December 18, 2017

2016 Deer Harvest Data is Out…Finally

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has finally released the harvest data for the 2016 deer hunting season. You can find a map on the MDIFW website. Where’s the written summary? Do we wait another 6 months for that or has work become so overwhelming that biolo”jests” just don’t have the time or resources?

With all the hoopla about how terrific the deer herd has become, due to those “mild” winters – caused by global warming of course – the total deer harvest for 2016 rose to a meager 23,512 up slightly from the previous 2 seasons and down from 2013’s harvest.

The harvest trend seems to be telling us a bit more truth as to what is trending with Maine’s deer herd. It just isn’t as robust as salesmen at MDIFW want to convince the public it is. And yet, MDIFW has announced they intend to increase the number of “Any-Deer Permits” up to over 66,000, an increase of 20,295 from last season and 37,280 from the 2015 season. Seriously? Seriously!

These numbers just don’t seem to make a lot of sense even when you try to make sense out of allotment of permits according by Wildlife Management Districts (WMDs). Permits are intended to be allotted in WMDs where deer herd numbers are bleak.

One has to wonder if the MDIFW is so desperate to make payroll and pay retirement funds, that they are going to do it at the expense of furthering the demise of the deer herd. If not, then it can only be determined that MDIFW intends to deliberately reduce the deer herd to where annual deer harvest for hunters will run in the mid to high teens of thousands. I would think even the coyote and bear lovers would be upset that MDIFW is planning to take away one of their favorite diets.

Below is a chart that shows deer harvests from 1999, along with comparatives which helps to give us some information on trends. From what I see, the trend is toward a lousier and lousier deer herd.

Your tax dollars at work…or play.

 

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QDMA Whitetail Deer Report for 2016

Below is the link to the 2016 Quality Deer Management Association Report on whitetail deer. Bear in mind a couple of things. One, I am not a very big fan of QDMA for various reasons. One reason is because I believe they put too much focus on “trophy” hunting and manipulating the resource towards that end. Another issue to consider, should you choose to review this report, is that it is a great example of the saying, “Statistic prove that statistics can prove anything.” While QDMA is presenting information about declines and increases in yearling buck harvest and/or buck harvest in general, as well as antlerless deer, it offers no explanations of why. It’s one thing to report declines or increases in yearling buck harvest, for example, even to go to the point of suggesting trends, but to make specific claims requires much greater knowledge and information about all aspects that effect deer management and hunting harvests.

One might suspect that with QDMA’s insistent pushing for antler point restrictions (for trophy hunting purposes), it would seem logical that the buck harvest might decrease when such restrictions are put in place. The same kind of unknown comparison can be applied to reports in changes of antlerless deer. In states, like Maine, that use “Any-Deer Permits” to regulate the populations of deer, significant changes in the allotment of such permits, as has been the case in recent years, obviously affects the harvest data.

That isn’t to say the report is worthless. It contains interesting data and if taken in its context and applied subjectively and honestly, within the smallest denominator of available data in each state, one might find some interesting comparatives, assuming most things remain consistent…and they don’t.

QDMA’s Whitetail Report 2016

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One, Two, Three, Four…What Comes Next?

CRICKETS

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Massachusetts Releases Deer Harvest Data – Maine Still Searching for Tag Reports

But Old Hunter say:

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Maine Counts 111 Dead Deer a Day

Okay, here’s some more whine! If Maine deer hunters shoot 20,000 deer a season, and it takes the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) 6 months (180 days) to count the registered deer and then tell the public, then MDIFW counts 111.111 deer a day.

In comparison, Wisconsin’s gun deer season just ended, with a harvest reported of 79,429 deer and it was reported to the press in three days. Officials there counted 26,476 deer a day. Maine should be able to count the entire harvest in one day!

Maine: Life in the Slow Lane!

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How Many Biologists Does It Take to Count to 20,000?

Evidently a whole bunch of them and taking a long, long time. I suppose the biolo”jests” are very busy pawing through outcome-based survey results and getting advice from members of the Humane Society of the United States, while hiding deer harvest information, so they can figure out how to make Maine deer hunters think they are doing a wonderful job (as THEIR bought-and-paid-for survey – wink, wink, – shows) and that there are so many deer around the biolog”jests” are going to issue more doe permits. If this were true, then why does the deer harvest information take months and months to be published on the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s (MDIFW) website?

