A panel of Minnesota lawmakers Wednesday told state wildlife officials they wanted to see more deer in the woods, especially up north.
A House committee hearing room served as the setting for what amounted to a stern talking-to by lawmakers echoing a refrain among many of the state’s half a million deer hunters: Deer populations in many areas have fallen unacceptably low, and the quality of a fall tradition is suffering.
“The deer hunters out there understand,” said Rep. Tom Hackbarth, R-Cedar, who chairs the Mining and Outdoor Recreation Policy Committee and is one of a number of deer hunters on the panel. “They go out there year after year. We know what’s going on, and we’re not seeing the deer. … What’s the problem? How did we get here? … I sat in the stand for five days and didn’t see a doe in the woods. We’ve got huge problems.”
Officials from the Department of Natural Resources got the message.
“Certainly, what we’ve heard is the harvest levels are unacceptable,” Steve Merchant, wildlife and populations manager for the DNR, told the committee.
When viewed over a century of data, the roughly 140,000 deer killed by hunters in the fall isn’t a small number. As recently as 1972, the deer population was so low that no hunting was allowed. But populations rebounded dramatically, and between 1990 and 2010, many years saw more than 200,000 deer taken.
However, the total harvest has fallen steadily since 2010. To protect the declining population, the DNR enacted strict regulations this fall, and the 2014 harvest was the lowest in two decades.
The state’s largest deer hunting advocacy group, the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, wants to see the harvest rebound to 225,000 by 2019, Craig Engwall, the group’s executive director, told lawmakers. “With conservative seasons and good weather, we think we can achieve that,” he said.
That number prompts unease among DNR officials, who for several years sought 200,000 as a “sweet spot” for the total harvest but say severe winters have suppressed the population. While DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr has publicly stated deer numbers should be allowed to increase in much of the state, the agency has blamed the back-to-back severe winters of 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 for populations plummeting in northern parts of the state.
Brooks Johnson, president of Minnesota Bowhunters Inc. and one of the DNR’s loudest critics, told lawmakers that DNR officials have “manipulated” data to justify a “hidden agenda” of shrinking the deer population beyond what was called for a decade ago, when concerns over an overabundance of deer prompted the state to loosen hunter rules to allow more animals to be shot. “Allowing the DNR to constantly alter numbers destroys all credibility moving forward,” Johnson said.
His allegations drew sharp skepticism from several lawmakers. Merchant and DNR Wildlife Section Chief Paul Telander said indeed the agency had wanted to swiftly reduce numbers in northern forests, where deer numbers had grown to levels where they were over-browsing on young trees and threatening to prevent the state from receiving accreditation for sustainable forest management.
It’s unclear whether legislation with wide support will emerge. Several lawmakers said they would support requiring the DNR to draft a statewide deer plan similar to its plans for ducks, pheasants, ruffed grouse and other game. Others suggested a wider “audit” of the way the DNR models deer populations, similar to a process Wisconsin underwent several years ago.
Other lawmakers said putting the DNR on the hot seat was all that was needed.
“I don’t think legislators know enough about wildlife to come up with legislation,” said Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Vernon Center. “I think the whole point was to put a fire under the DNR to tell them to get something done, and we did that.”
After TheirTurn’s story about Matthew McConaughey’s hunting business went viral, TMZ, the celebrity gossip website with millions of subscribers, published a story about peoples’ outrage: “Matthew McConaughey Ranch Draws Fire Over Trapped Deer Kills.”
TMZ spoke to McConaughey’s nephew Madison, who runs the ranch:
“We reached out to Matt’s rep … so far no word back. But the actor’s nephew, Madison McConaughey — the ranch cattle manager — tells TMZ they’ve had death threats from people who don’t understand the nature of what they do. He says, ‘People are disgusted with us but we’re disgusted with them.’ Madison adds, people who come there do so for the ‘hunting experience’ and he says ‘We’re proud of what we do.’
The TMZ story has been updated with a video interview with Madison McConaughey.
