by Trenton Willis
It’s no secret that the deer herds in Siskiyou County have declined significantly in the last two decades.
When talking to many people who were fortunate enough to hunt in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and even the 80’s the deer hunting in Siskiyou County was phenomenal.
Now it appears that the days of great deer hunting in Siskiyou County has become just a fond memory.
Many families in Siskiyou County have been raised deer hunting and it is a heritage that has been passed on for many generations.
Due to our current state of poor deer numbers, the number of hunters decrease every year which is a trend that will undoubtedly affect our future generations.
There are many factors that have contributed to this decline.
In 1992-1993 a severe winter in northeastern California caused thousands of deer to starve to death due to their food being buried for months underneath several feet of snow.
It is thought that the deer herds never truly recovered from this harsh winter.
Another factor is the logging in Siskiyou County.
When logging occurs it creates new plant growth which creates plentiful deer habitat.
The logging industry is very limited at this date and time which means new deer habitat is not being created.
Fire is another critical factor of new deer habitat.
People see wildfires as being bad and human nature is to put out the fire.
The fact is wildfires create an abundance of new plant growth which means great habitat for deer. In 1987 about 800,000 acres were burnt in California and Siskiyou County was no exception.
Even though the immediate aftermath of the wildfires were not pleasant ot look at, three years later the deer population in the B Zones were noticeably building, due to the new vegetation and deer habitat.
Now many years have passed and the areas where the fires once burned are full of thick brush fields, leaving no room for new plant growth, therefore leaving no new vegetation for deer.
These are just a few of the many reasons why the deer herds are plummeting in Siskiyou County.
This is why the California Deer Association (CDA) was formed.
In 1996 the CDA?was formed by a few concerned sportsmen that were not happy with the overall health of our deer herds.
The driving force was to raise money for conservation that stayed in the state and put 75% of every net dollar into “On the Ground Projects."
Since the founding of the CDA it has spent over 2.7 million dollars to fund over 270 projects in the state.
These projects are primarily habitat improvements to increase deer herd health.
The CDA also funds deer research, land acquisition and conservation easements (if lands are open to public hunting.)
The CDA generates approximately 90% of its revenue from fundraising banquets.
Every June a group of CDA?members gather, The Project Committee, to allocate money to selected projects for deer habitat, deer research and land acquisition.
Where the projects proposals come from is your local CDA chapter.
The local CDA chapter selects a project for that year that they believe will be beneficial to their area, whether it be prescribed burns, water guzzlers, planting new grow for deer, etc.
The CDA Project Committee selects the projects for the year that they believe will benefit the deer the most and then the money is allocated to fund the projects.
The CDA chapter in Mount Shasta was formed in September of 2010 by local hunting advocates, who got together and decided they wanted to change the outlook on deer herds in Siskiyou County and the CDA was the way to do it.
Even though the CDA?is not the fix-all answer, it is definitely a step in the right direction.
I believe the CDA is a worthwhile organization that will in time make a positive impact on our deer herds.
The Mount Shasta Chapter is holding its first annual California Deer Association Banquet Dinner on April 9, 2011 at the Mt. Shasta Community Hall.
For more information contact Trenton Willis 707-338-7820 or Mike Burns 530-859-2899.
A step in the right direction for Siskiyou's deer population