December 17, 2012
December 5, 2012
*Scroll Down for an Update*
*Editor’s Note* Below is a copy of a document that I just emailed to Maine’s Governor Paul LePage and Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife commissioner, Chandler Woodcock. It is no secret that I and many other hunters are displeased that we should have to wait 3 or 4 months after the close of deer, bear, moose seasons to get any information on harvest numbers – and how about a turkey harvest? Most all other states provide rapid, and in some cases, real time harvest data. I took the time, with some help from some of my friends, to craft a plan that I think will work, if nothing more than providing a starting point.
We live in an ever-changing world of technology and it is a reasonable request to have more timely access to this data. If you agree, let Mr. LePage and Mr. Woodcock know. I would like your support.
It is my sincere belief that hunters want and would appreciate a more timely report on the deer/bear/turkey/moose harvest numbers during and immediately after the season has closed. In the last several years, deer harvest reports are not made available to anyone until at least March and sometimes April; bear and moose harvest information takes longer than that.
For comparison, I include a small sampling of how other states do their registering/tagging. Please not that all of these states listed are able to provide near real time harvest numbers at any point during the deer hunting season.
Ohio – mandatory reporting, done either by telephone, online or by visiting a licensing agent. I believe this year is the first year that Ohio has fully eliminated a visit to a tagging station.
Nebraska – Uses a combination of tagging stations and telephone registering.
Kentucky – Uses a “Telecheck” harvest reporting system. Fully automated and provides real time information.
Wisconsin – Uses a system very similar to Maine’s current system but still can provide harvest data within 2 days.
Iowa – Mandatory reporting by either online, telephone or at licensing agent.
*Note – In those states that that still use tagging stations, it is my understanding that the fish and game departments require the tagging agents to submit harvest data daily or weekly.
Below I have suggestions on how Maine might be able to accomplish faster harvest information and at the same time collect better data.
Please understand that I’m not suggesting an end to the gathering of important data used for deer management. As a matter of fact, I’m offering ways of collecting more and better data which can only help the process and provide for a better product, and this system will free up more staff time in order that more time and personnel can be utilized counting deer, checking deer yards and implementing predator control when circumstances demand it.
We live in a rapidly advancing age of technology and therefore the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) should take advantage of that, while at the same time putting some of the onus onto the sportsmen, to more positively participate in the process. This will accomplish several things, the crux of which will be a tremendous public relations benefit to MDIFW and a greater sense of ownership for the sportsmen. An achievement such as this can be a great benefit to all parties concerned.
Here are my suggestions: (Please understand also that automated telephone reporting systems as well as computer data collecting software is readily available at a low price or even perhaps free is some shopping around was done.)
Mandatory Reporting – All licensed hunters will be required to report their game take along with hunting activity and all other data desired by MDIFW. This reporting can be done Online or by telephone. Any game taken, i.e. deer, bear, turkey, moose (all currently tagged game) can be reported online or by telephone within 12 hours (or 24hrs). The reporting systems will be automated and designed to collect and compile the data provided. Vital information can be collected and processed electronically at the time of reporting. This immediate reporting will enable MDIFW to have up to date, almost real time harvest numbers to report to sportsmen and the public. At the end of the season, all licensed sportsmen will be required, within one week, to report online or by telephone, and fill out a survey. This must be done by all sportsmen whether they are successful or not. Better information can be collected that will vastly improve on the ability of wildlife managers to set seasons and bag limits, as well as better understand what is taking place in the field. This information can be collected about all aspects of hunting to gain a better and more accurate understanding of how many, how often and how many hours hunters go afield and what game they are seeking and taking.
Setting up Check Points – MDIFW gathers vital biological data at some tagging stations. I believe the same information can be collected by strategically placing check stations where hunters will be required to stop for data collection. This is done very successfully in other states; states that also have mandatory reporting.
Data Collection with Commercial Meat Processing Plants – MDIFW should continue to collect biological data from meat processing facilities.
