November 15, 2018

At What Point Will Maine Hunters Simply Hang up Their Deer Rifles?

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In Bob Humphreys’ article this week, he does a very respectable job of explaining to his readers about the politics of deer management. His basic premise is that as the deer management goals are changing, opportunities to hunt deer will continue to diminish, a result of attempting to sustain a deer herd at “social carrying capacity” rather than biological carrying capacity.

In his article, he writes: “In other words, some areas (central and southern Maine) could support between 40 to 60 deer per square mile with no deleterious effects on the natural habitat, and would be well within the limits biologists strive for under the precepts of sound deer management. But then current management objectives for those areas were 15 to 20 deer per square mile.”

Environmentalism’s powerful lobby has extended to a point where not only have their objectives become an integral part of our basic education curriculum, but the continued effects have successfully bred environmentalist-minded young wildlife biologists/managers who now are the majority with our fish and wildlife agencies.

A major problem exists as we attempt to look into the future of deer hunting in Maine and elsewhere. Brainwashed by Environmentalism, it is impossible to understand or acknowledge the vital importance that hunting plays in managing and sustaining a deer herd. Without hunting, there is no way to control growth…period. It doesn’t take a Ph. D. to understand that in places where hunting is not permitted, there are eventually problems with too many deer and with too many deer there are problems with disease and the spread of it – diseases harmful to humans.

I repeatedly have heard the claim from animal rights people and environmentalists that they are not trying to stop hunting. Well, perhaps not directly. The ending of hunting is one of their major goals. Through propaganda and lobbying efforts if environmentalists can convince enough people that there is a need to reduce the deer population to levels that will limit automobile collisions, reduce Lyme disease, and stop them hungry critters eating their expensive shrubbery, bringing the herd to numbers low enough to achieve that might effectively put an end to deer hunting, at least as we know it and certainly as it used to be.

There exists a line of effective interest, where if that line is moved further and further to the point where the effort at deer hunting yields few or little results, interest in the activity will evaporate. At what point will it have to reach in order that so few will want to hunt deer anymore that hunting as a management tool can no longer be usable?

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service surveys, the number one reason fewer people hunt is that they don’t have the time. This may be true but doesn’t it become harder to justify taking the time to hunt if the hunting is poor?

I can only speak for myself. I have always loved to deer hunt. In my prime, I hunted in any weather for the majority of days that deer hunting season was open. I most often took home a deer by end of the season. Today, the effort is no longer there. I believe the biggest contributing factor is that in the past 10 years of deer hunting, I can count on one hand how many deer I have SEEN in the woods. Granted, some of that lack of success is due to aging and reduced effort, but a lot of that reduced effort has become perpetuating. In other words, it becomes harder and harder to yard this tired aging body out of bed at 4 a.m. to be in the woods before it gets daylight because the motivation to see deer and have an opportunity to bag one is gone. As a matter of fact, it seems I look for excuses not to go out, especially if the weather is threatening.

Where once Maine set herd management goals for deer to approach 400,000 animals, their latest management goals call for 210,000 deer by the year 2033. Simple mathematical logic might tell us that in theory if there were the same number of hunters 20 years ago as there are today, the odds of bagging a deer have been cut in half. It takes a person completely in love with the act of hunting to pursue an animal that gives a hunter a less than 20% chance at filling his freezer. Some say the challenge increases which is some kind of a draw, but that is not the interest of the majority of those looking for meat. As chances shrink so does interest.

What kind of a conundrum will the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries (MDIFW) be in when, due to environmentalist-spurned deer management, they have successfully driven away enough hunters so that they cannot depend on hunters and their long-standing “Any-Deer Permit” system to deplete the herd to “social carrying capacity?”

Regardless of whether deer management is paid for with license purchases or through general taxation, if the deer hunting sucks, nobody will want to hunt anymore and then what?

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