August 23, 2019

Proposed Deer Hunting Bills for Maine

Deer hunting bill proposals are making there way before the Legislative Joint Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Here’s a look at some, with links for you to view the text of the bills, and some comments that I may have.

LD175 – An Act to Extend the Deer Hunting Season by 2 Saturdays.

In my opinion this is not a good idea. Let me explain my position.

As I understand the bill, the intent here is to give rifle deer hunters 2 extra Saturdays to hunt. These two Saturdays would run the following two Saturdays after the last Saturday of hunting in November. This usually occurs right after Thanksgiving.

It should be noted that the two weeks following the regular firearms season is muzzleloader season. These 2 extra Saturdays being sought coincide with the muzzleloader season.

I am not a very big proponent of the muzzleloader season falling when it does. It is my opinion that running any deer hunting season that late into the season puts an added stress on the deer which are either on their way to winter yard up or are already there.

Adult male deer have undergone a great physical strain through their rutting season. They have eaten little, have lost a lot of weight and stored fat. Further stressing the animal puts it at greater risk of survival during the winter months.

Adding 2 Saturdays of rifle hunters in the woods stressing further the deer population could cause serious damage to the deer herd, of course, depending on what Wildlife Management District (WMD) we are talking about. Certain WMDs would be not under the strains of winter during that time while others, like this past season, deer would already be yarded up. Perhaps changes to this bill might specify WMDs that would not be greatly affected.

It is not that I am opposed to offering hunters extra opportunities. My concern is for the deer herd. When examining hunter opportunities, it must be considered whether the deer herd can withstand the extra strain and the resulting reduction in the herd.

LD188 – An Act To Provide for an Expanded Muzzle-loading-only Deer
Hunting Season

This proposed bill will make it mandatory that the Muzzleloader Season on deer be extended for “12 hunting days” following the close of regular firearms season.

There’s a couple of things that need to be explained here. First, the current laws regulating the muzzleloader season give the commissioner authority to close a season if conditions warrant the need.

Second, the commissioner also has authority to set the season dates. The new proposal would mandate 12 hunting days (two calendar weeks) and remove authority from the commissioner to set the dates. It would not take away the authority of the commissioner to close the season if conditions warrant.

There is little that changes here from the current conditions except taking the authority away from the commissioner to set the muzzleloader season dates and makes the season mandatory. As long as the commissioner can still close the season due to detrimental conditions, I see little difference.

Neither for nor against this bill until such time as more evidence is presented.

LD190 – An Act To Provide Antlerless Deer Permits to Senior Resident
Lifetime Hunting License Holders

The intent of this bill is within its title. It is my understanding that there are currently some 36,000 senior hunters. Many are not aware of the fact that the overwhelming majority of “Any-Deer Permits” (ADP) are already predestined to special interest groups. Adding another 36,000 ADPs to the list will effectively use up all the permits. The ADP system is a tool that is used to manipulate the deer populations per WMD. If the total number of ADPs required to be issued exceeds the biological need, then what? In addition, this bill allows for the holder of a senior ADP to use his/her tag anywhere in the state. This runs contrary to the theory behind utilizing ADPs.

Not only would I oppose this bill but I might suggest another bill that would effectively repeal the issuance of most all other special interest groups’ awards of ADPs.

LD265 – An Act To Increase Opportunities for Hunters, Anglers and
Sporting Camps by Extending the Seasons on Upland Game

The intent of this bill is to open the season on Upland Game on the last Saturday of September in order to better utilize a Saturday to coincide with fishing season. It is stated that this bill would be perhaps an economic advantage for sporting camps.

I think this bill makes sense and not only assist sporting camps but might provide better opportunities to hunt snowshoe hare, gray squirrels, ring-necked pheasants, ruffed grouse, and bobwhite quail. Provided that such a move doesn’t jeopardize the management goals of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, this bill appears reasonable.

