March 20, 2018

To Grow Moose Burn Down the Forest

In a small corner of northeast Minnesota is where you’ll find what is left of a moose herd. A Minnesota newspaper is saying that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) blames the reduction in moose on deer and as an aside note that “some” attribute some of the loss to wolf densities. But there’s an answer to the problem. Burn down the forest!

According to some researchers and biologists, brainworm and ticks are killing moose. (Note – this is of course due to global warming, wink-wink.) If you burn down the forest, the fire kills off the ticks and snails that host the brainworm parasite.

You don’t have to be a Ph.D. to know that moose thrive in forests that are regenerating. Maine has seen the moose population explode where millions of acres of forest were cleared because of an infestation of spruce budworm. Coincidentally, this same act created prime habitat for the snowshoe hare which is the Canada lynx’s favorite food and thus the lynx has made a remarkable resurgence…for now. What happens when the hare habitat is gone? Along with the explosion of the population of the moose, so too did the moose tick or winter tick which is now killing off the too large moose population.

So now there’s an answer for those of you interested in exploiting further the moose population. Think of the money outfitters can make with moose gawking tours. WOW! All we have to do is simply burn down the forests according to how many moose people want to see or hunt.

But at what expense to the rest of the ecosystem?


Coyote Snaring and the Difference Between Fascism and Democracy

An opinion piece in the Bangor Daily News laments any notion that trapping of coyotes by snares should be reinstated. As the old saying goes, it might be a cold day in hell before…..But that doesn’t stop a good opportunity to opine emotional, outdated, clap-trap in hopes of influencing the public opinion poll, and for what purpose?

But this isn’t really about the pros and cons of snaring. It’s about credibility or the lack thereof, and a person’s failure, it appears to understand the difference between living in a democracy and under the ruling of fascist dictatorship.

Some may know that I’m no big fan of democratic rule and am certainly opposed to Fascism. It is always said that democracy is two wolves and one sheep deciding what’s for dinner. Fascism, in a similar regard, is one person or government forcing both the wolves and the sheep to eat what they are told to eat.

Another misconception that exists in this post-normal world is the idea that political ideology runs along a straight line, a continuum if you will. I disagree. If you follow extreme Leftism far enough, it ends up in fascism. If you follow the far Right far enough, you’ll run headlong into the Left and fascism.

In the Bangor News opinion piece, the author attempts to make the argument that the money spent killing coyotes for predator control could have been better spent, “…passing laws to protect deer yards.”

For those not intelligent enough to understand this concept, let me explain. Whether you or I like a democracy or not, there are ways to go about promoting your fascist ideals. However, some who understand a democracy realize that it is far less dictatorial to select a method of predator control to salvage a deer herd than to take land and property rights away from private landowners. Those that promote bigger, more centralized government couldn’t care less about your property rights. Those who understand the value of property ownership and property rights see such calls as a direct effort to suppress those rights…far from the democratic rule.

But to a fascist, they want what they want without any care to the private citizen, or soon to be subject-slave should such displays of fascism, promoted by totalitarians selfishly demanding their own way regardless of the cost to others. This book has been written many times throughout history.

To suggest “passing laws to protect deer yards” is to demand that a landowner should be stripped of their rights to their land. Maine has ample (far too many) fascist restrictions placed on landowners now, that it doesn’t need another prohibiting them from doing anything with their land in order to protect the whims of misguided animal perverts and environmentalists who think it’s better to allow the suffering of animals and the waste of good, natural food, because a person fails to understand the realities of taking a life to sustain another. Fascism is the author of waste.

Maine’s landowners have done a damned good job over the years doing all they can voluntarily to protect what land they can for the deer and they should be thanked instead of asked to give more while those asking do nothing but demand more and more. That’s the foundation of Fascism.

History has shown us that fascism is only a mechanism or a tool to bring a nation under the rule of communism.

