A devastating deer disease that has already killed hundreds of deer in southern South Dakota and Northern Nebraska appears to have run its course thanks to cooler temperatures.
Landowners in those areas say while it may sound like bad news for hunters this season, they say there are still plenty of deer around.
This has become an all too familiar scene in the hunting fields of Nebraska and South Dakota. Dead deer that have fallen victim to a chronic disease known as EHD or Blue Tongue. It's spread by biting insects found in the mud around drought stricken creeks and stock dams.
"I found five doe and three bucks in this area, just a couple sections of ground," Mills, Nebraska area rancher Dave Beck said.
Beck even had to treat some of his herd with antibiotics because of the EHD. A hard frost last weekend killed the bugs causing the problem, but Beck hopes it doesn't now take a bite out of his deer hunting business.
"You tell them the truth, that they're not going to see as many deer this year as they normally do, it's going to be down," Beck said.
To the north in Gregory County, South Dakota, the story is much the same.
"We're looking at 400 to 500 that I've taken calls on here in Gregory County, which is quite a few deer," Game, Fish & Parks officer Hans Walleser said.
But if you have hunting tags for these areas, don't let the dead deer kill your hopes for a good hunt.
"There's a lot of deer left in Gregory county. The landowners I've talked to, they still want people to come out and hunt, the deer are still here to hunt," Walleser said.
Beck agrees. In fact, he says this year might actually be one for the record books, like the drought in 2001.
"It turned out that year was real good because every time you saw a doe, you saw a buck, so it was a good year," Beck said.
"I anticipate that our rut might be a little bit better this year, where the big bucks are out because they're going to have to compete for does," Walleser said.
Deer infected by EHD die within two or three days, so officials say there's no chance west river hunters will shoot any sick deer when the season opens November 10.
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