January 21, 2019

Maine: All Aboard for the IFW Commissioner Cocoa-Puff Train?

Golly gee whiz! Seems everyone is all on board for the governor-elect’s nomination of Judy Camuso as the new commissioner of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) – that is all except those who want to end bear hunting…and hunting, trapping, and fishing in general.

Up front let me say, I honestly do not know enough about the former head of the Division of Wildlife for MDIFW to make an intelligent decision for or against her nomination to head up that department. And if that statement doesn’t make any sense to some, let me just say I’m neither for nor against.

I am, however, a bit more of an independent thinker than some. Earlier I wrote about how I mostly believed that when the Wildlife Director Camuso became the quasi-mouthpiece for MDIFW in discussions involving the environmentalist’s second referendum to end bear hunting, she assumed that position more than likely because commissioner Chandler Woodcock asked her to. She may have also eagerly volunteered. I just don’t know and before her approval, I think all of us deserve to know.

So what does that mean? Who knows. It may mean nothing or it may mean everything. When the candidate for the commissioner’s chair says she won’t talk until after the nomination and selection process, how are any of us supposed to know whether the boot fits on the left or right foot?

What concerns me are those who point blank support Camuso’s nomination because she was that mouthpiece. Is it that people just don’t get it or are they so shallow-thinking they believe 100% that the items she appeared to support as the MDIFW’s mouthpiece are her own beliefs? Maybe they are maybe they are not. How many times in political history have people supported one person only later to find out they were wolves in sheep’s clothing? Too numerous to try to mention.

We may not find out for sure until it’s too late.

The Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM), head of the Maine Guides Association, and other outdoor writers have come out “all in” for Camuso’s selection. Probably some of these individuals and groups know a lot more about Camuso’s political ideology and how heavily engrained in Voodoo Science and Romance Biology she is than I am. If so, they seemed quite tight lipped about it.

One such outdoor writer who I am a strong supporter of, in his recent article stated that he thought supporting Camuso was a good idea. But perhaps the major reason he gave for that support isn’t the best one. He wrote: “Because Camuso was a strong and effective advocate for the game management value of recreational bear hunting during the controversial bear referendum, her appointment, however,will no doubt be opposed by the anti-bear hunting faction. For most of us in the sporting community, her role in that debate is reason alone to support her appointment with vigor.”

Is it reason enough, and “with vigor?”

Evidently.

Historically we see where voters cast a ballot for someone for similar reasons only to discover the error of their ways later on. As well, think of some of the recent nominations made by so-called “conservative” presidents to the Supreme Court, i.e. Souter and Kennedy (Bush and Reagan). (This is where I insert: BUT DON’T GO LOOK!)

Let me repeat, I am neither for nor against the nomination of Judy Camuso. As I said, I don’t know enough about her to know whether she will be a good commissioner. One thing is certain, I would want her in my employment because we do know that she was faithful in being Chandler Woodcock’s (Governor’s?) mouthpiece. If she is commissioner, will she exemplify the same management practices or will, as the appointment of a pretty left-wing democrat governor, go “all in” for Voodoo Science and Romance Biology?

For my dollar, I would rather base any decision about this appointment on a whole lot more than the fact that she is at least good at doing what her boss told her to do.

I wish others, instead of jumping in feet first and remaining submerged, would demand a lot more answers to certain questions rather than make assumptions…”with vigor.”

Don’t regret your support. Do your homework. She could be in charge for 8 years…8 very long years, perhaps.

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When Deer Management Seems Stupid

According to an article published at the Bangor Daily News website, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) are in the fifth year of a deer collaring study. Most of us know that MDIFW has been extremely secretive about the study and any results they have received and collected from this effort.

The article states the following: “At this point, Bieber is still in the data-gathering phase of the study, which has been aided by the cooperation of the University of Maine, the University of New Brunswick, J.D. Irving Ltd., the Passamaquoddy Nation and the Quality Deer Management Association.

He looks forward to a time when the department can use the data that is being collected to formulate management decisions. To date, the data that has been gathered in the GPS study has not been utilized in management efforts.

“Every year when we allocate for [any-deer] permits, we do make adjustments based on winter severity. It’ll be nice to be able to look back on what we’ve done in the past and see if those decisions were sound. And if not, we’ll be able to adjust according to the data that we have now,” Bieber said.”