Every time someone says, “There ought to be a law….” there goes your liberties and here comes their fascism. Fascism is enabled by totalitarians. Eager and ignorant useless eaters, programmed to believe centralized government forced upon everyone equitably is justice, but is but one step away from fascistic domination, forced obedience and complete control over everything.

Think about that before you open your mouth with your emotional Leftist, Progressive nonsense. I guarantee you will not like your servitude.


Maine Deer/Car Crashes: Trying To Make Sense of What Was Said

Sometimes what someone says about something doesn’t make a lick of sense. Such was the case when I read a report about cars crashing into deer in Aroostook County, Maine.

Let’s see if we can make any sense at all over this.

The report begins by saying that “vehicle crashes with deer have quadrupled in Aroostook County in the last five years” because deer populations have grown. Seriously? I wonder how many hunters would agree that deer numbers in Aroostook County have grown so much that it has caused a quadrupling of accidents? (If we ever get the 2017 deer harvest data from MDIFW, I wonder if it will show an increase in deer harvest in Aroostook County?)

Then we are told that last year a “feeding operation” (no details about it) caused 100 crashes with logging trucks, but has since been moved (to where?) and “no longer poses a road hazard.”

A regional biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) says, “We’re doing everything we can to keep deer away from the roads. Deer numbers have swelled and more often spend their winters in towns where there are roads and cars.”

Huh? I want to know, other than educating people about the potential problems of feeding deer (accidents), what “everything” is that is being done to keep deer out of the roads. Is that kind of like doing everything to make sure bears and coyotes don’t destroy the deer herd? Perhaps global warming can resolve this problem(?) too.

I just don’t plain get it when the biologist says that deer are now spending time living in towns where there are roads and cars. I can only guess what this means but this statement appears to be contrary to the talking points always spoken by MDIFW officials that deer winter in their idealistic deer yards, which have all been destroyed, or they die. Is MDIFW now suggesting that deer adapt and due to reduced habitat and the overwhelming presence of large predators, they have moved into town where the odds of getting run over by a logging truck are less than being eaten alive by coyotes, bobcats, and lynx?

However, the same biologist attributes the growing deer population to (you have to get ready for this) “reduced coyote predation, supplemental feeding and relatively mild winters.” MDIFW evidently believes their coyote program in Aroostook County accounts for part of the increase in deer but state that there hasn’t been a severe winter in Aroostook County in 10 years. It must be like all good environmentalists would do, MDIFW changed the criteria as to what constitutes a severe winter. Perhaps it’s just the thought that global warming exists, therefore, there is no longer any such thing as a severe winter.

Maybe MDIFW knows from their ongoing deer study, which is a huge secret, it appears, that there are more deer in the North Country than they thought. But, we’ll never know that because they never share that information with anyone…unless it makes them look good.

But isn’t this report and all comments geared to address but one thing? – feeding deer. MDIFW does not like it when people feed deer. They never have and probably never will until they can find a way to tax it or somehow make money from it. Never finding anything good to say about people feeding deer, MDIFW goes out of their way to even make up reasons why people shouldn’t do it.

The news report found someone who obviously doesn’t approve of deer feeding and someone who coincidentally had a crash with a deer recently, to share his “expertise” about deer feeding programs. This person describes deer, because of being fed, “they were so fat they couldn’t get over the guard rails.” 

This same “expert,” who claims there are “[a]bsolutely, there are more deer this year,” is contrasted by what the Washburn Police Chief said, “It’s not clear if there are more or less deer-related crashes this year than in others.” Well, don’t ruin a good story injecting facts into it. Fat deer that can’t get out of their own way are dropping like flies.

