December 18, 2014

But, What About Predators?

Here we go! Whining and complaining about how whitetail deer harvests in many “deer hunting” states continues to drop. Complain and complain, have meetings and do some more complaining and yet? Not one stinking word spoken about predators. Not one.

If I keep saying the same thing over and over and over, maybe the problem will magically correct itself.

“The causes offered up by officials are many and varied including recent severe winters, disease, tough hunting conditions, intentional herd reduction, and fewer doe tags. Seldom do you hear anything about habitat and hunter-access loss, declining hunter interest, and mismanagement of the habitat and the deer herd…<<<Read More>>>

Round and round the mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel. The monkey thought it was all in fun…..POP GOES THE WEASEL.

Deer Season in Northeast Ends on Tough Note

“The early arrival of winter has certainly made for an interesting end to big game seasons. The snow caused deer to yard up already in some areas, and guys I have talked to have seen very little movement over the past couple of weeks.”<<<Read More>>>
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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.

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>>>

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Monster Whitetail Taken in Prentiss, Maine

More Pictures and Information HERE:

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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.

By Funding Trophy Wolf Hunts, We’re Destroying Real Game Hunts

wolfutahIt seems just a short while ago that wolf (re)introduction happened – 1995 and 1996. A lot of water has passed under the bridge and as the water moved downstream, it has blended in with a lot of other water, not becoming lost but perhaps unrecognizable.

As most of you know, I’m writing a book about wolves. Actually it’s really not about wolves other than to point out the obvious behaviors of the animal. The book is more about the corruption. However, in working to put all this information together, I’ve come across some things that I had written about in which I had actually forgotten.

It really began in early 2009, when there was a glimmer of hope that wolves might come off the Endangered list and residents in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming could begin killing the animal to get it back down to 100 wolves as promised in the Final Environmental Impact Statement. What? Had you forgotten?

Around about that same time, I began reading about the plans Idaho was going to begin formulating in preparation for wolf hunts. I said then that utilizing a season for “trophy” wolf hunting would not work.

I wrote a five-part series that I know some of you have read, perhaps more than once, called “To Catch a Wolf” – an historical account of the extreme difficulty people had throughout history trying to control wolves to stop them from killing livestock and attacking people.

The real joke was when Idaho officials, in a fraudulent attempt to convince anyone who would blindly listen, that trophy hunting wolves, was going to protect the elk, deer and moose herds. This did not happen. As a matter of fact, it so much did not happen, that Idaho Fish and Game took to helicopters to gun down wolves in the Lolo Region because officials were willing to admit there was a wolf problem….or maybe they were just placating the sportsmen. They killed 5 wolves and yet somehow they want sportsmen to believe that a trophy hunting season will protect the game herds?

The myth here is that increasing or decreasing wolf tags will grow or shrink elk, deer and moose herds. Sorry, but controlling elk, deer and moose tags controls elk, deer and moose herds. Select-harvesting a handful of wolves does nothing to protect game herds.

Why, then, are Idaho sportsmen continuing to fund a fraudulent trophy wolf hunting season that may actually be causing the further destruction of the elk, deer and moose they so much wish to protect and grow?

On November 30, 2012, I wrote and published the following article. I took the liberty to embolden some statements I wish to now more fully draw your attention to.

Trophy Hunting Season on Wolves Destroying More Elk, Moose and Deer?

Recently I read a comment made by Bob Ream, chairman of the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) Commission, state that:

We [MFWP] have implemented more and more aggressive wolf harvests. We also increased lion harvests considerably this year.

The word aggressive is certainly an overused adjective used much in the same fashion as say a male peacock when he displays his tail feathers. In the context used in the quote above, I’m assuming Mr. Ream intended his use of the word aggressive to mean something to be proud of, a feat of accomplishment or something related. But when talking about wolves, killing, attacks, predation, hunting, trapping, disease and every aspect associated with gray wolves, “implementing[ed] more and more aggressive wolf harvests” kind of rings a bit hollow.

In its simplest form, wolves, at least under the existing conditions in most of Montana, Idaho and Wildlife, grow and expand at a rate of anywhere between 20% and 30%, I am told and have read as well. Estimates of wolf populations mean little except in political and emotional battles because nobody knows how many there are and they are lying if they tell you otherwise. For the sake of argument, I have read that the tri-state region of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming have at least 6,000 wolves. On the top end I’ve heard 15,000 but I’m going to guess that might be high but then again I don’t live there and spend time in the woods.

If there were 6,000 wolves then math tells us that 1200 – 1800 wolves should be killed each year just to sustain the population at 6,000; and states like Montana, who according to Bob Ream, are aggressively killing more wolves.

But now the question has been brought up that perhaps states offering hunting and trapping seasons, based on the principle of “trophy” and “big game” hunting and trapping, might be causing even more game animals, like elk, moose and deer, to be killed. Is this possible?

It was nearly 4 years ago that I wrote a series, “To Catch a Wolf“. Much of the purpose of that series and other related articles, was to explain how difficult it is to kill a wolf; historically and globally. It’s one of the hardest things to do over a prolonged period of time and that’s why I chuckle at comments like Bob Ream’s when he describes the MFWP actions toward killing wolves as aggressive. There is NOTHING aggressive about trophy hunting wolves.

The process was long and mostly wrought with illegal actions and corruption, but eventually, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming got the infamous and controversial gray wolf removed from protections of the Endangered Species Act and trophy hunting seasons commenced; after all, wasn’t that the target goals of each of the states’ fish and game departments?

And so how’s that “aggressive” hunting and trapping going to reduce wolf populations?