Dealing with Non Reporters – Several states do not use a tagging system as Maine does. Instead they implement a mandatory reporting system (either required by the hunter or the tagging agent), and with pretty good success, I might add. I’ve taken the time to include only five states that do that now. See above. I’ve already pointed out the positives that can come from reporting. Mandatory or not, we will still run into a certain percentage of sportsmen who will not report, particularly those not successful in taking game or poachers who will fail to obey any laws; as the events that took place recently in Turner. There are ways to deal with this. While not wanting to appear as some heavy handed authoritative figure, full implementation of this plan is necessary for the greatest success. A suggestion might be that for those failing to complete a hunter survey, will be ineligible to buy a license the following year.
*Update – December 5, 2012 12:50* It took approximately 11 minutes to receive an email response from Commission Woodcock:
I sincerely appreciate your efforts with this important discussion. We at IF+W, and many other sportsmen and women, have similar observations. Here at the department, have had several discussion about electronic tagging possibilities as well as reporting requirements. We are currently investigating electronic options.
I share your desire to have immediacy. It also appears that we share similar concerns.
We continue to examine the issue and I believe that there will be changes forthcoming reasonably soon. The discussion has complexities as you are well aware and we certainly need biological data.
Again, thanks. And safe travels.
November 30, 2012
Why is it, I’ve asked countless times, that Maine takes at least 4 months from the end of deer hunting season to release deer harvest numbers? We hear some bullpucky about the collection of data, blah, blah, blah and by the time harvest numbers are out, most hunters are gearing up for fishing season and have mostly forgotten about the deer hunt.
But in Kentucky, according to Outdoor Wire, counting of deer harvest numbers are only a few hours behind the hunt.
The total harvest for the month of November won’t be known until the end of the month on Friday, Nov. 30. However, as of Wednesday, Nov. 28, a new record has already been reached. The 96,986 deer reported taken tops the previous record (89,498 deer taken in 2004) by 8.3 percent.
And this same information has been made available for September and October only hours after each days hunt.
Does Maine have something to hide or are they just embarrassed to death that there are so few deer? Kentucky will count close to 125,000 harvested deer this year and the day after all the seasons have concluded, they will have a count.
Maine will count perhaps 20,000-25,000 and take 4 or 5 months to do it. Why?
November 19, 2012
It is the time of the Maine deer hunting season that most crusty ole hunters wait for. It is believed by many a Maine hunter that the peak of the annual rut occurs during the week of Thanksgiving. The deer hunting season so far must be incredibly good as the Portland Press Herald has decided to run a feature sports article on FLY FISHING! That just about sums it up.
August 28, 2012
Arrogance shows itself in many ways, one way is to pen an article that insults your reading audience and falsely blame them for a problem they didn’t create. Such was the case in the Northwoods Sporting Journal (subscription) in an article by David Willette, called Non-Resident Blues. Mr. Willette says the only deer problem Maine has is not a deer problem but a hunter problem, and then proceeds to demonize and scoff at the many varied methods, all legal, that deer hunters choose to employ because those methods are different than his. He insults them this way:
No, Maine doesn’t have a deer herd problem. It’s much less complicated than that. The loss of the deer hunter isn’t going to change in Maine until these grown men, grow up and hunt deer the way that they were taught to hunt deer and not just shoot them from somebody else’s tree stand.
While there is certainly something to be said about hitting the “Big Woods” and tracking a trophy buck, not everyone has the resources, economically and physically, to do that. However, it’s a real slap in the face of the thousands of deer hunters who work tirelessly every season in order to either fill their freezer or bag a trophy, neither of which should be looked upon as some how in a class above or below the other. I seriously don’t think that the author has a clue to the number of Maine deer hunters who hunt for meat, while bagging that “trophy” becomes only a welcome surprise if it happens at all. Let’s face it. There are far and few hunters dedicated to bagging that trophy buck. If there were many more, the Benoits, Berniers, Flannerys and Hal Blood, whom the author evokes, just wouldn’t exist. Would they?
However, the author’s choice to dump on his readers is his business and should only prove to reduce his readership in the future. There is one item that I would like to disagree with Mr. Willette and/or add necessary information so readers can actually better understand why some of his statistics may be used improperly.
