November 26, 2014

Beagle Tracks Wounded Deer

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Maine Hunter Takes 274-lb Buck

“Alfred Bowden Jr. knew the buck he shot back on Nov. 5 was big — he had shot four other deer that weighed more than 200 pounds in his hunting career, after all — but when the deer was hoisted on a scale a Bishop’s General Store in Jackman, he didn’t believe what he saw.”<<<Read More>>>

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Maine IFW Hunting Report For November 21, 2014

This report is issued by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife:

Southern Lakes Region – Region A

“Hunters are seeing plenty of deer. Some hunters are being selective right now and passing on does or smaller bucks,” said IFW Wildlife Scott Lindsay. “Usually around now, we will start to see more of these hunters taking deer.”

Lindsay said that while numbers may be down a bit from last year as expected, hunters are still seeing good numbers of deer and good size ones as well.

“While there haven’t been any huge deer, we are seeing plenty of deer in the 200-210 pound range throughout our region,” said Lindsay. “We are even seeing some of these large deer in some of our more developed coastal towns.”

Pheasant season is still ongoing, with more releases of pheasants planned for the Bragdon site in Wells and Blackberry Hill area in Berwick. Hunters are reminded that a pheasant stamp is needed to hunt pheasants. For more information on the pheasant hunting program, please visit: http://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting_trapping/hunting/pheasant.htm.

Central and Midcoast Maine

In central Maine, many deer hunters continue to find success after some early season struggles with heavy snow.

“I know things are going well because I haven’t heard any complaints,” said IFW wildlife biologist Keel Kemper.

Kemper said that some tagging stations and meat cutters are up from last year, and other areas are down. It has been an odd deer season, as some areas had upwards of 16 inches of snow early in the deer season.

“We had a slow start to the season, but since the snow has melted, things are coming along,” said Kemper. While most hunters enjoy a tracking snow, 16 inches of it was too much of a good thing.

Kemper said that while he has seen good numbers of deer, he has only seen a “smidgeon” of deer over 200 pounds so far. He expects that to change “as the rut is starting, and the bucks are chasing does.”

Waterfowl hunters in the area are also having success, with good wild rice crops at the Ruffingham Meadow Wildlife Management Area in Searsmont as well as other places.

Downeast Region

Downeast, it seems like old times.

“Things are going well…Down along the coast, it’s like the old traditional deer season,” said IFW wildlife biologist Tom Schaeffer.

Schaeffer said there seems to be a noticeable difference this year with more people driving around dressed in orange, and the occasional deer hanging in a successful hunter’s yard.

“The effort is very noticeable this year, mostly in the central and western part of Washington county,” said Schaeffer.

Already Schaeffer said he has seen a good crop of yearling deer and younger bucks.

“The younger aged deer are well-represented. If we get a continuation of some decent winters, coastal Washington County could be better than it has been in a long time,” said Schaeffer.

For the first two weeks of the season, Schaeffer noted that it was the best deer hunting conditions he has seen since 1988. He said there has been tracking snow for much of the season, cool weather, and more importantly, there hasn’t been a lot of warmth, wind and rain.

“Last Saturday was a fantastic day with the tracking snow,” he added.

Of note, Schaeffer recently saw on 234 pound buck, as well as a hefty 257 pound buck. He figures he might see a couple more of them before the season ends.

Rangeley Lakes and Western Mountains Region

Seems to be business as usual in the western mountains regions of Maine.

“We’ve had good conditions as it is still cold, with snow through most of the region,” said IFW wildlife biologist Chuck Hulsey. “We’ve had some great days to hunt, with some soft snow at times.”

Hulsey has been gathering biological data from harvested deer throughout the region. This gives biologists insight into the health of the deer herd.

He’s gathered samples from private citizens with deer hanging on their property, meat cutters, taxidermists and others.

