July 22, 2019

Maine Hunting And Fishing: Not Marketed or Not Attractive?

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George Smith’s article in the Bangor Daily news says, “DIF&W used to work with the outdoor industry, including guides and sporting camps, to market hunting and fishing in our state. But they don’t do that today.”

Is that the job of government, to market private business and industry? Some would think so. They might even invoke the “Commerce Clause” in the U.S. Constitution which states: “To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.”

The Commerce Clause says its purpose is to “regulate” not necessarily to market and promote. Of course, for those who have spent some time studying the Commerce Clause, we know how the tyrannical government has abused the clause with its mandate to “regulate” to control and manipulate private business and the people of this country in ways that require a vivid imagination to link certain laws with Article I, Section 8, Clause 3.

Personally, I don’t think it is the job of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) to market hunting and fishing, but is that really the issue in Maine? Is the state in need of marketing hunting and fishing or is it a problem of “if you build it, they will come?” By this I mean is Maine an attractive enough place to hunt and fish that those capable and interested in traveling to other places beyond their home state to hunt and fish would find appealing enough to do so?

I would suppose that much involved in answering that question is based upon one’s perspective. It is mostly all relative to what a person might find attractive.

Also bear in mind that from what I gather talking to locals throughout the state, there’s not a lot of interest in bringing in outsiders to spread thinner the dwindling supplies of fish and game. Can we blame them? If that is understandable, are these same locals interested in their hard-earned money being used to promote private business? What’s in it for them? Maybe a few other private businesses may profit from more out-of-staters coming to hunt and fish but the majority of Maine hunters and fisherman are more interested in filling their freezers with game – a product that seems to be dwindling in Maine which might be the biggest reason these businesses, in part, are struggling to make ends meet.

Let’s take a look at a few of these fish and game species and see how attractive they are.

Maine is noted for having good trout fishing and yet the most popular fishing is for bass. Does Maine do a good job of promoting bass fishing or is it all trout fishing? 

Deer hunting is a struggling enterprise. Where once population objectives for deer were sought to be around 350,000 animals, the newest plan for deer management is calling for around 200,000 deer by the year 2020. Even though the most recent deer harvest was better than it has been in the past ten years, two things directly contributed to the increase – snow to hunt on and a record number of “Any-Deer Permits” issued (an issuance that makes little sense to many.)

Examination of data seems to indicate that as the deer harvest shrinks, along with it is the number and size of “trophy” class bucks. With a success rate below 20% and a shrinking trophy-class bucks, what’s the attraction that’s worth MDIFW spending time, personnel and money to market? (Note: Those who can afford to come to Maine “from away” to trophy hunt are the wealthy – aren’t they?)

Bear hunting attracts out-of-state hunters but an overabundance of the animals directly competes with deer and moose growth and bear are fond of fawns and calves for their meals.

MDIFW admits they need to reduce the bear population but so far have shown they have no serious intentions of doing anything about it. They whimper at the demands of guides and outfitters who want bountiful bear to keep their clientele happy. Is this the results we would get if MDIFW marketed hunting and fishing? No thanks!

Turkeys are a nuisance. All I have heard all year long is people commenting, both positively and negatively, about turkeys. There are just far too many of them and not very many people have an interest in hunting them. It is historically proven that when society begins to perceive any animal in a negative way, managers lose support for their programs. Perhaps it is time to allow the hunting of turkeys with a big game license, for both in-state and out-of-state hunters. There may be an interest in taking a few turkeys if hunters didn’t have to buy a special permit to do so. That might be a way of “marketing” hunting in the state while at the same time solve the turkey problem. But, then again, turkey hunting is prevalent and available in so many places the market is saturated. What does Maine have that other states don’t?

Which brings us to moose hunting. Year after year we hear repeatedly the disappointment of never getting drawn for a moose permit. It seems perhaps the program more resembles that of the king’s than a resource for all to enjoy. The program seems to benefit the wealthy in buying points etc. The other problem that exists with moose is one that seems to be backfiring into the faces of MDIFW from greed. The greed comes from trying to grow so many moose they can demand more money for the hunt and at the same time keep businesses trying to eke out a living through moose gawking tours. Now there is a tick and disease problem that is working to mitigate the greed. Where this will end who is certain?

With limited resources and plans for the future that appear to be calling for even fewer hunting opportunities, what’s to market? I spent many years of my earlier life in business. I never asked, nor did I want, government’s “help” with anything. As a matter of fact, I wanted them to butt out of my business knowing that any “help” they offered came in the form of more control and restrictions that directly limited my ability to prosper.

Maybe business owners, no matter who they are or what their business it, should move further away from centralized social government (what can my government do for me) and do what they can to get government out of their businesses so they can be free to change with the times. We have all been programmed to believe government is the answer. When will we learn?

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