September 28, 2022

Analyzing the Candidates for Maine Governor – Question Six

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Analyzing the Candidates for Maine Governor – Question Six

This is our final question in our online interview with the candidates for Maine’s Governor. You will find the analysis of the other previous five questions here – one, two, three, four, five.

Briefly, I asked four perspective hopefuls to participate – the incumbent democrat John Baldacci, independent hopeful Barbara Merrill, republican Chandler Woodcock and green party member Patricia LaMarche. To this date, I have not received answers from only LaMarche. If I do receive them I will publish them for you.

Once again I will give you the question exactly as it was asked of the participants. That will be followed by the responses of each candidate and finally my analysis and commentary to follow.

Question Six:

Question 6. Are you in support of or opposed to Sunday hunting in Maine? Could you please give specific reasons for your stance.

Governor Baldacci’s response:Maine Governor John Baldacci

Despite the efforts of many in the sporting community, the idea was rejected by the Legislature amidst strong opposition from many people and groups, including a surprising number of hunters themselves. I have since learned that repeated surveys of voters over the past few years have showed that sportsmen have been almost evenly divided on whether to allow Sunday hunting. Unless new polling shows a dramatic change in sportsmen’s, and the public’s, attitude towards Sunday hunting, there is little chance such a change will be approved by the Maine Legislature. Until attitudes change, it would be fruitless to seek legislative action, and it might even be counter-productive of other initiatives sportsmen and women may propose to the Legislature.

I note that the anger expressed about Sunday hunting by many landowners who traditionally have allowed hunting on their lands, and their threat to close off their lands to all access by hunters should Sunday hunting be authorized, should give pause to supporters of Sunday hunting. Widespread implementation of this threat would do very serious harm to those who hunt because much of the lands open to hunters in Maine are owned by these landowners.

Chandler Woodcock’s response:Woodcock.jpg

I am opposed to Sunday hunting. I believe that nonconsumptive users need the perception of “safe woods” and are important to future use by those of us who hunt.

Barbara Merrill’s response:Merrill.jpg

I am opposed to Sunday hunting. When the item came up in the recent legislative session, I contacted every hunter in my district with a survey asking their opinion. Over 90% of them opposed Sunday hunting. I think that this is because of the unspoken truce between landowners and hunters which goes like this: I’ll let you hunt on my land because it is the Maine neighbor thing to do even though it is sometimes an inconvenience, but give me one day a week to mend my fences when I can be sure no one else is sharing my land.

My Analysis:

I guess I should have expected the answers I received on this question. Perhaps I am once again a victim of bad question writing. Although the information contained in all three responses is somewhat accurate, none of the candidates showed me that they are knowledgeable about hunting, hunters and hunter safety.

Before I get deeper into this discussion, I will tell you right up front that I personally am opposed to Sunday hunting in Maine right now. I will expound on that later.

Let’s begin by looking first at the Governor’s response. Note right off that he fails to tell us how he feels about Sunday hunting. He does tell us the results of polls and his perception of what he thinks landowners might do if Sunday hunting was allowed. He is correct in his conclusion that without sufficient support in the Legislature and the public, such a hunting proposal is dead in the water.

Mr. Woodcock states directly that he opposes Sunday hunting and then gives his reason: “I believe that nonconsumptive users need the perception of “safe woods” and are important to future use by those of us who hunt.”

I really dislike this approach to the issue of Sunday hunting. Non-consumptive users don’t NEED the perception of safe woods. There are safe woods. Maine is one of the safest places anywhere in the world to go and hunt. Hunting overall is one of the safest activities going. I am sick and tired of listening to the anti-hunting and animal rights groups who use the biased media in promoting their lies and scare tactics convincing the uneducated about the dangers of hunting.

People take their children to school in automobiles. The chances of them dying in a car accident far exceed being shot by an “errant” bullet. By the way, what is an “errant” bullet? Is that anything like a road-raged idiot on the highway or how about the “soccer mom” engrossed in a cell phone conversation while transporting six neighborhood kids to practice?

No, Maine’s woods are safe. We don’t need to try to achieve a perception of it. It exists. We need to stop listening to the lies. We need people like our elected officials, if they cared enough to get the facts, to step up to the mike and tell people the truth about the safe sport of hunting.

Merrill opposes Sunday hunting. She claims to have contacted hunters in her district and had overwhelming results. I am not questioning her survey results. Although I enjoyed her “unspoken truce” approach, I can’t say that I completely agree with it. I think she is right. Maine has always had a good neighbor approach to many things. Opening up their lands is just one of them.

I have complete respect for any landowner who would choose to close their land because they need the time to do their work, etc. Ms. Merrill’s unspoken truce once again leads us to believe that hunting is a dangerous thing. It makes us believe in her statement that the landowner and I think even her, thinks that during hunting season it is not safe to even be outdoors.

The Governor makes note of the so-called anger that might be displayed by landowners should Sunday hunting be allowed. There have actually been landowners that threatened to do such a thing. It is understandable but I do not for a minute believe it is the majority or close to it.

