January 18, 2020

What Might You Have to Eat to Survive?

Field and Stream runs an article about a survivalist in Maine who says that surviving on beaver brains and beaver eyeballs, that “they are both pretty good.”

I pray I never HAVE to resort to choosing whether or not to eat beaver brains. I am thankful that I have more brains than a beaver. I’m not sure I can say that about everyone.

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Continuing Maine’s Secret Moose Study

Once again we get trickles of information from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) about their ongoing moose study. Did you know that MDIFW has been conducting a moose study for the past 6 years? Did you know they are or were (who knows, it’s secret I guess) in the midst of a deer study? More than likely you don’t know about these, but, if you do, you know very little about it, as do I.

It seems to me that the pattern that is in operation is that when it becomes necessary to defend actions at the department and the defense is based on “Climate Change” (global warming) they roll out some sanitized vague report that might casually mention an item here or there of some of their findings….or not.

According to this token report, MDIFW’s head moose biologist says that in the length of time of the moose study, 500 moose have been collared. And what have tax payers been informed about during this time?

The Maine moose biologist in charge says that putting collars on 500 moose is, “a pretty big deal and provides us with a tremendous amount of information.”

When you consider how important many in the State of Maine think the moose is to the state’s economy and brand, MDIFW would share a bit more information than they do. When information is withheld, we are left with only guesses and assumptions. I have to assume results of their studies aren’t showing the hoped-for outcome that supports their incorrect theories that are based on Global Warming Climate Change.

Aren’t license fees now paying more money specifically for someone assigned to “educate” and share information about events at MDIFW?

In the last 3 months, we know (from MDIFW website) that there was an ATV crash, a canoe tipped over, there’s a biased, outcome-based furbearer study, some Game Warden news, MDIFW needs help finding Chronic Wasting Disease, Climate Change is changing things (so they choose to believe), and fishing laws are available. What about the piping plover? Gasp! We’re all gonna die!!!!

Did you know Maine had a moose hunt? A deer hunt? A bear hunt? Yeah, I know. Shhhhh! Some environmentalist might not like to hear about that. Let’s see, Environmentalists typically don’t contribute a dime to wildlife management, but seem to get the most attention. Is this a tactic to get general taxation money to fund fish and game so Environmentalism can completely take over the department? Seems that way.

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Maine: Increasing Game Harvests. All Talk

According to Maine outdoor writer George Smith, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) is “talking” about how to increase game harvests across parts of the state on some of the game species. As the Toby Keith country musician’s lyrics go, “…a little less talk and a lot more action.”

According to Smith, the Maine Guides are objecting to any increase in bear harvest bag limits (they think they own the bear hunt.) Which reminds me of a joke I once heard. A man died and went to heaven. While standing in line waiting to get his instructions from St. Peter, he kept hearing Peter telling people things like, “You are in room 12. Go down this hall, but when you go by room 1, be very, very quiet.” Peter told this to everyone in line. When the man got there, he asked Peter why he had to be quiet when he passed room 1. Peter answered, “Room 1 is where all the politicians Maine Guides are. They think they are the only ones up here.”

I guess we should hold out some level of hope that “talking” about what to do about increasing harvest of certain game animals, will lead to positive change. But if history continues to repeat itself, don’t expect change.

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Maine: Hunting Ethics and Hunting in Deer Yards

I read a very good article this morning written by Maine’s outdoor writer Bob Humphrey about issues with deer hunters being able to hunt deer in deer wintering habitat.

Often, as Mr. Humphrey points out, deer do not journey to their wintering areas until after the deer hunting season. In some cases, where winter seems to come early (where’s that Global Warming?), deer have begun to congregate in the yards before the end of the season, especially during the late-season muzzleloader hunt.

I have written about the effects of the late-season muzzleloader hunt, which appears to fall on mostly deaf ears. This article does not address the real concern with late hunts, regardless of whether those late hunts involve an early yarding up of deer.

It is accurate that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) manipulates seasons, bag limits, issuance of permits, etc. to control the deer population in Wildlife Management Districts (WMD). What is not known, because it is never discussed, is whether, in that consideration of manipulation tactics, the idea of deer harassment, which can cause a higher degree of mortality, is actually considered.