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Advice and Suggestions to the Maine Department of Fish and Wildlife

A reader sent me a copy of the Maine Sportsman, specifically George Smith’s article about his “advise” to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW). After reading it, I thought perhaps I would offer something similar. Sometimes I am accused of being only critical of the MDIFW seldom offering constructive criticism or even suggestions on better or different ways in which to do things.

Smith writes of the need to “unlock that door” that prohibits visitors access to the commissioner of the MDFIW. I understand the concept and how convenient it would be to just “drop in” someday and chat with the commissioner. I would like to think that the real situation playing at the offices of the MDIFW has more to do with security than a want to lock themselves up and separate them from the public. I might be wrong. We do live in a strange time in which most people are always aware and subjected to enhanced security measures.

TURKEYS

George writes about what he would do about turkey management and the role that hunting plays in that management. For the most part I think he brings up some good points, i.e. too many turkeys, too few hunters, and the barrier of license fees that prohibit more people from trying or getting involved in turkey hunting and harvesting a turkey that would aide the MDIFW with their management goals.

Originally, I had thought that Smith’s idea of including turkey hunting as part of a Big Game Hunting License wouldn’t fly because the MDIFW would not be willing to give up that revenue from turkey license fees. Is there a trade-off here? Will somehow opening up the turkey season to reduced cost (and loss of fees to MDIFW) be made up in other ways? Perhaps.

I think that consensus must be reached as to whether there are too many turkeys and how critical it is that turkey populations be reduced. If, more people gained interest in turkey hunting, perhaps down the road, as populations came more in line with management goals, turkey license fees could be levied again. If a reduction in the number of turkeys is urgently needed, and I think if we haven’t gotten there yet we soon will, then the MDIFW must do what is expedient to make the reductions in numbers necessary to be responsible for the healthy management of these game birds.

FISHERIES

Fisheries is far from my strong point and knowledge base. I am not at all that qualified to offer the MDIFW advice on how to specifically manage the fisheries in the State of Maine. How fortunate for some.

MOOSE

Odd isn’t it, in many ways, that some are opposed to the reduction of moose populations to mitigate the winter ticks’ destruction of the moose herd but think nothing about advocating the complete destruction of a herd of deer to get rid of Lyme disease. Perhaps if more evidence pointed a finger at the health risk to humans from the winter tick, mindsets might change.

I have written extensively on Maine’s moose and what I believe to be the need to bring the moose population in Maine to levels that seriously reduce the presence and perpetuation of winter ticks that are inhumanely and unnecessarily causing moose to suffer and die during long and cold winters.

Smith laments about the loss of businesses associated with moose watching now that Mother Nature took over where wildlife management failed. During the heyday of the overgrown moose populations, some scrambled and took advantage, as any good entrepreneur might do, looking for ways to exploit the abundant moose for profit. It might have been fun while it lasted but the lesson that should be learned here might be at what price do we exploit any wildlife animal for lucre? As grown adults we should see that having enough moose around that many got into the business of moose watching tours was but a flash in that pan. Time to move on. We have learned that attempting to grow moose in numbers for capitalistic enterprises is a terrible thing to do to the animal – part of the downside of attempting to manage any species while being driven by social demands.

More recent studies are suggesting what some of us knew a long time ago – that too many moose was the cause of the aggressive expanse of winter ticks resulting in high mortality rates on the large beast.

The MDIFW should move quickly to determine at what population Maine’s moose will be most healthy while still providing opportunities for Maine residents to harvest a moose and fill their freezers.

I suggest that the MDIFW, once establishing moose populations, based on sound science and not social demands, issue enough permits or a long enough season to bring the population under a control that reduces the tick infestation. Once that is accomplished, permit for the future can be issued accordingly. Letting Mother Nature do the job is not only irresponsible but is a waste of a terrific natural resource.

DEER

Smith tells readers that the MDIFW stopped managing deer in northern Maine and only “manages” moose. I don’t know if this is actually an official position taken by the MDIFW, but it appears there is at least quite a bit of evidence to support that statement.

