March 21, 2023

Maine Has a Deer Problem. Why Blame and Insult the Hunters?

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Arrogance shows itself in many ways, one way is to pen an article that insults your reading audience and falsely blame them for a problem they didn’t create. Such was the case in the Northwoods Sporting Journal (subscription) in an article by David Willette, called Non-Resident Blues. Mr. Willette says the only deer problem Maine has is not a deer problem but a hunter problem, and then proceeds to demonize and scoff at the many varied methods, all legal, that deer hunters choose to employ because those methods are different than his. He insults them this way:

No, Maine doesn’t have a deer herd problem. It’s much less complicated than that. The loss of the deer hunter isn’t going to change in Maine until these grown men, grow up and hunt deer the way that they were taught to hunt deer and not just shoot them from somebody else’s tree stand.

While there is certainly something to be said about hitting the “Big Woods” and tracking a trophy buck, not everyone has the resources, economically and physically, to do that. However, it’s a real slap in the face of the thousands of deer hunters who work tirelessly every season in order to either fill their freezer or bag a trophy, neither of which should be looked upon as some how in a class above or below the other. I seriously don’t think that the author has a clue to the number of Maine deer hunters who hunt for meat, while bagging that “trophy” becomes only a welcome surprise if it happens at all. Let’s face it. There are far and few hunters dedicated to bagging that trophy buck. If there were many more, the Benoits, Berniers, Flannerys and Hal Blood, whom the author evokes, just wouldn’t exist. Would they?

However, the author’s choice to dump on his readers is his business and should only prove to reduce his readership in the future. There is one item that I would like to disagree with Mr. Willette and/or add necessary information so readers can actually better understand why some of his statistics may be used improperly.

The author writes:

In 1981 Maine had 123,000 deer hunters that killed close to 12,000 bucks. Thirty years later in 2011, (after two wicked winters), hunters killed nearly 13,000 bucks with only 62,000 hunters.

I have no way of knowing if the numbers the author has used here are accurate or not, nor am I going to spend the time to find out. I will point out two things. The author claims there is a hunter problem and disproves his own theory by stating, “Where’s the deer problem?”

But there is one blatant error that I think the author either overlooked, is not aware of or intentionally left it out of his article. In 1981 Maine did not have a “bucks only” law; or had not implemented the “Any-Deer Permit” system. This was started in 1986. So, in 1981, according to Mr. Willette, 123,000 hunters hit the woods with the legal authority to kill any sex of deer they wanted at a time when I believe the deer population was higher than it was in 2011. He claims hunters bagged “close to 12,000 bucks”.

In 2011, with the “Any-Deer Permit” system in full force and no taking of antlerless deer allowed in nearly two-thirds of the state (because there are no deer there), 62,000 hunters, the overwhelming majority of which did not have an “Any-Deer Permit”, meaning they could ONLY shoot bucks, bagged “nearly 13,000 bucks”.

So, I have to ask, “Where’s the deer hunter problem?”

I think that 62,000 licensed hunters, the majority relegated to “bucks only”, killing 13,000 bucks tells me that perhaps there aren’t as many lazy and unlawful deer hunters as the author thinks there are. Makes a curious mind want to know what the harvest would have looked like if all 62,000 licensed hunters in 2011 could have taken a deer of any sex?……….well, that is, if there really were enough deer around to harvest.

The approach this author uses to suggest that hunters need to change their tactics to be successful, because he believes there is an ample population of deer, reminds me of the same ignorant rhetoric I read everyday from those out West claiming that there are plenty of elk, that wolves haven’t killed them all off, and that hunters just have to stop being so lazy and go find the elk.

Personally, if I found a lot of reward in hitting the big woods and working ten times harder than anyone else in hopes of bagging a big Maine trophy buck, then that’s what I would write about. But that’s me. I think it’s important to our industry to recognize and support all lawful means of hunting, while at the same time getting involved to do what we can about Maine’s deer problem.

Yes, Maine! There is a deer problem.