Does this make much of sense? Why would the gathering of data for at least 4 years be disregarded in any deer management decisions? The last paragraph says that when the MDIFW allocates “Any-Deer Permits” (ADP) they make adjustments based on “winter severity.” And yet this study is mostly aimed at determining the affects of winter severity as well as other mortality causes.

This past deer hunting season, the state allocated a record number of ADPs, and now we are learning the decision to do so was NOT based at all on any data obtained over the past 4 years from their study on the effects of winter severity? Why does that not make much sense at all?

For those who spend a great deal of time studying and following such things as deer management, it’s easy to determine that management decisions made at the department level run a minimum of three years behind actual events taking place on the ground. This effort not only substantiates that claim but extends that fault out to at least five years. Isn’t that one of the biggest problems with game management? Of course it is. And yet, the MDIFW has at least four years of winter severity data on whitetail deer and according to Maine’s head deer biologist, none of that data is being used and was not used in deciding to allot a record number of ADPs for last deer hunting season.

We live in an era of instant information availability. How many decades has it taken the MDIFW to take advantage of this reality to finally put together a digital, online tagging system that gives managers instant data? And now, managers are receiving real time data from their collaring study and for at least four years are not using the data. How many decades will it take at the conclusion of this study before any of that data will be implemented into management decisions?

Perhaps all of the decisions made for managing deer are based solely on social demands with no consideration for scientific data. If so, why doesn’t MDIFW stop wasting their time and our money with senseless “studies?”

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Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine Gets it Mostly Right

Below is a copy of a letter Executive Director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM), David Trahan, included in his latest report. According to the letter, SAM has rescinded its support of Central Maine Power Company’s plans to cut another power line through Northwestern Maine in order to provide additional power sources from Canada to Massachusetts.

According to Trahan, SAM polled its members and “an overwhelming percentage of our members are opposed to the NECEC Corridor extension.”  He further goes on to write that of the remainder of the members polled, “most are undecided and only a small percentage support the effort.”

Having said that, it is a bit puzzling to me why the executive director then continues to tell CMP, “…we will now take a more neutral, neither for nor against, posture.”

While it is no question SAM is eating some crow, can anyone with a straight face rescind support by assuming a position of neither for nor against and be carrying out the wishes of the “overwhelming” majority of SAM members?

I think I understand the difficult position of SAM’s “humility” in this announcement, of which many are grateful for, while extolling the support of CMP allowing access to their many power lines, but has SAM now actually spoken and spoken honestly for its members by gleaning their survey results for overwhelming opposition to the project while attempting to somehow remain neutral?

Hmmmm.

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Maine Legislature To Consider 14 “Gestapoesque” Gun Bills

With the Democrats taking over the Maine Legislature, as near as I can tell they plan to introduce a minimum of 12 gun control, rights destroying bills that will do nothing to stop what it is the progressives believe they can stop. So, what else is new?

Without having the text of each and every bill, at this point all we can do is go by the titles of the bills. For those with a brain, we know that most bill’s titles are deceptive at best and an outright lie in most cases.

If we examine the titles, the Democrats intend to ban large capacity magazines (whatever that is); protect children by requiring safe storage of guns (whatever that is); mandatory background checks for anyone who even thinks about a gun (whatever that is); a prohibition that would stop “extremely dangerous and suicidal individuals” (whatever that is) from owning a gun; allow municipalities to ban guns wherever they choose; establish a “voluntary” (whatever that is) gun collection day (all unwanted guns can be dropped off at my house); waiting periods they believe will reduce suicides and violent crimes (chuckle).

What a waste of time.

I would suppose we can also expect abortions to increase, Welfare to explode, illegal immigration to expand exponentially, unemployment to go up and free CELLPHONES for everyone.

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Maine Hunting And Fishing: Not Marketed or Not Attractive?

George Smith’s article in the Bangor Daily news says, “DIF&W used to work with the outdoor industry, including guides and sporting camps, to market hunting and fishing in our state. But they don’t do that today.”

Is that the job of government, to market private business and industry? Some would think so. They might even invoke the “Commerce Clause” in the U.S. Constitution which states: “To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.”