Smith claims that because Maine failed to protect winter habitat in Northern and Western Maine, the deer herd “was lost.” I concur the deer herd was lost but I think it had other influences than just a loss of habitat. A lot of things have changed over the years, one thing being the behavior of the deer. While deer are learning how to adapt to that loss of winter habitat, we humans remain locked in our unadaptable behavior of insisting on things being the way they were when our fathers hunted the whitetails.

Each time I have listened to the worn out excuse that deer have disappeared because of loss of winter habitat, I have always asked why, if that is true, thousands of acres of old winter habitat, still in winter habitat condition, is void of deer? Never an answer.

Loss of winter habitat in the classical sense, can and does have an effect on the deer population. Attempting to somehow “manage” deer to return to unwanted winter habitat, is an example of managers failing to learn and adjust to changes of the deer population and their habits. When we see this failure, one can’t help but wonder how much we can rely on the deer managers “estimate” of deer populations and other management shortcomings.

We failed to learn quickly enough that attempting to manage moose populations at high enough levels that tourism benefitted, the moose herd suffered terribly due to exposure and anemia from blood sucking winter ticks. Deer populations are suffering but perhaps in different ways because the ecosystem in which they have traditionally comfortably inhabited have and are changing. The deer are adapting as best they can but our management tactics are not. Evidently the preference is to give up.

Too many moose compete with deer. Too many large predators kill deer and fawns and this is challenging the stability of the deer population and in some places we are witnessing the unsustainability of a deer herd. Are we to just blame it on loss of winter habitat and Climate Change or should we be responsible stewards of our wild game animals?

If we are to mitigate the cause for the lack of deer in portions of Northern and Western Maine, isn’t the responsible thing to do is to reduce the bear and coyote populations to give the deer a chance? If we simply stop deer management because loss of habitat and Climate Change is the excuse, what then can we expect of all of our game and wildlife species going forward?

Managers have a responsibility to care for all of these game species. Giving up on one species in certain areas, tells me that there is lack of knowledge and poor management skills involved. The epitome of wildlife management failures is giving in to some man’s fictitious notion that the globe is warming and the northern border of the whitetail deer’s habitat is moving south, while our neighbors to the north continue to work at managing their deer. If Climate Change is causing such chaos that is forcing the destruction of habitat for deer, then it makes sense that other more northern species are migrating south according to the changes. Is this happening? No. A warming climate, as claimed, should be reducing the affects of severe winters. Is that happening? No.

There’s little more that managers can do to stop the perceived reduction of winter habit and deer habitat in general short of demanding more totalitarian tactics to take property and property rights away from people and corporations. It’s easy, from afar, to stand in judgement over landowners, demanding they relinquish their rights as property owners in order to enhance the habitat of any wild animal. The tough part to deer management is maximizing what is left and working in earnest to make the best of what we have. Even if deer densities in Northern and Western Maine aren’t at ideal levels, is that reason enough to simply walk away and say, we tried?

There is no need to kill off all the coyotes/wolves in Maine or reduce bear populations to levels that give us more deer than are needed to balance a very valuable resource. All that is stopping this effort is the MDIFW’s insistence on caving to social demands. I suppose to them in the short term it is easier to cave in than to stand up to those demands supported by strong scientific evidence. And that may be the actual problem. Does the MDIFW have or want the strong scientific evidence?

BEAR

The MDIFW has a very good bear study program. Some claim that program is the envy of all other fish and wildlife departments. Only radical animal rights groups or individuals would argue that there are too many bear. The MDIFW publicly admits they need to reduce the bear population, but so far, have done little to solve that problem. Perhaps they are moving at a speed that only politics and social demands allow them. Time for change.

Having too many bears presents several problems – public safety and a disruption of population goals of other species such as deer and moose. Fortunately, bear hibernate, otherwise God only knows what kind of destruction they would wreak on weakened deer in deer wintering areas.

