SPATIAL DISTRIBUTION OF WILD ANIMALS IN HABITAT

              In order to survive, reproduce and grow, animals need food sources and shelter. Given digestive processes, and competition within and between species, animals are faced with decisions about how to locate and find food sources and shelter. The type and amount of food eaten and digested is determined by the interaction of animals and the environment, whether the prey is a plant or an animal. The goal in wildlife life is to maximize nutrient intake with minimal energy expenditure. It can be said that in the world of wildlife, economy and rationality come first. In order to be able to rationalize the search, intake and digestion of food, it is in this order that an individual must gather and organize information about the quantity, distribution and quality of potential food items. The economy of digestion is conditioned by the fact that the content of food intake complements and realizes all digestive processes, which can be roughly characterized as stimulation of digestive organs (irritation to activate function) and digestion itself (maximum extraction of nutrients). The ability of an animal to find food and digest it well (peace and shelter) is precisely this limiting factor of fitness, physiological and reproductive status of the individual. The movement of individuals around the habitat with the aim of finding suitable habitats, or leaving the habitat with unsuitable living conditions determines the spatial distribution of individuals within the habitat of the game population of a hunting ground. Theoretically, we can distinguish three basic types of spatial distribution:

1. uneven distribution according to the principle of randomness,

2. even distribution,

3. uneven group layout.

An uneven distribution by chance would be possible only in an environment where living conditions in any part of the habitat are the same. An even distribution would be possible if the individuals in the habitat were distributed as plants in agricultural crops. These two types of spatial distribution in nature are almost non-existent, so the most common basic type of spatial distribution is considered to be uneven group distribution. This type of spatial distribution implies an uneven and most often group distribution on the surface of the habitat, and even in those animal species that are characterized by a predominantly individual (solitary) way of life, because they are in groups, at least during mating and rearing their young. ), and this arrangement depends on the arrangement of food or suitable places for shelter and reproduction. The social behavior of animals has an obvious influence on the spatial distribution of individuals.

In hunting management, we try to disperse the game throughout the habitat through breeding measures, but in practice this is very difficult to achieve. By managing and adapting hunting grounds to habitat improvement measures, we can create conditions in which wildlife can maximize the number of young produced, but we cannot dictate the distribution of individuals per habitat. To understand the behavior of wild animals in the habitat, it is necessary to study the parameters of population dynamics (growth, mortality), observe wild animals within the ecosystem in which they live (forest or field community), monitor the game-habitat interaction (peace-shelter-food) and the impact of habitats on the condition (excessive number of game or too many social gatherings – herds, packs, etc.), and take into account human activities on the game population and any segment of the ecosystem (soil, forest, water, etc.) . Knowing the movements of wild animals can be useful to us because we can predict which species will appear in which area and at what time, so we distinguish:

– areas of activity – daily movements of animals in order to meet basic living needs (food, water, etc.),

– braking areas – the area that the female actively defends and drives away other females that

   approaching that surface and forms an integral part of the female’s overall area of ​​activity.

– migrations – seasonal, periodic movement, due to nutritional, social (gender segregation), climatic and other reasons.

             Many species of wild animals are distributed in the hunting ground in the form of a shooting target, with the highest population density in the middle of an area, so this population density decreases from the center of the target, ie from the highest population density. The center of the highest population density is not always in the topographic center of the hunting ground, but is where the living conditions (peace-shelter-food) are best for a particular species. Likewise, there may be more of these centers with the highest population density, which depends on the way of life of a particular species, ie it depends on social stratification within the herd, seasonal migrations, sex separation during the year, etc. see how social relations and stratification within the herd, between the herd, and between the sexes can form multiple centers of high population density. In the case of roe deer, which is a remote and territorial species, it has been determined that in some areas within the hunting ground the territories are smaller and that there are more of them in relation to other areas of the same hunting ground where the territories are larger and therefore smaller. The dispersion of individuals on the surface of the hunting ground we manage is conditioned by the needs of individual species, and the most common factors are: provided peace, good shelter and the presence of food sources.

