August 23, 2019

Lee Kantar: “Talk of a Declining Deer Herd is Old News”

I have used as an analogy many times over the years a story of my nephew, when at the age of perhaps 4 years, got me to laughing. I was visiting my brother one day and when I arrived he was struggling to get his son to eat his lunch. My brother and I retired to the living but only after he had told his son that he was to stay in the kitchen and eat his lunch and only then could he be free to play.

After about 5 minutes, my nephew walked into the living room and said to his dad, “Dad, I ate all my lunch….but don’t go look!”

Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) deer biologist, Lee Kantar, told Mark Latti in an interview published in the Portland Press Herald yesterday, that concerning the state’s whitetail deer population, “(It’s) 150,000-200,000, but things are definitely towards the higher end (and) talk of a ‘declining’ deer herd is old news. We are trending up.”


There are two issues worth discussing here. First, it is easy to say that the number of deer in Maine is “trending up” when there really is no other direction to go in. And from that perspective one could not be talking of a continuing decline in the population. However, calling it old news is pushing it just a bit. Sportsmen still want answers and action.

Secondly, Latti’s column is about game population estimates. He writes about black bears, turkey, woodcock, moose and grouse. According to what is written in the article, Maine has 31,000 black bears, 60,000 turkeys and 76,000 moose. The deer population is somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 but Kantar believes the actual number to be more towards the 200,000.

Why isn’t there a specific number for the deer? Maine announced it was going to spend $100,000 to aerial survey the whitetail deer population and while they were at it would do some moose counting as well. So, where’s the results of the deer count?

It seems it didn’t take very long to whip out a number for moose, being that everyone was making comments about how many there were and perhaps so many that the winter tick infestation is very high. Has all the complaining and grumbling about the deer herd scared the biologists away from publishing a more exact count of deer or are they trying to hide from sportsmen something?

They flew with helicopters to count moose and have determined there are 76,000 of them. They flew with helicopters to count deer and have determined that there are somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 deer and maybe it’s closer to 200,000. Or maybe there’s 50,000 or 350,000? Why don’t we know?

If the deer population in Maine is trending upwards, which I believe it is in places, it comes as the result of nothing MDIFW has done. The article linked to attributes the increases to, “After severe winters in 2008 and ’09, Maine’s deer herd was blessed with a relatively short winter in 2010, and then two mild winters in 2011 and ’12.” Lee Kantar takes credit for helping that increase by reducing the number of “Any-Deer” permits for a couple of years. This probably did help grow the population in zones where the herd isn’t in serious danger. In those zones where deer are in the most threat, there are no “Any-Deer” permits issued.

I would think that if MDIFW can state that there are 76,000 moose, then I think they can do a better job of informing sportsmen of what the real deer population is rather than a +/- 25% guess.


Open Thread – September 17, 2012

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Open Thread – September 14, 2012

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Obama: Grabbing Guns and Other Property Without Due Process

The Obama administration is making it easier for bureaucrats to take away guns without offering the accused any realistic due process. In a final rule published last week, the Justice Department granted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) authority to “seize and administratively forfeit property involved in controlled-substance abuses.” That means government can grab firearms and other property from someone who has never been convicted or even charged with any crime.<<<Read More>>>


3 friends rat shooting on a farm in Oxfordshire


Open Thread – September 12, 2012

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Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to Host Coyote Hunting/Trapping Convention

Saturday, September 29, 2012


8:30 to 9:00 am. —- Registration ($15) Includes lunch & breaks
9:00 to 9:15 am. — Opening remarks. David Trahan, Gerry Lavigne
9:15 to 9:45 am. — Landowners, Laws &Ethics. MDIFW Wdn. Sgt. David Craven
9:45 to 10:15 am. — Firearms Choices & Ballistics. Everett Salisbury
10:15 to 10:30 am. — Break
10:30 to 11:00 am. — Calling Coyotes. Dick Drysdale
11:00 to 11:30 am. — Dogging Coyotes. Galen Harkins
11:30 to 12:00 pm. — Baiting/Shooting Shacks/ Night Hunting. Bob Howe
12:00 to 12:30 pm. — Lunch Catered by WhiteFlour Catering, Augusta
12:30 to 1:30 pm. — Panel Discussion/ Open Forum [All Speakers]
1:30 to 2:00 pm. — Trapping History & Basics. Dave Miller
2:00 to 4:00 pm. — DEMOS Coyote Dogs. Galen Harkins and Ray Gushee

