May 29, 2020

Marketing Maine's Outdoor Economy – Once Again

George Smith, Executive Director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, is once again preaching his message to Mainers about the need to market the resources of hunting and fishing in Maine. He says that Maine is striving for mediocrity and missing the boat when it comes to strengthing the economy. *previous story about marketing Maine’s outdoors*
In an article that appears this morning in the Morning Sentinel, Smith lays out economic facts and figures and compares trends in Maine with other states with comparable marketability. Let’s look at figures he presents from a study done 10 years ago. *this link will take you to that study done in 1999*

Ten years ago, a University of Maine study reported that hunting, fishing and wildlife watching produced nearly $1.5 billion in economic output, supported 17,680 jobs and generated $67.7 million in state income and sales taxes — in addition to revenue from hunting and fishing licenses. This was almost 5 percent of the Maine economy at the time.

Smith goes on to declare the opportunities that exist in Maine for the hunter – turkey, deer, bear, waterfowl, grouse, moose, etc., but says that Maine is missing out on the opportunity to take advantage of a nationwide trend that shows a growing hunting economy.

Unfortunately, despite these opportunities, Maine is not participating in the national growth in the hunting economy.

He then tells of how Maine, unlike other states, has seen a steady decline in the sale of hunting and fishing licenses to Maine residence, since 1992. For non-residence, fishing licenses have declined and hunting held steady since 1992.

We do almost no marketing of hunting and fishing in Maine. We invest almost nothing in the resources that deliver our outdoor economy.

Here is a good comparison: Colorado stocks about 60 million fish each year, including 14 million catchable-size rainbow trout. Maine stocks about 1.5 million fish. Where would you go if you had limited time and really wanted to catch fish?

Smith makes some other comparisons which seem to make sense but then, from my perspective, he hits the nail squarely on the head. I have spouted off about this same aspect of Maine’s faultering tourism business. Let’s face it, the truth is Maine’s tourism industry depends heavily on hunting, fishing and wildlife watching. No one can dispute that. Here’s what Smith said.

But this state does not get it. At the invitation of the owner, my wife and I visited an Alaskan lodge two years ago — to fish for silver salmon and rainbow trout. The lodge charges $6,500 a week per person and gets it because they have gorgeous rivers full of really big fish. No place in Maine can command that kind of money — but we have equally magnificent rivers. We just do not have the big fish because we manage for mediocrity.

What I would have to add to Smith’s analogy is that Maine has managed for mediocrity for far too long in more areas than just marketing its outdoor resources. Maine does not fully understand the marketing potential of their outdoors because they are not aware of the rest of the world or doesn’t want to be a part of it. I think the proper term to describe much of what it does is called provencial. Maine is quite isolated from the rest of the United States and often times prides itself on being that way. They don’t want anyone else to share in their experience.

The choice is really that of the Maine people. I agree with George Smith that there is an opportunity that sits ripe on the tree for the picking if Maine people want it. If they do, there is a lot of work to be done but as the saying goes, you got to start somewhere. If Mainers choose to remain status quo, then that’s the way it will be and we will all continue to struggle, always trying to find an extra penny here and an exra penny there.

Smith tells of seeing a bumper sticker on a car in Augusta the other day that read, “If this is the tourist season, why can’t we shoot them?” Having been actively involved in Maine’s tourism and hospitality business for several years, I can assure you I have seen many bumper stickers emitting the same message and heard more than my share of comments about those who contribute huge sums of dollars to Maine’s economy each year. Do Maine’s residents fully understand and appreciate what this does for them?
Often times these bumper stickers are good for a laugh and we can’t lose our sense of humor but from my experiences, I have seen and heard enough to know that it is not all fun and games.

Smith finishes his article with the following that I believe pretty much sums up my feelings as well as his thoughts.

Maine has a traditional outdoor economy that relies on resources that have been served and neglected by conservation agencies that have been underfunded.

That outdoor economy is being lost to competition that understands that a combination of natural-resource investments and good marketing can deliver big bucks to their economies.