RED DEER MATING

                 September in wildlife management brings an injection of adrenaline to the wildlife manager. September is the time when one of our most economically important deer species Red Deer is breeding. It is this biological act, the breeding cycle of deer, that shows the success of the work done on population dynamics. During mating the breeder has the opportunity to monitor many parameters:

 – areas of females grouping in preparation for mating,

– age of harem holder,

– number of hinds with the male in mating – harem (transmission quality of genetic

     trait, number of competitive males in mating, male exhaustion),

– course and intensity of mating (the time when most of the hinds areready to mate –

    calving dates),

– spatial distribution of dominant males, etc.

              Each of these parameters tells the wildlife manager a lot about population management and the possible changes in wildlife management measures to guide population dynamics. Directing population dynamics is possible if we are familiar with the attributes of the population we manage: density, abundance, competition, genetic capabilities, migration, dispersion on the surface of hunting grounds, etc.

              Mating is, like other physiological actions, conditioned by the presence or absence of certain hormones. In this case, it is the concentration of sex hormones in the blood. Sex hormones, weather (photoperiodism – the ratio of day and night length), etc., act as switches that, at the right time, cause the way each throat behaves, both during pre-mating and mating times.

              Factors affecting reproductive success:

– body size and antler development,

– parental investment of the female in calves,

– social organization of herds and dispersion in space (related to food sources),

– social relations between age and gender classes.

              “The success factors of the reproductive cycle usually divide males and females, so different adjustments have evolved separately, eg differences in body size, fitness, growth, metabolism, length of life and many other aspects of physiology.”

              Red deer species is a social herd species. Males and females live in sexually and spatially separated herds for most of the year. The composition of the herd of females is made up of females of all ages with or without calves, and is usually joined by two-year-old male or three-year-old males. The herd of females is strictly organized, there is a dominant female that other animals follow. The other female members of the herd are most often the daughters of the older leader female. A female’s life success is a product of her breeding success, her number of bred and raised calves. Entry into mating, calf size during calving, and survival of calves in Red deer is closely related to the female body weight. Body weight and physiological fitness are linked to the quantity and quality of food sources in the hind’s movement area. The area of ​​movement of the dominant hind is about 400 ha. On this surface, depending on the population size and the size of the herd of females and calves, females should find all the nutrients they need for their annual fairly tense energy budget (preparation for mating, mating, growth and development of the fetus, hair change, lactation). Because the life of a hind is relatively short, each calf she raises is a large part of her reproductive material, so she instinctively seeks to minimize the mortality of calves, the female often knows how to skip the reproductive cycle if she is not physiologically ready to invest in the calf. The first sign of mating start is to grouping of hinds and reduction of their area of ​​movement. They spend most of their time intensively grazing on meadows and other pastures and at the same time begin to emit a characteristic odor from the vulva area, whose intensity slowly increases over the days. The movement of the hind is getting weaker, so the radius of movement falls below one kilometer. The female could be characterized as passive, sedentary, she is waiting for a partner and is rational with energy consumption.