Shooting Shack Design. Bob Howe
Gadgets & Gear. Ron Weeks & Gerry Lavigne
Coyote Calling. Dick Drysdale
Coyote Fur Handling. Jerry Brayley
Trapping Gear. Bob Noonan
Trap Setting for Coyote. Al Pinkham & Dave Miller

Location: SAM Headquarters, 205 Church Hill Rd., Augusta, ME
For Directions: see:
or call Becky @ (207)623-4589


Open Thread – September 11, 2012

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Maine’s Bear Hunting Season Outlook a Shell Game

When I was perhaps 8 years old, I got one of my first lessons, through joke telling, of how sometimes the milkman delivered more than just milk….wink, wink! The joke goes something like this. A very young boy, with a very distinct speech impediment, came to his mother one day and asked, “Mom, why do I talk this way?” The mother did not want to address the issue and so told her son to go ask his father.

And so he did. “Dad, why do I talk this way?” The father also shirking his responsibilities told his son to go ask his brother, which he did and was told to go ask the milkman.

Waiting patiently for the milkman to arrive on the front steps, upon arrival the boy ran to the milkman and asked, “Mr. Milkman, why do I talk this way?” To which the milkman responded in an identical and very distinct speech impediment, “Gee, I don’t know son!”

In Maine, the hunting season on black bears is in full swing. I saved many of the news articles and press releases prior to the bear season telling hunters what they can expect this season. In addition to these news accounts, there also included stories of bears interacting with humans and some of the excuses given by officials as to why. And now with the bear season in progress, we are left wondering if anything we were told about the bear situation was even true at all. I suppose it’s time to go and ask the milkman.

In August the debates were numerous around the state of humans encountering bears as reports were doubled from a year ago. On August 28, the Portland Press Herald (PPH) carried a story of how bears were “on the prowl”. As was typical in just about every account I read and heard about, the selected excuse to pass on to the press was that there is no natural food for bears to eat.

Jennifer Vashon, a bear biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said of the bears, “There is a lot of opportunity for bear. The drought means natural food is low. And our bear season is really tied to the natural food crop.” The lack of natural food gets the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) off the hook to explain that the reason for so many bear encounters with humans is tied to food and not too many bears.

And of course in attempts to promote the upcoming bear hunt, explaining that bears are hungry and on the move and will be easier to bait and bag.

On the 27th of August, I received a press release in my email from MDIFW announcing the beginning of bear hunting season. I posted it on this same blog for readers. In that presser, MDIFW, once again, explained that the reason for such a lousy bear hunting season last year was because of too much food. And, just as was repeated in the PPH piece, MDIFW says there is no natural food and hunters should have a good season. Just to recap. Last year – poor hunting season = too much food. Expected this year – good hunting season = no natural food. Got it!

With no natural food, as MDIFW has blown their horn about, hunters probably shouldn’t expect to find big, fat bears as they would when there was ample food, even though they might not see so many. However, on September 7, 2012, John Holyoke, at the Bangor Daily News, gave us an informational article of one hunter who bagged a 600-pound bear on the second day of his hunt. An anomaly I guess? Or perhaps not.

Randy Cross, another biologist at MDIFW, said usually large black bears harvested in Maine, are taken later in the season, I assume meaning the bears have had more time to fatten up. Part of this assumption comes because the article spends a fair amount of time, quoting Randy Cross on how quickly bears can fatten up in the late fall readying themselves for hibernation. Cross relays two instances to note: one was a bear gaining 210 pounds in 12 weeks and another fattening up 65 pounds in 16 days. (Note to self: Lay off the Dunkin’ Donuts)

This one 600 pound bear was obviously not a lean mean fighting machine due to lack of eating. Perhaps he had been feasting on the bait set out by the guides prior to the opening of hunting season. But none of this explains what Randy Cross meant in this comment:

And while food is still available, bears are still growing rapidly during the early part of the season, Cross said.

Wait! “While food is still available?” We have been told all summer long that there was very little natural food. So where did this “available” food come from? Are there that many bait stations?

And if that isn’t enough to make sportsmen wonder just what the heck, the Portland Press Herald rushes in to save the day by publishing an article all about how the bear harvest is so low all due to a bad economy.

Mr. Milkman! Why do I talk this way?”


Open Thread – September 10, 2012

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