Even when winter doesn’t come early, the late-season muzzleloader hunt, causes added stress to an already stressed and weakened buck herd. The annual rut (mating season) has mostly concluded (there may be still some activity in some areas) by the end of the regular rifle season in most of Maine. The bucks can be quite worn out, having burned up stored fat supplies due to excessive “rutting” habits. With reduced fat supplies, bucks become vulnerable to the effects of severe winters.

If the deer have moved into yards early, that means conditions are such that harassment of any deer in a winter yard, places possible detrimental effects on any deer, especially a tired out buck who has been performing his duties.

When people begin discussing hunting ethics, attempting to link ethics to a decision as to whether or not certain hunting tactics should be legal or not, the discussion becomes a pitting of one person’s perspective against another. When the state makes laws prohibiting certain hunting tactics, it is no longer a matter of hunting ethics but that of legal ethics.

If the law allows hunting in deer wintering areas, whether a hunter chooses to hunt there should be decided by that individual’s preferences and perspectives. One would only hope that the deer managers are considering the mortality rates that can be attributed to late-season hunting in deer yards that is caused by the continued hunter effort and harassment, regardless of the degree of harassment.

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Deer Hunting: When Bad Becomes the Normal

I was reading a Bangor Daily News article late last night and I read a couple of things that I thought I would like to comment on.

The tone of the article seemed to want to reflect a bit of braggadocio about how terrific the Maine deer harvest was this year and how it exceeded the last ten year average.

With it in mind that “statistics prove that statistics can prove anything,” with a few mirrors and a bit of smoke, comparing a deer harvest to the ten worst years ever in Maine’s deer hunting history, would make a slight increase in numbers appear much better than it really is.

The ten-year average deer harvest, from 2009-2018, is 22,709. In the news article, comparing this year’s harvest of 28,317 to this ten-year average, makes it appear as though the Maine woods are teeming with deer. As a matter of fact the article states that Maine’s head deer biologist seems to believe that, “…the high number of deer taken was a product of favorable weather and a thriving deer herd…” Compared to what? The worst of the worst, evidently.

If we were to examine the ten-year average from 1999-2008, we find an average deer harvest of 27,465, putting this year’s harvest at about the ten-year average of 1999-2008, which is still below what Maine hunters used to experience before social pressures dictated deer management.

By comparison, if we examine the best 20-year deer harvests, dating back to 1964, we find that average to be 33,693, with the highest harvest coming in 1968 at 41,080. Geez! That’s ONLY 50 years ago!!

It should be noted that the tenth highest deer harvest during that 50-year span happened last year – 2018 when the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife decided, for some unexplained reason, to issues the most “Any-Deer Permits” ever – in excess of 48,000 of them. Is it any wonder the harvest was so high?

Maine meanders along appeasing most of the hunters and fooling a few with their magical words about a “thriving” deer herd, but the truth is, all Maine needs is one or two more “severe” winters (coming at a time when the managers promote global warming) and the deer herd will be gone.

The new normal is to compare deer harvest to the absolute worst so reality is overlook. Maine’s deer herd is NOT “thriving.” It is sustaining in some regions and continuing to drop in others.

Wouldn’t it be much better for deer management if a bit of honesty and a focus on reality is what drives it?

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Fake Eastern Gray Wolves and Destruction of a Perfectly Good Wolf Species

In an article published on the Maine Wolf Coalition’s website over a year ago, it states that in 2006 a trapper killed a 107-lb “eastern/gray” wolf. The Maine Wolf Coalition (MWC), whose stated goal is the “recovery” of wolves in Maine (evidently they have no preference as to what species or hybridized mix of canine is “recovered”), improperly tells its readers that the animal, whose information they attribute to, was a male eastern and gray wolf mixture.

An honest assessment of the piece of “scholarship” (study) “suggests” that the animal in question, killed south of the St. Lawrence River, was some kind of, at least, partly domesticated hybrid of some canine that fed mostly on livestock and pets.