But here’s some interesting information that some fool can use to prop up the work of the MDIFW. Data shows the date in which deer harvest information is posted on the MDIFW website following a deer hunting season, of which the last of the deer harvest season is over by about mid-December.

WhatchameanDeerHarvest

On average it takes 5 months to count up to 20,000 – this during an era of instant information. The latest reporting date appears to be on July 23, 2009. Cripes sake. Back when newspapers were printed one page at a time, by hand, the Pony Express got tagging information to the biolo”jests” sooner than that. That’s progress.

While not official, I did get my hands on a map and deer harvest total for 2015. None of this information is posted and available on MDIFW’s website. I don’t know if I got this and I wasn’t supposed to, but I posted the information anyway.

2015DeerHarvestTownMap

But it matters not. I am the only one who is complaining about this. After all, according to some, that’s all I do. I’m too stupid to see deer that don’t exists and I want accountability for the dollars I spend. I know that’s wrong. I guess I have nothing else to do in retirement.

All Maine deer hunters are just always so busy chasing so many deer around the state (because the biolog”jests” are doing such a remarkable job – wink, wink) they simply don’t have time to be bothered by anything that would show them the hundreds of thousands of deer ready to be harvested…OR NOT!

By the time sportsmen can get a chance to look at any deer harvest data, they have taken up fishing for those native and wild, or is it Native and Wild brook trout, or maybe it’s Native and wild…no, no. I get so confused. Like deer hunting, the trout fishing is so good in Maine (because the survey says it is – get ready – wink, wink) efforts are now being taken to categorize brook trout as either Native or Wild. But when you go catch (while we are still allowed to) them, it becomes very confusing as to whether they are native or wild. They might be Wild brook trout (haven’t been stocked over for 25 years…or something) and/or Native (never been stocked over….or something). But if you buy a fishing license you can go catch (while you are still allowed) some of those wild and native brook trout that might or might not be Wild and/or Native. You got all of this didn’t you?

It’s a good thing deer are not classified as Native or Wild. They are, however, damned RARE!

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Maine Deer Harvest Dismal – Why Are Sportsmen Happy With Management

Over the weekend I received a Maine map that showed the deer harvest for the 2015 Maine deer hunting season. As I write this morning, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has not posted the harvest data on their website for public viewing.

The deer harvest was a dismal 20,348. The chart below will give you comparisons.

2015BigBucks2

Chart contains the latest deer kill number for 2015 as published by Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.  The 200 pound bucks numbers were compiled from data published by The Maine Sportsman Magazine.

Also today, I posted information from the MDIFW announcing dates, times and places where meetings will be held in which citizens can attend and voice their thoughts and opinions about Maine’s wildlife. Perhaps with a reminder to sportsmen that the deer herd simply is not getting any better, contrary to what we have been told, it will stimulate some effort to attend these meetings. It appears the hoped-for global warming isn’t getting the job done.

Maybe it was the back-to-back “severe” winters in 2007/2008 that cut the deer herd down substantially…or maybe not. If it was, why hasn’t the herd recovered? Surely winters haven’t been too severe. Maybe the deer managers haven’t figured out yet that global warming alone can’t recover and sustain a healthy deer herd. Maybe there are other factors. Maybe northern Maine has become a Predator Pit. Maybe MDIFW is too busy counting bats, butterflies and piping plovers.

What has puzzled me since studying the recent Big Game Survey, is that hunters, generally speaking, are very much satisfied with how MDIFW manages the deer herd. The survey tells us that deer hunters primarily hunt for meat and that the highest percentage of hunters were “very satisfied” with their deer hunting experiences in the past 5 years. That percentage of “very satisfied” deer hunters is highest in the southern regions of the state at 70% (where the deer population is highest). Satisfaction is lowest in the north with 49% of hunters still claiming satisfaction with their experience.

When I see results like this is when I question the viability of the survey. I wrote recently to explain about being aware of surveys and the Delphi Technique used to derive sought-after results. Is this what’s going on?

Further examination of the survey also reveals that 70% of those hunters not happy with their deer hunting experiences, were such due to lack of deer.

So, you figure it out. Most deer hunters want meat. Most deer hunters are “very satisfied” with their hunting experiences, and those that aren’t say it’s because there are too few deer. If this is true, expect nothing in deer management to change, especially if a majority of deer hunters aren’t interested in greater opportunity to harvest a deer.