Some studies suggest that the presence of bear has more negative impact on deer than do coyotes/wolves. Maybe the current studies that the MDIFW are conducting on moose and deer will help us gain better understanding on this concept.

Regardless, it appears Maine must reduce bear populations. But how? One problem that jumps out immediately is the power of the guides and outfitters placing demands on the MDIFW to manage bears according to their wishes that would best maximize their business profits. While it is understandable that this is important to the private enterprises, should the MDIFW continue to allow increased public safety concerns and actual reductions in deer populations, and perhaps even moose, simply to appease these groups? Of course not, but when will the MDIFW move to do anything about it? Perhaps the time is now.

Like with turkey hunting, Maine needs to find easier and less expensive ways to encourage more hunters to take up the challenge. Hunters that have little interest in bear hunting might change their mind if hunting bear were part of a Big Game License all the time during open season on bear.

Bag limits should be raised. The late summer bear hunt should have a minimum of a two-bear limit – perhaps three in some areas. If that doesn’t do the trick, then a Spring bear hunt may be necessary. Regulations can be employed to mitigate the killing of cubs as has been proven in other places that have Spring bear hunts.

The MIDFW has done a respectable job of working to ward off the radical animal rights groups bent on closing down bear hunting. They should increase and improve this effort to include everything they do with wildlife management. Two bear referendums have proven that maintaining a passive posture and making management decisions based on social demands is not only irresponsible, but ridiculous, almost childish. If wildlife managers and their administration don’t have or believe the science necessary to responsibly managed their wildlife, they should be out of a job. There should be little room given to social demands when it comes to scientifically managing game.

OPERATIONS

There are certain aspects of running a fish and game department that should be within the control of the commissioner, who, of course, answers to the governor. Open and closed seasons should be within the control of the commissioner. That person, along with the managers and biologists in the department, are the ones who should know what is going on and what is needed, not the Humane Society of the United States, other animal rights groups, or even the Legislature. Such social and political powers spoil any scientific approach at wildlife management. It may take an act of the Legislature to effect such changes.

We live in a time where these powerful animal rights and environmentalists have gained control over our factories of higher indoctrination. The result of this is now showing up in our fish and game departments where the concerns are more about the “rights” of animals and away from a consumptive, use of a natural resources approach to wildlife management.

Scientifically, it has been proven that the North American Model of Wildlife Management works. Those opposed to this form of wildlife management know this and have been working tireless to “change the way wildlife management is discussed.” Along with this has come the social demands to place equal rights and protections on animals as are given to humans.

Outdoor advocates, hunters, trappers, fishermen, as well as all those who understand and believe in the necessity of consumptive use to best manage and control wildlife, should demand that the commissioner be more selective and demanding of those that are hired as biologists and wildlife managers. Candidates should be screened as to their idealism and positions on animal rights and hunting, fishing, and trapping. To responsibly utilize hunting and fishing as part of the overall plans for wildlife management, cannot have room for animal rights advocates or those opposed to this system.

Some have called for money from general taxation to support the MDIFW. It is my opinion this would be a very big mistake. First of all, before any MORE money is dumped in the lap of this department, a complete audit should be undertaken so that all will know exactly what every penny is spent on and where every penny comes from to run the department. If more money is needed, then that has to come from fee increases and not from general taxation. Here’s why.

With money sent to the MDIFW from general taxation, along with it will be demands from the general taxpayer for bigger representation. This opens the door even further for more infiltration by environmentalists who want to “change the way we discuss wildlife management.”

We have seen this already. Where once the MDIFW used to be the department of fish and game, other states have gotten rid of their fish and game names completely, replaced with departments of natural resources.

With a weakening of the managerial understanding and knowledge of how wildlife management should run, further expedites the dreaded end to responsible wildlife management, replaced by VooDoo Science and Romance Biology.