Tom Remington


Editorial Comment From Wisconsin Paper About Bill to Lower Hunting Age

Shawn Clark writes an editorial comment for the Sheboygan Press about the proposed new Bill to lower the age of hunting in that state to age 8.

Tom Remington


Some of Wisconsin Outdoorsmen Seem Willing to Compromise – Snowmobilers Not One of Them

In Wisconsin, the Department of Natural Resources is proposing some changes to the deer hunting seasons in an effort to better manage the state’s deer herd and at the same time create better hunting opportunities for license holders.

At issue here are bow hunters, bear hunters, youth hunters, the extended antlerless deer hunt to control herd growth and snowmobilers. Bow hunters enjoy a season that begins in mid September and runs to early January. Bear hunters don’t want to have the two-day youth deer hunt the weekend right after bow hunting opens because it will interfere with their hunt. The extended antlerless deer hunt has taken place in October in herd control zones and again bow hunters argue it messes up their hunt. The DNR has proposed moving the extended hunt to early December but snowmobilers say they can’t do necessary trail maintenance and grooming for early season snowmobiling.

What a dilemma. The new proposals were sent to the Legislative Committees for approval but found the new changes were rejected by those committees. They sent the proposals back to the Natural Resources Board telling them that all rule changes were not going to take effect unless these issues get resolved. If the proposals are not approved, next season’s hunts will be the same as this year’s.

The Resources Board is planning two changes to the proposals. One is to have the Youth Day Hunt on Saturday and Sunday nearest October 8th. The second is a compromise issue allowing an extended antlerless deer hunt in the northern counties only those south of U.S. Route 8. Only zones designated as “T-zones” would be open to hunting north of U.S. Route 8. This extended season would begin the second Thursday after Thanksgiving.

The hunters grumbled and moaned and didn’t really care for the changes that much but they did seem willing to accept them. On the other hand the snowmobilers seem bent on having everything their way and refuse to accept any compromise.

The Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs has a very strong lobby presence in the Capital and has been opposed to any hunt in the northern part of the state after December 1st. The extended hunt is for only 4 days.

This lack of compromise on their part seems overwhelming selfish and pig headed. Everyone fully understands the impact that not being able to have an early snowmobile season would have on the local economy but let’s be realistic, hunting has as great an economic impact.

First of all, I see absolutely no legitimate reason why the two can’t co-exist. Working on trails and grooming, if there is snow, I would think would have a much bigger impact on the ability to manage the deer herd and affect the hunter’s ability to tag a deer. Secondly, it’s four days. The odds are pretty good that there will usually be insufficient snows to make riding ideal. This is not like they are being asked to give up prime weekends for riding.

It appears that the DNR needs to make the changes they feel are necessary in the best interest of the deer management plans. No change or even keeping the present seasons is going to make everyone happy and there will always be complainers. If the present system is not achieving the results they want for deer herd management, then changes do need to take place. All parties involved need to be prepared to make concessions, grow up and deal with it.

At this point in time, it appears to me that the Association of Snowmobile Clubs is throwing their weight around and refusing to compromise and making enough noise in Madison to get the lawmakers quaking in their snowmobile suits.

Tom Remington


"Hunting is a Sport For Men With Insecurity Issues" Says One Person

In an opinion piece this morning from the Boulder Dirt – which sounds like a good name from whence this crap cometh – the writer, Clay Evans, refers to hunters as “a sport for men with insecurity issues”.

I have said many times in previous writings that when anybody decides to write an “opinion piece” they should know when an opinion is in fact an opinion, when facts are facts and when lies are lies. I am to assume that the writer has the opinion the hunters have insecurity issues. You will further discover that Evans has quite an array of descriptions for the hunter. It is my opinion that Evans may be projecting his own feelings.

Let’s set the tone of the article right off the bat. This of course is the number one lamest statement made by anyone who argues against hunting as a civilized, necessary part of wildlife management. This is what he writes.