Consider that the survey queries hunters about their experiences over the past 5 years. When we examine the chart above, we see that over the past five years, deer harvest has been terrible compared to previous years. Is this a case of sportsmen becoming accustomed to spending time in the woods merely for the fun of it and they have learned to be excited at the mere event of seeing a deer, or not seeing a deer? Perhaps.

During this past deer season, all I heard from sportsmen was that there were tons of deer and that they were big. The harvest data doesn’t reveal that. Is this conditioning? Comparing those harvests between 2009 and 2012, this year’s harvest is no better. We are becoming accustomed to deer harvests below 20,000, where once they approached 40,000. Isn’t it time for some better management? Waiting on a warming climate to grow more deer isn’t going to work evidently. Are we taking too many deer? Are we taking too many does? Doe deer haven’t been taken in northern Maine for several years, and what has that done to the deer herd?

And why are sportsmen satisfied with their hunting experience? Evidently their most important reason to hunt deer – for the meat – is a pipe dream. What have deer hunters become?

Changes in how deer are managed are needed. Sportsmen need to open their eyes to reality and start complaining. We pay a lot of money for game management and a chance to harvest deer. We should begin acting like it.

Demand changes!

PajamaBoy2

2015DeerHarvestTownMap

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Hunters Sometimes Might Be Stupid and Lazy

Very early on in my writing career, I was told by veteran writers never to talk badly about your reading audience. That is probably true. However, if my reading audience doesn’t change their ways at certain things, I won’t have an audience left. So, here goes!

If you believe that collecting data on harvested deer actually helps the wildlife biologists better manage the deer herd, then why wouldn’t you obey the law and tag your deer and then report it to the agency?

Louisiana evidently has a problem getting their licensed deer hunters to do just that. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries estimate that close to 140,000 deer are harvested during the deer hunting season. Of that number, only 65,081 deer were registered with the agency. Hunters failed to obey the law.

I’m guessing Louisiana doesn’t have a shortage of deer problem which may contribute to the lack of hunters following the regulations. Even with the threat of fines and jail time, officials claim it is not a deterrent. Instead they are going to enter everyone who registers their deer into a raffle to win prizes, including a “choice of a Remington 700 or Thompson Center breech-loading rifle in the winner’s choice of caliber, with a scope and case to go with it.” Seriously, is the best use of resources?

It appears that on the LDWF website, enough information that is required to purchase a license should be enough to prohibit the purchase of a license the following year if a hunter fails to report his deer. It seems that a few adjustments in the system could remedy the problem relatively easily. It may be more expensive that a grand prize but it might be a long-time cure.

I’m not one for government regulation of any kind. However, I think it is important to provide data to the wildlife biologists in order that they can properly manage game. Evidently Louisiana hunters do not.

LouisianaDeerRegistering

 

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How Long Does it Take to Count 22,490 Dead, Registered Deer?

I’ll go out on a limb here, but mind you I’m quite conservative, unbrave and often resort to just laughter, and say that 99% of Maine deer hunters are pretty much only interested in how many deer get tagged each deer season. All deer that are shot and handled legally, are tagged at a volunteer (that gets paid a small fee) tagging station and reported to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW). So how long can it take to count registered deer? (See the 2014 deer harvest report just posted.)

Evidently quite a long time (see chart below).

There’s very few people, other than a couple of biologists at MDIFW (maybe), who care about how many bucks, how many does, what the weather was like or whether or not Aunt Mabel wore her thermals this year when hunting. Aside from interest in “trophy” deer, hunters just want to know how many deer were taken so they can compare it to many things…the most of which MDIFW couldn’t give a dried up deer bladder for.

Why then, do Maine deer hunters have to wait for a report that includes the number of deer tagged in each town, etc.? Perhaps a few like to have that information and wouldn’t bother them too much to get it in June or July even, and I question why that would take so long. (Note: I like every piece of data that COULD be gotten from MDIFW but still is like a slippery eel trying to get it.)

We live in an age where information is available in just about real time. “Unofficial” deer harvest numbers should be available, at a minimum of once per day; once a week would be nice or even one or two days after the conclusion of all the deer hunting seasons around mid-December. (Another note: Many states have near-instant reporting of deer harvest now. Maine doesn’t need to invent this on their own.)

