Skip to main content

Flood Effects on Whitetail: The Good and the Bad

Bone Collectors weigh-in on negatives but point out possible silver lining

Flood Effects on Whitetail: The Good and the Bad
Though we may not think about it, fawns are dramatically affected by rising flood water. Whether being swept away, or getting displaced to areas with too many deer, fawn recruitment will be impacted. (Photo courtesy of Steve Smolenski)

If you have paid attention to the news lately, whether or not you live in Texas or Oklahoma, you’ve probably seen photos and videos of massive flooding. Many areas across the country have had rapid rainfall events leading to flash floods, saturated soil, and the forecast doesn’t show much change.

Due to all of the rain, the impact on people has been both good and bad. Good that many areas with prolonged droughts are getting some relief, and bad that some families have had their lives turned upside down.

Excessive rainfall leading to floods also greatly impacts wildlife. These conditions can dramatically affect things like upland bird hatches, furbearer populations and home ranges of white-tailed deer herds.

This time of year, many whitetails across the country are going through an energy demanding, stressful time. From the late stages of pregnancy to actually having and caring for fawns, does are facing incredible amounts of stress. Typically opting for small core areas where resources are optimum, does will spend several weeks in these secluded areas with their fawns.


With many rivers and streams swelling over the banks, fawns can become vulnerable to flood waters. This was the case for two fawns in northern Missouri that were part of an ongoing deer research project with the Missouri Department of Conservation and University of Missouri. Though no conclusions can be drawn from this project, other research has concluded that fawn recruitment is likely to be affected. The bigger impact won’t necessarily be from fawns falling victim to flood waters, like the two in Missouri; it will be from exhausted resources. Flooded bottomlands will displace deer into other areas that may not be able to support the increased number of deer.


Researchers from the Mississippi State University Deer Lab found that when major rivers flood – such as the Mississippi – deer shifted their home ranges by 10 to 15 miles. That could be a dramatic effect on your hunting season depending on the timing.

Travis “T-bone” Turner, of Michael Waddell’s Bone Collector TV show, has been paying attention to the recent flooding events and had a few additional points of interest.

“A negative of flood waters is the increase in bugs and mosquitos, which are pain to deal with (during) hunting,” T-Bone said. “It increases the chances for disease among the deer herds, which in some ways thin the herd.”

In that statement, T-Bone was referring to the possibility of diseases, such as Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, which is spread by midges that breed in mud flats during the summer. These mud flats are often created as spring flood waters recede, leaving small fading pools that deer congregate around in the summer heat.


On the flip-side, water is essential for life. Nick Mundt, also part of the Bone Collector crew, pointed out the silver lining for this fall.

“Every animal needs water to survive, and the recent rains are sure to make big antlers and healthy critters going into summer,” Mundt said.

With much of the major flooded areas in Texas and Oklahoma being in epic drought conditions, is it really too much rain? For some areas, yes.


There’s massive flooding affecting human and wildlife populations negatively. But for others, the rain is welcomed with open arms and hooves. These excessive rains could unleash deer hunting opportunities this fall that hunters have not experienced since the 1980s.

In next week’s Everything Deer column, we will discuss what all of this rain might mean to antler and body size of whitetails in the southwest.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

SPRO Madeye Diver 85 & Minnow 120

SPRO Madeye Diver 85 & Minnow 120

The Madeye Diver 85 & 120 feature sound chambers that imitate various batfish.

Engel

Engel's High Viz Drybox Coolers

Versatile boxes available in four sizes; ICAST Fishing Gear Guide.

Minn Kota Raptor

Minn Kota Raptor

Associate Brand Manager Adam Knowles, from Minn Kota, talks with Rob Neuman from In-Fisherman, about the all-new Raptor shallow water anchor.

Yo-Zuri

Yo-Zuri's 3DB Pencil Popper, 3DB Jerkbait 110 & 110 Deep

Bass pro Clent Davis gives the inside info on Yo-Zuri's new-for-ICAST lures.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Here are the 10 most common spinning and baitcaster reel performance problems and how to fix them.10 Most Common Reel Performance Problems Fishing How-To

10 Most Common Reel Performance Problems

Anietra Hamper

Here are the 10 most common spinning and baitcaster reel performance problems and how to fix...

Now's the time to finalize plans for the perfect deer season opener.10 Expert Deer Hunting Preparation Tips for Opening Day Whitetail

10 Expert Deer Hunting Preparation Tips for Opening Day

M.D. Johnson - August 26, 2020

Now's the time to finalize plans for the perfect deer season opener.

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near anything that fits in their mouths.5 Ways To Catch Catfish on Lures Catfish

5 Ways To Catch Catfish on Lures

Keith Sutton

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near...

Field Skills: Want to be a better shooter? The first step is perfecting your release.6 Steps to the Perfect Trigger Pull on Your Compound Bow Hunting How-To

6 Steps to the Perfect Trigger Pull on Your Compound Bow

Jace Bauserman - August 27, 2020

Field Skills: Want to be a better shooter? The first step is perfecting your release.

See More Trending Articles

More Whitetail

Here's how to get your rig ready for archery deer season.19 Ways to Get Your Crossbow, Compound Ready for Opening Day Bows

19 Ways to Get Your Crossbow, Compound Ready for Opening Day

Bob Robb - August 21, 2020

Here's how to get your rig ready for archery deer season.

Bucks visit them regularly and so should you.Understand How to Use Scrapes to Locate Whitetails Whitetail

Understand How to Use Scrapes to Locate Whitetails

Tony Hansen - October 23, 2020

Bucks visit them regularly and so should you.

More adjustability and improved balance make these nine compounds even easier to shoot.The Best Compound Bows for 2020 Bows

The Best Compound Bows for 2020

Jace Bauserman - August 24, 2020

More adjustability and improved balance make these nine compounds even easier to shoot.

We give hunters an edge on hunting public land close to home.Public Land Hunter Magazine Now on Sale News

Public Land Hunter Magazine Now on Sale

Game & Fish Staff - July 21, 2020

We give hunters an edge on hunting public land close to home.

See More Whitetail

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now