In canned hunts, animals are confined to a fenced in area with no way to escape from the recreational killers and their weapons.
Here’s a photo to go along with this earlier post https://exposingthebiggame.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/three-4-year-olds-and-a-99-y-o-woman-reported-killing-deer-in-2013/
Many of you may remember this event and photo from last year:
Now it’s happened again–same place, same deer, same psychotic bloodsport. Here’s the new account and photo from the same woman who reported this last year…
“If anyone ever tells me again that the poachers “make the law abiding hunters look bad” I’m going to punch them in the face and then shoot them with an arrow. All hunting is evil. Poachers have killed 3 deer here (illegally on our property) this year. One hunter literally tried to kill me a couple of weeks ago with his truck. Last year, we had a buck (named “Buck”) suffer with an arrow in his back for two months before it came out and he miraculously healed. I wish I could have healed like he did. Buck showed up today WITH ANOTHER FUCKING ARROW in his hind end. I’m going to have a stroke. I was chasing these f#ckers since Thursday as they’ve been lurking around our property. I can’t believe Buck was shot again. I literally can’t take this. Not one more day.”
And if you need to know more about why bowhunting is sick and twisted bloodsport that should be banned, watch, A Veterinarian’s Perspective on Bowhunting:
MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A decades-long national decline in the number of hunters has prompted states to tap into a new group of hunters — people who demand locally produced food, but don’t know the first thing about bagging a deer.
Books and blogs on the topic are numerous, and state wildlife departments are offering introductory deer hunting classes in urban areas to recruit newbies who want to kill their own local, sustainable and wild meat in what some say is an ecologically friendly way.
“It’s not easy and it’s not a surefire way to fill a freezer every year but it’s certainly more rewarding than even raising a cow behind your house and butchering it,” said Chris Saunders, hunter education coordinator for the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. The department offered an introductory deer hunting course in Burlington this fall to recruit new hunters.
The number of people holding hunting licenses nationally had dropped over the last 30 years starting in 1983, mostly because of changes in demographics, such as an aging population and more people moving into urban areas, said Mark Damian Duda, executive director of Virginia-based Responsive Management, which does surveys for federal and state fish and wildlife departments.
But hunting participation increased by 9 percent from 2006 to 2011, the latest U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s national five-year survey found, and wildlife officials around the country suspect that it’s local food connoisseurs — or locavores — partly helping to level it off.
Reasons for hunting vary — recreation, spending time with friends and family, finding a trophy buck. The number of those hunting for meat nearly doubled from 16 percent in 2006 to 35 percent in 2011, according to a national survey of 1,000 hunters published last year by Responsive Management and other outdoors agencies. The survey found that part of the increase was driven by the locavore movement.
That’s why graduate student Francis Eanes, 27, enrolled in an introductory hunting course this summer and fall in Madison, Wisconsin.
“The motivation really was something that I can do for myself as a way of knowing where my food comes from,” he said. “I’ve worked on farms for a number of years and enjoy picking and helping grow some of my own produce and it seemed like a natural extension to apply that to at least some of the meat that I eat.”
He’s slaughtered pasture-raised rabbits and chickens, and said he feels at ease about killing a deer since it’s able to roam free and grow in a natural habitat. With a clean shot, the deer dies quickly, Eanes said.
“It’s definitely easier to pull carrots or pick tomatoes, but I’m fairly confident that if an opportunity were to present itself, I’d be able to take the shot,” said Eanes, who plans to get a deer during the state’s rifle season, which started Saturday.
Success isn’t guaranteed. Saunders told his hunting class — where meat was the No. 1 motivation for the attendees — that the success rate of hunters is between 15 and 18 percent.
But for many new hunters, it goes beyond knowing where your food comes from.
They enjoy the outdoors, the skill and the unknown — and there’s no negative ecological footprint, said Tovar Cerulli, author of “A Mindful Carnivore.” The 34-year-old former vegetarian and vegan turned hunter wrote his master’s thesis on what he calls adult-onset hunting.