In more efforts to demonize deer feeding, the regional wildlife biologist says, “In some places, the deer have over-browsed their natural winter foods such as hardwood trees.” He also says there’s nothing left to eat. Not to be just contradictory, but, if this is true doesn’t this mean three things? One, that if there wasn’t supplemental feeding, deer will starve to death. Two, deer must have grown so much in numbers they have exceeded carrying capacity, and three, deer are eating their “natural food” despite feeding programs. If this is the case then why hasn’t MDIFW begun issuing “Any-Deer Permits” to reduce the size of the deer herd. We are told that the population has been “swelling” for at least five years (and it must be longer because Northern Maine hasn’t had a severe winter in 10 years and we know that, when convenient, severe winters are the biggest killers of deer.) So what’s taking so long to get those Any-Deer Permits passed out? Surely it would be much better for everyone if the deer were legally harvested by hunters, and for food to hungry people, than to simply let them starve to death while MDIFW continues to promote the stoppage of supplemental feeding.

Or isn’t this just about injecting some more emotional clap-trap into the media to discourage them to stop feeding deer?

But most bizarre of all in this article involves the comment apparently intended to address disease…or something.

To be forthcoming, there is a threat to the spread of disease, when any disease is present and when there are large concentrations of deer. MDIFW has always stated deer feeding programs as being potentially problematic in the spread of some diseases.

However, I have tried to get my wee small brain wrapped around the very last statement at the end of the article.

“Eventually, those deer are going to share diseases, ticks, everything else. The gene pools are going to get shallower. They’re not going to be able to get their own food.”

I could spend hours guessing what any of this might mean. “Eventually” we have no idea what is going to take place. If you believe the lies about Climate Change, then you might also believe that there might be more deer in the north and fewer moose, Canada lynx, etc. Historically speaking, there has never been an overwhelming number of deer in the North Woods of Maine. Experts love to be like echo chambers and when it’s convenient, tell us how northern Maine is at the northern fringe of the whitetail deer’s range. They also like to tell us, when it’s convenient, that severe winters keep the population down. If it’s convenient, as appears in this case here, the population has “swelled” and it’s because people are feeding deer AND the winters are mild – convenient truths.

So what’s to believe?

I’m completely at sea about the comment about gene pools. I’ve done a fair amount of writing and research about gene pools in deer and I haven’t run across the term that a gene pool will get “shallower.”

Maybe we’re all gonna die!!

I’m not sure, but I’m guessing the “expert” knows nothing about gene pools but it makes for good copy, as I have seen many places before.

MDIFW hates it when people feed deer. I understand their position and their reasons given. I can’t say that I agree completely with their reasoning about it. I think it has become exceedingly clear the MDIFW and the State of Maine would have a difficult time trying to stop it. The upside to deer feeding is the sense of ownership that many people take concerning their local deer herds. A lot can be said about that.

Has anyone done a study to determine how much supplemental feeding is taking place and how many deer that involves? This might tell us what percentage of the overall population of deer is being affected and whether or not any of this hubbub is worth being that concerned about. Just asking.

I recall many years ago emailing with Maine’s head deer biologist about feeding programs. I don’t have the exact quote but essentially he said (at that time) the number of deer affected by feeding was so small percentage-wise, that it wasn’t worth making a fuss over. What, if anything, has changed since then?

It sounds like, from what I read in this article, that efforts are underway to move deer feeding locations away from highways or to places that don’t cause deer to have to cross busy highways to get to them. This is positive.

Maine is fortunate that is doesn’t have diseases like Chronic Wasting Disease to deal with. If and when that time comes, deer feeding stations will have to either become illegal or designed in such a way as to limit the threat of diseases spreading. However, in those states that do have CWD, efforts to ban feeding has shown little change in the presence or spread of the disease.

I guess I’ll leave the “shallower gene pools” for another discussion.


Maine Big Bucks and Estimated 2017 Deer Harvest

As has been the case over the past several years, we wait until nobody cares anymore about the last hunting season’s deer harvest data. In the meantime, my team waits for the Big Bucks Report that is put out by the Maine Sportsman magazine, then goes to work counting and plotting graphs. From the number of registered “big bucks,” an estimate is generated as to what the final count will be for that year’s deer harvest. While not accurate, the estimations haven’t been very far off, proof of our excellent work.