        Unlike a passive female, the male is active and it is a great energy consumer during mating. Males and females spend much of the year in herds with other animals. While the herd characteristic of female is cohesion that gives stability to the group, the male herd is a group of egocentric animals of a very loose organization. Reproductive success in males is closely related to their ability to fight, and this ability depends on their body size, strength, and the development of antlers (weapons). As antlers grow and develop, males stick together, but as they begin to finalize and clear their antlers, they slowly leave the herd. The main reason for this is the increased concentration of the male sex hormone (testosterone) in the blood, whose action increases, among other things, aggression (intolerance) against other males, and very often this aggression is demonstrated on vegetation. As the time of mating approaches, the stags from their usual range of movement, distribute themselves on the surface of the hunting ground and join the assembled hinds to the so-called roaring areas and becoming extremely intolerant of other males. Then the battle to preserve the harem’s stability begins in order to secure a monopoly for mating and in order for males to pass on its genetic material further. The frequency of males fighting is conditioned by the age structure of the males (competition) and the synchronization of ovulation at females. The struggles begin with approaching interested males, loud roaring, parallel walking and antler collision. The defeated male then retreats, the winner chases the defeted animal shortly and declares victory with a specific roar. The males stand near the hind, lick its preorbital glands or vulva, chase it through the harem, and eventually run a bite. Males jump several times before ejaculation, after ejaculation the deer male declines interest in that hind. The male, besides making a loud noise (roar) and monitoring the husk in his harem, lies on the roaring area, wet (extremely strong musky odor, urine mixed with sperm), damages vegetation, leaves marks by wiping the tear gland on vegetation or trees, sprouting ( mud rolling) etc. He performs all these activities near his harem, chart shows the actions and distance from the harem when performing these actions. After mating, the Stag that has actively participated in the mating is exhausted by mating, growling, fighting, maintaining the harem, etc., such a male can lose 20% to 30% of his body weight before mating. Such weight loss can also be devastating to the animal, so it is necessary to act with adequate food to physically store the throat for the most scarce season of winter.

                   The role of males in the reproductive cycle is complete, the growth and development of the fetus, calving, raising, daily feeding and care for the offspring, etc., all remain on the female / hind, so it is once again important to note that the selective shoot of the hind is extremely important because it drives the quality of calves and the quality of the future deer population in the hunting ground. Maiting is not just roaring, deer, harem etc. Maiting in the animal world means extending the species. Breeding and successful raising of young animals are two parameters by which we estimate the value of the population (permanent management). Equally successful raising the calves is important to the animals themselves, more specifically the females. Females are the ones who devote much of their lives to investing in calves, and we breeders, therefore, choose females according to this parameter. We choose which genetic material to pass on to the maximum number of calves during their lifetime. The genetic material of the animal that fails to mate is lost from the population and so such traits will disappear from the population. In contrast, the genetic material of the mating animal is continuously transmitted, so that it will slowly control the population.

AGE – DATA YOU NEED TO APPLY TO PRACTICE

                  Management of Red Deer and Roe Deer is regulated by a plan based on the determination of the spring fund and its sex / age composition, the estimate of the actual recruitment rate and the record of total population exploitation. The number and composition of the spring fund depends on the increase, loss and hunting. Therefore, it is necessary to correctly monitor the number of animals, recruitment rate, gender composition, age composition, trophy quality, body masses and the use of certain parts of the habitat / hunting area by the game – density of population. Recording, understanding and honestly accepting this data in hunting management means getting closer to the stated goal. Otherwise, it is difficult to keep track of what happens to the population, and the reality on the ground becomes different from what we imagine. The recruitment rate will be easiest to calculate in the late summer or early autumn when the number of females and the number of fawns or calves are easy to spot in the hunting area, thus obtaining the ratio of females and cubs. In the same way, observing during the whole year will determine the number and gender ratio of population. Population density can be estimated on the basis of observation, numbering of tracks, and graze preassure. Body mass and quality of trophies are the two parameters that we observe, monitor and evaluate their performance through age structure. Age determination  should be honest. Otherwise, things will be repeated and every year we will be beyond the set goals. When we talk about age in practice, one does not have to determine the exact number of years of life, but rather divide the population into several age groups. For the practice of wildlife management it will be enough to classify the animals in to the young class, in to the middle age class and in to the mature animals. Taking into account the particularities of each species in the spring season, the preferred ratio would be 50% young animals, 30% middle age animals and 20% of mature animals. Such an age structure would ensure continuity and sustainability of management, in terms of natural stability and continuous use of wildlife. Given that the quality of trophies, as a rule (depending on the welfare of habitats) grows with age, it is important to know in which age class is the shot animal, so that the plan can be corrected through the plans for the following years, all with the aim not to disturb the age structure.