The Commerce Clause says its purpose is to “regulate” not necessarily to market and promote. Of course, for those who have spent some time studying the Commerce Clause, we know how the tyrannical government has abused the clause with its mandate to “regulate” to control and manipulate private business and the people of this country in ways that require a vivid imagination to link certain laws with Article I, Section 8, Clause 3.

Personally, I don’t think it is the job of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) to market hunting and fishing, but is that really the issue in Maine? Is the state in need of marketing hunting and fishing or is it a problem of “if you build it, they will come?” By this I mean is Maine an attractive enough place to hunt and fish that those capable and interested in traveling to other places beyond their home state to hunt and fish would find appealing enough to do so?

I would suppose that much involved in answering that question is based upon one’s perspective. It is mostly all relative to what a person might find attractive.

Also bear in mind that from what I gather talking to locals throughout the state, there’s not a lot of interest in bringing in outsiders to spread thinner the dwindling supplies of fish and game. Can we blame them? If that is understandable, are these same locals interested in their hard-earned money being used to promote private business? What’s in it for them? Maybe a few other private businesses may profit from more out-of-staters coming to hunt and fish but the majority of Maine hunters and fisherman are more interested in filling their freezers with game – a product that seems to be dwindling in Maine which might be the biggest reason these businesses, in part, are struggling to make ends meet.

Let’s take a look at a few of these fish and game species and see how attractive they are.

Maine is noted for having good trout fishing and yet the most popular fishing is for bass. Does Maine do a good job of promoting bass fishing or is it all trout fishing? 

Deer hunting is a struggling enterprise. Where once population objectives for deer were sought to be around 350,000 animals, the newest plan for deer management is calling for around 200,000 deer by the year 2020. Even though the most recent deer harvest was better than it has been in the past ten years, two things directly contributed to the increase – snow to hunt on and a record number of “Any-Deer Permits” issued (an issuance that makes little sense to many.)

Examination of data seems to indicate that as the deer harvest shrinks, along with it is the number and size of “trophy” class bucks. With a success rate below 20% and a shrinking trophy-class bucks, what’s the attraction that’s worth MDIFW spending time, personnel and money to market? (Note: Those who can afford to come to Maine “from away” to trophy hunt are the wealthy – aren’t they?)

Bear hunting attracts out-of-state hunters but an overabundance of the animals directly competes with deer and moose growth and bear are fond of fawns and calves for their meals.

MDIFW admits they need to reduce the bear population but so far have shown they have no serious intentions of doing anything about it. They whimper at the demands of guides and outfitters who want bountiful bear to keep their clientele happy. Is this the results we would get if MDIFW marketed hunting and fishing? No thanks!

Turkeys are a nuisance. All I have heard all year long is people commenting, both positively and negatively, about turkeys. There are just far too many of them and not very many people have an interest in hunting them. It is historically proven that when society begins to perceive any animal in a negative way, managers lose support for their programs. Perhaps it is time to allow the hunting of turkeys with a big game license, for both in-state and out-of-state hunters. There may be an interest in taking a few turkeys if hunters didn’t have to buy a special permit to do so. That might be a way of “marketing” hunting in the state while at the same time solve the turkey problem. But, then again, turkey hunting is prevalent and available in so many places the market is saturated. What does Maine have that other states don’t?

Which brings us to moose hunting. Year after year we hear repeatedly the disappointment of never getting drawn for a moose permit. It seems perhaps the program more resembles that of the king’s than a resource for all to enjoy. The program seems to benefit the wealthy in buying points etc. The other problem that exists with moose is one that seems to be backfiring into the faces of MDIFW from greed. The greed comes from trying to grow so many moose they can demand more money for the hunt and at the same time keep businesses trying to eke out a living through moose gawking tours. Now there is a tick and disease problem that is working to mitigate the greed. Where this will end who is certain?

With limited resources and plans for the future that appear to be calling for even fewer hunting opportunities, what’s to market? I spent many years of my earlier life in business. I never asked, nor did I want, government’s “help” with anything. As a matter of fact, I wanted them to butt out of my business knowing that any “help” they offered came in the form of more control and restrictions that directly limited my ability to prosper.

