February 6, 2023

My Eyes: Maybe They Do Look So Good Anymore

There’s an old Maine story sometimes told. I first heard it when being entertained by Maine humorist Joe Perham many years ago. Maine has always had a strong French Canadian influence. The transition from the Canadian French to Maine English sometimes leaves one amused or confused. The French tend, in their interpretations and implementation of the English language, to get the order or use of certain words mixed up. The old Maine story goes something like this.

Two farmers who lived on opposite ends of town seldom had the pleasure of meeting and visiting each other. But when they did, it often began a series of bartering and sometimes bickering and undoubtedly confusion, leading to anger.

One day the two men met near the center of town. They briefly exchanged pleasantries. One farmer, Les,  said to the farmer of French descent, “Say, Pierre. I’m looking for a mule to work my farm.”

Pierre replied, “Well, I got one but his eyes they no look so good anymore.”

Farmer Les said, “I don’t care what he looks like. What you gut to git for that mule?”

“I’ll trade you my mule for your mule,” offered Pierre.

So in a couple of days, they met and swapped mules. Les had a reputation for a bit of dishonest bartering. He knew his mule was old and tired and figured an even swap was a good deal, getting the better of the trade. However, after a couple of days, Les went looking for Pierre.

Say, Pierre, “That mule you swapped me for…the dang thing’s blind!”

“Yeah, I know,” replied Pierre. “I told you his eyes they no look so good anymore.”

During my hunting trip to Hunting Camp, I came away with a bit of reassurance that my eyesight wasn’t failing worse than I thought in my advancing years especially after I put in myday dailies . Three events took place that reassured me that for 66 years in age, my eyes they do look so good anymore.

The first event happened the day we arrived at Hunting Camp. As is tradition, we target shoot. From the sitting rest that somebody once built, to the target is approximately 30 yards or about 90 to 100 feet. I don’t know that any of us have ever measured exactly.

I stood behind the shooters and I could most often tell the shooter where his bullet hit the target – even the .223 caliber rounds. Most shooters doubted my ability to see that well at that distance, but upon examination of the target, more than not I was right.

As a side note, just before I got out of the U.S. Navy in 1976, I decided to have my teeth fixed and my eyes checked to at least get me taken care of for a while. I’ll spare the details but the eye doctor became fascinated with my seeing ability and gave me a thorough examination, determining that my eyesight was 20/8. Normal vision is 20/20. 20/8 vision means that what “normal” eyes can see at 8 feet, I could see at 20. The doctor told me Ted Williams, the all-time great baseball slugger, had 20/10 vision and that’s why he could hit the baseball so well.

I know I no longer have 20/8 vision. I need glasses to read by. Needless to say, I am a typical far-sighted person.

The following day, which was opening day of the regular firearms season for deer, at precisely 2 minutes after legal hunting, a fellow hunter and I were getting ready to drive out of the woods on our ATV. At a distance of approximately 300 yards, I made out two does’ silhouette at the top of a hill on the power line. I pointed them out to my buddy who took a while to pick them up…through his binoculars I might add.

The third event was a couple days later when I was still hunting in some small beeches that still had not shed their leaves. Scanning the landscape, I spotted a “brown” spot that seemed a bit out of place. I guessed what I was seeing was about 75 yards away. I continued to study the object until I focused in on a deer’s face staring directly at me. I swear the deer had a look on her face that said what the heck is that?

She continued to stare as I slowly raised my gun to see what she looked like in my scope. I wanted desparately to place a set of antlers on her head. Seeing none at 3x power, I brought the gun down and turned the power up to 7x. Still no antlers. I knew the chances were pretty good that if I was seeing a nice buck…well, I wouldn’t be seeing a nice buck hanging around wondering what I was up to.

She turned her head 90 degrees away from me and straight ahead as she was facing. I knew what was next. She bounded away, but lazily. I did spy her again watching me as I continued to still hunt.

In the past few years, mostly because I haven’t been able to even see deer in the woods, I have resorted to sitting in places in the woods or in a ground blind. I don’t like getting into tree stands anymore. I wondered if not seeing deer was solely attributed to lack of deer to spot or if it was my failing eyesight.

It was comforting and reassuring to know that my eyes “look good enough” to still be able to pick out a deer perhaps a little better than the average hunter.


Black Bear Sense of Smell Tips the Odds in Hide and Seek Hunting Games

Ignorant environmentalists and animal rights supporters are trying to convince voters in Maine that there is no need for any harvest tactics for hunting black bears other than hide and seek…..well, the sissies call it “spot and stalk.” A coalition of misguided fringe groups and individuals, i.e. the Humane Society of the United States and the Wildlife Alliance of Maine, are spreading lies about black bears and black bear management faster than Barack Obama can create division and strife among Americans and the rest of the world. So, do any of these uninformed groups have any idea about wildlife in general and black bears specifically? I don’t think so.