      The age of shoot animals is estimate in several ways:

a) the skull parameters – pedicles (height, diameter and angle), forehead seams (dense and fused), nasal cavity and tips of nasal bones (long, pointed, tiny and short) and skull bone thickness (orbital part).

b) the change of dairy teeth to the constant and wear of the forearms and nipples of the lower jaw,

c) cutting the teeth – the first molar M1 is most often used as it immediately grows as a permanent tooth.

ROE DEER

It is sufficient – for practice of hunting management, to determine whether the age of the shoot animal is up to one year (fawn), two years (first true antlers), three to four years (second or third antlers) and five and more years. Roe deer is a species of great ecological valence, a pioneering species, meaning that it can live from the best to the most unusual habitats. But because of its pioneering nature, its success depends primarily on the habitat in which it lives. Maleantlers can vary from year to year and there is no proper growth and decline in trophy strength throughout the years (age). It is important to know that antlers  can not reveal age of Roe Buck.

RED DEER

For the practice of wildlife management, it is sufficient  to determine whether the age of the animal is up to one year (calf), two years (first antlers), three to five years, six to eight years and nine or more years of life. Whether an animal is the calf it is visible on the basis of physical development and whether it belongs to the the second year of life in males it is concluded on the basis of the absence of a coronal on the first antlers and the female on the basis of the age and development of the tooth. The age of the animals over the age of two and grouping in the age classes – that is based on the development of teeth and tooth decay M1 and the numbering of the age zones. For wildlife management it is sufficient Almasan’s tooth cutting method and aging. With several years of tooth cutting and comparing worn out results of the lower forearm teeth, it is possible to show how much these lower jaws are worn out by age.

RED DEER ANTLERS

The area of European Red Deer ​​distribution is a European continent. Apart from Europe, we find it in the northern part of Asia, where it meets the Asian Wapiti (Siberian, Altai, Manchurian) with which it is possible to cross breed. The main migration route from Asia to Europe and vice versa follows the flow of the Danube River. The Delta of the Danube at the entrance to the Black Sea can be characterized as the door leading deep into Central Europe. The habitats along the Danube River contain the richness of plant food sources that evolutionary processes led to become the most feasible to Red Deer. Such distant journeys are mainly taken by males as part of seasonal migration for mating. The architecture of Red Deer antlers can be either an offensive or defensive type or a combination of these two types. In a natural environment, evolution has favored the defensive antler features, while in rough natural conditions, strong within the species and cross-competitive competition, and a large number of predators, favored the offensive antler architecture. Thus the western and eastern type of Red Deer antlers commonly possesses the defensive antler structure, while deer in the windy Asia possess an extremely offensive antler structure. The boundaries of the widespread distribution of eastern and western European deer overlap the Balkan Peninsula, following the floodplains of the Danube River, which are also the migration path from the Black Sea into the heart of Europe. These two types are difficult to distinguish when  the only criterion are morphological characteristics of antlers. The morphology of antlers changes depending on the age of the animal, the intensity of management, nutrition, population density, etc. One will most accurately determine which type of deer it is when one looks at fully developed branches of adult full grown antlers. The Western type carries antlers that have a potentially large tendency of branching, but the length of branches is shorter than the total length of the branches in relation to the eastern tip. Fully developed horns of the Western type include long first tine, there is no second tine present at branch, third tine in low possition on the branch, with well-developed crowned crown. The second tine is often missing on one or both branches or the second tine is short, or just indicated as a button. Fully developed antlers of the Eastern type of Red deer males contain first and second tine approximately the same length, third tine is placed around the middle of the branch and  antlers are finishing with characteristic double crown (like two forks, 2×2 tines or 3X3 tines). The branch of antlers are longer than at the western type. In addition to these two types, we find at the Danube floodplain also wapitioid morphology of antlers. In the forest wapiti of “Altai Wapiti” (Cervus canadensis sibiricus), we encounter an extremely offensive morphology of antlers, a long first tine, even longer second tine, third tine in a center in the middle of the branch, and most often three (even more) tines in the so called crown. All tines are facing the interior of the antler branch, to be as dangerous as possible against the opponent. Namely, morphology of antlers is seen as an evolutionary weapon to intimidate opponents, minimize conflicts and minimize injuries caused by male clashes. The West and East type of Red Deer usually develop defensive weapons to protect themselves from the opponent. The most complex places for wounding during conflict is the head (primarily the eyes) and the neck. For a Western type, a well-developed crown holds at a distance threatening enemy opponent. While in the Eastern type the role of the eye shield was taken over by well-developed second tine. On the other hand, the wapitioid morphology of antlers is extremely attacking and attack can be used by all tines and even second tine that are often longer than the first tine. Bubenik (1982) states that in the survey in Osijek (Belje) he registered 23 Red Deer stags as one eye males and one completely blind male, and as a reason he noted insufficient development of the second tine of the eastern, maraloid type of deer. In order to select the animals that will continue to spread its genetic material, it is necessary to know the architecture of antlers and the possible development of antlers. Antlers, therefore carry genetic information as the Red Deer stag looks or will look like in the future.