Below are two charts. The first, which probably looks familiar to those regular readers here, is the ongoing chart that shows the deer harvest year, the total harvest and an array of numbers, percentages, and departures from a base year. As is always done when I publish this chart, the last, or in this case 2017 “Deer Kill” is an estimation based on previous years’ calculations. When the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) decides to release the deer harvest data (typically we will not see this until early summer), I will update this chart with the official “Deer Kill” and republish that for readers.

The second chart/graph shows the number of registered Big Bucks with the Maine Sportsman magazine since the year 2000. To be honest, I’m not sure what, if any, real conclusions can be made from this information because there are certain variables that change that may affect the results. For example, what determines how many people decide to register their “Big Bucks” with the Maine Sportsman? I doubt those numbers vary a lot from year to year, but over several years as the demographics of the hunting community changes from year to year, so too it may change the results of the number of big bucks registered.

I was a bit dismayed after having read an editorial in the Maine Sportsman where the editors presented a bright and optimistic overview of Maine’s deer population, the percentage of big bucks, and the future outlook for deer hunting and deer management. The magazine provided their own creative graph of big bucks, but only for the past six years – certainly not long enough where any honest estimations, conclusions, or trends could be generated.

As you will see, our charts go back to the year 2000. Eighteen years of Maine Sportsman Magazine’s registered Big Bucks are plotted. When comparing eighteen years against 6 years, a deer hunter might not be so thrilled about the trend that appears before them.

Reminding readers that this information and chart is not necessarily a scientific one, I have generally concluded that the number of big bucks basically follows the trend in the overall deer population. If this is accurate, this could be taken as a compliment to the MDIFW having been able to accomplish a healthy maintenance of buck to doe ratios and age structure. This is a good thing.

However, to state that “more hunters took trophy deer each successive year since 2014” may be accurate but perhaps a bit misleading.

An examination of the eighteen-year graph shows that the Maine deer population shrank and remains that way. The deer harvest has plummeted from a high of 38,153 in 2002, to a low of 18,045 in 2009. Since 2009, the deer harvest has averaged around 21,000 – nothing to get too excited about.

Reports have been thrown around about mild winters and more deer, but to those who get around, it is clear that such conditions only exist in certain areas.

While only looking at the last two years, the number of reported Big Bucks is nearly identical, hinting that the deer population throughout the entire state has remained static.

I do not look for any changes in deer management. All that might change as far as deer herd and harvest will be the result of variables in which we have no control over. As long as there remains too many moose, too many black bears, too many coyote/wolf hybrids, too many bobcats, and too many Canada lynx, the struggle to grow a deer herd will persist. Maine hunters should get used to how things are now, while expecting up and down swings of hunting success.


And Maine’s 2017 Deer Harvest Total Is………?

Awe shucks! Maine is the last New England state to let people know anything about the deer harvest for 2017.

Maybe that new guy they hired to be the new head deer biologist doesn’t know how to count either. Question: How many piping plovers does it take to screw in a light bulb?


Difficult to Share Buck Harvest Data If It’s Not Available

I was reading an article this morning that included tips on booking a guided deer hunt in Maine. I would suppose that the same tips might be applied to any state that offers guided deer hunts. One of the tips suggests that you talk with possible future guides to find out about deer size, quantity, and quality along with success rates.

I have no real issue with guides. They have a necessary role to fill. What I have an issue with is when guides dictate to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) what they want and get it. Sometimes those demands appear to be to the detriment of other hunters and hunting opportunities. I don’t like that. You shouldn’t either. The same goes for outfitters. I don’t begrudge their businesses but I do when privilege is given to guides and outfitters cutting short opportunities for the regular “Joe” licensed hunter.

It seems a bit odd then, that given that MDIFW often goes out of their way to cater to the whims of guides and outfitters, that a registered Maine guide would tell his readers and prospective clients that to get harvest data, including deer size, quantity, and quality to go to Quality Deer Management to find out. Why not to the MDIFW website? Or, for that matter, the Maine Guides website?

