October 23, 2019

Big Buck Tracking School

We did attend the Benoit Brothers Big Buck Tracking School in Allagash last weekend. I am working on a story that is going to take some time to complete and get approved for accuracy.

Below are two pictures Milt Inman took of Lanny Benoit and Lane Benoit sharing some of their secrets with those in attendance. They had a lot to say and you had to pay attention. Sometimes they even said things that pissed a few people off. All in all, I think everyone had a good time.

Lanny Benoit at Big Buck Tracking School in Allagash, Maine

In the above picture, Lanny Benoit explains to a young hunter some of his past experiences as a tracker of big bucks.

Lane Benoit Offers Some Advice

In this photo, Lane Benoit offers some advice about how to recognize a big buck track and decisions he uses to decide whether to follow them or not.

I will bring you small excerpts from the trip and events that took place that will not appear in the feature story at Maine Hunting Today.

Tom Remington


Hunt For Prize Money – With a Tranquilizer Gun?

The World Hunting Association, founded in Michigan by a realtor, announced that it has formed a hunting league that will tour the world to provide competitive hunting for deer and other animals. These competitions will be held on private game ranches that meet specific criteria established by the Safari Club. Hunting will also be done with tranquilizer guns.

The inaugural event will take place in the WHA’s home state of Michigan with a prize of $500,000. The professional hunting league will then travel to different locations to compete.

This is a completely new idea to me and one that I am not sure how I feel for sure at this time. My initial response is not favorable but I would suppose it has its place. Some have said it would be good for local economies, which I think I would have to agree. Others have said it would give hunting a better perspective to those opposed to killing animals for sport. Ummmmm…….I don’t think so! That might be just wishful thinking.

Still other people are all fired up about the prospects and are already asking if it will become a spectator sport and/or a televised event. I can see it now. “Hey, popcorn, peanuts, doe in heat!! Git yer buck lure right here!”

Don’t look for U.S. Hunting Today to be sponsoring any events in the near future.

Tom Remington


In Case You Were Wondering, The Brits Have Anti-Hunting and Animal Rights Groups Too

I don’t suppose it really matters where you go these days there are people who have nothing better to do in their life than make fools of themselves. I write often about the so-called animal rights groups in this country but other countries have them too.

In Britain, Prince Charles is being chastised by the animal rights activists for donating deer hunting trips for four people to the famous Balmoral Estate complete with guides or professional stalkers as they prefer to call them.

The donation came when the Prince was contacted about making some kind of donation to a charity auction to raise money for people suffering from motor neuron disease and breast cancer.

One man from the Advocates for Animals made this brilliant statement (no, he didn’t have a block of cheese on his head either).

“It is great that Prince Charles wants to help this charity, but given the public opinion on blood sports such as deer stalking, we would question whether it is an appropriate way for this charity to raise funds.

“This charity is all about reducing pain and suffering but accepting this gift condones the pain and suffering of wild animals. It is up to them whether they think it is morally acceptable or not to kill something for fun.”

Unfortunately for people who suffer from diseases such as motor neuron disease and breast cancer, they will have to go on suffering because of idiots who care more for the “rights” of animals than suffering patients.

Tom Remington


Wanting It Both Ways

There are areas all across America where too many deer are a problem. I have written many times about these problems and the arguments for and against how to deal with it are getting old.

The first step in dealing with any issue like this is admitting there is a problem. This doesn’t always happen and often times happens in varying degrees. Some people refuse to admit that deer amassed in great numbers on small parcels of land, destroying vegetation and spreading disease, as well as killing each other by means of a slow, agonizing death through starvation and disease, isn’t a problem.

Some might see it as a problem of sorts but refuse to take any steps to correct it. Still others see it as a problem and want to throw money at in hopes it will go away. But whose money are they wanting to throw?

There are businesses (nurseries, foresters, farmers, etc.) and residents who admit there is a problem and demand the government do something about it but when the government tells them what the tried and true method, the only one that is proven to control deer populations in the long term, is hunting, they balk.

Here’s the real problem as I see it. First of all, it is a very small minority of people that oppose the use of hunting for deer management. Most support the method while others recognize it as a viable solution and don’t fight it. They may voice concerns about safety and that is understandable.