The author writes:
In 1981 Maine had 123,000 deer hunters that killed close to 12,000 bucks. Thirty years later in 2011, (after two wicked winters), hunters killed nearly 13,000 bucks with only 62,000 hunters.
I have no way of knowing if the numbers the author has used here are accurate or not, nor am I going to spend the time to find out. I will point out two things. The author claims there is a hunter problem and disproves his own theory by stating, “Where’s the deer problem?”
But there is one blatant error that I think the author either overlooked, is not aware of or intentionally left it out of his article. In 1981 Maine did not have a “bucks only” law; or had not implemented the “Any-Deer Permit” system. This was started in 1986. So, in 1981, according to Mr. Willette, 123,000 hunters hit the woods with the legal authority to kill any sex of deer they wanted at a time when I believe the deer population was higher than it was in 2011. He claims hunters bagged “close to 12,000 bucks”.
In 2011, with the “Any-Deer Permit” system in full force and no taking of antlerless deer allowed in nearly two-thirds of the state (because there are no deer there), 62,000 hunters, the overwhelming majority of which did not have an “Any-Deer Permit”, meaning they could ONLY shoot bucks, bagged “nearly 13,000 bucks”.
So, I have to ask, “Where’s the deer hunter problem?”
I think that 62,000 licensed hunters, the majority relegated to “bucks only”, killing 13,000 bucks tells me that perhaps there aren’t as many lazy and unlawful deer hunters as the author thinks there are. Makes a curious mind want to know what the harvest would have looked like if all 62,000 licensed hunters in 2011 could have taken a deer of any sex?……….well, that is, if there really were enough deer around to harvest.
The approach this author uses to suggest that hunters need to change their tactics to be successful, because he believes there is an ample population of deer, reminds me of the same ignorant rhetoric I read everyday from those out West claiming that there are plenty of elk, that wolves haven’t killed them all off, and that hunters just have to stop being so lazy and go find the elk.
Personally, if I found a lot of reward in hitting the big woods and working ten times harder than anyone else in hopes of bagging a big Maine trophy buck, then that’s what I would write about. But that’s me. I think it’s important to our industry to recognize and support all lawful means of hunting, while at the same time getting involved to do what we can about Maine’s deer problem.
Yes, Maine! There is a deer problem.
August 23, 2012
“We don’t care if we get a deer, but you want to see deer or at least deer tracks. Seems like they weren’t there anymore. We don’t know the reasons why. But now we go to Pennsylvania. They’re not big deer like up in Maine, but at least you see deer during the week.”
Those were the words quoted from an out-of-state hunter in the Morning Sentinel today. And that statement says it all.
Hunters have cried for many years now about a dwindling deer herd. Make no mistake about it, the back to back bad winters took their toll on deer but the problem has been around for a lot longer than that. I had hunters pleading with me to help them do something about fixing the deer problem in northern Maine long before snow began falling those two winters. But any pleading fell on deaf ears.
So, if the powers that be, that is those who have forgotten who pays their salaries, can’t in their hearts agree with the hunters what the problems are, then perhaps the notion that the annual $241 million dollars brought into the state is drying up will do the trick……but don’t hold your breath.
I haven’t had a good laugh in several days but I did this morning. Here’s what I read as it pertains to Maine lawmakers getting into the act to “fix the problem”: “It’s a problem that lawmakers and state officials hope to solve. Sen. Tom Martin, R-Benton, co-chair of the Legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, said the Legislature recognized the dire situation and appropriated $100,000 for Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to fix the problem in 2013.” (Emphasis Added)
I suppose that IS the problem. Latest rumor out of Augusta is that the windfall tax revenue, of about $1 million – coming to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) from Pittman-Robertson, much of it is going to be spent on fixing rifle ranges. I guess that’s the “dire situation” we are in. It’s so DIRE that rifle ranges are more important than addressing issues like habitat and predation. MDIFW doesn’t want to seriously discuss predator issues and have incessantly harped about loss of habitat and need to protect deer wintering areas and yet a mere $1 million should be spent on rifle ranges. Kick me in the head. I can’t make the connection.