Hulsey will take note of the general condition of the deer, including fat content, and talk with hunters to find out more about what they are seeing, how hunters are faring, and other related info. In some cases, biologists will remove a gland to test for chronic wasting disease, and with freshly killed deer, may draw a blood sample to test for eastern equine encephalitis.

Checking harvested deer is invaluable as it provides both biological data with the deer, and anecdotal evidence concerning hunter effort and participation.

All this data is combined to give a clearer picture of the age structure and health of the deer herd, and gives the department the tools they need to manage the deer population.

Moosehead Region

Three-quarters of the way through deer season, there are some good signs in the Moosehead region.

“Things are pretty good. We are seeing more deer in the southern part of the region, and more deer in the northern part,” said IFW wildlife biologist Doug Kane. Oddly enough, there have been fewer deer registered this year right in the Greenville area.

“I think hunters are seeing deer throughout the region, so they are traveling outside of Greenville because they are optimistic,” said Kane.

Conditions are good throughout the region, as there was snow from Monson north earlier this week. Hunters have been using it to locate where deer are already congregating, or to track a buck. Kane did mention that with the cold weather, it was a bit noisy in the woods.

For the next two weekends, Kane and other IFW personnel will be setting up a check station at the Greenville rest area where they will check between 20 and 30 deer on both Saturday and Sunday.

The biological data gathered gives biologists insight into the health of the deer herd in the region. They also gather a lot of anecdotal data on what hunters are seeing not only for deer, but for moose and grouse as well.

Penobscot Region

“Deer season is going pretty well,” said IFW wildlife biologist Mark Caron in the Penobscot region. “We are getting a lot of good reports of hunters seeing deer, both does and bucks.”

Caron thinks that deer in his region may have fared through the past winter a little better than initially believed. “The deer got a break when we had the thaw midwinter, and even though winter hung on into April, they did not burn as much fat.”

Throughout the region, all of the tagging stations appear to be doing fairly well.

“We had all that snow, and that tracking was good, which helped many hunters,” said Caron.

Caron noted that there was on monster buck killed last weekend. It was a 19 point, 254-pound buck shot in Prentiss. He also got reports of another 200 pounder that was shot in Stacyville. The condition of the deer that Caron has seen are good, with plenty of fat, as it was a decent year for apples and acorns where they appear in the region.

If you have already tagged out with your deer, Caron says that the duck hunting has been very good this year, with whistlers coming in heavy over the Penobscot, and mallards still around big time. Some ponds are skimming over, congregating birds for a bit, but they usually are opened up again by evening.

Aroostook Region

A mid-week snowfall left two to three inches of snow on the ground in most of the Aroostook region, and deer hunters in the area are doing well.

“Registration stations are having one of their better years up here,” said IFW wildlife biologist Rich Hoppe. “We may not be seeing the number of hunters that we have seen in years past, but the deer hunters up here are quite content, and the deer population still seems to be on the upswing.”

Hoppe expects the good hunting to continue, with the recent snow, and the deer beginning to move with the onset of the rut this past week.

Hoppe says he has seen quite a few crotch-horns and spike horns from hunters who have been hunting along the edges of fields and roads. He’s checked larger deer, and those are coming from hunters who are getting off the roads and deeper into the woods.

Bird season goes till the end of December and bird hunters are still finding success along hedgerows in the woods. There’s still fruit on many trees, said Hoppe, and birds seem to be all over the place. “We’ve had a very good bird year as well,” said Hoppe.

Deer Swims 12 Miles in Gulf of Maine to Tiny Island?

“Diamond said he has no idea how a deer would swim that far and make it on the island.

“It is either an extremely Olympic-class swimming deer or somebody’s idea of a practical joke,” he said.