Deer are part of the forest where he lives in Marshfield, Vermont, he said, and if he gets one, he shares it with friends and family. The frozen meat tends to last he and his wife an entire year.
The experience of taking a piece of venison that he shot and butchered out of the freezer is more satisfying than taking out store-bought food out to cook.
“There’s such a specific and direct connection to where that came from and I know that individual animal, where it was, exactly when I killed it,” he said. “It’s all very specific and direct and personal.”
Man Thinks Dead Deer Is Alive, Shoots, Misses, Hits Another Hunter
New York state’s hunting season started off with a bang on Saturday, with its first comic shooting accident. A Duchess County man thought he had the perfect trophy in his crosshairs when he took his shot. However, there was a slight hitch: The deer was already dead, and another hunter was dragging it out of the woods. Making things even more spectacular, the shooter missed the deer altogether and instead hit the other man in the buttocks and hand.
The wounded hunter was taken to a nearby hospital and treated for non-life-threatening injuries. No word on who got to keep the highly sought after deer carcass.
Deer and bear hunting season runs until Sunday, Dec. 7. There were 19 accidents in New York state in 2013, including five hunter-on-hunter/bystander. If opening day is anything to go by, we should pull out the lawn chairs and put on some popcorn, because this year looks set to be a doozy.
There is no shortage of tips for drivers on how to avoid a collision with a deer. Drive slowly. Drive defensively. Make sure your brakes are in good working order.
Here’s a new one: Pay a hunter to put Bambi on the dinner table before it gets hit on the road.
A New Jersey lawmaker wants the state’s ban on commercial deer hunting lifted. Hunters motivated more by profit than by sport would be relied on to reduce deer populations and could sell their keep to butchers, supermarkets and restaurants.
The sale of wild game has been restricted in all 50 states for more than a century, which explains why the venison on the menu at your favorite restaurant is most likely imported from New Zealand (or else the product of a U.S. deer farm).
Deer have bounced back after being overhunted early in the state’s history to the point when only a handful of animals were left in New Jersey in the early 1900s, state wildlife officials say. Now with an overabundance, gaming officials have lengthened the hunting season, increased bag limits and provided other incentives for hunters to kill more deer, but there’s still a lot of deer.
Monmouth County Assemblywoman Caroline Casagrande said the time has come to take additional steps to reduce the number of deer because of the health and safety risks from deer-vehicle collisions and Lyme disease.
“I have a personal interest in this. I have a 3-year-old and a 6-year-old and I live in a town, Colts Neck, where deer are prevalent,” Casagrande said.
Municipal officials in Colts Neck recently enacted a controversial ordinance to allow bow hunting within 150 feet of buildings to cull a rising white-tail deer population.
The April death of a Neptune man, whose vehicle struck a deer, a guardrail and then a tree on the center median of the Garden State Parkway at mile post 112.5, is an example of the worst result of deer-human conflicts.
Casagrande says the animals are also inflicting damage on the ecosytem, browsing on shrubs and saplings and diminishing the number of young trees to fill the canopy of forests, a contention shared by environmentalists.
“Anybody who lives in Monmouth County and is driving around is able to see a deer population that has exploded,” Casagrande said. “I’m concerned about the high number of Lyme cases and I’m also very concerned about the car accidents, half of which occur between October and December.”
There are some alarming numbers:
The National Highway Safety Administration (NHSA) says there are 1.5 million deer-related car accidents across the U.S. annually, causing approximately 175-200 human fatalities every year and 10,000 injuries.
[Too many cars, perhaps?]
Stephen Schapiro, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said the department has spent $230,000 per year to remove an average 6,350 deer carcasses from state highways each year over the last three years. In 2013, Monmouth County topped the counties with 853 deer carcasses removed and Ocean County had 215 removals. The data doesn’t include the deer removed by counties and municipalities on roadways under their respective jurisdiction.
Casagrande, a Republican, introduced Assembly bill A3039 in March but it still hasn’t been posted for a hearing in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee after eight months.