Secondly, why do game commissions cave in to the demands of a few vocal small groups, when their job is to manage wildlife? No governmental program is going to satisfy all individuals or groups. These are the same groups that oppose hunting of any kind, demand the government stop deer from eating their plants, pay for damages to their vehicles when they collide with the deer, and all at the same time insisting that the government ensure that they will see these beautiful animals in the woods in their backyards or when they go out on an outing. All of these demands are being made yet many of the same people are not paying one red cent toward the management of the deer or other wildlife.

Fish and game departments in many states are strapped for cash. Most states rely heavily, if not completely, on fees generated from hunting and fishing licenses to pay for wildlife management programs. Some states collect taxes from the sale of hunting and fishing related equipment sold. More and more demands are being placed on fish and wildlife departments by taxpayers who are insisting that animals be present everywhere. They also demand that our wildlife be healthy and that we use all the latest scientific means to fulfill those demands. All of this costs money and as the cost of managing wildlife goes up, the number of hunters and fishermen, isn’t increasing at the same rate. License fees are going up in nearly all states and in some cases more than doubling in one year.

So the question becomes, who should pay? The answer is simple, the solution may not be. Everyone should pay – it’s the democratic way! We all know the expression about “looking a gift horse in the mouth”. When I am given something at no cost to me, I certainly am not in a position to make demands of the giver. When I do, I should be prepared to spend my own money. The same holds true in this case. You can’t have it both ways.

People build their homes by cutting down trees, digging up the ground, etc. while encroaching on the animals that live there. They build in the country – at least that’s what they call it – and demand that they will see wildlife out their back doors. Often times people feed the wildlife. The homeowner plants luscious grasses and shrubs and when the deer move in and devour all the vegetation left in the surrounding woods, they move in and clean up the easy foraging of backyards.

The homeowner doesn’t want hunting anywhere near their home, yet they want something done about the deer. Some going so far as to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on sterilization and birth control programs that show time and again are ineffective.

The solution of levying the costs of wildlife management isn’t easy but certainly is doable. Some states are proposing a wildlife viewing card that needs to be bought before visiting areas to look at animals in the wild. There are creative ways of generating the income, the difficulty may come in deciding who pays what percentage. I believe that hunters and fishers need to continue to pay their fair share for the management of the game they strive for but those same two groups can’t continue to meet the costs coming from the demands of the general public.

People can’t have it both ways, particularly when they aren’t paying for it. These people need to start chipping in their fair share to help manage wildlife. They can no longer look the gift horse in the mouth.

Tom Remington


Hunting For Meat or Hunting For Trophies?

Are you a meat hunter or a trophy hunter? Perhaps you fall somewhere in the middle, meaning that you go out intending to shoot that illusive trophy buck and end up settling for something smaller to fill the freezer.

This seems to have been the norm for decades all across America. You talk to a deer hunter from any state and ultimately they are going to tell you they go out with good intentions and more times than not come home with meat. Oh, there are exceptions. I personally know hunters who are diciplined and determined enough that they would not settle for anything other than a big buck. They have their reasons and I can respect that.

Me, I’m a meat hunter mostly, although early in the season I would probably pass on a small deer but the trend in this country seems to be changing. The demand from hunters is more bigger bucks. This appears to be where the money is coming from as well. It is no secret that hunters nationwide spent millions of dollars each year to hunt. The number of wealthy hunters willing to spend more dollars for chances at trophy deer seems to be on the increase as well.

Texas is an example of one state that seems to be changing their rules for buck harvesting. Whether these changes are coming as a result of the discovery of better quality deer management or giving in to the demands of the bigger buck seeker, remains to be seen. Their rule changes prohibits the taking of bucks until their antler spread exceeds 13 inches. This combined with permit allocations for antlerless deer, officials hope to not only manage deer population but produce more bigger male deer.

Quality Deer Management Association is an organization of about 40,000 members nationwide and growing. Growth rate runs about 30% annually. Their goal is similar to what Texas has undertaken. They believe that managing the deer herd numbers isn’t enough. They think it also needs to be done to produce quality deer. In other words, bigger bucks.

With a trend toward this kind of deer management, time will tell if it will be in the best interest of the deer. If science proves that managing deer in this manner can produce a higher quality of deer and at the same time management numbers and keep hunters happy, then it will be a good thing. If not, then money once again will win out.