As most readers know, I’m not a huge fan of Quality Deer Management, mostly because of what they promote, but that’s really beside the point of this discussion. Why do interested prospective deer hunters have to go someplace other than the MDIFW or the Maine Guides to get harvest data to look at before deciding whether they want to hire a guide and deer hunt in Maine?

It would seem that if MDIFW is really looking out for their “buds,” the guides and outfitters, they would do a better job of providing deer harvest data to them and the rest of us. If, as one Maine guide points out, it is an important precursor to booking a guided hunt, this information would be readily available. Maybe it is and is already given preferentially to guides and withheld from the rest of the public. Perhaps MDIFW doesn’t really give a damn.

Other outdoor writers have shared their disappointments that Maine doesn’t do enough to promote Maine as a destination deer hunting state. If this is true, putting harvest data on their website one year after a game hunting season, substantiates such claims. It is also an odd way of helping out the situation of selling licenses and keeping the guides and outfitters operating in the black.

Doesn’t it send a wrong message to the prospect searching for a good place to go deer hunting, that they are recommended to a lopsided, trophy hunt pushing entity for data on Maine hunting? Maybe MDIFW is happy with that. Perhaps the Office of Tourism is not? What about the Governor’s Office?

From my perspective, I would prefer to look at the hard data on Maine deer hunting than get someone else’s interpretation of that data. But that’s me. Maybe it would be a good idea to place on the MDIFW website good helpful deer, bear, moose, turkey, and grouse information that might convince someone to come and hunt Maine. Maybe they don’t have any such information. Maybe they don’t care. Or, perhaps they don’t really want the hunting.

The advice and tips given are probably good, although I’ve never employed a guiding service and more than likely never will. However, at the rate Maine is going, before hunting ends completely, and it will, hiring a guide may be the only way a person will be able to hunt. Then, none of this will really matter.


Perhaps Maine DIFW Should Take a More Proactive Approach to Feeding Deer

I was reading an article this morning about how residents in the northern town of Allagash are, once again, feeding hungry deer. Included in that article are all the reasons why the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) discourages feeding deer. Those who feed the deer give their reasons why they do.

Reasons for not feeding the deer, according to MDIFW are: Deer congregate near roads and get run over; deer might suffer from enterotoxemia, the inability to digest the grains they are fed properly; some deer getting more food than others. We have always heard about the possibility of better spreading of disease. As the saying goes, if you don’t want to do something one excuse is as good as another.

According to the report, those who do feed the deer say they wouldn’t do it because the deer move into town in winter because they are hungry and there are no more deer yards where deer traditionally have spent their winters. I’m not sure which came first here; the deer coming to town looking for food or the deer coming to town because they have learned there is food there. According to one who feeds deer, he claims the deer came first because they were hungry.

MDIFW has always pulled up short of making a law prohibiting deer feeding, perhaps partly or mostly because they know the outcry they would get from a lot of people. They have tried to stop it in the past but have run into great opposition. Besides, even if they did pass a law, could they enforce it?

If MDIFW is so smart, maybe they could seek the cooperation of the people and devise a better way to deal with hungry deer. I have maintained for some time, mostly due to my experiences in the woods during winter, that deer are adjusting to changes in their habits. Instead of congregating in large deer yards, they are staying split up in smaller groups, in smaller “yards” which happen to be nearer human population centers because there is less pressure from predators nearer people. Perhaps this phenomenon is what is driving people to think the deer are coming out because they are hungry.

If MDIFW is so smart and they repeatedly tell us about their Winter Severity Index, why not devise an algorithm that tells all of us when deer might begin dying due to a severe winter, which would include the inability to find food. Once that threshold is reached, strategic feeding can commence.

If MDIFW is so smart, they could work with the people and hunters to implement a tax on licenses that would help cover the cost of purchasing the right kind of food.

If MDIFW is so smart, instead of complaining that some people might be giving deer the wrong food, they could make sure the food being used is the kind least likely to harm the deer.