Does Sen. Tom Martin really believe $100,000 is going to “fix the problem” or has somebody been stirring his Kool-Aid? Wouldn’t it be of vital interest to first agree on what the problem is that needs fixing?
August 12, 2012
“We encourage those who have not applied to do so online,” said Chandler E. Woodcock, Commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “The August 15 deadline is rapidly approaching and we want everyone who wishes to apply to have the chance to do so. Good luck to all.”
PERMITS: This year the Department is issuing 34,160 Any-Deer Permits for Wildlife Management Districts 12-13, 15-17, 20-26 and 29. It is Bucks Only in all other Wildlife Management Districts.
ONLINE DEADLINE: Online applications are due by 11:59 p.m. on August 15, 2012.
SEASON DATES: Deer hunting season (firearms) begins with Youth Deer Hunting Day on Saturday, Oct. 20. Youth may take a buck statewide or an antlerless deer only in wildlife management districts where any-deer permits will be issued this fall.
This year, Maine Residents Only Day is Saturday, Oct. 27, and deer season (firearms) runs Oct. 29 through Nov. 24.
For more any-deer lottery information, please select this link: http://www.maine.gov/ifw/licenses_permits/lotteries/anydeer/index.htm.
It is free to apply for the lottery. The drawing will take place on Sept. 7.
APPLY NOW! The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and InforME, its licensing partner, have made it easier to enter the Any-Deer permit lottery online.
Here’s how it works:
To apply now, please select this link http://www5.informe.org/online/nedeer/.
If you applied for an Any-Deer permit last year, all of your information is pre-filled into this year’s online application. To start, type in your first name, last name and date of birth as you printed it on last year’s application. We’ll look up your information. Please review your personal data and make any necessary changes. It’s easy!
If you fill out an application this year – and happen to move or change your phone number before the application deadline – you can go online and edit your previously submitted Any-Deer permit application.
Once you’ve filled out your application, you’ll be able to print out a confirmation page. Also, a confirmation will be e-mailed to you. (If you do not see it in your email, check your spam box.) This way you have a printed record of the day/time of your application as well as all of the information you provided to us.
Thank you for your interest! GOOD LUCK! If you need further information, please visit www.mefishwildlife.com or call (207) 287-8000.
July 12, 2012
*Editor’s Note* Below is a letter written by Leo Kieffer in response to questions and concerns about Maine’s restriction to limit deer hunting for the state’s youth on Youth Day.
Many have asked that I put in writing my opposition to the continuation of the discriminatory Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s program that I refer to as the Northern Maine Anti Youth Program on youth deer hunting day. I am very happy to do so.
I strongly opposed this proposal when it was originally proposed when I was on the Advisory Council, and I strongly oppose it even more today. It has accomplished nothing except to totally alienate our Northern Maine youth, their parents, landowner’s who have a family, and to limit access. If these are the goals of anyone, then they can consider themselves a rousing success.
Over the years as a master Maine guide, a State Senator, a member of the SAM board of directors and having served on the IF&W advisory board I always supported managing our fishery and wildlife based on solid biological research and factual statistical information gathered from departmental records and a variety of other professional sources including a little common sense. The present Northern Maine anti youth program fails any and all of these tests.
Lets look at where this anti youth program originated. The Legislature passed LD 823 which resulted in the creation of yet another deer study or task force. The report from this group was filed with Commissioner Martin in December 2007 and has since been filed in the round file under the desk along with the others. While the report goes on and on for many pages in its redundancy the basic recommendations are itemized on pages 11 to 16.
Look on page 15, paragraph number 1 under HUNTING. This is very clear that this anti youth proposal is merely a recommendation, supported by absolutely no biological data or anything else. It was submitted for consideration by this group along with the many other recommendations, yet it is the only one that was accepted by the department. The other recommendations under paragraph 2, a. b., and c as well as all of paragraph 3 were and continue to be completely ignored. Paragraph number 1 was accepted as it cost the department nothing, required no effort and would cause the department no heartburn from 12 year olds. The other recommendations under HUNTING, paragraph 2, a, b, and c that were ignored would have required biological and statistical studies, effort and funding in some cases. This was all a very cut and dried issue as several members of this task force were departmental employees, appointed by the Commissioner, and were the very employees that were in position to make decisions on behalf of the department to either accept or reject any or all recommendations!
