May 22, 2017

Islesboro Residents Concerned Over Lyme Disease, But Not Concerned Enough Evidently

ISLESBORO — Early this decade, concerns over a large deer population – and the spread of Lyme disease from deer ticks – helped to unite residents of Islesboro.

But a special shotgun hunt for three years did little to thin the whitetail herd. And today, the island’s 650 year-rounds residents are divided over how – or even whether – to reduce it.<<<Read More>>>

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Controlling Coyotes Saves Deer

Controlling politicians may save more deer than killing coyotes.

From Outdoors in Maine:

“We can whine and moan that the state needs to do this and that, but it may never happen soon enough due to political reasons,” he said. “We as sportsmen need to keep taking it upon ourselves to do everything we can. Why? We are the effective ones! Keep up the great work.”

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Alphonse Chase: 17-Point Typical Boone & Crockett

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Whitetail Deer: Able to Leap Tall Houses in a Single Bound

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OPINION: MNRF takes the road of junk science to forward their agenda

In my younger years growing up in Sundridge, the moose season fell on every even year and lasted a week. You bought your moose license and shot a MOOSE. There were plenty of moose and trappers harvested wolves and hunters harvested spring bears and laws were based on science and time-proven management practices. During this time the powers that be were the Ontario Lands and Forests, later changed to Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR). Recently renamed Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.  Much has changed over the past two decades within what I once considered Ontario`s flagship ministry, for without our rich resources what does Ontario have to offer?

I have been deeply concerned about the direction this ministry has been travelling for some years now as laws are now being based on emotion and driven by special interest and protectionist lobby groups.<<<Read More>>>

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SAM Will Host Shed Hunter Gathering….However…..

The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, along with the Maine Bowhunters Association, will host what is being called Maine Shed Hunter Get Together. The event is described as being a chance for “shed antler addicts” to bring samplings of their trophies to share with others. It is said to be an “informal” gathering.

However, I believe that it is a good idea to use such a gathering to educate shed hunters and wannabe shed hunters on the proper way to go about doing it with the least negative impact on over-wintering wildlife, in particular deer.

Some states across the nation have been forced to prohibit shed hunting because of the resulting threat from unintended and intended harassment of deer and other wild ungulates. Deer, we know, are often surviving on limited resources of food and energy. The last thing that any deer needs is being harassed by a shed hunter. The timing of when it’s best to hunt antler sheds, can coincide with the same times that deer are most vulnerable.

In visiting some of the website of businesses that offer shed hunting excursions, photos show snowmobiles and ATVs regularly being used to access areas known for finding sheds. While it doesn’t mean that sheds are only found and collected in deer yards, hunters should be made aware that any activity that causes a deer to run to escape, unnecessarily, can contribute to a deer’s death.

It is not my intention to suggest that shed hunting should be necessarily banned, but I would hope that the Fish and Wildlife Department, in conjunction with businesses that are advertising shed hunting excursions, would undertake an educational program designed to limit any and all negative impacts to the animals during the event.

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It’s Always About Habitat: It’s What’s Easiest to See

Several years ago I asked the question that if Maine’s loss of a deer herd was mostly to be blamed on loss of habitat, including so-called “Deer Wintering Areas” (DWA), then why are there many acres of DWAs throughout Maine that are now empty during the winter months or have reduced numbers of deer in them? One would think that if there’s less habitat/DWA that more deer would be crowded into available space.

I’ve never received an honest answer and know that I never will.

It’s much easier to bitch and complain about loss of habitat. Why? People can look out the windows of their climate-controlled SUVs and see trees that have been cut down. That equates to man is a destructive, non caring, greedy SOB and their actions are killing all the animals and plant life.

Of course I am forced to attempt to explain to the emotional, mental midgets, that habitat is vitally important for all living things…that is ALL LIVING THINGS. Last time I checked I was a living thing, although some mornings I wonder.

Realizing also that there are many who don’t understand that good habitat for a yellow warbler isn’t necessarily the same as good habitat for a Canada lynx. In addition, because habitat changes or is changed deliberately by the actions of man, does not necessarily mean some animals and plants die or are in danger of going extinct, as media and environmental groups state for the purpose of playing on our emotions.

In short, wildlife will adapt and in some cases certain species are more readily equipped to adapt than others.

A decade ago I wrote about predator/prey relationships, which included information about which negative influences had the most effect on prey. In other words, it is easy for most people, lacking any knowledge or understanding of facts, to continue their perverse hatred to the existence of man (excluding themselves of course) to say that hunting kills more deer, elk, moose, bear, etc. than any of the other influences. However, that’s not true, as you might discover if you bothered to take the time to learn.

If you take the time to read the article at the above link, you may learn something about those relationships. Along with your learning, you might discover that protecting habitat, believing the act will mitigate prey losses, is not going to achieve what most people think it will.

If it was a fact that loss of habitat was the major factor in the loss of deer in the State of Maine, then we might expect that protecting and or growing that habitat will help. Saying it is and proving that it is are not the same thing.

I applaud those major landowners who have volunteered to work with the fish and game people to come up with ways of protecting deer habitat, including DWAs, but doing so will not grow the deer herd because habitat is not the largest factor in the loss of deer. Understand loss of habitat may be the major contributor in some areas, but statewide it is not the major problem.

According to all the excuses, climate change and severe winters are the two items that kill the most deer. Are they? Climate change be damned. To believe that climate change is killing deer is to believe that deer cannot survive in warmer climates, when the facts are the opposite. So, then, the deer herd should be growing, right? It is also to believe that such effects happen overnight. Why don’t more people ask deer managers why, if climate change is killing our deer, that severe winters are still killing deer?