If MDIFW is so smart, they could work with the people to find places where deer feed can be stored, spread out geographically so if and when the time comes to begin deer feeding, the feed is already nearby. In similar programs in other parts of the country, it was discovered the citizens had lots of space to store or stockpile deer feed and were more than eager to share the space.

If MDIFW is so smart, they could work with the same people and recruit new volunteers to undertake the feeding of deer during severe winters. It is would be amazing to discover the cooperation and sharing of time and equipment to do it.

Is this the perfect cure? Of course not, but when you consider the excuses MDIFW uses to encourage people not to feed deer, this action would mitigate the problems.

This kind of a program has been tried in other places before and it has seen its problems. Most of those problems have come from uncooperative employees of the state fish and game department. There’s also been problems with using the designated tax money for food, storage and distribution for other programs. It would have to be a joint effort to ensure that food is being stored properly, in amounts that will work well, and distributed geographically to well-planned strategic locations.

If such a program was implemented properly, volunteers would eagerly jump in to help with the work, not placing burdens of extra manpower on MDIFW. Their role would be administering the taxation and ensuring the right deer food is being bought and stored. Once the feeding program was established, carrying it out would be less of a giant task.

Depending upon shelf life of the feed, I’m sure there are ways to use the food that needs recycling, due to lack of use, where the feed will not go to waste and it will benefit somebody.



Deer Management is Such a Tough Job…So What!

In a recent column I published on this website about Maine secretly hiring a new head deer biologist, I finished that piece by saying, “The echo chamber and all their minions will just continue to parrot that MDIFW does such a wonderful job. Perhaps they do but surely there is a lot of room for improvement. Is that taboo with this new scientism-laced wildlife management we are in the midst of?”

Perhaps it’s my imagination or maybe I just am determined to be tough on fish and game departments, but it appears to me that too often fish and game departments are not only given a free pass for poor results but some go out of their way to enable their failings and will make excuses for them.

Why are some so eager to pass off failures in game management as the result of a “tough job?”

Immediately after I published the above linked-to article, I read how biologists at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) “have an extremely tough job regulating Maine’s Deer Population.” The posting was replete with all the usual suspects of excuses; winters, weather, vehicle collisions, starvation, predation, and poaching. If the owner of this writing was finding excuses for poor deer management, he should have included “Climate Change” as it provides the convenient escape for any failure.

In another article I read this morning, deer managers have a “thankless job.” The piece ends with the following statement: “I believe, for the most part, our biologists do a commendable job when it comes to managing wildlife resources. But it’s a difficult and sometimes thankless task, given financial and logistical constraints, the bureaucracy they must wade through, and pressure from supervisors, legislators, lobbyists and special interest groups. Even within the hunting community, there’s sometimes disagreement over how to best manage our deer herd. It’s a balancing act, and the more time and energy biologists must devote to managing people, the less they can direct toward our wildlife resources.”

Does this mean we should all shut up and let the deer managers do as they wish regardless of the outcome? I hope not. I understand the statement. I understand that managing deer (or any other game species) is an “extremely tough job,” and that this job, at times, can be thankless. But what job can’t? Is there something wrong with expecting a better return on your investment? Would you settle for unsatisfactory results from your doctor, lawyer, banker, or school? I think not.

One is entitled to their opinion as to whether any game management establishment does a “commendable job.” That opinion is of one’s value-weighted perspective. I’m sure that even though a person may believe a fish and game department does a “commendable job” there must be room for improvement, and shouldn’t we expect it and even demand it?

If you visited your doctor, who had been treating you for a chest cold for weeks on end, only to discover later you actually suffered from lung cancer, would you just say, “The doctor has a tough and thankless job, full of financial restrictions, political influences and a vocal public that expects too much. Give him a break. Just let him do his job.”

Your banker or stockbroker has a tough and thankless job. If you lost your money, would you expect and demand a better job? Do you think bankers, lawyers, stockbrokers, doctors, teachers, etc. don’t have pressure and regulation all around them making their jobs thankless and tough? They all have to work with the cards they are dealt, sometimes those cards being far less than ideal, and yet don’t we expect that doctors will keep us healthy, lawyers out of trouble, teachers to educate our children, etc.?