“It is just surprising to me that it didn’t stay on the island longer, just to take a rest and get some food,” he said.”<<<Read More>>>

Maine IFW, Partners Crafting Wildlife Action Plan

Press Release from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife:

AUGUSTA, Maine — Did you know that Maine has a plan for conserving its most rare and vulnerable fish and wildlife species? Maine’s Wildlife Action Plan, created in 2005, focuses on voluntary measures that can assist many of Maine’s most vulnerable species, it highlights natural area conservation efforts, and sets the course for the future of wildlife conservation in Maine.

Since 2005, Maine has received close to $8 million in federal funding and accomplished over 50 research, management, and conservation projects, benefitting brook trout, rare freshwater mussels and dragonflies, migrant birds such as Bicknell’s Thrush and Black-throated blue Warbler, and globally rare species, such as the Tomah mayfly. Puffins, wood turtles, Atlantic sturgeon, little brown bats and bumble bees are also recognizable species that have benefitted from the Wildlife Action Plan.

Maine is home to 292 species of birds, 61 species of non-marine mammals, 20 species of reptiles, 18 species of amphibians, 56 species of inland fish and 313 species of marine fish and mammals. The state is a geographic transition area, and its abundant wildlife resources represent a blending of species that are at or approaching the northern or southern limit of their ranges. Maine’s diverse physical settings support a wide diversity of wildlife that few other states can equal.

Wildlife Action Plans are created collaboratively among state, federal, tribal, and local agencies, non-profit organizations, private landowners, and the general public to identify opportunities to conserve vulnerable species and habitats before they become more difficult to address. (http://www.maine.gov/ifw/wildlife/reports/wap.html). In 2005, Maine’s plan identified 213 of our species in greatest need of conservation, the key issues surrounding these fish, wildlife, and their habitats; and showcased conservation opportunities necessary to prevent a species from becoming endangered, or to implement recovery programs.

Wildlife Action Plans must be updated every ten years; Maine’s next revised plan is due October 1, 2015. Over the coming year, MDIFW and its partners will work together to identify Maine’s fish and wildlife needs and conservation opportunities for the next decade.

Over 70 public, private, and non-profit entities are helping revise Maine’s Action Plan. Close to 50 of these organizations have attended workshop meetings in July, September and November, ensuring that Maine’s 2015 Wildlife Action Plan will reflect the values and priorities of Maine’s people. Landowner participation is also an essential part of the process, in order to identify practical, voluntary conservation opportunities that are amenable to landowner objectives and land use practices. Considering that wildlife-related recreation contributes over $1.4 billion annually to Maine’s economy, crafting an effective Wildlife Action Plan benefits not only our resident fish and wildlife species, but also supports a thriving sector of our state’s economy.

For more information, to make comments, or to become involved in Maine’s 2015 Wildlife Action Plan revision, please visit http://www.maine.gov/ifw/wildlife/reports/MWAP2015.html or contact us at mainewildlifeactionplan@gmail.com.

8-Point Doe Taken Near Sebec, Maine

“With a state deer herd of 200,000 animals, and a ratio of 1.7 does per buck, Ravana said he’d estimate there are about 117 antlered does in Maine.”<<<Read More>>>

8PointDoe

SebecMap

Monster Whitetail Taken in Prentiss, Maine

More Pictures and Information HERE:

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The Dust Settles Over Maine’s Bear Hunting Referendum

Three strikes and you’re out! Maine has now endured two onslaughts by radical animal rights groups and I don’t need a crystal ball to predict for me that “it ain’t over ’til it’s over.” There will be a third….at least of some sort.

Already we are beginning to hear the threats and promises of making another stab at ending the so-called “cruelty” to bears. Was the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) too greedy in going after a virtual end to bear hunting? Will they return, only this time attacking trapping and hounding? Incrementally destroying American Heritage is a popular thing. For whatever the reasons, HSUS thought they could win this time. They were wrong…..this time.

It will not end here. No more than it did the last time, 10 years ago. Outdoor sportsmen, writers, wildlife managers and politicians ran scared AND sat on their hands. This cannot happen again. We must show the radicals that we mean business and that referendums aimed at destroying normal and real scientific game management is a waste of time in Maine. How can we do this?