“Spot and stalk” hunting, or more accurately should be called hide and seek (and never find), is generally referred to by real hunters as still hunting. Still hunting is a tactic used by some hunters in which they move at excruciatingly slow speed, employing as much stealth as possible, utilizing scent covers, wind and terrain to their advantage, all the while hoping to sneak up on their prey. The odds are extremely slim regardless of the prey being sought.

While some would call this “fair chase” hunting, by one’s perspective it can be but it does very little to help in reducing a game specie population where needed. For this reason, wildlife managers adjust rules for hunting according to what is necessary to control populations with serious consideration given to public and hunter safety.

This misguided coalition, called the Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting (MFBH), intend to strip the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) of all the tools that are needed to try to keep black bear numbers at desired levels. Baiting bears is the only tactic that even comes close providing MDIFW the means to keep bear populations at healthy levels and MFBH wants a referendum to ask voters to outlaw all forms of bear hunting, with the only exception being still hunting, or in this case it more accurately would resemble hide, seek and never find, which of course is the intent of the environmental extremists in the first place.

So, if these whackos are successful in shutting down bear management as we know it today, what are the odds that, first, a sufficient number of hunters will “spot and stalk” black bears? And, secondly, what are the odds of being successful at bagging a black bear?

Bear hunting is not nearly as popular a hunt as say deer or elk. Even in Maine, where black bear populations are at perhaps their highest ever, it is difficult to get hunters to take up bear hunting. It doesn’t take too many brains to understand that if you take away hunters’ tactics and reduce their odds to basically zero, nobody is going to want to spend the money for a license and bear tag. The result would be no bear hunters and no bear hunting. And as I’ve already said, this is the real agenda of these perverted groups like the Humane Society of the United States and the Wildlife Alliance of Maine.

What happens to the odds of a successful hunt if all that is left is still hunting? With still hunting, a hunter has to get close enough to a bear to get off a killing shot. Even though an experienced still hunter is very quiet, by human standards, they still make noise and are creating movement, both easily detected by a bear. In addition there is the sense of smell of a black bear. I doubt very seriously that any of these brain dead liars of the MFBH have any clue as to the sense of smell possessed by a black bear.

According to The American Bear Association, a black bear has a sense of smell 7 times greater than a bloodhound.

There is perhaps no other animal with a keener sense of smell. Bears rely on their sense of smell to locate mates, detect and avoid danger in the form of other bears and humans, identify cubs, and FIND FOOD. Although the region of the brain devoted to the sense of smell is average in size, the area of nasal mucous membrane in a bear’s head is one hundred times larger than in a human’s. This gives a bear a sense of smell that is 7 times greater than a bloodhound’s. In addition, they have an organ called a Jacobson’s organ, in the roof of the mouth, that further enhances their sense of smell.

To help put that in an enhanced perspective to better understand what that means, let’s look at what Wikipedia (yeah I know) has to say about a bloodhound’s sense of smell.

The Bloodhound’s physical characteristics account for its ability to follow a scent trail left several days in the past. Under optimal conditions, a Bloodhound can detect as few as one or two cells. The Bloodhound’s nasal chambers (where scents are identified) are larger than those of most other breeds. The number of olfactory receptor cells are 4 billion in a bloodhound, compared to just 5 million in a human and 100 million in a rabbit[42] The surface area of bloodhound olfactory epithelium is 59 sq.in. compared to human’s 1.55 sq.in. (10 sq.cm.)

Hunting conditions would have to be perfectly in favor of the “spot and stalk” bear hunter in order that that hunter would have even a remote opportunity to get close enough to even see a bear, let alone have a chance at a killing shot. (And again isn’t this the intent of the whackos?)

Maine’s black bear population is too big, by some people’s estimates. While the carrying capacity for bears may not be met or exceeded in many places, the fact that bears are seriously contributing to the demise of the whitetail deer herd, is problematic. I have been calling for an increase in bear harvest in order to reduce deer fawn mortality while the state tries to figure out how it is going to rebuild a dismal herd. If idiots take away MDIFW’s ability to do this, then the MFBH and all those who would vote in favor of this outright bear hunting ban, would be responsible for the further depletion of the whitetail deer and in some places in the state, threatening extirpation.

It should be understood that this proposed citizens’ initiative, due to come up for a vote in 2014, would seriously hamper the MDIFW’s ability to responsibly manage black bear populations. That, in and of itself, would be a real crime.