When deer managers fall heavily on these excuses, toss in the sob story of how loss of habitat is putting management over the edge, why bother to even have a fish and wildlife management department? According to what we hear, nothing about deer management is within their control. We’re all going to die!

Evidently, while all this is going on, we’ve come to be taught that whitetail deer are worthless creatures incapable of adapting to a changing environment. There is hope, however, when one of Maine’s wildlife biologists was caught saying that there is a “new normal” when it comes to understanding deer behavior. Essentially he stated that increased predator pressure, combined with the public’s deer feeding programs, have changed how deer are spending their winters. Could this be the answer I’m looking for as to why many, many acres of traditional DWAs are going unused? It appears perhaps the deer have adapted but the deer managers are many years behind.

Expending effort to protect habitat for deer and other wildlife can be a good thing. Placing all your markers on forcing land owners to protect the king’s deer, will do nothing except anger a lot of landowners.

The “new normal” theory makes good sense. The wild canines in Maine’s woods are a hybrid of coyote, wolf, domestic dog and just about any and all kinds of dogs, wild or domestic. Their numbers are probably the highest they have ever been. Combine this with a very large bear population and it makes sense that deer must adapt or die. One has to wonder what the mortality rate in those DWAs would be minus the coyotes, and what the fawn recruitment would be like minus a couple thousand black bears? Perhaps those “severe” winters wouldn’t be quite so severe on the deer.

Habitat is not everything and it is not THE answer. Get over it. Time to move on.

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Curious Deer Sniffs Hunter’s Pants

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Maine Needs Annual Deer Biologist Award

Presented to the head of the department that faithfully refuses to release deer harvest data never fearing a mistake or revealing data that might cause inciting of anger among the sportsmen. Three cheers!

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Playing With Maine’s Big Bucks…Numbers That Is

I recently wrote an article for a local newspaper in Maine, The Bethel Citizen, about how “Statistics Prove that Statistics Can Prove Anything.” That article didn’t have room for all, or even any, of the graphs and charts I’ve been collecting about Maine’s “Big Bucks,” i.e. those bucks weighing in excess of 200 lbs and those registered with the magazine Maine Sportsman.

If you examine the chart below, you will see in the left column the years 1999 through 2016. Please note that the total deer kill for 2016 is an estimate because the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has not released data as of this writing.

For Big Buck comparisons, focus your attention on the column that shows the % of Big Bucks as to the total deer harvest. This chart might tell us that not only has the number of Big Bucks killed over the past 16 or so years decreased but something worth paying attention to is that the % of Big Bucks to the total harvest has not remained steady. Logic should force us to conclude that if all things are relative and in line with management goals for deer, regardless of the number of deer harvested, the % of Big Bucks should remain virtually the same. It doesn’t.

This next graph, which I found on the Face Book page for Maine Deer Hunters, posted by Troy Frye, gives us a great glimpse at the number of bucks harvested versus the number of “Antlerless” deer for each season, 2000 – 2015. I see an interesting graphic. After the severe winters of 2007/2008, MDIFW cut “Any-Deer Permits” allocation drastically. By doing such, hunters were not able to take the first deer they saw, providing they had a permit that allows harvest of either sex. In other words, an “Any-Deer Permit” does not limit the bearer to shooting only an “antlerless” deer. While during those years, the total deer harvest did drop, the buck harvest didn’t drop by the same percentage as the total harvest.

The percentage of bucks to “antlerless” harvest was considerably higher from the years 2008 through 2015. How does this affect the percentage of Big Buck harvest in comparison with total deer harvest, as shown in the chart above?

That may be a difficult task to answer, however we can see from the above chart that the number of Big Bucks and the percentage of total harvest dropped and essentially has remained low since at least 2008 – none of these numbers remaining consistent.

To provide us with an easier comparison, my techno guru put this graph together for me. I must give credit where credit is due. The basic graph that shows the total number of Big Bucks harvested, from 2000 – 2016 was also posted on the Maine Deer Hunter Face Book page. My techno guru overlaid (in red) the percentage of Big Bucks as compared to total deer harvest. Note: There are some slight differences in numbers used from one source to another. Those differences should not have any measurable influences in determining, or attempting to determine, trends.

The last two charts attempt to make comparisons of the average weights of the top ten heaviest harvested Big Bucks for the years 2006 – 2016. Does anything here jump out at you?

Deer management is a very complex science. While it might be interesting to play around with statistics, with what is presented essentially anyone could make an argument for or against most anything related to deer management. While I, or anyone else, might recognize a possible trend, it is most difficult to make any real firm statements without having at one’s disposal all the data for the years in question due to the many influences that can alter any data from one year to the next.

Having said all that, here’s something that I think should provide information the Maine Legislature, or the MDIFW Committee, or anyone else should consider BEFORE proposing another Sunday Hunting Bill.

The chart, found on Maine Deer Hunter Facebook page, posted by Troy Frye, shows the 2016 Big Buck Harvest and what percentage of that harvest occurred on what day of the week. For example, 31% of the total Big Buck harvest took place on Saturday. That’s because more hunters have that day of the week off from work and take it to hunt.

When you consider that Maine can only sustain a deer herd with a limited total deer harvest, adding Sundays to the hunting season would not necessarily add 3 or 4 weekend days a season to hunt. In short, to maintain a desired and limited deer harvest, the total season would need to be shortened to offset the increased hunter effort.

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