If any of this isn’t complicated and wrought with emotion and irrational thinking enough already, in an email exchange I received today, the idea was presented that hunting a token number of wolves, in other words, managing them as a game species and classified as a trophy animal, might actually be only amounting to breeding a healthier, less stressful wolf that will eat more elk, deer and moose and become an even larger creature than it already is, further capable of killing more and bigger prey.

This idea is based in science, although those who don’t like the science disregard it. The science is the topic of wolf size. Most people are of the thought that a wolf’s size is determined by the species or subspecies the wolf comes from. I’m not going to pretend I have a full grasp of this science but will pass on that the essence of wolf size is determined mostly by food supply.

Consider then this premise to manage wolves as a big game species, which is what is being done in Montana and Idaho. The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, which includes managing game for surplus harvest, has worked marvelously well over the years, producing in places too many of certain game species. We certainly don’t want that for wolves as the proportion of wolves to prey/game species will soon get all out of whack. Our only hope then, is that the fish and game departments will fail as miserably managing wolves as they have elk, moose and mule/whitetail deer.

There is a reason why honest wildlife managers classify bona fide game animals as such and coyotes (and it should be also wolves) varmints to be shot and killed on site. It’s the only way to keep them at bay. This would be considered an aggressive move toward wolf control. Anything, short of an all out organized program to extirpate the wolf, would work just dandy and would never danger the future existence of this animal.
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In the years that I have written about wolves, wolf “management” and the political nonsense that goes hand in hand with it, it certainly appears to me that there has become quite an effort among sportsmen to protect THEIR “trophy” wolf hunts. Is that in the best interest of actually regaining a vibrant elk, deer and moose population, that is supposed to be managed for surplus harvest, according to Idaho code?

In its most basic form, at least ask yourself how that “aggressive” trophy wolf hunting is effecting the elk, deer and moose herds? At the same time, what has become and continues to become of those elk tags? There just aren’t enough “trophy” wolf hunters to be effective and supporting the farce perpetuated by Idaho Fish and Game isn’t helping. It’s the same as buying a fifth of gin for a gin-soaked homeless fool.

As was relayed to me today, it seems the, “participants are in a race for the final bull elk or big buck in various units.” That’s the direction it seems we are headed.

Here’s a mini refresher course in promised wolf management. When the Final Environmental Impact Statement was approved, leading to the Final Rule on Wolf Reintroduction, the citizens of the Northern Rocky Mountain Region, where wolves were to be (re)introduced, were promised several things. First, we were promised that wolves would be “recovered,” a viable, self-sustaining population, when 10 breeding pairs and 100 wolves existed in three separate wolf management zones for three consecutive years. Those numbers were achieved by 2003. What happened? Nothing but lawsuits and wolves didn’t finally get delisted until 2011 due to legislative action.

All promises made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were based on 30 breeding pairs and 300 wolves. They lied!

Second, citizens of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming were promised that wolves would have no measurable impact on wild game herds. The only thing that might possibly be needed was a slight 10% or less reduction in cow elk tags should the occasion arise for the need to boost elk production in exceptional cases.

So, I ask. How many elk tags have been lost since those promises were made? As a matter of fact, all promises made were reneged on. There is no reason to believe or support anything promised us by government. Stop giving government money to run their con game. At this rate game animals will all be gone soon enough and no hunting opportunities will prevail….except possibly trophy wolf tags.

What will it be. As the old saying goes, “Pay me now or pay me later.”

You Can’t Borrow My Axe Because It’s Tuesday

I have, on occasion – okay, well maybe a bit more than occasionally – told the ancient story of how a neighbor came to ask if he could borrow an axe. The man said, “No, it’s Tuesday.” In puzzlement the neighbor asks, “What’s Tuesday have to do with it?” The man replied, “Nothing! But if I don’t want you to borrow my axe, one excuse is as good as another.”

And so we have it. From an article found in the Jamestown Press, the island located in Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island, is overrun with deer and people are fretting about contracting Lyme disease. The Town Council have approved a plan to allow volunteer hunters to kill the deer with a goal to reduce the deer population on the island down to about 10 deer per square mile. The current density stands at around 50 deer per square mile.

While it is hoped that reducing the deer population, down to something manageable, it will also decrease the incidence of Lyme disease occurring in humans. However, there are those opposed to killing deer to solve the problem.

There is considerable arguments for and against whether culling deer herds in Lyme tick-infested regions reduces Lyme disease. We know that deer aren’t the cause of Lyme disease, they just become a good breeding source for the tick that carries the disease. The thought process is that reducing the number of deer will decrease the amount of tick reproduction. But opponents to killing deer (I guess they would rather kill humans) say reducing the deer population doesn’t do any good…..well, unless of course you lower it to say, 10 deer per square mile and keep it that way and that probably would involve an ongoing management plan that involves continuous harvesting of deer.

Odd that while not the Lyme tick, the winter “moose tick” in Maine is troublesome and biologists there believe that reducing the number of moose would result in a reduction of the ticks. But that’s moose ticks and nothing would be as absurd as concluding that reducing deer numbers would reduce Lyme ticks. Pffft!

But what’s this got to do with the neighbor and his axe? Well, nothing but it does have to do with excuses. Based on the article linked to above, it is loaded with whining, bitching and complaining about everything that won’t work and yet, nobody offers any ideas of what will. Is this a case of people just not wanting anybody to hunt deer and so one excuse is just as good as another?

Maine “Any-Deer Permit” Lottery Results

Published online through the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Website, hunters can find results of the recent lottery draw for “Any-Deer Permits.” An “Any-Deer Permit” allows a hunter to harvest a deer of either sex within the zone for which the applicant had applied.

Click on this link and then the matching first letter of an applicant’s last name. Scroll to search for your name.