EHD-Are the right questions being asked?

What is EHD?

Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease is a viral disease found in Whitetail Deer and other “hooved” species.

What causes it?

EHD is spread through a biting midge. (Ever hear of a no-see um? Same thing.) This small flying insect can be found in abundance near isolated, shallow standing, low quality water. A cattle watering hole is an ideal breeding ground. The largest impact is in the Southern states where late summers and an early fall can be very dry including drought conditions coupled with heat. There are also cases of EHD as far North as Indiana that have been reported.

Significant outbreaks occur on a 5 to 10-year cycle and can affect an entire state. In Kentucky, as of November 21, 2017, there have been a total of 4625 reported and confirmed cases. Can you imagine what wasn’t reported or found what that number would be? Pike County Kentucky was hit the hardest with 573 cases. Back in 2015, Pike County had a harvest record of 2.4 deer per square mile. You have to wonder how 2017 will match up. Currently, there is no vaccine for EHD. The good news is, that it cannot be spread to humans.

What happens to a deer that becomes infected?

After the bite from an infected midge, there is an incubation period of up to 7 days before symptoms will begin to develop. Internal bleeding, weakness, shortness of breath, excessive salivating, loss of appetite, fever, and loss of fear of humans follow in very short order. Generally, within 36 hours of the symptom onset, the deer will die. Many deer are found near water – a last-ditch attempt to reduce their body temperature. The head and neck may swell along with a common characteristic of “breaking of the hooves”. Very few will survive but the ones that do will take weeks to recover and may become lame from hoof problems.

Where is the Prevention and Control?

I have read numerous articles on efforts to stop or control this small flying insect with a big bite. My findings were grime and discouraging. Midges can breed in pools as small as a mud imprinted hoof track. With no vaccine available, the only other suggestions are restructuring your man-made Whitetail watering holes, reduce standing water, or spraying the land with insecticides or larvicides. Of course, the best way to do this is from the air. Sadly, the average hunter is most likely leasing hunting property. Between the financial cost of aerial application and time required to get approval from the landowner, follow through with these suggestions is costly and not easily accomplished.

Remember West Nile Virus?

As a life-long hunter, conservationist, and the co-owner of a successful outfitting, it’s hard for me to not keep searching for answers. No so long ago, I was sitting in my truck waiting to pick up clients from their evening hunt, thinking about EHD and deer populations. As thoughts swarmed my mind, one jumped out at me: West Nile!!

For those of you who don’t know or remember, in 2012 there was a widespread outbreak of West Nile virus spreading across the US and the highest death toll since the first cases dating back to 1999. Currently, there’s no vaccine for West Nile. (I bet you are wondering where I’m going with this…)

During the 2012 outbreak of West Nile, many local government agencies started to give away free “Mosquito Dunks” for residents to put in standing water with the intent to slow the virus down. Technically, mosquitos and Midges are in a flying insect classification of Diptera, along with 1000’s of other species. Both are blood suckers and carry disease pathogens that effect humans and animals.

Can you get Control of the Midge?

“Mosquito Dunks” are biological larvae control which contain BTI, a natural mosquito larvicide, that kills larvae, but is harmless to birds, fish, wildlife, and pets. Simply place a “Dunk” in any standing water to control mosquito larvae for up to 30 days. Each “Mosquito Dunk” treats up to 100 square feet of surface water regardless of depth. You can purchase these at Walmart, Lowe’s, or Home Depot just to name a few. I recently found a 6 pack at Home Depot for $8.52. Doing the math – $1.42/unit covers 600 square feet of water surface. Of course, you would have to put them out and it would be out of your pocket but it’s cheaper than an aerial application.

Why Hasn’t This Been Mentioned Before?

Deer-vehicle collisions are costly! Did you know that the national claim cost per claim average from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017 was $4,179 – p from $3,995 (2015-16)? The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates that there are more than 1.5 million deer-vehicle collisions each year, resulting in 150 occupant deaths, tens of thousands of injuries and over $1 billion in vehicle damage. In 2014,166 deaths were the result of collisions with animals, according to the IIHS. For State Farm alone, there were 1.3 million deer claims reported nationally from July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016. Can you imagine what that number would be for all insurance companies?

