Greg Koelker


El and I just got back from deer hunting, or maybe better called deer sitting in the corner of a woods, watching the wind pick up and twist and toss yellow leaves through the waning sunlight. To be honest, as soon as we got in the blind we put out two weeks ago, my trouble meter went off. I realized that there was no way I could shoot through the narrow, low screen hole the manufacturers sewed into the screen front. I see now why the blind was so cheap. Anyway, we retrieved the F150 at least an hour early. We will run up tomorrow and remove that blind.

The day started off better. After breakfast we got polished up and drove south along a foggy Hwy. 35 to Hwy. 171. Here and there we saw moving rays of morning sun, focusing on the yellow and orange trees standing in glassy flood water across the channel. The drive up the coulees to Mt. Sterling is scenic even without a lot of color. We kept a sharp eye out for deer intent on romance. We saw a few turkeys, but no whitetails.

Our plan for the morning — and for lunch — was to meet El’s sisters, Kathy and Barb at Sunrise Orchard for apple cider doughnuts and hot coffee. We might even get some apples! The place was busy for a Friday midday I thought; then again, what do I know.

Anyway, El and I wandered around a bit before the girls got there, finding the doughnuts and a shop with lots of cleverly labeled mugs at the Driftless Studio. When the girls came in, we got warm doughnuts and coffee. It don’t get no better’n that.

The only disappointment? They were sold out of Pazzaz apples. Dang. Allegedly, their apples didn’t do well and were mostly used for juicing. Kathy and Barb bought some Honey Crisp apples and El and I got some three dozen donuts. Anyway, we enjoyed the place regardless. Kids will love the elevated electric train set and more. We tried lots of apple samples and looked over dozens of apple and other garden sauces, syrups, and more. We spent some time in the Driftless Studio shop, enjoying the many humorous and pithy sayings on mugs and posters and such. I particularly liked the one, “I Teach. What’s your superpower?”

Anyway, on a tip, we had lunch in downtown Gays Mills — such as it is — at J and J’s restaurant. I had a fish sandwich with a pile of fries. I admit I also had a mug of Spotted Cow. Anyway, we had a great lunch with great service.

On the way west from Gays Mills, we drove by the West Ridge Orchards. I wondered aloud to El whether or not they might have some Pazzaz apples. Ellen responded, “Well, turn around.” We went back and found — right in front — Pazzaz! And even on sale BOGO! That’s buy one get one free. We got two huge bags of our favorite apples and a couple butternut squash.

Until next time, get out — on Monday morning we dropped back at West Ridge Orchards to get some Pazzaz apples for Barb and Kathy. We took a bag of Pazzaz and half-a-dozen apple cider doughnuts to my mom, too. Enjoy.

The following is from Big Game Logic,

What is Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD)?

Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) is a viral disease found in white tailed deer and in some other ruminants. Unlike Chronic Wasting Disease, EHD is spread by the biting midge not by deer to deer contact. The biting midge is a small, flying insect typically associated with isolated water sources.

The term EHD is often used in conjunction with the disease known as blue tongue but they are in fact separate diseases with very similar symptoms. The virus has an incubation period of about a week before developing symptoms including internal bleeding, weakness, fever, and shortness of breath. The animal usually dies within 36 hours of showing symptoms but some deer survive, while very weak, for several weeks.

EHD isn’t new to deer biologists. The first confirmed cases were discovered in the 1950s but dying deer with symptoms similar to EHD were reported by naturalists much earlier. Disease outbreaks occur from August through October. Biting midges are usually killed after the first frost of the year. At that point, the disease is no longer a threat until the following year.

Biting Midge (Source)

Biologists believe the severity of an EHD outbreak has more to do with the amount of biting midges than deer. Therefore, reducing the deer population really won’t help reduce the frequency and severity of an EHD outbreak. The biting midge flourishes during periods of dry weather with infrequent rain. A dry summer followed by a heavy rain or two in August or September is the perfect recipe for a biting midge population boom. These are exactly the conditions expected throughout much of the white tailed deer’s range in 2012. Thus, biologists are bracing for a big year of EHD.

Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease is believed to have originated in the southern portions of the United States. But dry and warm weather has pushed the disease north. As stated earlier, an early frost will stop the disease in it’s tracks. An EHD outbreak in 2011 forced North Dakota wildlife officials to issue permit refunds for many hunters and they are offering fewer licenses in 2012.

Usually less than 25% of a local deer herd affected by EHD dies during an outbreak but some cases have wiped out over 50% of a local herd. There is no vaccine or known cure for EHD. Fortunately, this deadly disease does not affect humans.

Dead deer killed by EHD often have blue or blackened tongues, swollen heads and eyes, peeling of the hooves, and may appear to have been foaming from the mouth. If you find a sick or dead deer with these symptoms you should call your local wildlife biologist or game warden. There isn’t anything they can do to help the infected deer. However, tracking the spread of EHD is important.

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Greg and his wife Ellen Koelker are retired and live on Grouse Hollow Farm near Stoddard.

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