I’m not anti-hunting. I used to hunt – deer, pheasant, ducks. I understand that hunting overabundant game species, whether elk or Canada geese, helps balance the ecosystem (since our Western forebears drove most predator species into near oblivion).

The tone quickly becomes negative with little or no facts to back up his opinion, yet he presents his writings as facts when in fact much of it is lies and half truths. He states that he understands hunting overabundant species and then gets his digs in by condemning ancient practices of previous generations and refuses to see that he and I and everyone else who lives and breaths in this country are encroaching on our wildlife and we are having a greater effect on wildlife through development and urban sprawl – not by savagely milling about randomly killing animals. Hunting is an intergral part of wildlife management whether we like it or not and the only alternative proposals by those who reject hunting as legitimate, is to simply leave the animals alone and let Mother Nature do her thing. I’ll go along with that as soon as everyone moves back to the city and parks their cars and ceases further development.

Evan’s issue comes from the prospects that if the grizzly bear in and around the Yellowstone area is delisted, hunters are going to eradicate the United States from the bear by killing them all off. I am to assume that that he has no confidence in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife or any of the state’s wildlife management institutions to look after the best interest of the bear and all other species. He does indicate how he feels about who he thinks has control over these agencies.

But trophy hunting is a “sport” only for men (mostly) with insecurity issues, if you know what I mean. And for much too long, we’ve allowed such “sportsmen” to dictate American wildlife policy, including trophy and predator hunting.

So, the truth begins to surface. His anger perhaps comes from believing that money from “insecure” hunters dictates wildlife policy. I wasn’t aware that to be able to afford hunting, one has to be insecure. Such nonsense!

Money does play an integral part in our society and much of that comes from money from hunters, both secure and insecure. I am willing to bet that much of what Mr. Evans does is funded directly or indirectly from hunter’s dollars. But to surmise that rich hunters tell the wildlife agencies how to operate their game management programs is ridiculous and an insult to every wildlife biologist, game warden and employee of the wildlife industry.

Evans refers to the aerial wolf hunt in Alaska and either hasn’t done his homework or deliberately omits the entire story about that event. Here is what he says.

Take Alaska, where a judge halted the state’s “wolf control program” Jan. 17. This program has been on-again, off-again since at least the early 1990s, justified by the mathematically ridiculous assertion that the state’s 7,000 to 11,000 wolves eat too many of its millions of caribou, moose and other game species.

In reality, the wolves pose no threat to Alaskan ungulate populations. “Wolf control” is about giving a few twisted macho men a chance to blow away a wolf … from an airplane. Real fair fight, but then, most predator hunting is equally cowardly.

The judge halted the program because Alaska didn’t provide the scientific justification for slaughtering wolves. Gee, what a shock.

Evans is correct, initially Judge Sharon Gleason did halt the aerial hunt but not for the reasons stated by him. She stopped the hunt because the Board of Game had not shown the court all of what it had done up til that time to increase the population of the dwindling moose and caribou herds. Once that was completed and the courts were satisfied, the hunt was allowed to resume.

Evans states as fact that wolves have no affect on moose and caribou populations. Either he gets his facts from perhaps a Disney movie, has no facts at all to back up any of his statements or is lying in an attempt to sway his readers into believing that he is right. The wolve and the brown and black bear are the three largest natural predators of new-born moose and caribou. This is a fact that has been proven time and time again to the courts through documented evidence. If Evans cared, he would discover that the last thing the Board of Game in Alaska wants to do is have aerial hunting of wolves. As a last resort, this effort and that of finding new ways to encourage hunters to hunt the bear to help control populations, may save the moose and caribou in those designated areas.

We, meaning all of us, Evans included, demand that we manage our wildlife for everyone – wildlife viewers as well as hunters. Leaving it to Mother Nature is no longer an option. If Alaska officials sit back and allow the wolf to eradicate the moose and caribou in the regions affected, would simply be negligence and bad wildlife management.

