I was wondering if the deer have become diseased around unit 8a. I was in Orofino the other day, and the ones in town look terrible. The reason I ask though, is the place I was hunting would usually have around 20 whitetail per day in the direct area, every day. This year I haven't seen more than 2 does. I expanded my area of where I hunt, and there just isn't any sign. I was just wondering because it seems like the last 2 years the deer populations have taken a drastic decline. Would there be a reason deer would entirely leave the area? There aren't wolves in the location I am talking about, all I could think of is disease has taken them out.
Is there any signs I should be looking for one the ones I do see?
I am not aware of any specific issues with the health of deer in the Orofino area. We do get reports from folks within the city limits that the deer there do often look a bit scraggly in the spring, but this is not unusual for that time of year when the effects of winter are most evident and the deer are losing their winter coats. There are a number of parasites or bacterial infections that are commonly found in white-tailed deer, but none that are having population level or even significant localized effects. However, in 2003 white-tailed deer in the Clearwater Region were affected significantly by Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) and as a result we lost several thousand deer. Since that time, deer numbers have recovered and reports of EHD have been relatively slight since then.
I am not sure what dates you hunted, but reports from other hunters this year indicated that the deer did not appear to be moving around much, migration was delayed, and rut activity did not appear to be very strong. This may have been related to the extremely dry weather we experienced this summer and the lack of colder temperatures and snow even after we finally received rainfall later in the fall.