The only way the MDIFW can survive as a bonafide fish and game department is if it remains out of the control of Environmentalism.

The MDIFW does many things well. Some things they have little control over. Certainly there is room for improvement and if others, like me, realize that if we don’t do something to change those things that are sending us in the wrong direction and away from the North American Model of Wildlife Management, the good that we enjoy now will soon be lost. Let’s not let that happen.

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Maine: Crossbow Hunting – To Be Or Not To Be

Maine, once again, is being presented with a bill that would allow the use of crossbows during the regular archery season for deer. Those opposed see this as a means to kill more deer that would in turn take away hunting opportunities for hunting. Those in favor see it as the opposite.

We should toss out mostly what the Maine Guides have to say because their only position on any issue concerning hunting is all about themselves. Such is understandable…to a point, but come on…

Nobody has presented a reason why prohibiting a crossbow during archery season on deer other than for selfish reasons. I ask, is that legitimate?

If we were to take on that attitude, where would we stop. I remember when someone suggested a “primitive” muzzleloader season. That soon became not so primitive a sport so that today a “muzzleloader” is not much different than a single-shot regular firearm. Where’s the beef? Didn’t this elevation of muzzleloader take away somebody else’s hunting opportunity?

One group says that allowing crossbows will result in killing off all the deer before the rifle hunters have a chance. Are there that many crossbow hunters that they would actually force a close of the season early because the deer are all gone? We may be looking at a shorter deer hunting season but not because of crossbows. Where’s the beef?

Maybe we should ban ice fishing because ice fishermen are taking all the fish so fly rodders are left with no fish to catch?

So, do rifle hunters hold the privilege to lay out the who, what, and with what you can hunt because there are more of them?

I need something more to go on other than one group is trying to protect their own selfish interests. If I discover that there are no deer left (I think in many places that’s the case anyway) and the only chance I have to get a deer is to take up crossbow hunting, or archery, then sign me up.

How about an open season deer in July hunting with an atlatl?

I just am not the kind of person that feels justified in dictating to all others how and by what means they can hunt. Give me a good and sound biological reason, or public safety concern and I’m on board. Whine about your own shortcomings of selfishness and you get no support from me.

Sorry!

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Maine 2018 Deer Harvest And Other Data

It does seem a bit odd to be able to put together a deer harvest chart this early in the season. Thanks to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) for putting to use a new digital tagging system that, if nothing else, gives us hunters a fresh-in-our-minds look at the recent passed deer hunting season.

Below is the chart compiled by the best damned statistician Maine has. The most recent deer hunting season ended with a total deer harvest of 32,438. As has been stated, this total is a bit of an unexpected increase not totally because MDIFW decided to flood the market with a record number of “Any-Deer Permits” (ADP). Let’s hope the MDIFW will provide us with some data on whether the issuance of ADPs brought them closer to the number of female deer killed needed to meet goals.

In addition to the record ADPs issued, much of Maine saw ample snow to hunt on which always brings harvest numbers higher. It should be stated that it appears in a few areas of Central and Southern Maine deer populations are considerably higher than Western, Northern and Eastern Maine. Those areas are still experiencing low deer populations and thus deer harvests.

Looking at the numbers provided, there are a couple items that should be looked at. The number of big bucks (200 pounds or more and those registered with the Maine Sportsman’s Magazine) killed this past season was 559. What that means is that as a percentage of the total deer harvest, big bucks attributed to 1.72%. That figure tells us that the percentage of big bucks making up the harvest remains lower than the percentages from the years 2000 – 2004. The chart shows us that in comparison to the year 2000, big bucks killed was but 72% – i.e. 28% lower.

Looking at these numbers over an extended period of time is telling us that whatever MDIFW is doing in their deer management practices, fewer big bucks, as a percentage of the population, are being taken. Logic should tell us this equates to fewer big bucks in the overall population…sort of. There are other demographics that should be considered before any concrete conclusions can be made. However, the trend has continued for so long now, it appears that Maine is not making any effort to change this aspect of the deer herd.