But then, once again, Evans begins to let his true colors come shining through when he describes predator hunters as “a few twisted macho men” and “cowardly”. Perhaps Mr. Evans needs a few anger management classes.

Wildlife management practices all across America are not perfect and our wildlife biologists continue to learn the best ways to management them. There are certain realities that we must deal with whether we like them or not. The biggest reality is that man and beast must live together. Man continues its quest for bigger houses, more shopping opportunities, everything that continues to encroach into the habitat of our wildlife and they demand “on demand wildlife viewing”. With this ever increasing reality, scientists have to find more creative ways in maintaining a healthy population of animals while battling the selfish desires of humans.
Until someone can come up with a better way of controlling the populations of certain species, we are all relegated to utilizing hunting as an integral part of wildlife management and we must never forget that hunting and fishing are both part of American heritage. Anti-hunters are on a quest to rid America of that heritage. It can’t be allowed.
Tom Remington


Hunting Preserves in Indiana Now Banned

Last year the state (DNR) banned hunting in game preserves across the state of Indiana. House Bill 1349 would have legalized the business despite the ban put in place. Because it appeared that support for the Bill might be lacking, the author, Rep. John Ulmer (R) – Goshen, offered to make an amendment to the orginal Bill.

That amendment would allow existing businesses to continue to operate for another seven years and prohibit any new businesses from starting up. Currently there are 15 preserves operating across the state. The amendment was voted on and passed by the Indiana House.

Preserves have been operating in Indiana for about 10 years. Back then, there were no laws to prohibit the operation of hunt preserves and no laws specifically allowing it either. Those interested in starting the new businesses were told by DNR officials that as long as they obtained a game breeder’s license, they would be good to go.

Then, the DNR took a look at existing laws last year and decided the practice was illegal and put a stop to the hunt preserves. Law suits have begun and there has been a lot of discussion on the subject. An article the morning in the Courier Journal says –

Rodney Bruce of Corydon, who operates a preserve in Harrison County, sued the state over the decision. The case is still pending.

There are claims that some deer farmers had received communications that their business was legal, as recently as last year.

Rep. Dale Grubb, D-Covington, said some deer farmers and preserve owners have received correspondence as recently as last year that would make them believe their operations are legal.

There are several topics of discussion in the issue of hunting preserves. Many people feel that this kind of hunting is unethical. Where you stand on the issue is important but when government steps in and totally bans this or any other kind of business simply because they or someone else doesn’t like it, is problematic for me.

I have never used a hunting preserve nor do I intend to, for reasons that are mine but I do believe a well regulated hunt preserve can certainly reduce many of the issues that hunters and animal rights groups may have.

My real issue in this entire series of events, comes from government stepping in to ban a business because they don’t like it. It appears that the business owners have been shafted and stand to lose a lot of money from their venture. They were lead to believe by the DNR that their operation was legal, only to have the rug pulled out from under them.

As I said, I believe preserves can be set up with very strict guidelines that would satisfy most, if not all, the concerns that opponents may have. I believe the Indiana government is way out of line on this issue and that the DNR has made a bad error in turning its back on these business people.

Whether you agree or disagree on hunting preserves, we cannot sit back and allow government to stop business because they personally may not approve.

Good luck to the business people of Indiana and I hope this issue gets resolved to the satisfaction of the majority.

Tom Remington


It Not My Fault – It Not My Fault

I am soley responsible for all my actions – period. And so are you. If this is true, why do we continuously blame someone else? Boston blames the other New England states for their gun violence. New York blames the rest of the world for their gun violence and Canada blames the U.S. for its gun violence.

We go about dealing with criminals in this country the same way that we deal with terrorist – we think they think like law abiding people who are respectful of laws. Not true! We can make laws forever but if they are never enforced what is to become of the criminal?

When we refuse to enforce existing laws and our ideologue fails, let’s blame someone else. This is what the world has resorted to.

Let’s use the same thought processes as Bloomberg of New York and David Miller, Mayor of Toronto. They believe that if you go to the rest of the planet and remove guns from the lawful, gun crimes will cease. Let’s apply that same theory across the board.