But here’s the real crime in all of this dog perversion and demands to “recover” wolves, not just in Maine, but anywhere. Those supporting “wolf recovery” are willing, either through ignorance of animal obsession, or both, especially dogs, to totally destroy the actual gray wolf species to get some kind of wild dog roaming about the woods. This makes no sense and presents a good case to support the claim of insanity.

It has already been proven, many times, that the wild canines that inhabit anywhere in the Lower United States, is not a pure wolf but some add-mixture of wild and domestic dogs/canines. Dog lovers then want these hybrid canines to be labeled some kind of wolf, i.e. red, Mexican, etc. So long as the criminals in Government continue to protect these disease-riddled hybrid dogs, they are contributing to the destruction of the actual species. Aren’t there laws that are supposed to prohibit such actions and behaviors?

According to an article found in Deer and Deer Hunting (online), wolves in certain counties of Wisconsin now are responsible for killing more deer than gun hunters do.

In Maine, the deer herd in most of the state, geographically speaking, is in terrible condition. Northern Maine is lucky to find deer numbers that approach 2 or 3 animals per square mile. Poor management of moose has caused North America’s largest ungulate to suffer from winter ticks due to uncontrolled growth in the population. Government officials will claim that moose and deer do not compete with each other but there is little explanation as to why, when there are lots of moose there are few deer.

Maine’s black bear population is out of control and the Legislature, in their incompetence and ignorance, refuse to do anything sensible about the problem. In the meantime, an overgrown population of bears is destroying the deer herd, along with packs of hybrid wild canines, deer have little chance. And, with all this, a group wants “wolves” recovered. NUTS!!!!

The insanity in all this is that groups like the Maine Wolf Coalition want what they call wolves “recovered” clearly at the expense of all else. If these groups cared about the real wolf, they would be looking at destroying and preventing the spread of these hybrid canines. But they are not. They just want some kind of dog they can call a wolf.

Among this insanity, people work feverishly to protect large predators, most of which are direct competitors with humans in the food chain. These predator protectors wrongfully make claim that people don’t need to hunt to eat. They obviously have never lived under conditions where people still need to hunt for food. Besides, even if people didn’t NEED to hunt for food, it is insanity to suggest protecting disease-spreading animals that directly remove food from the mouths of people. It’s as insane as supplementing gasoline by destroying a perfectly good food source.

Wolves have their place in wilderness settings. They do not belong in human-settled landscapes because of public safety, health, food competition, and the actual destruction of the wolf species.

In America there are so many domestic dogs…I mean we are talking millions and millions of them, with millions running unleashed and cross breeding with any other wild or semi-wild canine (dog). The result is a mongrel dog worth little to a society, a direct threat to wild canines – wolves and coyotes. To claim this hybrid mixture as worthy of protection, is insane; it is a knife to our own throats.

If Americans want wolves and coyotes, real ones, on their landscape, then domestic dogs need to be drastically reduced or serious penalties levied against anyone who allows their pet dogs to run free.

What do you think will happen?

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Hypocritical Ignorance and Public Lands

Lands supposedly bought and paid for with the money extorted from the public taxpayer, offering tribute in order to avoid imprisonment from the king and his men, we have been led to believe that when such actions happen, the lands should be widely left open and accessible to all those wishing to enjoy it. That is, after all, how socialism works?

Recently, the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM), wrote a column in a Maine newspaper explaining, in his opinion, that should the Maine Legislature, being strong-armed by environmentalists and animal rights groups to limit use and access to public lands by hunting, fishing, and trapping, could result in a reduction in support for the Land for Maine’s Future program designed to protect lands for everyone to enjoy.

While an honest and not necessarily bright person can understand that any leader of a special interest group would go to bat to protect the interests of those they might represent, in this case members of SAM, nowhere in the executive director’s article did I read that SAM intended to fight against environmentalists and animal rights groups who want to limit hunters, trappers, and fishermen, in order to limit use and access to any and all others.

As Maine has come to expect, such actions are typically followed by ignorant and hypocritical screeds by members of the environmental and animal rights groups.

