Farmer says deer costing him a fortune

By REBECCA BLANTON
Register & Bee staff writer
November 4, 2007


Someone told Bob Pollack that shooting 120 deer in one year sounded like fun. It isn’t fun, was his reply.

“It’s totally depressing,” Pollack said.

Pollack, a soybean farmer who lives just north of Danville, said he lost nearly one-third of his soybean crop - nearly 50 acres out of 150 he planted this year - to deer damage.

“With as much crop damage as I’ve had, we had to do it,” Pollack said. “They cost me at least $25,000 this year.

“We can document it, too,” he said, holding up a list of damages, insurance claims and receipts for service charges and tire repair or replacements.

From the five tires on his combine and tractor that were punctured by shed deer antlers, to the crops that were eaten or trampled by deer herds, Pollack said he’s continuing to lose money because of the deer around his land off Whitmell School Road.

Burying the animals is expensive, as is buying the shells to shoot them.

Relaxing sport

In spite of having to kill so many deer to protect his crops, Pollack also is a bowhunter.

Hunting for him truly is a sport. Pollack not only makes his own arrows from trees he grows on his property, he carves his own bows, too.

Pollack even chips all his arrowheads out of the flint and quartz rocks he finds on his property. The deer have one small redeeming factor.

“I use the antlers I find on the property to chip the flint with,” he said, demonstrating on an arrowhead or two.

The feathers for the fletching on his arrows come from turkeys he’s shot as well. Antlers also become knife handles for Pollack’s flint knives.

“That’s how I hunt. It’s to relax and it’s for sport then,” he said. “I had two shots at deer this week, but I missed them both with the bow.”

Pollack doesn’t miss often when shooting a rifle. Killing deer with a gun is work, and hard work at that, he said.

Since the deer aren’t out during the day, Pollack has to shoot them after dark and is sometimes up until midnight shooting, loading and disposing of the animals.

“After awhile, it just gets to be too much when you have to be up until midnight then get up at 5 a.m. to go to work,” he said.

“In the winter, we give a bunch of them to the hunters for the hungry, but in the summer it’s too hot and the meat is bad so we have to bury them,” he said.

Countywide problem

Pollack, however, is not the only one with a deer problem.

“It’s getting worse all over the county,” he said. “I blame the hunters. They would not shoot does when we needed to cut the population. They’re hunting for big racks.”

In part of the county, hunters can shoot does anytime, but in other parts of the country they have a limited season for does.

Changing regulations so hunters would possibly have to shoot two does for every buck might help, Pollack said, but he’s not sure what the solution is.

The drought has forced the deer to forage in fields. That’s cut short food supplies for other animals, like squirrels, turkeys, rabbits and groundhogs.

Pollack said he’s even seen squirrels feeding at the edge of his fields, gleaning corn from a poor harvest.

“I hadn’t seen that before,” he said.

He worries about disease, too. He pulls his truck over and gets out to look at a dead deer struck by a car the night before as it was crossing into one of his soybean fields.

“Look at this,” he said, holding up the head by one antler.

Motorists have killed four deer this week at this same spot, Pollack said. Up and down the road, the story is the same.

“I can show you where they’re 30 deer in one field,” he said. And even though the crops are ruined, the deer aren’t doing well. Pollack pointed to the top of the buck’s head.

“He only has one antler - the other never came in,” he said, nodding at a button of horn where a spike should have been. “When you don’t keep the deer population down you get bad genetics, and weak deer. They’re more likely to get and spread diseases to other animals. It all trickles down.”

Eventually, everyone is impacted when deer populations aren’t kept in check.

“Geese, squirrels, rabbits, quail even people. It’s a cycle,” Pollack said. “It’s not just the deer who suffer.”

Contact Rebecca Blanton at rblanton@registerbee.com or (434) 791-7984.
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