Monday, July 30, 2012

Kim Rhode is my new hero!

I had no idea who she was. I was stuck watching the bike racing, some volleyball, maybe a little swimming and gymnastics. I would have had the TV on the entire time if the TV station had skeet shooting on. Especially since Kim Rhode became the 5th individual of all time to win a medal in 5 consecutive Olympics. And she won them shooting a gun! She is my new hero.

I have never shot skeet. I have never tried. But, Dad and I have decided that I am much better in a stand, 16 feet up a tree than I am on the ground. Perfect example: 3 years ago, I drew a doe permit. Dad and I decided that I would stand against a large tree in the woods while he went into a small chopping to see if he could jump any deer that, in turn, would run towards me. I had plenty of visibility from where I was, so I stood and waited. I waited maybe 15 minutes. Maybe. I heard the snap of the branch and the thunder of running. And I saw two beautiful does run out of the clearing and right past me. I actually remember saying to myself “Awww… two does” and then I realized what had just happened and looked around to see Dad laughing as he walked back to where I was. I just stood there. I didn’t even try to lift my gun. Hunting fail! That afternoon, we headed to a regular spot, I climbed into my tree seat and a couple hours later, shot a doe. From my seat, 16 feet up in a tree. I clearly need that advantage. Kim Rhode would kick my butt in a shooting competition. Basically, anyone who can shoot at something going faster than a slow walk could out shoot me.

So, while the world watches Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte battle it out in the pool, I will be proud to know that the US was represented in skeet/double trap by a woman and her gun. Kim has proven herself to be hero worthy and I hope more young women realize these great accomplishments and see Kim as the role model she is. As Americans, hunters and (for those of you who fit into this category) women, it is our responsibility to promote Kim’s great achievement and be proud to have her represent us in London. Even if she won’t get the air time she deserves, I hope she realizes how proud we are.

Here are a few links for more information about Kim Rhode.

PA Sports Blog

Associated Press/Duluth News Tribune


Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Interview!

(From left, John Ford, me, Paul Fournier)

Thank you to all who listened, called in, tweet'd and left me questions for the show! We had a blast and you can listen to it here. I swapped some great stories with these guys and they were so gracious and kind - they even gave me a copy of their book and signed it for me. Yes - I geeked out!

I have said it before and I will say it again - hunters/fishers/outdoors people are the best people around!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hunting Turtles

There is nothing appealing about hunting turtles to me. In my mind, they are kinda cute, are worth getting out of the car to move them across the road and fall into a category of acceptable pet should any future kids want to have one.

At a family gathering this weekend, I got on the subject of hunting Snappers with my Uncle who has been hunting them in Massachusetts and selling them in Maryland. When I asked him why he doesn’t hunt in Maine, he said because it was illegal to do so if he want to sell them. When you catch them in Maine, you also need to kill them immediately and if you know anything about turtles (which I did not), they do not keep in a cooler of ice like a dead fish will. While he has had turtle soup, my Uncle said that he would not eat it on a regular basis, “You know how fish absorb mercury and the chemicals in the water? Turtles are in the water a lot longer, they live longer, so they have the ability to absorb more of that into their system.” He totally sold it for me – one meat I can live without trying.

So how do you catch a turtle? My Uncle said he sets up traps along a river in Mass. and during this last trip, he came back to the traps 30 minutes later to find anywhere from 1-3 turtles already caught. He explained how he uses the hoop traps, which until I looked them up, pictured them to be similar to the opening of a lobster trap. Turtle goes down a cone shaped entrance, gets some food and cant get back out the small end of the cone. He collects the turtles, separates the males from females and hands them over to the buyer. Live weight he gets (totally going my memory and approx. $$ amounts here) about $1.50/lb for males and $2.60/lb for females. So, when all is said and done, he could net $1,500 or more each trip.

As we talked more a few questions came up: why not regulate it in Maine like other States? My Uncle pays $30 for a permit and why not have a minimum size of 12 inch diamter? to ensure that the smaller turtles can stay in the water and reproduce. Like any population, if there is not monitoring and a portion of the population dying/being killed every season, there runs the risk of over population, an increase in illness and the decrease in the overall health of the population. “No hunter or trapper will do something that is going to impact his – or her – hunting. Especially if they are making money doing it.”

So my question to all of you is this: would you (or do you) hunt turtles? Do you think it should be legal to hunt and sell them?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Thoughts from a Tree Stand

This is my second blog. Check it out, let me know what I am missing or what I should add to it.

And again, THANK YOU!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

One's good, two is better...


I was approached last week about blogging for a major newspaper here in Maine. So once I figure things out, I will let you know what the link is so you can join the conversation with others across the State plus all of you who are regular readers.

But... don't worry! This is going to remain my primary blog and the stories I post on the second blog will be copies of posts from here.