FOG IN THE AREA OF BARANJA – STAGS IN THE MIST

FOG:

# is a meteorological phenomenon in the ground layer of the troposphere, a ground cloud of water droplets or ice crystals that are so tiny and light that they manage to float in the air. Fog is a dispersion of tiny droplets of water in the air that is so dense that horizontal visibility along the Earth’s surface is reduced to less than a kilometer. When the visibility is higher than a kilometer, it is a haze. If tiny ice crystals float instead of droplets, the fog is icy. Fog sometimes covers the landscape with a whitish veil; when mixed with dust or smoke it is slightly colored, predominantly yellowish.

# in Baranja it can mean only one thing – deer hunting during Roaring period. Arriving at night at the Roaring area, listening to where Stag is. The transition of night into the auroral fog, mixing the morning meadow scents with the scent of musk. Approaching by stalking, listening, there is a Stag and it is not visible jet. Anticipation if the Stag will be to  far enough away not to notice the approach, and yet close enough for a successful hunt, whether Stag will  stay in the meadow or retreat with the fog, where the hinds are! Usually in those last moments, the Stag falls silent – just before dawn – so you really don’t know anything! There are three options either Stag is gone or you will see Stag first or you will be noticed! And then you see the silhouette of a Stag in the transition from night to morning fog TERMLESS !

        If it is far for a successful hunt – you watch it in its full dominance as it raises dew from the grass with a sharp half-race, which at that moment turns into fog and creates the illusion of a Stag walking on a cloud. Since you are concentrating on that performance – “Bauu” is heard soon – the hind signals to the company that the show is over. But you have all day in front of you to prepare an approach strategy and analyze what just happen!

SOME OF MY STAGS

          The title of this dash denotes Red stags that have occurred during my previous work in hunting management. These are not all, nor is it possible to show them all, these are deer that meant something at some point, to me personally or meant to the hunting ground. However, one can see the diversity of antler architecture in the area of Slavonia and Baranja (eastern part of the Republic of Croatia). Floodplain valleys along large rivers are home to natural populations of red deer and are certainly one of the most attractive areas to experience Red Stag hunting during the SEPTEMBER STAG ROAR !!!

LAS VEGAS – SCI SHOW

                An event that everyone who is part of the world of hunting tourism should attend. There is a lot to see in those few days, and a lot can be learned with a little luck and of course with a person who is willing to help. “Welcome to the city of sin,” a familiar, unpretentious person greeted us: “Let’s go to dinner, so I’ll tell you what I’ve prepared for you.” Sales, sales, sales – everything is for sale, everything has its price and everything is a show. Booth is a show, every conversation is a show, meetings are a show, presentations are a show, auctions are a show – everything is a show.