Tom Remington


Drinkin' and Huntin' and Druggin'

Imagine some drone leaving camp around 2:00 in the afternoon headed for his late-day treestand and bringing along a six-pack of Bud Light! After a couple or six, he sees what he thinks is a deer coming into his area. He picks up his rifle or bow, you choose the weapon, and takes aim…………..

Disgusting thought isn’t it. But did you know some states have no laws against drinking and hunting or being under the infuence of drugs and hunting? Mississippi is trying to get a bill through Congress that would allow wildlife officials to test hunters for drugs and alcohol following a hunting incident.

Are you kidding me? What is wrong with a law that prohibits this action, period? Under the Mississippi bill, if a hunter is found to have a blood alcohol level of .08, the state’s legal limit, or higher it could be used against him in a court of law.

I guess if there is anything good in this law is the fact that at least they are attempting to do something. Essentially what this bill does is nothing, really. It depends on the circumstances. It would seem that if a hunter went out and drank a six-pack and shot someone, the fact that he was drunk might be used against him. If what?

The bill was passed in the House and passed in the Senate but with changes put in about public disclosure of hunting accidents. It now has to return to the House for approval of the changes but it appears it might get held up in discussion as some members want the bill to be stricter.

For God’s sake! It’s a no-brainer. It should be illegal to drink and shoot!

Tom Remington


Woman Earns Hunting Ethics Award

It’s always great to hear about a story that ends well and to find that some people, without really trying, are nice people. Take the case of Emily Gutenkauf of Minnesota. She was sitting in her stand one morning when a wounded deer entered her area. It had a wounded leg and she knew it was suffering, yet she hesitated in what to do.

Knowing that she didn’t want to interfere with someone else’s hunt, she also didn’t want the deer to suffer or to escape whoever wounded it and not be found. She was also concerned about placing a shot that would be lethal yet not spoil any meat.

She placed a shot that finished the deer off and waited for the hunters in persuit. She remained in her treestand waiting. When the other two hunters arrived, the hunter who had made the first shot was visibly mad at not making a good clean kill. He congratulated her on the deer and began to leave. She told him the deer was his, she was only helping out.

There is more to this story about how later they all met up again and how she ended up being rewarded for her actions. You can read about the entire episode here at ESPN Outdoors.

Tom Remington


Deer Management Moves Into The 21st Century

One of the greatest challenges of deer management in this country is chronic wasting disease. Scientists say the disease is similar to mad cow disease but has its on characteristics and personality. There are always two issues when it comes to dealing with diseases like CWD. Scientists want to know how a disease is transmitted and what spreads it.

Dr. William Porter, an esteemed wildlife ecologist, will be heading up a study in and around the central New York area, that will track and study whitetail deer. This study, using the latest is global positioning satellite technology, hopes to give him better ideas on how CWD is spread among herds of deer.

With the assistance of a couple of students seeking advanced degrees, they will trap and collar 50 deer in the first year. These deer will be equipped with devices that will record location at all times, times of movement, temperature, weather, etc. This way they will be able to determine better the habitat of the deer and what influences, natural or man made, cause them to move and to where they move.

After one year, these 50 deer will be recaptured and have their collars removed. They will then capture and collar 50 more deer. The data collected will take several months to analyze before any conclusions can be made. This could be a major step toward better understanding how CWD spreads and help to devise ways of controling it.

Tom Remington


Hindsite Deer Preserve Gives $100 off to MHT Members

Mark Luce, Owner and Maine Guide, from Hindsite Deer Preserve will be giving all card carrying members of Maine Hunting Today a $100 discount on all Trophy Hunts in the future. If you haven’t yet registered up as a member it is absolutely free for everybody in and out of state. Go here to become a member.

Make sure to check out Mark’s website for pricing. He also has great photos posted of recent hunting successes.

Hindsite Deer Preserve

Steven Remington


The Gun Nut From Field and Stream

David E. PetzalFor us gun nuts, David E. Petzal who has been writing for Field and Stream for 30 years has a new blog. It is called The Gun Nut, and rightfully so!

He has tons and tons of stuff to say about guns, shooting, new gear, and hunting. Looks as though he has been updating it each day. Go check it out…

They describe his blog simply as the  “Rantings and ravings from Field and Stream’s David E. Petzal”

Steven Remington