December 7, 2019

Climate Change Ruined Maine’s Deer Harvest?

Did the real-time deer tagging counter break down? What happened to the excitement that the media and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s (MDIFW) head deer biologist were spouting about how Maine was on track to harvest 30,000+ deer?

I’m guessing it’s because global warming Climate Change turned things across the state to a state of unfavorable hunting conditions. Parts of Maine saw record low temperatures three different times. There was also snow….Wait, what? Snow? That’s a big plus for deer hunting. Harvest rates always increase when it snows. Doesn’t it?

I don’t know about the rest of the state but the hunting conditions the last week of the season were atrocious…at best. There was snow, but it was always loud, crunchy snow to walk in. It was also so cold, any time spent in a stand or blind were short-lived. Who could take it?

Dang that global warming Climate Change!

I was sent an old newspaper clipping the other day. The headline read: “UN Predicts Disaster if Global Warming Not Checked.” The newspaper was dated June 29, 1989. The opening paragraph said, “…entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000.”

So that’s what happened.

I wasn’t the only one that got cold hunting. My hunting buddies regularly beat feet to warm camps, cars, and houses cutting short what would have normally been all day excursions in the woods looking for that elusive buck.

On Saturday morning past – last day of regular firearms season – I was standing in the middle of a small hardwood ridge hoping some really stupid deer would make a terrible mistake and disregard the overwhelming noise of crunching snow and ice under foot. I was with two other friends who were at least several hundred yards from me, and I could clearly hear their crunch, crunch, crunch echoing over hill and dale.

Certainly, this global warming Climate Change must have contributed to what looks to be another poor year for deer hunting.

And I thought that it would be poor management, a post normal society that’s all mixed up, and resulting lack of interest that would essentially put an end to hunting. Instead, we’ll all be under water because it will be so warm with a planet void of ice. Maine must have been one of those “nations” that was destroyed (while I slept). So where am I exactly???

Gee! I wished global warming would hurry up and happen. I for one would like a bit warmer weather to hunt in and I could save money by not needing to winter in Florida.

MDIFW, bailed out again due to (wink-wink) global warming Climate Change.

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Maine: Abundant Deer is a Relative Term…Isn’t It?

In Maine, we are being falsely told on a regular basis that the deer herd is healthy and growing. Is it? Isn’t that perception simply a relative term based upon recent history and not long-term history?

Today, I was grumbling as soon as I arose this morning, long before daylight, about the snow and the cold. And then after a cool start of 8 degrees, and a “feel like” well below zero with stiff, northwest winds, it warmed up to a balmy 17 degrees with winds backing off a bit. Gee, I thought. It’s not really that cold.

But then it dawned on me that simply observing today’s temps and winds, any warming seems relatively good compared to sub-zero temperatures and winds.

We are subjected to the same reality when it comes to our deer herd, the harvest, and the propaganda handed out by those seemingly interested mostly in protecting their retirement pensions.

Where once a deer harvest of 40,000 was the past normal, anything these days over 20,000 is presented as a big management success and if the harvest approaches 30,000 cigars are handed out, big slaps on the back and thank god for Global Warming…or something. Didn’t I do good?

With a couple of recent deer harvests below 20,000, like below zero temps, when the harvest ticks up, we simply convince ourselves (along with some prodding from propagandists) that it ain’t that bad.

I also got to thinking and shared some thoughts I had about how technology has influenced the modern deer harvest. My friend sent me some information showing that I’m not the only one with evil thoughts about such things.

In response to an Internet posting about a 40,000-deer harvest in 1956, I saw where one reader posted a response about how many technological gadgets are used today to hunt with or assist us in our hunting. I was prompted, before even reading this, to ask what would the deer harvest be like if we hunted the “old fashioned” way by going into the woods and “hunting” for deer rather that baiting the deer to come to us and all the other gadgetry that makes killing a deer that much easier.

Is there any real statistics on this phenomenon? Speak up please!

Consider a list of help aides: cell phones, radios, gps, scents, scent blockers, game cameras, ATVs, hi-tech clothing (stay dry and warm longer), food plots, quick-up tree stands, swivel seats, heated tree stands, pop-up ground blinds (also heated), game calls…can you add to this list? Speak up please!