Over the years, I have heard probably all the excuses of why it takes so long to report. The two that seem to rise up to the surface the fastest are: 1. The tagging stations take so long to report, and 2. It takes deer biologists(?) a long time to process all the data in order to put the report together. Both excuses are BS.

You and I could have a discussion about the hows, whys and wherefores of devising a deer harvest report but at least consider this. If MDIFW is still living in the dark ages, i.e. they can’t get registered deer information to August in a timely manner and it takes months to draft a report, then by God it’s time for a change – a change that would save license fee payers lots of money. Aside from the initial outlay of a handful of computers and Internet modems, if service is not available in remote areas, a tagged and registered deer should be on MDIFW’s hard drive in a matter of hours from the time the deer is tagged. A simple computer program can accomplish all tasks assigned to it. This becomes electronically accomplished, instead of hours of man-hours paid – how much per hour?

Any business taking 3-7 months to take data and devise a report has inefficiency and unnecessary costs plastered all over it. It is also destined for failure.

I’ll leave this rant with another thought. I hear unending calls for more money for MDIFW. Some work tirelessly to get general tax dollars to prop up MDIFW. I’m not necessarily against responsible funding of MDIFW. However, I have called for a complete audit, made available to the public, BEFORE any more money is thrown at MDIFW. The above example might just be proof of one incident where money is being wasted and could easily be corrected through efficiency.

Who knows. Maybe combine this with some sound deer management and Maine could once again have deer to hunt. Cheer up. According to many of these managers, global warming is going to save the deer.

DeerHarvestReportDates

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Maine Deer Harvest Slightly Above Abysmal

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

Deer harvest second highest in the past six years

AUGUSTA, Maine – Deer hunters in Maine harvested 22,490 deer in 2014, the second-highest total in the past six years.

“Hunters had an unusual year with heavy snow hitting much of the state on opening weekend, and then again during Thanksgiving,” said Kyle Ravana, IFW’s deer biologist. “Those are always two of the busiest weekends of the year for hunters, and it gave many hunters the chance to track and harvest a deer.”

Maine’s November firearms season for deer attracts the most hunters and accounts for most of the state’s deer harvest (18,510). Maine’s deer season starts in early-September with expanded archery, and ends with the muzzleloader season in mid-December, providing hunters with over 80 days in which to pursue deer. The deer hunting season allows for the department to manage the deer herd and provide wildlife watching and hunting opportunity in much of the state while decreasing the deer population in other areas in order to reduce deer/car collisions and property damage, and prevalence of lyme disease.

While the 2014 buck harvest was similar to 2013 (15,986 to 16,736, a difference of 4%), a decrease in the number of harvested does was expected due to a previous winter (2013-14) that was above average in its severity which resulted in a corresponding reduction in any deer permits.

The department decreased the number of any deer permits last season by 20% in order to compensate for deer that may have succumbed to the harsh winter conditions. As a result, fewer adult does were harvested. In 2014, 4,401 adult does were harvested, which was approximately 17% below the 2013 harvest of 5,308 adult does. The Any-Deer Permit system plays a vital role in the management of Maine’s deer since it was first implemented in 1986. By controlling the harvest of female deer in the 29 regional wildlife management districts throughout the state, biologists can better manage population trends.

For the 2015 deer season, the department is again suggesting a decrease in the number of any deer permits due to another harsh winter.

For 2015, the department is recommending a total of 28,770 any deer permits. This is a decrease of 23% (8,415 permits) from 2014. Most of these any deer permits will be issued in southern, central and midcoast Maine, where the deer population is growing, remains highly productive, and usually experiences milder winter weather. There also will be some permits issued in eastern Aroosotook, as well as southern Piscataquis and southern Penobscot counties. In most of northern and downeast Maine, there will be no any deer permits issued and hunters will be allowed to take only bucks.

“By decreasing the number of any deer permits available, we can offset some of the impact of the now two consecutive harsh winters,” said Ravana.

The any deer permit recommendation is still in the comment period until June 6. Once the comment period closes, the Commissioner’s Advisory Council will then vote whether to accept the any permit recommendation.

The deer kill over the past five years includes: 2014 –22,490; 2013 – 24,795; 2012 – 21,553; 2011 – 18,839; 2010 – 20,063; 2009 – 18,092; 2008 – 21,062.

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