Below is a photo from the Maine Sportsman of the biggest of the Big Bucks that were registered, weighing in at 300 lbs.

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When Deer Management Seems Stupid

According to an article published at the Bangor Daily News website, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) are in the fifth year of a deer collaring study. Most of us know that MDIFW has been extremely secretive about the study and any results they have received and collected from this effort.

The article states the following: “At this point, Bieber is still in the data-gathering phase of the study, which has been aided by the cooperation of the University of Maine, the University of New Brunswick, J.D. Irving Ltd., the Passamaquoddy Nation and the Quality Deer Management Association.

He looks forward to a time when the department can use the data that is being collected to formulate management decisions. To date, the data that has been gathered in the GPS study has not been utilized in management efforts.

“Every year when we allocate for [any-deer] permits, we do make adjustments based on winter severity. It’ll be nice to be able to look back on what we’ve done in the past and see if those decisions were sound. And if not, we’ll be able to adjust according to the data that we have now,” Bieber said.”

Does this make much of sense? Why would the gathering of data for at least 4 years be disregarded in any deer management decisions? The last paragraph says that when the MDIFW allocates “Any-Deer Permits” (ADP) they make adjustments based on “winter severity.” And yet this study is mostly aimed at determining the affects of winter severity as well as other mortality causes.

This past deer hunting season, the state allocated a record number of ADPs, and now we are learning the decision to do so was NOT based at all on any data obtained over the past 4 years from their study on the effects of winter severity? Why does that not make much sense at all?

For those who spend a great deal of time studying and following such things as deer management, it’s easy to determine that management decisions made at the department level run a minimum of three years behind actual events taking place on the ground. This effort not only substantiates that claim but extends that fault out to at least five years. Isn’t that one of the biggest problems with game management? Of course it is. And yet, the MDIFW has at least four years of winter severity data on whitetail deer and according to Maine’s head deer biologist, none of that data is being used and was not used in deciding to allot a record number of ADPs for last deer hunting season.

We live in an era of instant information availability. How many decades has it taken the MDIFW to take advantage of this reality to finally put together a digital, online tagging system that gives managers instant data? And now, managers are receiving real time data from their collaring study and for at least four years are not using the data. How many decades will it take at the conclusion of this study before any of that data will be implemented into management decisions?

Perhaps all of the decisions made for managing deer are based solely on social demands with no consideration for scientific data. If so, why doesn’t MDIFW stop wasting their time and our money with senseless “studies?”

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Former Maine Deer Biologist Gerry Lavigne Questions Next Year’s Deer Hunting Opportunities

At the end of November past (2018) I reported on the Maine deer harvest. Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) officials seemed eager to announce a big increase in the deer harvest attributing most of the increase to a record number of “Any-Deer Permits” issued in parts of Central and Southern Maine.

In my report I made the following statements: “There’s a problem with issuing record numbers of ADPs, even if the majority of those ADPs are issued for Wildlife Management Districts (WMD) with more deer per square mile than managers desire – and one of those problems is what we have seen this season with hunters being able to hunt on lots of snow (in many places) for extended periods of time (three weeks in most of Western Maine).

“I don’t have any scientific data to support any claim that it seems that it is in those areas with the most snow, falling on the earliest dates, are in those WMDs where deer per square mile is extremely sparse. With early snow in those areas combined with a record number of ADPs, have we harvested too many deer? What will this cost us?”

On November 27, 2018, the MDIFW issued a Press Release announcing the results of deer tagging as compiled by their new digital tagging system. The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM) published that Press Release in their newspaper which also included an “Editor’s Note” from Gerry Lavigne, former head deer biologist for the MDIFW.