Oh, wait! Here’s one I saw just the other day. A new gadget that you put on like earphone headsets. Technology lets you drown out unwanted noises and enhance things like deer walking in the leaves, etc. What next?

With the onset of every technological gadget, the fish and game department has to figure out whether to allow this advantage and to adjust seasons and sex of deer takes, to compensate for this advantage. All Maine has as tools to compensate is to adjust the length of season and the issuance of “Any-Deer Permits,” both of which appear to become more political with each passing season.

Has or does anybody consider that all these hi-tech gadgetries might leave the not so financially fortunate at a great disadvantage? I didn’t think so.

If you can afford an ATV, think of the places you can access to find deer. Game cameras can tell you where and when to sit in ambush. I can’t afford either. With a heated ground blind, you could sit and wait all day…and night.

What was once a “primitive” hunting season for deer, has turned into “inline” muzzle loaders, complete with speed loaders and all the stuff to make a primitive hunt not so primitive. Some of us still hunt with a single-shot rifle. What’s the difference? If we choose NOT to buy the extra muzzleloader license, is my rifle season being cut short to attend to the needs (political) of the not-so-primitive muzzleloader hunters? Or maybe I can’t afford all that is needed to be a modern, primitive hunter. Money rules…as always.

Everything becomes relative. Those who are prone to forget (the majority) are ignorantly willing to accept that a 20,000-deer harvest is good/normal, any number higher than that prompts kudos throughout the politically motivated, environmentally-trained, biologists and managers offices.

Media is compliant to echo the propaganda that originates in the department that must look good to keep their jobs. All will use any excuse to make things look better than they are…like issuing a record number of Any-Deer Permits to bump up the harvest…wink-wink.

Speaking of the media, recently I read a report that one deer processing facility in Sabbattus was overrun with deer to process such that they had to tell people to call before bringing in their deer for processing. Of course there was no honest explanation leaving readers to believe there are tons of deer and EVERYONE is taking one…or more…legally of course.

WOW! Modern, marvelous deer management. Look what their global warming has accomplished.

However, you don’t have to be a statistics guru to understand that there just aren’t very many places to go get your deer processed.

While I was at hunting camp last week, our discussion concluded that of the 6 of us at camp, nobody knew where the nearest place was.

I wonder if anyone ever thought that these places are going out of business because a 20,000 harvest isn’t as sustainable to a deer processing business as 40,000 used to be? My old math tells me that’s some where around twice…or half, depending on how you see it.

NAW!!! I didn’t think you’d think that way.

After all, it’s all relative. I’m happy. It’s not that cold out either.

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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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The Aging Population of Hunters

Early this morning I was reading V. Paul Reynolds article in the newspaper about the importance of mentoring young people toward an interest in the long-time tradition of hunting. I’m not sure I can any add anything to the cause and effect or offer any great solution to the problem. I can relate my own experience as an example of the changes in hunting heritage over the past 45 years.

It was nearly 45 years ago that I received an invitation to a Maine hunting camp, comprised mostly of extended family members who lived in Western Maine. I accepted the invitation but I was also informed that I might not be able to find room enough anywhere in the camp to spread a bedroll. You might be wondering just how small is this camp? Well, it isn’t “big” but at that time hunters taking up residence for the entire week at Hunting Camp numbered around 12, and I recall at least on one occasion a camper was hauled in to handle the overflow.

Of the better than one dozen hunters claiming a sleeping spot, just as many hunters came and hunted a day here and there and maybe hung around for the evening meal.

Those were the days.

Back in the hay day, those of us out of school and working for a living, always, somehow, found a way to take time off to go to Hunting Camp. It was tradition. It was fun, exciting, and it was an extremely important part of life in Maine. The meat and potatoes of Hunting Camp residents for the week was comprised of those of us in the late teens and early twenties. The “fathers” were the aging mentors of the group and when any school-age hunter could convince Mom to “play hooky” they came to camp, as well as on any holiday and Saturday.