If we prohibit families from having baby girls, there won’t be dirty old men preying on them and we can reduce of sexual predator problems drastically.

We can take cars away from the general public and that would stop many things – bank robberies using get-away vehicles, accidents that kill innocent people, speeding, car theft. Just think of the possibilities. Car are evil, man!

Let’s take food away too! Fat people cause us all kinds of problems and no more method of poisoning someone you don’t like.

We now need to remove the sale of baseball bats from stores nationwide because we have seen on video, teenagers beating up homeless people in Miami with them.

And speaking of homeless, let’s get rid of park benches. Let’s get rid of parks for that matter. How many crimes are committed in parks everyday? Take away the parks, no more crime. This is easy. Why haven’t we thought of this before?

If we didn’t have lobbyists, there wouldn’t be a problem with illegal campaign money changing hands. Oh, wait a minute! That actually might work. My bad!

Maybe you’ve gotten my point. Bloomberg, Miller and others need to pay attention to what’s going on at home and stop blaming the rest of the world’s innocents for their lack of enforcement problems.

Tom Remington


What Is Driving Us Away From Our Sport?

I’ve produced an audio podcast entitled, “What is Driving Us Away From Our Sport“. I bring to light several issues that I think are contributing factors in why the number of licenses for hunting is dropping.

Although fishing license purchases are dwindling, it is not nearly at the rate of hunting and trapping. I compare what some of the differences are and suggest some things we might do to counter the effect.

Tom Remington


Dedication to Your Sport Ensures Its Longevity

It was only 4 degrees above zero, Fahrenheit, biathletes from across the U.S. were competing in their sport – cross country ski racing in combination with precision target shooting. The chill was enough to make any grown man run for the warmth and comfort of the lodge but not so for Ralph Ostlund of New Sweden, Maine.

At age 82, Ostlund, a longtime cross country skier himself, braved the cold and positioned himself near the shooting venue and the finish line to applaud and cheer on every competitor. He had no one favorite – they were all his favorites because they were doing what he loved.

Fort Kent, Maine has been host to the U.S. Olympic Trials for Biathlon. Teams chosen from these races will travel to Torino, Italy to compete in the Olympics later this winter. The weather at the 10th Mountain Division Center has been less than cooperative with nearly no snow to start, followed by a blizzard of 42 inches of snow, freezing rain, warmth, cold, more snow – it’s been incredible.

Ostlund though, didn’t care. He did what he wanted to do and that was be witness to the event and cheer on the faithful. I myself, was a cross country skier, winning Maine State titles in 1969 and 1970 and like Ostland, I know how at times the sport can be lonely. But there is nothing more comforting than to appear from the dense forest, spent from giving the race your all and being greeted by dedicated spectators.

Many things that we do in life, become tradition. Cross country skiing and in particular biathlon is not something millions of people in the U.S. do, but those that do are lifelong participants and they work to guarantee its continuation from one generation to the next – just as Ralph Ostlund was doing in Fort Kent.

We all have something to contribute to our sport. We give what we can and it is our love of it that will ensure it will be there for our kids and grand kids.

Find your passion and get involved. If it’s hunting or fishing you enjoy, do what you can to make it the best it can be and give back to something that gives so much to you.

Tom Remington


Sometimes I Just Rant and Rave

Would someone please explain to me how a 3 year old child shoots a 6 year old with a gun. The story goes like this. A family in Texas was on a hunting trip on leased land in Williamson County. The 3 year old picked up a .22 caliber rifle, which was obviously loaded, pulled the trigger and shot his 6 year old brother in the leg. The injuries are not life threatening.

Authorities say the family thought the guns were unloaded. Thought? What can be going through the minds of any adult who would “think” a weapon was unloaded? There is no excuse. I’m sorry.

Police haven’t decided whether charges will be filed against any of the family members. In Texas it is against the law to make a gun accessible to a child. What decision is there to make? Some idiot(s) leave a loaded gun laying around where children have access to it and they can’t decide whether to press charges?