The Governor is correct when he states that losing large amounts of open private land to hunting would be detrimental to the hunters. Does this now mean that he understands why we need to be purchasing public lands? Does this mean that the Governor now sees that the state needs to be implementing programs that will work as incentives to landowners to keep their lands open? I don’t think so. As a matter of fact, I don’t think any of the candidates has a firm understanding of what is in store, what the hunting heritage of Maine means to its citizens and economy or in what direction we need to go to deal with it.

If Sunday hunting were permitted, there would be a few landowners that would immediately close down their land. My guess is many of these would be by people from away that don’t hunt nor have any idea what it’s like to live in Maine. Land is being locked out in unprecedented amounts now. I believe that a big percentage of landowners would take a wait and see attitude. They would soon find out that Sunday hunting would go pretty much unnoticed.

Back a few years ago when Maine was considering starting up a moose hunt again after several years without it, petitioners landed on my doorstep asking me to sign a petition to stop the moose hunt. At the time I was managing a motel in a ski resort town in Maine. The petitioners thought that I would be quick to sign it because the argument they were using to stop the hunt was because hunters would be scaring everyone out of the woods during the fall foliage season. I laughed out loud and refused to sign the petition. I knew then that should the bill pass, moose hunting season would pretty much go unnoticed except for the few who would participate whether by permit or selling goods and services associated with it. I was right and a Sunday hunt would be the same.

Let’s remember that the proposed Sunday hunting initiative did not include deer hunting season, only small game.

Let’s dispense with more lies about hunting and Sunday hunting. I have had my fill of the anti-hunting crowd that laments that they lose their right to go into the woods during the month of November. I challenge everyone who throws this crock of bull in my face in his or her arguments against hunting. I ask them point blank how many times they would go in the woods if there weren’t hunting. And on how many Sundays do they use the woods at that time now. If the truth were known it is almost non-existent.

I have said many times that hunters don’t want exclusive run of the woods during hunting season. They just want their chance. A mere 4 weeks of deer season. That leaves 48 other weeks in the year for people to do whatever they want.

Do accidents happen? They absolutely do and there’s a chance someone might get shot accidentally. Your chances of being killed in a car wreck are much greater than being shot accidentally and many are willing to take the risk in a car without a thought. To reduce your risks of injury or death in a car, you have to prove you know how to drive, wear seat belts and drive defensively. Hunters take a safety course, wear highly visible clothing and learn to recognize their targets. Hunting is safe.

Now on to why I am opposed to Sunday hunting. In my opening statement I said I was against it – right now. I’ll explain. Maine is not overrun with deer. Our deer herd is tightly managed. Biologists gather all the data that is available to them each year and decide how many deer need to be harvested to keep the herd within management goals. With this data, they set dates, length of season and number of antlerless deer permits to award.

Should Maine’s deer population rise to levels that it cannot maintain with this and other methods, a Sunday hunting season just might be warranted.

Do we want Sunday hunting for bear? I don’t think it is necessary for similar reasons as that of the deer – numbers management. The biggest economic factors in Maine concerning bear come from guides and associated businesses. Most guided bear hunters are going to take vacations and time off work to bear hunt anyway. I really don’t feel that hunting bear on Sundays can generate any significant revenue.

Small game hunting is minimal and very few people want to hunt small game on Sundays, including out-of-state hunters.

I have heard the argument that Maine is losing revenue from the sale of out-of-state big game licenses because we don’t have Sunday hunting and New Hampshire does. I personally believe that a Sunday hunt open to out-of-state hunters would force game officials to reduce the length of the season. This could actually work against those believing they would get more hunting time.

The bottom line is the NEED for a Sunday hunt. Until Maine’s game populations rise to levels that would actually warrant a longer season, it should remain the way it is. Our wildlife should be managed by science and not by economic demands alone.

I am sure there are tons of reasons for and against Sunday hunting. I have touched on only a few.

I said in part of my opening analysis that I didn’t think any of the candidates were knowledgeable about hunting, hunters and hunter safety. Information they spewed comes from the common rhetoric that surrounds those with whom they associate. I think they need to get out a bit more – into the real Maine, the part of Maine that relies on hunting season as part of their annual sustenance.

I don’t think you’ll get the truth about Maine while hanging out at L.L. Beans or the Kittery Trading Post. Hunting is a lifelong tradition in Maine. It’s a part of our heritage that dates back long before these candidates were even thought of.

Each one needs to get out from behind their desks and check out the other half of Maine – the one that is north of U.S. Route 2. They need to stop believing the garbage that is spewed forth everyday from people who don’t like hunting. They lie and instill fear and it is working. Perhaps they each need to take a hunter’s safety class. I would like to see them stand up for Maine and tell the rest of the world how safe hunting is and that there is nothing to fear.

All three candidates struck out on this question in my book. Perhaps I assumed too much. Perhaps I thought that given the opportunity, a politician would jump right into these issues and win some big points with the outdoors crowd. They had an opportunity to show us they have knowledge about hunting in Maine, the people who do it and have for generations and that they truly understand that hunting is safe, is regarded highly and they will do whatever it takes to protect this heritage. I haven’t really seen that here.

Two candidates took the opportunity to make brief general comments. In my last article I will post those comments and offer a few closing remarks of my own.

Comments are open.

Tom Remington