The committee chairman, Bob Andrzejczak, a Democrat from Cape May County, didn’t return a call to explain what the holdup is, but conservationists say pursuing commercial hunt legislation could become politically explosive, with pressure from animal rights groups as well as sportsmen who don’t want to compete with commercial hunters.
“The problem with deer is it’s a sacred cow. People wouldn’t be upset if we were talking about gray squirrel because they don’t have the same emotional investment as they have with white-tailed deer,” said David Drake, a University of Wisconsin wildlife ecologist.
Drake introduced a panel of scientists at the Wildlife Society’s annual meeting last year that discussed allowing the limited sale of deer meat as a way to reduce deer population and limit damage.
As is the case in New Jersey, no other states have since overhauled laws on commercial deer hunting, but Drake said, “We’re encouraged because we’re gaining traction and more and more people are talking about this.”
Jeff Tittel, state director of the Sierra Club, said policy makers “should be looking more at non-lethal deer population control methods.”
“There needs to be a holistic approach to managing our lands. If you landscape your area with bayberry and other things deer can’t eat, you have a better chance of deer not coming on your property. Controling food sources is the best way to manage population,” he said.
Tittel said the current commercial game hunting laws “are sort of silly in a state that has so many deer. It makes no sense that we have farms that grow the deer when we have parts of the state overpopulated with deer.”
An 11-year-old boy in Michigan had an encounter last week with one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights — an albino deer, alive and free in the wild. Only about one in 20,000 deer are born with albinism, and far fewer survive to maturity like this one had.
But the boy was on no nature walk; he was on a hunting trip with his father, and the rare deer wouldn’t survive the day.
Warning: Graphic image below
With the encouragement of his father, Mick Dingman, the sixth-grader steadied his crossbow and fired a fatal shot through the deer’s lungs, besmirching that snow-white coat with the spill and splatter of blood. The rare animal had been seen by folks around town leading up to that moment, but now this deer was the Dingmans’ alone.
Dingman tells the Livingston Daily that he plans to commemorate the killing by getting the 12-pointed buck mounted by a taxidermist: “It’s too rare and too pretty not to spend the extra money and have the whole thing done.”
“[My son] kind of feels like a rock star right now,” says Dingman, adding that the youth’s supposed accomplishment has caught the attention of hunting magazines, who are interested in sharing the story. But not everyone is so excited.
Amy Sprecher, in neighboring Wisconsin, runs a white deer protection group composed of hunters and non-hunters who are opposed to killing albinos — and she says stories like this are “maddening.”
“It’s just wrong. I don’t understand why’d you’d want to take that animal away from everybody,” Sprecher told The Dodo. “There are people who want to hunt white deer for bragging rights, but that’s not what hunting is about. Hunters that would never shoot a white deer don’t understand these people either.”
And Sprecher is not alone in her outrage. Not long after the Livingston Daily posted this photo and story online, readers began expressing anger.
“Wouldn’t you much rather observe something so rare again year after year than just stare at this giant full mounted carcass for the rest of your life?” writes Christina Brown.
“This deer was in our backyard in the spring and my wife took a picture. All of the people near us wanted to only shoot pictures, not the deer. We aren’t anti hunting but instead wanted this rare deer to be able to spread his genes so his legacy lives on after he died of a natural cause,” writes Tim Reinert.
Given the rarity of albino deer, four states, Illinois, Iowa, Tennessee and Wisconsin, have made it illegal to kill them. Critics have argued that laws protecting white deer are based more on emotion than science — arguing that albinism is a genetic disorder, not something to be cherished — but emotions surrounding white deer is certainly nothing new.
According to Native American tradition, white deer, like the one killed by Mick Dingman’s son, are one of the most sacred creatures on the planet.
“Albino animals are looked at as a spirit animal, which you are suppose to learn from rather than shoot and kill,” Jonnie J. Sam, from Michigan’s Ottawa Indian tribe, told The Dodo.
“I’d be more inclined to see if the animal has something to teach me, but sadly not everybody looks at it that way.”