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

Electric Filet Knife from Bubba Blades

Electric Filet Knife from Bubba Blades

As OSG's Lynn Burkhead looks on, Josh Neville shows off the cordless and corded versions of a new electric filet knife from Bubba Blades.

Mustad

Mustad's Saltwater Jig Lineup

Russ Whisler shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the innovative features and great color schemes in Mustad's voluminous lineup of saltwater jigs introduced at ICAST 2019.

Abu Garcia Virtual Rod with Bluetooth

Abu Garcia Virtual Rod with Bluetooth

Pure Fishing's Andrew Wheeler tells Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead all about the brand new Abu Garcia Virtual rod that integrates Bluetooth technology through a free ANGLR smartphone app.

MLF BPT angler and former Classic champ Casey Ashley has been with Costa del Mar sunglasses his whole career. At ICAST 2019, he shows OSG writer Lynn Burkhead some new products and talks how to pick the right lens color for the water.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use bait rigs for stripers. Other Freshwater

3 Deadly Bait Rigs For Stripers

J.B. Kasper - April 21, 2005

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use bait rigs for stripers.

While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows the biggest pike come from Europe. Records

Top 10 Biggest Pike World Records of All Time

Jack Vitek - August 19, 2015

While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows the...

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near anything that fits in their mouths. Catfish

5 Ways To Catch Catfish on Lures

Keith Sutton - September 16, 2015

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

Fishing for nighttime crappie gets you out of the summer heat and puts more fish in the cooler.

By Other Freshwater

6 Tips for Nighttime Crappie

Keith Sutton - June 19, 2017

Fishing for nighttime crappie gets you out of the summer heat and puts more fish in the...

See More Trending Articles

More Whitetail

Amid CWD concerns, the evolving regulation of attractants may change the way you hunt. Whitetail

Deer-Urine Bans: The New Normal?

Carolee Anita Boyles - March 27, 2020

Amid CWD concerns, the evolving regulation of attractants may change the way you hunt.

Become a better poor-weather deer hunter. Whitetail

Make Bad Weather a Deer-Hunting Bonus

Terry Madewell - November 27, 2019

Become a better poor-weather deer hunter.

Advice can be tough to follow when a whitetail is on the ground. Whitetail

The Shakes: When a 6-Pointer Becomes a 3-Pointer

Jeff Johnston - March 12, 2020

Advice can be tough to follow when a whitetail is on the ground.

For deer hunters, what you do just after the shot is as important as any part of the hunt. Whitetail

Field Skills: Closing the Deer Deal

Mark Chesnut - December 24, 2019

For deer hunters, what you do just after the shot is as important as any part of the hunt.

See More Whitetail

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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