Keep the ideas and comments coming and hopefully we can continue to have some great conversation about deer, hunting and the outdoors. We just might be able to pick up a few more readers along the way.

And, THANK YOU!!!! every comment, every tweet and every reader has helped build my little blog into something that other people think is cool. I can only imagine where it will go from here (besides some place in the woods).

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

With more money comes more possibilities; how IFW will spend the additional $100k

When Maine's Governor LePage signed new legislation that gave Inland Fisheries and Wildlife an additional $100,000 for their predator control program, I wanted to follow up with Mr. Woodcock on how this money will truly impact the program and the State.

How do you see this additional money helping IFW this year?
We had a plan to target critical deer yards around the State (These are in areas D, E, F, G, C). This additional money will help us by providing another funding source. There are 10 locations covering about 1000 acres that are our top priority. With this additional funding, we are able to increase our efforts without worrying about stretching the budget too thin. We can expand the number of people who can participate and regulate the hours put into this. It really needs to be an ongoing effort in order to sustain itself. Last year, we started the program in November and with the additional funds, we can start it this year around September 1st.

It is only one year of funding. The Legislature can not agree to fund multi-year projects, so we will need to work to find ways to continue this effort if we want to grow and sustain the program.

Doesn't the Deer Management Fund help with the funding? Last year $2 out of every $5 in tagging fees went into this fund.
It has changed this year. It used to be that for a $5 deer tag, the agency got $4 and the tagging station got $1. Then, it was a $3/$2 spit. It ended up that the agency will now get $1 for every tag. We are hoping that folks will make contributions to the Fund throughout the year. Funds can also be donated (and designated) when you get your license online each year. We are hoping that folks will understand the importance and want to support us so that we can continue the efforts to grow a healthy deer herd in the state.

ok, so how are these deer yards chosen?
We work with biologist, loggers, guides, hunters, trappers, regional wardens... its a way of gathering information about the deer herd and the land. It a matter of finding and targeting critical areas. Last year, our winter was so mild that a lot of deer did not yard up, so we need to rely on the folks who are familiar with the area to help us.

Ideally, what would the population number be for you to say the deer herd is healthy again? I would like to see a 50% increase in the population, but it is also is dependent on where you are in the state. There are parts of Maine that do not need any more deer. They have a high population now. Its a matter of managing the regions across the State and setting realistic targets to grow the population into a healthy deer herd.

Deer go where there is food. Both the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine and IFW recommend that people do NOT feed deer because they don't feed them properly and deer need a nutritious diet to sustain themselves. If people want to feed them, then we suggest they do it cautiously, but we would prefer it if deer were not fed. When you feed them, they create yards around the food source. Move the prey and you will see predators begin to come into that area looking for food. It's a cycle.

Any concerns about the increase in deer ticks and the overall deer herd?
The increase in ticks has more of an impact on us. There all kinds of ways to protect ourselves when we go into the woods. I remember going fishing and seeing a man in the water and it was almost as though he had a bubble around him. The bug's wouldnt go near him. It was incredible. If you have the right protection, you will be fine. (At this point, I tell Mr. Woodcock about my run in and he proceeds to lecture me because I was not fully protecting myself. I have not had a tick, or mosquitoes, attack me since this interview.) But, we always run the risk of higher Lyme cases when there are more deer in a smaller area. Last year in Islesboro, there were 26 cases of Lyme disease.

How are the location of the coyote hunts determined?
Coyotes go where the food is and we work with groups, hunters, biologists and wardens around the State to determine where we need to hunt. One thing we will NOT do, is trap coyotes in areas that have prohibited hunting and trapping. We are also very cautious about the Lynx population and ensuring that these efforts do not hinder their population numbers. So, we are very cautious about this work.

Once we know where there are higher concentrations of coyotes, we have hunters and trappers go in and take them. They all have the proper permits and have to report where they are going to be and when. Its a very focused effort about where, how and who plays a part in making this successful.

How does someone get picked to be a hunter for the coyote selected hunt?
We get suggestions from game wardens, biologists, guides and folks who ask IFW about it. If anyone out there is interested, they should contact John Pratt about it.

At what point will you know this program is successful?
I would say when 50% of the coyotes in the targeted areas are culled. 40% is successful but I would like to reach 50%.

For more Info:
Lyme disease and tick issues on Islesboro: here
Feeding Deer in Maine: Here
How to avoid accidental taking of Lynx: here

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Outdoorsy Questions for the Guides/Wardens

Hello All,
I am producing a show and interviewing John Ford and Paul J. Fournier about their time as Maine Guides/Wardens.

I want your questions... what do you want to know?

You have until July 20th to post them here! Then listen to Maine Calling to see if we ask it. I will post the link to the show when it gets closer.