There’s nothing wrong with thanking and complimenting those who do jobs that directly and indirectly affect parts of our lives. We don’t have to exclaim their tough and thankless jobs and not still demand a better performance.

Greatness is not grounded on the principle that doing an adequate job is enough. Greatness in an individual or an establishment is the expectation that everything must be the best that it can be, exceeding all expectations, in everything that is done. Settling for mediocrity is accepting failure and what is the future in that?


Deer Poaching is a Problem – So Is Misleading Information

A well-respected Maine outdoor writer, whose column I read just about every week, published a column this week about poaching. Before I write any further I want to clarify that I do not condone poaching or unethical hunting – unethical meaning not following the laws governing the sport.

However, there are a couple issues I have with the writer’s information, not that these are big deals and I certainly do not want to distract from the important point of the cost of poaching and all the implications.

The article states that Maine’s deer population is estimated at 300,000, “give or take.” Is that pre or post-harvest? Maine hasn’t had a deer population near 300,000 for many, many years. Perhaps the real estimate is closer to 200,000 than 300,000 and that’s a problem.

As the author explains how “poaching” destroys deer numbers and robs legal hunters of prized opportunities to hunt, the line gets a bit muddled between the number of deer killed due to the poaching where people kill deer anytime and any place and do not legally tag that deer and the unlawful and unethical practices used and the deer are actually tagged.

You can’t count these numbers twice if you’re trying to calculate how many deer are killed by “poaching.” Does one wonder how many tagged deer were taken by strictly abiding by the rules and regulations that govern the sport and which ones were taken by “cheating?” We’ll never know. One also must wonder just how many deer are taken in a distinct criminal fashion in which the perpetrators have no regard for the law and thus never tag or report their kills?

As far as counting deer and calculating success rates, tagged deer by “cheating” cannot also be counted as poached deer.

Which brings us to the last thing I want to mention. The writer states, “Average success rates for Maine deer hunters run about 10 percent – abysmal when compared to the national level. Somehow we’ve gotten used to it. But consider that number could nearly double in the absence of poaching.”

I’m a bit puzzled by this statement but it sounds good. In an ideal situation where ALL poaching, even those sneaky things hunters do to increase their success rates, was ended, what would the harvest and success rate look like? If the success rate doubled, would the harvest double? If half the licensed hunters didn’t cheat anymore, would their success rate be cut in half while the honest hunters would double?

I don’t know. What I do know is that as the deer herd dwindles, for whatever the reasons, I am tired of spending the time trudging through the woods staring down a 10% chance of taking a deer. I’m hungry.

Because you can’t measure “poaching” to any degree, I wouldn’t suppose you could measure changes in the success rate to any degree. The author writes that a 10% deer harvest success rate is “abysmal when compared to the national level.” Why is it abysmal in comparison? Is it because there is that much more “poaching” going on or is it because a deer herd numbering around 200,000, the most of which are concentrated in high human population areas where hunting is heavily restricted, and 200,000 licensed hunters means the hunting sucks? Under these conditions, one might have to say that if the licensed and legitimate hunter didn’t “cheat” now and again, that 10% success rate might drop to 5%.

But doesn’t the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) kind of have a “fudge factor” for this sort of thing? Perhaps they don’t know precisely how many licensed hunters are doing things to press the envelope of rules and regulations but the harvest is the harvest and that is the number they use in their calculations, knowing full well there is little they can do to stop this kind of “poaching.”

Total deer mortality and fawn recruitment are the major factors in determining deer populations. When total mortality gets too high and/or recruitment too low, deer hunting is in serious trouble. To stop poaching would help but I have serious reservations that my success rate would double.

Having talked about all of this, I wonder how much any of us would be even taking the time to write about such problems if there were simply ample deer (like there used to be) to go around. I also wonder if “poaching” goes up proportionately as the deer herd perpetually shrinks?


Coal (No Deer) in Your Stocking