It is not a secret that vehicle insurance companies dislike deer. With 4625 EHD deer deaths in Kentucky alone, I would bet that decreases the odds of a collision and increases the revenue of the vehicle insurance industry. Coincidence? Maybe? Maybe not? If I am the insurance company, a lower deer population, in a left-handed manner, benefits me. Should those deer expire near a watering hole, all the better that they never venture onto a roadway to meet up with an auto insurance policy.

I’m not a biologist or a scientist; I am just a hunter. I don’t have hardcore evidence proving that the “Mosquito Dunks” work, but I don’t know why they wouldn’t. I don’t expect every hunter to rush to Home Depot either. My goal is to present the information that I found compelling while sitting in my truck one evening researching EHD. It’s your decision to try it. Worse case, you are out some cash. Alternatively, you stand to protect some of your herd, and maybe wipe out a mosquito or two in the process. It’s time we start asking questions and the right ones!! Below are links to interesting information for further reading.


Negative publicity for Non-Resident Hunters and Outfitters

I belong to several hunting groups on Facebook, many of which are groups are location specific. I enjoy these groups because it’s nice to see the harvest pictures and hunters helping hunters. Occasionally, you will see people voicing their opinions and concerns about the cost per acre to lease property which NR Hunters, and outfitters, are always the scapegoat. I just read and keep my comments to myself. Until now!!

Cost per Acre-

Unfortunately, just like with everything else, there is inflation. For many of us, the cost of living is rising but our paychecks are not. So, when a lease was $8/acre and it jumps to $10/acre, we all tend to freak out. Many landowners are leasing their property to cover property taxes and of course those taxes do increase. Many of us aren’t paying $10/acre; $20-$30 seems pretty common from what I see. There are times that I have seen higher. The Locals in these groups associate the inflation with Outfitters and NR hunters. Realistically, it’s so much more than just that.

When Landowners started catching wind of their neighbors bringing in extra money by leasing their property for recreation, they thought it was a good idea as well. Some of these Landowners weren’t too sure how to lease, how to market it, or even how to price it. This is where 3rd party leasing agents came in. Companies, such as Base Camp Leasing, did the work for the Landowner and took a % of the funds as payment. Using Ohio County, Kentucky as an example, a Landowner who has 600 acres valued at 1 million dollars pays his property taxes at $8,370 (.837%) a year. If his goal was solely to pay his taxes from the money earned by leasing his property for recreation, he is going to want $14/acre Base Camp wants 20% ($1,674) so now you are paying close to $17/acre. Real estate agents, insurance agents, and business oriented individuals all have started monopolizing on this concept. With easier access to local Landowners, they are becoming door-to-door sales men and are obtaining the recreational rights to these properties. Now, as a local hunter, you only have yourself to blame for this. Here are two questions to think about. 1- Did I ever ask the Landowner? 2- Is your personal reputation of good stature?

Most of the NR and Outfitters that are leasing land in your local community are getting it from a 3rd party leasing agent. As an Outfitter, I can tell you this: it is much harder for an Outfitter to lease property than it is for an individual or group of hunters to do so. Also, as an Outfitter, we do not have a vault of money to go throw at people to convince them to lease us their property. Now … there very well may be other Outfitters out there capable of this but not so many. So, before you point your finger and blame NR hunters and Outfitters for the increase in the cost per acre to lease hunting property, thank Uncle Sam and remember 3 fingers may well be pointed back to you.

What is a guided hunt worth?

I don’t know how many times when I get asked “How much is a hunt at RackNine?” and the persons jaw drops. So I wanted to break it down for y’all.

Below is a price comparison on 3 different options. Now these are hypothetical situations and a rough estimate on costs.

Scenario 1-

You and your 4 buddies have decided to start a hunting club. Y’all have leased 500acres at $15/acre ($7,500 total $1,500/hunter) Rule of thumb 1 man/100 acres.
During the late winter and early spring you spend most weekends setting up camp and putting up stands (2 – 2 man ladder stands & 1 blind), planting a total of 2 acres of food plots, putting out cameras (4/25acres), 2 deer feeders, and mineral sites (3 blocks)

Deer season is approaching and since you have a full time job M-F, your children are involved in sports, the holidays, and other events you are only able to go to the “Hunting Club” 6 weekends during the season. Totaling 9days.

