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Deer survival in southeast Pennsylvania

 This graph shows the survival percentage over winter months for the past 12 years
This graph shows the survival percentage over winter months for the past 12 years
Courtesy PGC

With all the snow we’ve had, local sportsmen and deer lovers are probably wondering how our whitetail deer are adapting since browse is harder to get through the deep snow.

According to Cheryl Trewella, PGC Public Information Officer, “Snow is not the problem as much as heavy ice on top of it. Heavy ice atop the snow can cause broken hips,” she explains.

Trewella furnished a copy of a PGC deer biologist report on the subject that says people are probably more affected by the snow conditions than deer are.

“Deer mortality is more of concern in northern tier states like Maine and Canadian provinces than in Pennsylvania,” writes Chris Rosenberry, PGC deer biologist.

His assistant, Jeannine Fleegle writes, “Our deer have several adaptations that allow them to survive in winter. Deer in southern Canada where temperatures are lower and snow deeper for longer periods, are more susceptible to winter mortality.”

She goes on to explain that deer start to prepare for winter before temps drop. They do this by storing fat around internal organs and under their skin that insulates and provides energy reserves for the lean months. Their coarse, hollow, dark guard hairs cover soft wooly underfur that keeps them warm. Guard hairs can absorb solar energy but it’s the underfur that provides most of the insulative value.

Underfur, she writes, is 5 times as dense as sheep underfur that is, for example, only 4 times as dense.
The underfur traps layers of air, with warmer layers closer to the skin. The insulative value of underfur is increased when the hair stands on end (like goose bumps on humans) thereby trapping more air.

As for food sources, Fleegle says deer decrease movement (they herd up), which lowers their metabolic rate and voluntarily reduces food intake. Deer seek shelter in conifer stands that reduce wind speeds and snow pack and which also provides overhead thermal cover for higher nighttime temperatures for them.

As such, it sounds like Mother Nature takes care of her own.


Since .22 Long Rifle ammunition has been tough to find and buy, those fortunate souls who managed to pick some up should be advised of a recall.

Winchester is recalling two lots of M22 Long Rifle 40 grain Black Copper Plated Round-nose rimfire ammo with symbol number S22LRT and lot numbers of GD42L and GD52L. Winchester has determined the aforementioned lots of .22 LR ammo may contain double powder charges. Firing this ammo may subject the shooter or bystanders a risk of serious personal injury and or death or cause firearm damage rendering the firearm inoperable.

The lot numbers are imprinted (stamped without ink) on the left flap of the 500 round carton. The 1000-round intermediate carton does not have a lot number.

If you have ammo with these lot or symbol numbers, Winchester said to discontinue use and call them toll free at 866-423-5224 or write Winchester, 600 Powder Mill Road, East Alton, ILL, 62024, Attn: S22LRT, or contact Winchester Customer Support online.

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