EFFECTS OF THE ICE STORM
The Great Ice Storm of 1998 that hit Northeastern United States, Ontario and Quebec, caused significant change in whitetail habitat. Oak, butternut and beech trees ordinarily are a great source of high fat, high protein feed for deer. These trees were severely damaged by the ice storm. The largest trees were most vulnerable: their extensive branches accumulated tremendous ice coatings, and simply snapped.
My son and grandsons stayed with us for a week, because we had uninterrupted electrical power. I remember not letting the boys play outside, because of the danger from the trees close to the house. Large branches would break off, with sounds as loud as gunshots. Many of the hardwoods were reduced to standing sticks.
Some of the trees are recovering, but the butternuts have been particularly devastated in our area. There are many, many butternuts dead in the woods and at the edges of fields. Where we used to walk on layers of acorns five inches deep, the oak trees are broken and there have been almost no acorns, year after year. There are no beechnuts.
The deer have had to change their feeding habits, and so the hunting has changed, as well. The oak stands are no longer reliable. The deer have been in the fields, to a much greater extent than before the ice storm. We have had to work harder than before, to find the deer in the woods. It takes more scouting, more planning. Because we have always been at home in the deep woods, and never tried to acquire hunting rights on farmland, the adjustment has been tough. Every year, we watch the hardwoods, especially the oak stands, hoping that production will improve.
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