Let’s see what it is going to cost you.
Year 1-

$1,500 – dues

$400 Stands/blinds

$700 Food plots

$500 trail camera

$50 mineral sites

$300 feeders

$300 corn/protein pellets


*Total – $3,750.00 = $417/day*

Year 2-

$1,500 Dues

$700 food plots

$50 mineral sites

$300 corn/protein feed


*Totaling- $2550.00 = $283/day*

These totals do not include gas, diesel, lodging, food, maintenance care, batteries, license/tags, or your time and labor.

Scenario 2-
You and your buddy decide to go on a 5 day hunt in a different state on public land. Let’s see what this is going to cost.

$300 Transportation

$750 ($150/day) Lodging

$150 ($30/day) Food


*Totaling – $1,200= $240/day*

This doesn’t include license/tags or entertainment expenses.

Scenario 3-

You and 3 buddies have booked y’all 1st hunt with a Outfitter. You are going on a 5 day hunt. Meals and lodging are included.
*Bow hunt $2,300 = $460/day* (per person)

This doesn’t include your license/tags or travel cost.
Now remember these are “hypothetical” prices and scenarios.

Scenario 1 is going to cost you $417/day year 1 and $283/day for year 2 and after. Your time is limited and have to put in your own labor and time.

Scenario 2 is going to cost you $240/day. Although it is cheaper you are hunting public land you still have to scout to find a hunting spot and try to avoid other hunters. There’s no food plots or feeders and no trail cam pictures to see what is coming off the property. Has the property been over hunted? How many other hunters are in the woods the same time you are?

Scenario 3 is going to cost you $460/day depending on the type of hunt you want. Yes it is more expensive but you haven’t had to put in the time and labor to set up the property. (Food plots, trail cameras, mineral sites, stands, and feeders) You are able to see the game that is being or has been harvested from the property. You don’t have to cook nor figure out where you are going to eat at. Basically everything is done for you and all you have to do is hunt, relax, and enjoy your time with your friends. The only difference between this scenario and scenario 1 food and labor are figured in to the per day price. The difference is only $177/day. A average days labor at RackNine can consist taking you to and from your hunting location fixing preparing and serving your meals, cleaning up the lodge, scouting, checking trail cameras, filling feeders, moving stands, getting groceries, retrieving any harvested game and cleaning and quartering it.
In conclusion there’s no right or wrong way. It’s ultimately your personal preference. The purpose of this was to show those people whom cringe at the price tag of a guided hunt that at the end of the season it’s just about the same. So just stop and think what is the value of your time and labor and add that to your scenario 1.

Success Rate

What is it and how is it determined?? It seems now days that is one of the first questions everyone asks when booking a hunt with a Outfitter. So let’s break this down. A success is a harvest,  with that being said no matter the sex of the deer or age of the hunter a dead deer is a success. Usually when someone asks the question they aren’t looking for a number they want a %. Let’s say hypothetically last year Outfitter X had 8 deer harvest. Where do you get a percent?? Well that’s where the information gets unreliable. Outfitter X had 15 hunters (over the age of 18) and 5 youth hunters totaling 20 hunters for last year . Outfitter X has a minimum of a 140 class buck. Each of the 20 hunters observed deer. 3 does were taken and 5 bucks. So 8 harvest by 8 hunters. That leaves 12 hunters left. 2 youth hunters missed along with 2 adult hunters. 5 bow hunters couldn’t get a inrange shot 3 hunters passed in hopes of getting a bigger buck. So back to the percent thing. 8 harvests divided by 20 hunters is 40%. Now a 40% success rate doesn’t sound to good does it? No and Outfitter X will probably loose business because of it. Personally that is not the correct information. Outfitter X put each hunter in a location that everyone had seen deer. The Outfitter should not be held accountable because of the hunters choice in weapon, bad shooting, or a decision made by the hunter to pass. So to me it looks like Outfitter X had a 100% success rate. Now if you want to know more about the Outfitter that you are interested in then ask for information that is more accurate.  Examples would be “Sightings percent or shot opportunity percent”.