Below is the “Editor’s Note”: “The strong finish to the 2018 deer harvest is not without its downsides. Snow accumulation in the western mountains and northern Maine during the latter half of November was sufficient to cause deer to enter their yards a month earlier than normal. Since then, cold temps and subsequent storms have increased the snowpack. This made for a higher success rate during black powder season. Hunters took a LOT of bucks during the final three weeks of hunting, likely many more than would normally be harvested. This could impact buck availability during 2019.

Because yarding occurred a full month earlier than normal in the northern half of the state, deer could be in for a tough winter. If severe yarding conditions prevail, above-average winter losses among bucks and does could negatively impact deer availability in 2019. Let’s hope for a big thaw, and soon!

Gerry Lavigne

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Hipsters Are The New Hunters?

A group of veteran hunters set out last month in a forest northeast of Atlanta with apprentices. Among them, a former vegetarian, a Haitian-born grad student and a farmers-market manager. They wore camouflage and carried crossbows.

They were aiming to kill white-tailed deer.<<<Read More>>>> (Subscription required)

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Please Name The Benefits

When the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife announced earlier this year that their migration to a new digital tagging system, they told in their press release that this move was going to be very beneficial to hunters. I wondered.

The other day I read another outdoor writer make the statement that this new tagging system, if done properly, would “…allow for even more opportunities that benefit recreational hunters, as well.”

Inquiring minds want to know just how this is going to benefit hunters and provide more “opportunities?”

I think I can guess that if this new system was “done properly,” in other words allowed for the growth and sustainability of all game species for ample surplus harvest, it could be a benefit. But really?

Any help would be appreciated. You can add comments below.

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Failure To Distinguish One Form Of Insanity From Another

It’s disgusting! A Missouri man kills deer, takes their heads, and leaves the rest to rot. This is against the law and is a reflection of the insanity that exists in this secular society we have created. This is insane!

On the other hand, as part of this man’s punishment, he is forced to watch the movie Bambi at least once a month while in jail. Now, where exactly does the insanity lie?

If you don’t know or understand this, I’m sorry.

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HURRAH! Maine Provides Deer Harvest Total

For the first time ever, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has provided interested hunters with a pretty close estimate of what the total deer harvest was for 2018. This total includes all the seasons – 32,438. Wonderful.

According to the Bangor Daily News, the majority of the increase in deer harvest happened in Central and Southern Maine where a record number of “Any-Deer Permits” (ADP) were issued, much to the chagrin of many who thought that increase, coming at a time when Maine is struggling to sustain a healthy viable deer population, was unwise. Nothing can be extrapolated from these early numbers as to the effects of a record number of ADPs and the real effect on the deer herds in Central and Southern Maine.

It should be a marvelous thing that hunters and other interested people can, while fresh in their minds, gain a better understanding of what just took place and carry that interest forward to following deer seasons. The way MDIFW has operated in the past by not providing any information on deer harvest has left many hunters with a feeling that MDIFW doesn’t care. Regardless of the reasons MDIFW failed to provide information that would have helped to give hunters a greater sense of ownership and involvement in deer management, hopefully that ancient and closed-mouth approach is history as MDIFW has entered the modern technological world when it comes to tabulating deer harvest.

What I am wondering is if MDIFW will provide the public with more information from these numbers – areas of increased harvest and why. Surely, with a record number of ADPs issued, one should expect the deer harvest would have had an increase. In addition, snow to hunt on for a good portion of the season had to have directly contributed to the increase. Let’s hope the increase harvest happened in those areas that MDIFW claims needed to be reduced and we haven’t further deteriorated a struggling deer herd.

We are all thankful for MDIFW getting this new technology into place. Now let’s keep the ball rolling and continue to improve on this. I have mentioned before that biologists and managers have access to essentially realtime tagging data. It should be with ease that MDIFW can place a page on their website where interested people can log in and view that same realtime data. The more that MDIFW can keep the interest of hunters growing, it will be a win-win for everyone. Let us more easily have access to that information. What’s to hide? 

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