Today, at this same family hunting camp, we struggle to find 6 hunters there to hunt the week. And of those six hunters, the youngest is now over 60. Nobody shows up to check the “Meat Pole” and never any hunters just for the day. I don’t remember the last time any school-aged children came to Hunting Camp to hunt. So what has happened?

Many, many things. A progressive society has been very successful in brainwashing our children with negative ideas about the “violence” of hunting and the “rights of animals.” This goes a very long way in making it difficult to get young people interested in hunting…even when Dad or Mom hunted growing up and still do.

I could make a grocery list of all the reasons hunting is a dying event and another list of things I think might help, but the bottom line is that it is a nearly insurmountable task until such time as society as a whole finds value in the hunting tradition.

I wouldn’t look for any big changes.

As a matter of fact, the way things are changing, I would begin looking for a real good place to hide my hunting rifle(s) because “THEY” are going to be coming to get those pretty soon.

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Google The U.N. Environmental Policies Clone The Wildlife News and Wear Your Hip Boots.

Starting around 1980 Purposely mismanage wildlife and fish for years. In 1994 start a wolf population. Continue to mismanage wildlife for years. Make the U.N.E.P. clones look like they know what they’re talking about. Even though they do not. {throughout the 1980s when hunters complain at IDFG scheduled meetings about mismanagement of the big game resource tell the hunter[s] who see the mismanagement polices to shut up.

Somehow those pro wolf groups overlook prior to wolf introduction hunter success rates versus post wolf introduction hunter success rates based upon previous harvest data and previous tag opportunities now reduced by 80% due to wolf population mismanagement in states where wolves have been introduced for years.

Somehow these left wing pro wolf groups overlook game management hunter success rates where hunting management methods have been around for decades. It would be nice if their UNEP cloned attitudes increase the decline in members of their silly group echo chambers..

Sell 5,000 elk tags in an area [48-49-Idaho} that only holds 1600 elk, while the back country around the agricultural lands is sterile of big game animals.

The deep back country of Central Idaho is no longer carrying a respectable number of elk and deer anymore, nor large carnivores.. To me from my experiences traveling Idaho’s back country via horse and mule to no longer see cougars, bears, sows with cubs, black and grey foxes, coyotes, wolverines along with the elk and deer herds, is a far cry from a wolf regenerated success story.. It’s another man made failure of epic proportions..

Throw wolves into a meat grinder then curse at the meat grinder. Isn’t self responsibility for your own advocacy awesome? I think so..

WLNs useful tools want some blowback? You got it..

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Biggest Bucks of Maine Per Year of Deer Harvest

Most people in Maine and other parts of deer hunter havens across the country, know that the biggest buck, by weight, ever taken in Maine was in 1955. Horace Hinkley’s record buck weighed in at 355 pounds.

There were two hunters who tied for second largest bucks recorded at 310 pounds, 42 years apart. Do you know who they were and where the deer were taken? Visit Troy Frye’s Facebook page and you can get a list of the biggest bucks taken in Maine, the year they were taken, the hunter’s name, and where the deer was shot.

Thanks Troy!!

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2018 Maine Deer Harvest By County

Kennebec County in Maine, had the greatest 2018 deer harvest. If you would like to see what each Maine country had for a deer harvest in 2018, please visit Troy Frye’s Facebook Page.

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Land Access: “There Ought to be a Law!”

A few years back, while speaking to a group of elk breeders in Iowa at their national convention, I began my talk by asking for a show of hands from any and all who ever made the exclamation, there ought to be a law. Most raised their hands. The rest were lying…LOL.

In our post-normal existence we have eagerly created, without supporting evidence we reactively rush toward the creation of more limits, bans, and regulations falsely believing such actions will actually alter human behavior and make for a better, safer life. Does it? Do the majority of Americans heed such laws intended to make our world a better place to live?

Not exactly! Have you been out on the highways lately? This is but one example of how laws, intended to make things safer, are failing at breakneck speed. Everyone is speeding. Everyone is running stop signs and traffic lights. Everyone is tailgating. Everyone is passing on the wrong side. Everyone is texting. These are examples of laws intended to make the highways safer to be on and yet the proof is in what you see…total disregard of the laws. So, why do we insist more laws will work?