            “Ah, you arrived, you Drazen, stay with me a bit, did you bring the catalogs, the pictures, the offers – why did you came to the show for. Go around and review the Red stag prices. ” Of course, I did not take that role so responsibly, but although the principal was dissatisfied with the performance, he did not take it so bad and my further residence did not suffer. You have to be very concentrated in order to achieve your goals – because there are so many things that distract you and all are attractive and interesting. Panoramas with animals, presentations, catalogs, hunting equipment, weapons, hunting tourism – terrible. And all that based in Las Vegas – it’s really hard to maintain concentration and focus on the goals you’re there for – but this is “SHOW.” The first day of the SCI show is over, let’s now take a look at the city. But it’s not walking – in Las Vegas, it’s a car ride across the street. A familiar face comes from our backs: “What’s up, guys, do you spend US Dollars like Croatian currency Kuna  / come on, I’ll take you out to dinner.” Again nothing of sightseeing, but the evening passed for me with an endless source of information that meant a lot to me in the field of hunting tourism.

            The second day I spent some time alone at our host`s Booth. He let me talk about selling with a few clients, but this time he did not hide his dissatisfaction:”so you really don’t know anything, so why didn’t you bring a measuring tape with you”, alluded to the way of selling at a trophy value that I tried to explain to clients who were used to a different form of sales. “Customize your products to the market you serve and the customers you serve, why do you think that they care about your points.”

        The last day we went to visit the Grand Canyon – that brought us back to the cowboy movies and helped to clear our minds before returning home.

Everything else that happened –  stay`s at Vegas!

NEW ZEALAND

NEW ZEALAND, that’s enough to write

                Not just as a hunting trip, New Zealand is a bit different from other parts of the world I know. That long flight by plane alone requires a persistent desire to visit this, yet remote, part of the world. But the arrival itself is different, the simple airport at QUENSTOWN, the easy procedure and the welcome reception of a familiar face with coffee. Easy access makes life easier. Quenstown, a scattered adrenaline town, a famous winter resort, but also the untamed wilderness of Mount Aspirig. “Im here for you in the morning, and tonight you go down to the city there are places where you can have fun ”- a recommendation from a well-known New Zealand hunter. Tired, after the flight, we are neither for sleep nor for fun, ok –  we go to get to know the city, or rather see where we are. There is a surprise in the morning – we fly by helicopter! There is no information just a schedule, “you sit forward, next to the pilot and when we jump out, do not go to the tail of the helicopter.” As he gave me the information, he stored the rifle on the floor of the helicopter – nothing was clear to me. Soon it didn’t matter – the view of the organized island was breathtaking. The wildlife in the mountains, farms, landscaped pastures and settlements overlap perfectly. Soon we entermountains, clouds, snow and unique landscapes – “hell garden” – he says. Suddenly, it was as if he had decided ” there they are  – we will jump out of here”. Who – where – but we’re in the middle of the mountains – I think. But it was like he said, “get out and don’t go to the tail of the helicopter”, I nodded and head for the tail of the helicopter! A hand on the collar and a objurgatory glance pinned me to the rock until the helicopter rose. “They are coming towards us – shoot”, so in all this turmoil the rifle was already loaded and in my hands. They are really coming, though the color is no different than the rocks – but  it is visible, I shoot, it disappears. “Where it is – did you get it – reload” – I confidently confirm that it is down (though after the shot I didn’t see it again, but it would make sense if it fell) and point the finger. The helicopter descends upon the Chamois and brings it to the rock to us. Here – I’m still under the impression.

          Afterwards we went to restaurants, forests, hunting grounds, deer game farms. We met people, culture, customs. I do not know if this is my impression, but very simple, practical people solve everyday life situations, solve problems that are important for their local community and for the positive functioning of their living community. “Guys – you need to know one thing – in one Country it is either a rich government or it is a rich people that inhabits the country”, with that we said goodbye to our host and flew home….