I'm getting a bit nervous about my upcoming hunts, especially in the Midwest. Why? There have been reported outbreaks of hemorrhagic disease (HD). The outbreaks have been recorded from northeastern Montana all the way down to Missouri.
Recently, friends of mine in South Dakota have been passing along bad news about the outbreaks. So far they seem spotty across the region and not statewide, but several have been reported close to my hunting areas. I'm going on a fact finding mission next week to verify some of the reports.
What is HD? It is the most highly visible viral disease affecting whitetails and shows up in nearly every major whitetail nook. Spread by a tiny two-winged midge, HD can kill an infected animal within days, if not sooner. You can read more about it from the Quality Deer Management Association right here
Affected animals acquire a high fever and hemorrhage internally, often seeking water for fever relief; this is the reason many carcasses are discovered near reservoirs, creeks and rivers. A killing frost, knocking back the midge population, halts the spread of the disease, but hunters often stumble across numerous carcasses during hunting season in HD hot zones.
You'll likely stumble across the evidence via your nose. During the heat of the day, rotting carcasses waft odor, and if you are in the neighborhood you'll smell it. There's not much you can do about HD, but if your buck comes up missing this season this disease might be the reason.
Here's to hoping HD doesn't ruin your fall hunt.