Tom Remington


The Economic Effects of Chronic Wasting Disease

There is no way for me in a relatively short amount of time, to be able to touch every aspect that Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) could have on our economy. I would though like to share with you a few statistics and perhaps do a bit of futuristic speculation.

First of all, let me explain that any of the figures I am going to share with you come from a report titled, “Economic Importance of Hunting in American“, done by the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. This report compiled data collected in 2001.

More than 13 million people ages 16 and over hunted in 2001 and hunting generated more than $67 billion to our economy. Over 575,000 jobs are directly the result of hunting. How does that compare to other businesses? That’s more jobs than the combined number of employees of all the top major airline companies in America.

On average, hunters spend $1,896 each per year on hunting. In retail sales alone, Texas leads all states with $1,761,285,042. The top ten states in retail sales on hunting gear are, Texas, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, New York, Alabama, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Tennessee and Louisiana, totaling sales of over $8.5 billion.

Just hunting deer, there were over $10.2 billion hunters hunting a total of more than 133 million days, spending over $10.6 billion on travel and gear. For 2001, the total economic impact from deer hunting alone was $27,885,673,982.

It would be safe to say that hunting, and deer hunting in particular, has a definite impact on the economy of America. So, let’s see or speculate for a moment because there are no hard facts available, on what kind of an impact CWD could have on our economy.

We know there are several factors that I can’t even imagine at this point in time, that would directly effect hunting when it comes to CWD. For example, how many extra dollars are spent each year to test and research CWD? I don’t know. You think of your own ideas.

I have been able to read some articles that contain speculation from some state’s Wildlife Departments, about the impact the disease might be having on licenses being bought by hunters.

These officials speculate that some hunters have stopped hunting deer completely out of fear of the disease and other reasons related to CWD. In some states, the number of licenses being sold each year is on the decline or holding steady. Few states are seeing increases.

What they are not able to determine is how many people have stopped hunting because of CWD – for whatever their reasons? Some officials have estimated that as much as a 15% reduction in hunters because of CWD. As I said, there is no hard evidence to support this 15%.

There is no known cure for CWD. Scientist believe that CWD is caused as the result of prions getting into the deer. The affects are very similar to mad cow disease. They also believe that humans cannot contract the disease from deer by being near or from eating the meat – there are no known cases of such.

What spreads the disease is believed to be from deer eating food that is on or near deer feces. Usually this is a result of too large a congregation of deer. Deer and elk farms need to be monitored closely for the disease and CWD has been found in moose as well.

Let’s speculate a moment. If nothing changes from present, i.e. no cures for CWD and it continues to spread at a similar rate, how is this going to effect our economy? How will it effect the deer herd?

Let’s suppose that we had determined that 10% of hunters across the board in the United States got scared of CWD and stopped hunting deer (we are not factoring in elk and moose hunting. Also, I am not ignorant enough to say that CWD is present in every state in the United States that has deer hunting. But for the purpose of discussion, this would mean that, according to the 2001 numbers, 1,027,200 hunters would no longer hunt, therefore they would not buy a hunting license.

If also for the sake of discussion, carrying this same 10% reduction across the board into all aspects of the economic impact this would mean several things. One of the more important things would be a loss of 57,500 jobs and total revenue reduction of $2.8 billion.

If for instance, too many hunters decided to quit hunting, how would that effect things? We know that most state’s major deer management plans have hunters as their number one management tool. How are we going to control deer growth? Things might begin to exponentially spiral out of control. If that happened, where’s the money going to come from to deal with communities overrun with diseased deer? Who will fund the extra needed research?

As you can see, CWD has a potential of creating serious havoc in many ways. I am not trying to say that this is going to happen nor am I attempting to instill panic and fear in people. I am only looking at possibilities when it comes to dealing with CWD and bringing to light the fact that hunting and the impact it has on this country is very substantial.

Tom Remington