Let’s first look at what we did or didn’t do after the first round of radical, anti-hunting citizen’s initiative. We did nothing to discourage another referendum. We did everything we could to look scared of them. Those are the two biggest issues, and there are more.

When I say we did nothing, I mean there was no real attempts to write or rewrite laws to better protect the ability of the state to manage wildlife for the good of all and not the whims of radical minorities. I’m again suggesting a constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to hunt, trap and fish.

Many of you might recall that just over one year ago, Rep. Kenneth Fredette sponsored an amendment posed as a “right to hunt” bill. I wrote about this back then explaining the amendment was incomplete. A right to hunt, trap and fish has no validity when it is not mandated by the same law that fish and game managers are required to manage game populations for surplus harvest. I’ve seen this in other states. With no legislative mandate to provide surplus harvest, wildlife agencies simply are managing their wildlife in numbers too low that any kind of harvest would be detrimental to the species. Because fish and game departments are often operating under “Post-Normal” management practices, they don’t want to see hunting, trapping and fishing.

Maine needs an amendment with teeth aimed at guaranteeing the PEOPLE not the special interest groups.

An amendment is not a sure way to stop referendums and lawsuits but it certainly does a lot to limit and discourage those who hate the rest of us.

Maine cannot afford to continue the same approach as before by always running scared fearing another lawsuit or another referendum. We have seen there has been no end to the lawsuits and no end to referendums. The approach has to be positive and with strength, presenting a management plan that sends the message that Maine will manage wildlife for all and that surplus harvest is the proven and desired method of population control, i.e. the North American Model. We have to let everyone know we are proud of our history in wildlife management and that we will do what we know is right. Lawsuits and referendums will continue but if Maine can show strength and strength in numbers perhaps outsiders will be a bit more discouraged to waste money trying to stop us.

This show of strength must begin in the governor’s office, as it did when Governor LePage got out front on the latest referendum opposing it. This must be done by the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife commissioner following the lead of the governor.

To continue on with business as usual will not get the job done. Yes, Maine won another round, but when you consider the costs and resources to fight this effort, doesn’t it make sense to thwart it with strength and a strong message before any more lawsuits and referendums appear?

Congratulations to everyone who fought the fight against the radicals at HSUS, et. al. Let’s not get comfortable in our victory just yet. There is more work to be done; work that will make life in Maine the way it should be and provide all of us with more and better time to spend in the outdoors and not debating the rights and wrongs of outdoor sports. Now is the time while all this is fresh in our minds.

Fair Chase For Thee But Not for Me

“A Maine hunter featured on Yes on 1 ads in support of the bear referendum has been accused of using non-fair chase tactics while hunting ruffed grouse.

Joel Gibbs, 56, of Lowell, was charged with shooting a firearm from a motor vehicle on Oct. 17 in Masardis, a small town in Aroostook County, after game wardens allegedly witnessed Gibbs shoot at a ruffed grouse through the open window of a vehicle, according to Lt. Dan Scott of the Maine Warden Service.”<<<Read More>>>

Maine’s Deer Herd Not Improving in Some Locations

According to this article, Maine’s deer herd is “doing better than expected.”

However, in the region where I have hunted whitetail deer for the past 40 years, the deer hunting is horrible at best. Personally, I spent a minimum of 30-40 hours in this 1,000-acre hunting area, that contains some very fine deer habitat, and I did not see any deer. As has been the case in the past several years, the presence of all wildlife is limited – even few songbirds. (Note: I am a “still” hunter. I rarely sit and never go up and into deer stands. While I cannot cover the amount of territory I once did, I still cover a fair amount.)

Collectively, of all hunters at camp, totaling an approximation of over 200 hours, 6 deer were seen – all does.

Many nights, while lying in bed, I could here the coyote/wolf hybrids yapping and howling.