Maybe business owners, no matter who they are or what their business it, should move further away from centralized social government (what can my government do for me) and do what they can to get government out of their businesses so they can be free to change with the times. We have all been programmed to believe government is the answer. When will we learn?

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HURRAH! Maine Provides Deer Harvest Total

For the first time ever, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has provided interested hunters with a pretty close estimate of what the total deer harvest was for 2018. This total includes all the seasons – 32,438. Wonderful.

According to the Bangor Daily News, the majority of the increase in deer harvest happened in Central and Southern Maine where a record number of “Any-Deer Permits” (ADP) were issued, much to the chagrin of many who thought that increase, coming at a time when Maine is struggling to sustain a healthy viable deer population, was unwise. Nothing can be extrapolated from these early numbers as to the effects of a record number of ADPs and the real effect on the deer herds in Central and Southern Maine.

It should be a marvelous thing that hunters and other interested people can, while fresh in their minds, gain a better understanding of what just took place and carry that interest forward to following deer seasons. The way MDIFW has operated in the past by not providing any information on deer harvest has left many hunters with a feeling that MDIFW doesn’t care. Regardless of the reasons MDIFW failed to provide information that would have helped to give hunters a greater sense of ownership and involvement in deer management, hopefully that ancient and closed-mouth approach is history as MDIFW has entered the modern technological world when it comes to tabulating deer harvest.

What I am wondering is if MDIFW will provide the public with more information from these numbers – areas of increased harvest and why. Surely, with a record number of ADPs issued, one should expect the deer harvest would have had an increase. In addition, snow to hunt on for a good portion of the season had to have directly contributed to the increase. Let’s hope the increase harvest happened in those areas that MDIFW claims needed to be reduced and we haven’t further deteriorated a struggling deer herd.

We are all thankful for MDIFW getting this new technology into place. Now let’s keep the ball rolling and continue to improve on this. I have mentioned before that biologists and managers have access to essentially realtime tagging data. It should be with ease that MDIFW can place a page on their website where interested people can log in and view that same realtime data. The more that MDIFW can keep the interest of hunters growing, it will be a win-win for everyone. Let us more easily have access to that information. What’s to hide? 

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Ayuh! A Biggun! Wicked Lotta Hohns Too!

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Too Many Deer Being Harvested?

Yeah, I know. I’m never satisfied. It’s either too hot or too cold, etc. However, just asking!

According to Bill Green of Bill Green’s Maine, hunters have taken 30,299 deer through the regular firearms season. Muzzleloader season remains.

Last season, 2017, total deer harvest of all disciplines, totaled 27,233. Easily Maine will exceed a 10% increase in deer harvested. Last year Maine muzzleloader hunters took 970 deer, so we might add another 1,000 deer to the 30,299 when harvest totals are completed.

I have discussed numbers and asked questions before, so let’s do this one more time. In 2017 Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) allotted 66,050 “Any-Deer Permits” (ADP) with tags used totaling 6,054 doe (antlerless) deer. This harvest was 13% less than deer manager’s harvest projections.

My question going into this deer hunting season with MDIFW issuing a record number of ADPs, 84,745, was why did the projected “Any-Deer” harvest fall 13% short? Evidently, MDIFW managers believe that increasing the number of ADPs will increase the number of females, or antlerless deer harvested. But, do we know that falling short of projections was the result of not enough permits issued? It is important to have this information.

There’s a problem with issuing record numbers of ADPs, even if the majority of those ADPs are issued for Wildlife Management Districts (WMD) with more deer per square mile than managers desire – and one of those problems is what we have seen this season with hunters being able to hunt on lots of snow (in many places) for extended periods of time (three weeks in most of Western Maine).

I don’t have any scientific data to support any claim that it seems that it is in those areas with the most snow, falling on the earliest dates, are in those WMDs where deer per square mile is extremely sparse. With early snow in those areas combined with a record number of ADPs, have we harvested too many deer? What will this cost us?

While it is nice for hunters that 31,000 deer have been harvested, the increase in harvest is NOT due to an increase in the overall population of deer throughout the state. What does this mean for next year’s deer harvest? While it’s too early to predict, with better than two feet of snow on the ground in the Western Foothills, and we haven’t reached December yet, are we staring down the barrel of another “severe” winter that will wipe out the rest of the herd? Do deer managers factor in the possibility of hunters having snow to hunt on nearly the entire season, which in and of itself causes harvest numbers to increase? This amount of snow this early is not even close to approaching normal. (Damned the Global Warming)

Are we going to pay for this and if so, how much?