In one such invective, we read how it is the hunters, trappers, and fishermen who are putting the Land for Maine’s Future in jeopardy because SAM wants to protect access and use to the same degree as all other extorted taxpayers. This isn’t the case in this rebuttal.

The author, who most of Maine realizes hates hunters, trappers, and fishermen and devotes much of his time to destroy any and all of that strong and important heritage, all in the name of promoting his agendas at the cost of limiting any and all others. This it totalitarian in nature and exemplifies the foundation of Environmentalism and Animal Rights.

The author writes: “Why should the people of Maine be forced to subsidize and accept life-endangering private activities that many do not approve of in order to preserve the land for the public?”

Perhaps this should be answered with another question. Why should the people of Maine be forced to subsidize and accept the agenda’s of those who want to limit use and access to public lands for the sole purpose of protecting and promoting their special interest agendas?

Taxpayers need to decide which approach is better: to leave public land open for all, or allow the richest, big-mouthed special interest groups to demand and get exclusive and/or limited access?

In general, most who participate in hunting, fishing, and trapping, particularly on public lands, do not have hidden or open agendas geared at stopping or limiting the activities of others and/or their special interest groups. Quite the contrary. Simply seeking to protect sportsman’s access to public land, fails the straight-face test of honesty when attempting to make SAM out to be exclusive users of public lands.

The author also asks: “Why should those who want to sell their land to the state for wildlife protection purposes be prohibited from doing so?” They shouldn’t and aren’t. If any landowners are considering gifting or selling land to The Land for Maine’s Future program, they should have understanding as to how the program works, as has been designed and amended by the voters of the state. If the land owner finds these designs unacceptable, there are other options available to any land owner that would like to lock up their land and exclude any and all special interest groups…including environmental and animal rights groups or hunting, trapping, and fishing.

In their own ignorance, many want to extol the benefits of living in what they believe is a democratic society, until such time as such democracy flies up their face. The system, as crooked as it is, is available for anyone to exploit and convince the voters to support their special interest. When that system won’t work for the totalitarian, their only other recourse is to turn to the media seeking publication of their hypocritical ignorance.

Proverbs 17:28 KJV – “Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”

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Is Muzzleloader Hunting Good or Bad?

What a terrible title for a post. Let me funnel the broadness of this topic down to a focused and relevant area of discussion.

Once again, someone in Maine has asked the question as to whether or not the two weeks of muzzleloader hunting for deer, after the end of the regular rifle season, is “good or bad.” From all accounts that I have read, where someone is attempting to place a “good or bad” perspective on this late-season event, pros and cons have surrounded topics such as whether the odds are better or worse, the so-perceived added challenge of having a single shot weapon to bring down a deer, weather conditions, a chance to hunt with fewer hunters, and occasionally whether or not it was worth hunting for bucks because of the weight they have lost due to the annual fall rut or mating season.

I think I am the only one who has ever brought up the subject of whether or not muzzleloader deer hunting the first two weeks of December is good or bad based on the condition of the deer herd and in particular that of the male species of the whitetail deer.

In Maine, human-caused harassment of deer begins in early September, with Expanded Archery Season, and winds down in mid-December at the conclusion of Muzzleloader Season. That’s three months worth of harassment. How does this contribute to the overall mortality of deer?

In regions where there are ample deer – Maine is not one of those regions – sometimes the struggle becomes how to get rid of too many deer. Where there are too many deer, topics like predator mortality and hunting pressure are almost never discussed. But, in a state, like Maine, where many regions are virtually void of deer, responsible management MUST include consideration for every factor that contributes to the mortality of deer regardless of how small such negative influences may be.

During the month of November in Maine, the whitetail deer undergoes the annual mating season. Not totally unlike that of the human animal, the male species goes bonkers chasing female deer that are in heat. Until a female deer conceives, it will remain in heat. Bucks will chase any deer that is in need of being bred.

