hunter’s use of scent can “congregate deer” does not hold water. How many times have you had 3 or 4 or 6 deer run in and stand under a scent wick? Never. Occasionally a doe or a buck will get a whiff of scent and come to a hunter’s setup—that’s why you use the stuff–but I have never seen multiple deer congregate at a urine wick or even a mock scrape for any length of time. I doubt anybody who has hunted a lot has seen it either.
On the other hand, countless times I have sat and watched 3,6 as many as 8 or 10 deer or more come to a corn or oat pile (and to a food plot or other natural food source also for that matter). Feed does congregate deer.
One hunting organization at the forefront of monitoring CWD and educating hunters says that the risk of disease transmittal through hunters’ use of deer urine is small.
In a statement, the Quality Deer Management Association said: According to current research, the risk of spreading CWD to new areas through the use of natural urine is extremely low, but it’s not zero. The accumulation of infectious materials is much higher in muscle tissue and organs than urine.
In QDMA’s view, it is far more important at this time for all hunters and wildlife agencies to focus on stopping the two most risky activities: 1) Transportation of infected deer carcasses out of CWD zones and 2) All transportation of live deer and elk.
In areas where natural urine has not been banned, we encourage hunters to only buy products from companies participating in the Archery Trade Association’s Deer Protection Program or to use synthetic urine.
POSTSCRIPT: What it means for hunters this 2019-20 deer season:
In addition to South Carolina, Tennessee, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia have banned the possession and use real deer urine in the woods. Minnesota and Pennsylvania have implemented bans on urine scents in CWD management zones. A statewide ban on deer/elk urine goes into effect January 1, 2020 in Oregon.
If you plan to carry and use scents to attract bucks in any of these states you must use a manufactured scent. Wildlife Research Center makes 8 varieties of synthetic scent that I use and trust.
A last big thing to remember: In this age of CWD, the days of shooting a buck, loading the carcass in your truck and driving across a state line are virtually gone. If you plan to travel to hunt this fall, even if it’s just 10 miles across a state line, it is imperative that you read and know your state’s regulations on transporting deer and deer parts.
I’ve always been relatively healthy. I would get a couple sinus infections every year, but other than that I almost never got sick.
This past March while at one of my daughter’s volleyball tournaments I got a dizzy spell out of nowhere. I thought it came from not eating breakfast so I grabbed one of her sports drinks with a snack and didn’t think too much of it.
I got a bad headache afterwards and asked my wife to drive me home. The headache continued for about 2 weeks and was similar to a sinus infection, so I went to an Urgent Care, got an antibiotic and thought I would get better.
About a month later I ended up back at Urgent Care, and then my wife encouraged me to go to my regular doctor. They did some blood tests and everything came back normal. (Including the third Lyme test I’d had since March). The doctor wrote it off as allergies and told me to add another allergy medication.
Another month and by this time I could barely climb out of bed. I was extremely dizzy, had horrible headaches, zero energy, every joint hurt in my body and I couldn’t sleep at night. Not to mention that I was stress eating along with no exercise and gained about 30 pounds.
My sister recommended a specialist in Lancaster, Pa. and thank God she did. After 4 months of pure hell I finally have some answers. She diagnosed me with Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
In the last 4 months these diseases have caused my Thyroid to almost stop working, my eyesight has diminished to the point I now need reading glasses and I have 5 or 6 other viruses/infections throughout my body. Even with all of this the specialist said I should consider myself lucky. I am now taking 20 pills per day to try and rid my body of all that is going on.
The thing is, I never found a tick on me. I never saw the bulls-eye rash you hear about. I never thought this type of thing would happen to me. I got complacent and stopped checking for ticks.
So to all my fellow hunters out there…. NEVER stop checking for ticks! If you find a tick stuck on you, go get the antibiotics ASAP. You don’t want the symptoms that occur if it goes untreated. And, if you do develop symptoms make sure you find a tick-borne specialist in your area. Family doctors aren’t knowledgeable on how to treat this disease. They are only trained to treat the symptoms not the disease itself.
I still have a long road ahead of me. But hopefully by September I’ll be able to take Lexi out for bow season to try and knock down another big buck.—Danny
If this doesn’t jolt you into rebooting your tick precaution routine, I don’t know what will. I’m been complacent about it this summer, but more.
Thanks, Danny, for the important message. Here’s to a speedy and full recovery.