December 12, 2017

Media Mantra Says Maine’s Deer Harvest Has Increase

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deerdeepsnowMedia reports all throughout Maine’s recent whitetail deer hunting season mostly are in agreement that it appears the deer harvest took a 20% increase from last year. It will probably be 3 or 4 months before official harvest data are released; a time when most hunters have forgotten about the season and moved on to other things, i.e. ice fishing, sledding, etc. Some examples of media reports can be found here and here.

Some don’t think getting the facts in a timely manner, as other states do, matters much, but I say, especially under the current conditions in Maine concerning the deer herd, timely data is more important than ever before. It’s easy for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), along with the aid of their complicit media outlets, to hype the deer season as being one of great success. It’s the close examination of the compiled data that tells the real story.

I have no faith in the mainstream media in these affairs as their intent it to sell copy and historically, their exists little in the way of “journalism” these days. It has been co opted by copy and paste cloning of text.

If Maine’s harvest statewide should come in at around a 20% increase over 2012, that would fall in line with what the new deer biologist, Kyle Ravana predicted going into the season. That harvest number would still be 20% – 30% below historic maximum harvests. It certainly isn’t time to blow one’s horn about the successful rebuilding of a deer herd, when the majority of the success can be attributed to mild winters. What happens when another bad winter or two hits again?

However, all this talk and media hype of overall hunting success and increases in statewide deer harvest, does nothing to educate and inform the hunters of what’s going on with the deer herd town to town and Wildlife Management District (WMD) to Wildlife Management District. If planned properly, a media campaign can convince enough people the MDIFW has waved their magic wand and saved the deer herd. That’s not good enough for me and that’s why I have always been so adamant about getting the deer harvest stats out in a more timely fashion; while it’s still fresh in everyone’s mind.

So, once again, Maine sportsman will, more than likely, have to wait until late March and perhaps in April before we can have access to data to examine to see where harvest increases took place and where they didn’t. In the meantime, I do hope that the majority of hunters had success and filled their freezers.

I want hunters to be successful and I want a healthy, robust deer herd. However, logic dictates that for that to happen, something must change or we are programmed to repeat the failures of the past. I’m not convinced the necessary changes have taken place to prevent the disasters of 4 and 5 years ago.

For those who may not regularly follow and read my articles, I have long promoted solutions that I feel need to be done in order to manage deer to better rebuild the herd and prepare for and prevent another disaster as the winters of 2007/2008. Here are links to some of those articles: Here, here, here.

It is readily admitted that since 2009, the winters have been relatively mild and as a result has allowed for a reduced mortality during winter months. Implementation of a deer management plan that heavily relies on global warming (more mild winters), especially at a time that science is forecasting a transition into about a 30-year period of rapid cooling, will only spell continued disaster. Something must change.

  • Idaho_Roper

    Are they claiming actual deer numbers harvested or success percentages?

    One of the great distractions they use here in Idaho is trying to utilize success percentages and ignore that actual numbers are in the tank. They are masters of utilizing manipulated statistics to try and cover their asses and the fact they have failed to conduct their legally required responsibilities.

    This looks like media mouthpiece information, has the game department released any ‘official’ data. I may have missed it. They know that feeding false information to the media accomplishes the wanted results….people reading it, adsorbing it and looking no further into it, its all fine, nothing to see here…..move along.

    • TRemington

      At this point it’s only harvest numbers. Haven’t played the percentage games. No official data of any kind released. They have just pumped the media outlets full of all the wonderful things going on at the tagging stations.

      Historically, data is not released for about 4 months and that’s what pisses hunters off. Last year I sent a letter to the governor and he made the Commissioner release “preliminary” numbers within about a month after the end of the season. Most states have that harvest number within hours of season closure.

      • Idaho_Roper

        Same game, different state. The official data will be released in fine print and ignored.

        They do the same things here with the check stations, but they also manipulate the open hours of those stations. They do not run on the same opening date to closing date they use to, but they still try and compare data from back then to now. It is manufactured cherry picking and they intentionally cloud the waters.

    • chris a

      If “they” is IFW, then no official number or percentage is out yet.

  • chris a

    Since IFW hasnt made any real changes in deer management, another winter with a severity index rating matching that of the 08 or 09 winters will result in a high winter kill again. With that said, it is still not certain that had there been a higher deer population going into those bad years it would have helped the numbers recover any quicker. If the wintering habitat can only support X number of deer having a higher population might only result in more winter kill. The decline in deer numbers from those winters was not attributed to predators, simply winter kill and loss from good ol starvation. There is more to a severe winter that affects deer than just snow totals. People think “we always had winters that were harder back when there was lots of deer”. Not exactly.

    I am not sure that the problems with predator control stem from IFW biologists thinking that predator control is useless . It seems to be more of an issue with the feasibility of making it work.
    Good piece overall, I am sure that not many deer hunters are even aware that IFW puts out a map with the kill totals for each town.

    • Idaho_Roper

      While we have always had winter kill, Some years worse than others, we use to see a rebounding. Now that we have a saturation of predators, that rebound never happens and we find ourselves in a continued negative population growth trend.

      While they continue to claim a habitat problem, that is not the problem here. I always become suspect when habitat is made the scape goat in an ecosystem experiencing a predator pit management scheme. Eventually the predator pit drives populations to such low numbers that the habitat claim become ridiculous to even try and peddle.

      Granted I am not familiar with Maines actual situation, but it seems they pull the same game everywhere, and I know what they did in Idaho.

    • TRemington

      Chris – I think our differences are that you rely on “official” IFW information as the truth and believe all of it is a lie until I can prove otherwise.

      What you have stated above is mostly true….but.

      Because you say or read that “it is not certain” that higher deer numbers going into winter would result in more deer or recovery would be quicker is not valid. This tactic has been used for decades to sell deer tags. It’s not certain because it’s not been tried.

      Here are two items, one of which nobody will answer for me. The mantra has been there are no deer wintering areas and yet traditional deer wintering areas across the state go unused during harsh enough winters. Why is that? Well, either there aren’t any deer and/or the deer, having learned the mortality from wintering in yards have moved into our backyards.

      IFW biologist with not “attribute” the loss of deer in bad winters to predators because they don’t want to. I happen to know direct from a horses mouth that during those two back to back bad winters, fly overs and visits to deer yards was described by wardens as “a blood bath.” It was not starvation completely and when wardens said it was a blood bath, it meant coyotes at slaughter.

      Something has to change Chris or it will remain the same.

      • chris a

        Most winters that the deer are pushed into yarding areas for any amount of time result in coyotes killing a lot of deer. No disputing that. I have flown over plenty of dead deer. That is why the emphasis on predator control is centered on the known yarding areas. The problem is killing enough coyotes to make a difference.

        • TRemington

          You are right and the best tool to get the job done has been taken away.

  • Idaho_Roper

    We actually had a head biologist here pull out a pre-wolf study in an attempt to sell tags and make claims the elk herds were fine. I literally could not believe it and when I questioned him on it he just shrugged his shoulders. But it is impossible to reel in lies once they are put out there and low information, lazy ass people just keep believing its all fine.

  • chris a

    Another story with deer totals in it and also a nice story about the success of a good hunter. The number of 200 lbers tagged in Ashland was interesting.