During this rutting season, lasting as long as 2 or more weeks, depending on conditions, the male deer essentially stop eating while in pursuit. Much of the winter fat that was being stored leading up to the rut, is burned up. In states like Maine, where winters can be long and severe, all deer need as much stored fat in order to survive. Some are under the misconception that the male deer, being stronger and bigger, can easily survive these kinds of winters and the dangers lie with the fawns born that preceding Spring. A completely spent buck may not have the strength left to survive a long, hard winter.

The Maine regular rifle season generally ends the last Saturday in November. By this time, the rut has mostly concluded – there may be some stragglers – and, depending upon weather conditions, in some locations deer are heading into their wintering habitats, where eating is limited and activities reduced in order to conserve fat, energy, etc. for survival. Should we be harassing them?

Maine is one state that opts for a muzzleloader season for an additional two weeks after the regular rifle season. While the number of hunters who muzzleloader hunt is small in comparison to the rifle season, one should consider how much this added two weeks of harassment is compounding the overall mortality of the deer herd.

In areas where deer are running 2 – 5 deer per square mile, the loss of one or two deer due to this added harassment could be detrimental to the herd. Keep adding to this small mortality year after year and what becomes of the sustainability of a threatened deer herd?

I realize that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) biologists limit the Muzzleloader Season in some zones to one week, but even that one week can be costly. Isn’t there a better way?

It’s always an unpopular position to take among hunters to suggest limiting hunting opportunity, but one should ask why it is necessary to have a special interest hunt at this time of the season? I hunt with friends who use muzzleloaders throughout the rifle season. Is a special interest hunt really necessary?

I know the archery hunters will get angry if anyone suggests muzzleloading before the rifle season as it might interrupt their special interest seasons, but shouldn’t we, in Maine, be considering the condition and growth/preservation of the herd during a time when many parts of the state are struggling in attempts to grow a bigger herd?

If Maine had more deer than it knew what to do with, I doubt anyone would be having this kind of discussion, instead, talking about what to do with all the deer.

The impacts of the two-week Muzzleloader Season are probably minimal. However, the impact becomes greater within a diminished herd.

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Maine’s Deer Harvest Comparison Chart – 2019

Below is the annual chart that compares yearly deer harvest data. Among other things, readers can compare deer harvest numbers for the past 20 years.

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There’s More to Recruiting Hunters Than Sticking Them in a Blind and Parading Deer By Them to Shoot

When Judy Camuso was nominated to serve at the position of the head of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), in her testimony before the Joint Standing Committee for fish and wildlife, she pointed out that as part of her plan to grow more hunters and fisherman, she intended to become involved in a nationwide recruitment program, R3. She stated that her plan, “…will include measurable goals for recruiting, retaining and reactivating hunters and anglers but it will build relationships with non-consumptive users as well.” 

In a critique of Commissioner Camuso’s ambitious programs as commissioner, I questioned her intent to bring together consumptive and non consumptive users, while at the same time believing the two can work productively toward the same goals that satisfy both sides AND recruit new hunters and fishermen.

Today I was reading a Press Herald story about the MDIFW’s efforts at “recruiting” new hunters by allowing 9 hunters to be guided (spoon fed) on a deer “hunt” on the state-owned Swan’s Island.

I commend the commissioner and the MDIFW at making a swipe at recruitment. However, I am left with lots of questions about the event, the methods and within the article some comments and information that was given that was perhaps incomplete, leaving readers with a misguided understanding of the whys and wherefores of hunting, retention, and recruitment (R3).

The article in reference referred to Swan Island as “the perfect classroom” stating, “The place has become a haven for deer, which congregate in fields in groups as large as 50.” It may be, by one reporter’s perspective, as the “perfect classroom” but it is representative of what deer hunting in Maine is like? Who gets to do that? What happens when these 9 people (who expressed an interest in trying again) go off on their own and perhaps can’t afford a blind or a swivel seat to go in it? (It used to be a pot and a window…but I digress.) Will they ever see that many deer again?

“IFW set up pop-up camouflage tents to serve as blinds, equipping them with special swivel chairs that let the newbies quietly pivot as they watched the woods.” Even being “coached” by Game Wardens, staff, and biologists about “hunting techniques,” I wonder if it’s being all that honest with any possible recruit to place them in a ground blind where as many as 50 deer in a group might pass by because hunting has not been allowed on Swan Island for 50 years?