Even then if this recommendation had been incorporated as part of a comprehensive deer management plan, including but not limited to coyote and bear predator control, landowner relations, an attempt to limit the slaughter of our deer on our highways, shorter hunting seasons in certain areas, and other conservation issues it might have been acceptable. As a standalone item it is a sad pathetic joke to blame our northern Maine youth for the deer decline.
Because of the past two easy winters weather wise and efforts by the Aroostook County Conservation Association and others in reducing coyote numbers, there has been a remarkable increase in deer numbers east of route 11. The bear predator issue now needs to be addressed. West of route 11 the deer situation is an entirely different story. Yet management is still always based on the old North South issue. I really don’t know why we have game management districts for deer in Northern Maine. A few permits could be issued to our youth East of route 11 and do no harm to the resource and do a world of good in other ways.
The biological position of the department on this youth day issue was made very clear recently by the Commissioner at the Advisory Council meeting in Augusta on May 19, 2011. On page 3, step 2, number 1 any deer permit-youth day. Mr. Thurston stated that he would like to know the Departments biological opinion on this. Commissioner Woodcock stated there would be insignificant impact. He had talked it over with biologists and in total there weren’t many does killed on youth day. This quotation is taken directly from the meeting minutes.
While I and others believe that every deer is important, we also believe that every one of our youth, their parents, and landowners that are being lost to hunting, along with lost access, are more important than saving a very few deer on youth day for coyote feed next winter. Our youth deserve better.
R. Leo Kieffer
March 2, 2012
Many of you may already know that about 10 years ago my son and I coauthored a book called, “The Legend of Grey Ghost and Other Tales From the Maine Woods”. We sold quite a few hard cover and paper back copies but ran out of the print copies. With ebooks outselling print books, Steven and I have decided to make this great book available once again in ebook form.
If you will notice, at the top of TomRemington.com, on the menu bar, you will see, “Tom Remington’s EBook Sales“. If you click that link you will get information on “The Legend of Grey Ghost” as well as future books coming soon. The Legend can be purchased currently in two formats. At the bottom of the page, readers can click on the “BUY NOW” button. Through PayPal you will be able to purchase the book and download it to your computer hard drive. From there you can open and read the book or if you have other ebook reading devices, there are processes that exist to get this pdf version uploaded to those devices.
Or, you can follow the Amazon.com link and quickly and easily download “The Legend” to your Kindle.
Steven and I are excited about providing this opportunity for you. In addition, writing is underway and plans made for more ebooks coming soon. You don’t want to miss out.
February 16, 2012
Every governmental agency has to balance revenue with expenditures……well, “any responsible government agency” – and that phrase in quotations is truly an oxymoron. The State of Maine suffers many of the same problems as other states in outspending the revenue coming in. So what does a fish and game department do?
In this instance it must be recognized that just about every state in this country is struggling with budget issues. Much of the reason is simply a lack of tax generated revenue that isn’t meeting the desires to spend money.
However, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) doesn’t get it’s funding from general taxation. While some of its funds come from taxes on sporting goods-related products and services, the bulk comes from the collection of licensing and registration fees from users. So why should there be a shortage of revenue or overspending?
One of the reasons I have written about extensively over the years – too many non game programs being run by the MDIFW using sportsman’s money to pay for them. So, this is clearly one avenue in which the State and MDIFW can work to correct. Perhaps it is time to pay for all non game programs with general taxation and/or user fees for those that generally play for free. This effort would require budget rewrites and cuts or tax increases for other departments that would pay for the programs and services.
As they would say in Maine, I’m a “wicked” fiscal conservative. I don’t believe in throwing money at a problem and hope it fixes it. In trying economic times, as we are facing today, Maine sportsmen, citizens and all government agencies have to “suck it up”, as the saying goes. This requires making unpopular decisions by making short term decisions that will play well into long term planning.
George Smith, former executive direction for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM), writes on his blog today that MDIFW is short $900,000 with 5 months remaining in this current budget period. He also writes that MDIFW has $1.2 million in its “reserve” account and some are hollering to use that money to meet the demands of MDIFW.