Addendum:

I have spent many years bitching and complaining that MDIFW cannot get deer harvest numbers out to the public in some time period less than 6-8 months after the fact. MDIFW has finally done it and digitalized the tagging process so that this information is at the hands of managers instantly.

While it appears that the only way to get that information is to contact someone at MDIFW and hope for cooperation, we can get occasional updates from media sources who get cooperation, such as Bill Green.

I have expressed that there are few excuses to use that would prohibit the managers from placing live tagging information on the MDIFW website and would certainly like to see this in another year. We’ll see.

With that all said, congratulations and thank you to the personnel at MDIFW for getting this task moved into the modern era and that we can at least have harvest data that we don’t have to wait months for.

*Editor’s Note* – Within moments of publishing this report, MDIFW published a press release with deer harvest information. You can read their report by clicking on this link.

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A Most Different Thanksgiving

Yesterday, I awoke around 5 a.m. to -2 degrees F. Need I remind readers it is only November? With around 16 inches of snow on the ground and the wind whipping at times to 25 miles per hour, I’m not such a die-hard whitetail deer hunter, anymore, that I felt inspired to get out in this crap. Instead, I journeyed east on a three-hour car ride for Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends.

My eighteen-year-old Florida van, that has never seen salt or any temperatures below 32 degrees, made some of the darndest noises as it mumbled and grumbled in protest even louder than I was. I kept asking questions like, what the heck is that noise and consoling the old girl telling her it will be okay. You’ll be back in Florida in a couple of weeks, and I’ll give you a nice bath.

As in most any car, regardless of its age, riding on frozen Maine highways makes you think something has seriously happened to the suspension. By the time I got to my destination, I got a rush of memories of winters of many years gone by when I spotted the dark brown globs of frozen slush directly behind each wheel. The frozen reminders of nastiness were all large enough that the tires themselves kept the size shaved down, and each time I hit a “frost heave” or a pothole, the compression of the vehicle kept the bottoms of each mini iceberg from growing beyond its maximum.

As I drove along the highway, carefully monitoring my engine temperature gauge wondering if I have the right mixture of coolant/antifreeze to keep the engine from freezing, I began to reminisce about what the sides of the roads used to look like on Thanksgiving Day – each old logging road would have a car or truck parked in it, as hunters have hit the woods. In my 3-hour journey, mostly covering back roads, I saw none. I took notice of all vehicles I spotted, looking for “hunter orange” clothing – hats, vests, jackets, even the now shied away from rifle racks for fear of “offending” someone. I saw three that I suspected were going to or coming from hunting.

Is this the case because it was so cold? It’s been cold before. Is it because it was a holiday? Isn’t it a Maine tradition for hunting families to have Thanksgiving dinner after dark because the daytime is spent trying in near desperation to fill that tag? Or maybe there just aren’t many people left who hunt – perhaps because there are so few deer left, getting motivated to hunt in the cold is extremely difficult to do.

It’s Friday morning now. The temperature on my deck thermometer reads 10 degrees – “We’re having a heat wave!” There are today and tomorrow and then the deer hunting season draws to an end. I’m struggling to reason and to find excuses I guess. There’s snow to hunt on but it’s a bit deep and crusty/crunchy. It is also cold to be out long.

What to do? I leave for Florida for the winter in just a few days. Do I want to shoot a deer and then rush around to get the deer processed? I’ve frozen the meat and packed it in ice for the trip to Florida before, but I’m not sure I want to do that again.

The forecast says Saturday, the last day, high temps here are to reach a balmy 33 degrees.

Maybe tomorrow will be a better day for us fair-weather fairies to take one more whack at it.

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Maine’s Deer Harvest Numbers

There are 5 more days, including today, to hunt whitetail deer in Maine. With the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s (they must all be on vacation) new digital, instant tagging technology, we have been told that Maine’s deer harvest so far is…ah…er…well. Maybe next year.

God, technology is a beautiful thing!

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