Does this same thumbing of the nose happen with all other laws? Of course it does and yet, we, in our programmed reactionary behavior insist on making more laws, limits, and bans anytime something happens that we think could have been avoided…especially if we had more laws.

A tragedy occurred in Maine two years ago when a young woman was on her own land during deer hunting season and was shot an killed. The shooter admitted he failed to follow the “rule of law” that demands a hunter identify his/her target before pulling the trigger. While this law is more of an educational reminder of the ultimate responsibility of the one with the gun in their hand, it does not prevent mistakes nor will it stop anyone intent on killing for whatever the reasons.

The editorial board of the Bangor Daily News suggests that Maine needs to review its hunter land access laws and consider a requirement that all hunters seek written permission from a landowner before hunting on that person’s land.

A land owner should be able to control who and how anyone accesses their land. They presently have that control at their fingertips by utilizing an existing law of posting signs of no or limited access. Yes, the onus is placed on the landowner to spend the money for signs and put the signs out. Perhaps there are better ways to assist a landowner in accomplishing this task.

The bottom line is this, will posting the land keep people off the property and will it prevent a tragedy like the one that happened two years ago? It will not stop the person who is intent on entering someone’s land whether it’s posted or not. Unless land is posted all the way around, what is to stop anyone from accessing partially posted land?

The question here is whether or not making or changing the law that would require written permission to access land would have prevented a killing like the one in Maine two years ago? We might be creating ourselves a false sense of security, causing the landowner, who may falsely believe their land is 100% safe to be on during hunting season. In actuality, a new law may be making things worse.

One could argue that it is the hunters’ responsibility to know where boundary lines are regardless of what the access laws and restrictions may be. Sometimes it is extremely difficult to know where every boundary is and if you cross, even a well-marked property line, whose it is. If I unknowingly cross a poorly marked property line, would I be in violation of the law?

Hunting is a very safe activity. It is not fool proof. To err is human as the old expression goes. We will never correct that regardless of how many laws are made.

So, let’s consider the problems that will mount if Maine decided to enact a law that would require written permission before access…for any reason. Which brings us to another question about such a proposed law. Would such a law discriminate against hunters and be in effect only during hunting seasons? Assuming a new law requiring written permission would be permanent and year-round, what kind of mess is this going to create for the outdoorsman, the landowner, businesses geared toward outdoor recreation, and law enforcement? Will this new law be such that it places the landowner in a situation where they are constantly being asked for written permission? Will this form of harassment cause the landowner to avoid such and simply post their land, which they might not have done anyway – an added expense for the landowner.

Consider the large landowners of Maine – Irving, Pingree, Liberty Media Corp. (John Malone, who is based in Colorado). How are they going to handle a law where they have to hand out written permission for anyone to access their land? Or are they just going to shut it all down to avoid having to have another paid position to handle just dishing out land access permission slips?

How is law enforcement supposed to handle this new law? Is it even enforceable? Is what exists now really broken?

I own land. It’s not posted. If I go on my land during hunting season, I dress the same way as if I was hunting – with hunter orange. I never assume because I’m on my own land I am safe. Mistakes happen.

I don’t believe anyone is capable of grasping the extent of how Maine would change if the laws were changed that would require written permission to access private land. What economic impact will such a move have on Maine’s economy? One can argue that it might make it safer but such laws will not stop human error. Most all accidents happen due to human error. In that case, more and better education might limit and reduce those errors.

Before we make more laws to restrict land access, let’s first consider other ways to educate and remind hunters of their responsibility and to remind the people of Maine when hunting seasons are underway. Perhaps Maine could invest in public service announcements that would remind people about hunting seasons.

Let’s be practicably responsible and not create a bigger mess that may do little to make things safer.

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2019 Maine “Any-Deer” Lottery Results

The results of the Maine 2019 “Any-Deer Permit” Lottery results can be found at this link – https://deer.informe.org/2019/

Just select the letter that matches the last name of the applicant and scroll through the results.

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Maine’s Top 20 Deer Harvest Years

This chart comes from Troy Frye’s Facebook page found at this link. He provides other interesting graphics about Maine’s deer harvest histories.

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