Smith also writes in his Downeast Magazine blog that: “Two weeks ago the agency’s John Pratte told the committee the deer plan needed an additional $650,000 per year to be fully implemented. Some legislators appear ready to say to DIF&W Commissioner Chandler Woodcock: ok, go for it. Take that $650,000 out of your surplus and show us what you can do.” Is using up that surplus money to implement the Deer Plan what Maine should do? Or, use it for other needs within the department?
Whoa, is the cry in demanding some kind of fiscal responsibility, including transparency, from any government agency but there is one very clear thing that is too easily forgotten these days; keeping the license buyers and fee payers happy. After all, they are the biggest source of revenue and the ones with the real investment here.
While we can all harp and debate about how efficiently and effectively MDIFW spends the money it has, that department needs desperately to convince its investors that they are wise stewards of our money. Without that, all the rest is simply a practice in futility.
I ask, when was the last time any MDIFW administration went out of their way to convince the stakeholders, i.e. the revenue generators, that their money is being wisely invested?
Getting the MDIFW house in order is only one aspect of the formula for responsible management. If MDIFW can convince fee payers their existence means something and the majority of the focus is put back on providing opportunities, the department would be on the way to curing the revenue stream.
Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t that easy but it certainly would go a long way.
To increase revenue, there has to be satisfied users of the resources. If the hunting and fishing resources stink, it only stands to reason license sales will drop, and of course that means a reduction in revenue. The above suggestion of making the sportsmen happy will go a long way toward the start of rebuilding more license buyers.
Let’s face it. The only way you can sell hunting licenses is to have ample opportunities to hunt game or fish for fish, etc. The lousy deer herd has certainly cut into license sales and will continue to do so until things change.
But there are things MDIFW can do for the short term that would bolster license sales. Staring the state squarely in the face are two huge opportunities for both hunters and the MDIFW. Maine has probably the largest black bear population of any state in the Union. It was also recently announced by Lee Kantar, MDIFW head deer and moose biologist, that the moose population has grown to 75,000 or more. MDIFW needs to jump all over these two situations and accomplish two things. 1.) Provide more hunting opportunities for hunters, both in state and out of state, and 2.) Increased opportunities directly relates to increase revenue. This would help pick up the slack of a current $900,000 shortfall.
Maine must not just jump at the opportunity to grab all or some of the $1.2 million surplus without being responsible. It’s simple really: 1.) MDIFW and sportsmen need to back off on the demands for money at a time when all departments need to tighten their belts. 2.) MDIFW needs to convince license and fee buyers it is THEIR interest that is being guarded and protected and prove to them that they really have no place else to cut spending. 3.) Work toward finding how structurally to provide funding for non game programs through other departments and/or user fees for the free loaders. 4.) Take advantage of the very large bear and moose populations and provide opportunities NOW. That will give a short term increase to revenue.
If these efforts are undertaken, the short term will set the stage of long term success. I will unequivocally state that MDIFW cannot be successful and maintain a quality and responsible budget if their only attempt comes in raising fees or confiscating tax money from some place else. A quality product will yield more revenue. With continued fiscal discipline and responsibility, the result will be a well functioning fish and game department that more closely resembles the days when the sportsmen actually felt they had ownership and those “in charge” listened to them.
In closing, I might caution the efforts of some in Augusta. While the scramble is on to find money, it is prudent that in consideration of all sources of revenue, the big picture is kept in clear perspective.
Smith writes to readers that Senate President Kevin Raye has launched an effort to find other means of revenue:
In the meantime, a separate effort has been launched by Senate President Kevin Raye to find new revenue sources for DIF&W. Participating in discussions with Raye are the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, Maine Audubon, The Nature Conservancy, and the Maine Tourism Association.
Not all of these agencies have the same goals as the sportsmen who pay the bills at MDIFW. It is their investment and any perceived desperation of lacking funds that result in seeking revenue elsewhere, should never compromise the strong Maine heritage of hunting, fishing and trapping for the mere sake of throwing more money at a problem.