John Jefferson writes a weekly outdoors column for the Victoria Advocate.

Teal Hunters

From the rice prairies of the Texas Gulf Coast to the playa wetlands of the Panhandle, teal hunters should have ample opportunities to bag a 6-bird limit during the special season that opened last Saturday. It closes Sunday, Sept. 26. Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset each day. TPWD reports good flights already in Texas and more coming.

We receive some interesting emails and calls from readers. That makes me feel like I’m not just doing this to keep busy ‘til supper time.

Several contacts have been from high school friends wanting to know if I am the same JJ they knew. I enjoyed those. Three pointed to mistakes, and I respected them, too. Several even invited us to come for a visit and stay a while. Those were a surprise, and appreciated. One last week was unexpected but very welcomed.

An old friend from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department whom I knew while with the Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society emailed me out of the blue. He now lives in Wisconsin and serves as the emerging disease coordinator for a federal animal health agency. He was surfing the internet for articles on chronic wasting disease over Labor Day Weekend instead of grilling brisket in the back yard when my ludicrous “masking deer” column popped up.

He complimented the article but politely took issue with my statement that the National Deer Association reported that no deer are presently known to carry COVID-19. He agreed that’s what many scientists thought a month ago, but a new study recently revealed evidence of active infection in deer in Ohio. He attached a report co-authored by 14 scientists, published May 10. It encouraged testing deer for SARS-CoV-2.

I began reading it, though soon needed a cup of coffee. It was a long, tough read with many supporting slides and graphs. It agreed there were many possible explanations of how COVID-19 started, including the Huanan animal market in Wuhan, China. It referred to “… current data that indicated SARS-CoV and MERS-Co-V resulted from interactions with intermediate hosts such as palm civet cats and dromedary camels, but now it seems that a pangolin … may be the link.”

Before you start Googling pangolin, lemme tell you it’s a small animal resembling an armadillo with scales instead of a hard shell. It was shock enough when armadillos were blamed for carrying leprosy, but now this.

The document ended by saying: “In summary, our study shows that white-tailed deer are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection and can transmit the virus to indirect contact animals. These results confirmed … interaction between SARS-CoV-2 protein and the cervid (deer) ACE2 receptor. Our findings indicate that deer and other cervids should be considered in investigations conducted to identify the origin and potential intermediate host species that may have served as the link host reservoir to humans.”

I am not a scientist. I think one of the great threats to scientific research is a non-scientist English major reading a highly scientific research paper and drawing simple conclusions. So, don’t let me start a panic.

If a deer should run in front of your vehicle and its remains get splattered all over said vehicle, there’s no need to destroy your vehicle. Just watch your speed and keep an eye out for wildlife.

And wait for the additional research suggested above.

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John Jefferson, “Woods, Waters and Wildlife” columnist, may be reached at 512-219-1199 or on his website,

johnjefferson.com.

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