The article states that the 9 novice hunter program was a success because, “…seven of the nine bagged a deer,” and, “all the participants expressed an interest in hunting again.” Not knowing the reasons all 9 applicants were interested in this hunt to begin with, one has to wonder if sitting in a cold blind for hours on end and never seeing a deer, for years on end, a “novice” would express interest in trying it again? Maybe that has something to do with fewer licenses being sold?

In an attempt to place blame for loss of hunters and failure to recruit or retain more hunters, the author brings out the “numbers” and the talking point excuses of where the blame lies: “…technology;  overscheduled lives, especially for young families; and the aging of fish and game clubs that once formed the heart of the hunting community.”

HUH?

The last time I examined data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on why license sales for hunting were on the decline, the number one excuse given for not taking to the woods to hunt, was lack of time.

It’s easy to blame technology. Anyone with two eyes can see what so-called technology and social media is doing to American Society in general. Over-scheduled lives is a poor catchall excuse. Scheduling of our lives is driven by interest not by somebody’s “technology.” If hunting was part of the talk around the kitchen table, where that heritage is discussed before, during, and after the deer hunting season, people would find the time to hunt.

There are other reasons recruitment and interest to hunt are in decline…or in what might appear to be interest in hunting. One issue was discussed in the article in question. It began by discussing Apprentice Hunter Licenses. Bragging that the Apprentice Program has been around over a decade, listen to the hoops that need to be jumped through: “That license, which costs $26 for Mainers (and $115 for non-residents), allows someone 16 years or older who has never had a valid hunting license to hunt in the presence of a “supervisor.” The supervisor must be at least 18 and have had a hunting license for the previous three years.” Money, money, money and more “educational” programs that not just a perspective hunter has to go through in hopes they might become a longtime hunter.

You’ll always ruffle up the dander on the backs of some necks when you start discussing things like the potential obstacles any hunter or perspective hunter must go through to get their feet wet in hunting, or bringing a long-time hunter from Maine or away back when they have to take valuable time to attend classes for hunter “safety” and show “proficiency” in handling a gun and shooting it. While hunter safety has certainly made the woods during the deer hunt much safer, has anyone honestly assessed as to whether the decline in participation is directly proportional to the time constraints of hunter education, license costs, and…and…and…? Maybe, hunter education has stopped the total abandonment of hunting. Does anybody know? Does anybody care?

So, whenever we allow someone to feed us “data” that shows license sales and all the rigged demographics that go with them, nowhere is it ever discussed as to how hunter recruitment, retention, and re-interest is influenced by lousy hunting. Years spent afield with seldom, if ever, even spotting a deer probably plays as big a deterrent as anything, including technology and over-scheduled lives – time and money for what?

Just a quick glimpse into the past and it doesn’t take a statistics guru to figure out that as the deer harvest is trending down, down, and down (yes, with a couple false spikes upward) deer hunting license sales are also trending down, down, and down. Is it that we are not supposed to talk about such things? Is this why 9 novice hunters (out of 20 applicants) were placed in a blind on a small island that hasn’t been hunted for 50 years and deer sometimes will, literally, run you over? What’s wrong with bringing them to where my blind is? Where I haven’t seen a deer in years? I’m trying to remember when the last time I was able to sit in a blind – with a “special swivel seat” (wink-wink) where as many as 50 deer to a bunch passed by. Forget it. It NEVER happens in the real world. So, is MDIFW hoodwinking perspective hunters? How often will MDIFW continue to offer these free lunches to those who say they might be interested in deer hunting? Until the deer on Swan Island are all gone? Will potential recruits have to buy a license, and buy an “Any-Deer Permit,” like the rest of us do, when deer numbers on the island dwindle, like everywhere else in the state?

I’m not sure I know any real Maine hunters who don’t think it would be a great idea to recruit more hunters. I don’t know of any real Maine hunters who don’t think that if there were more deer perhaps the three “Rs” would take care of themselves. But what do I know?

I’m just a grumpy Ole Maine Hunter.

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