Thursday, September 26, 2013

A letter to my non-hunting friends about bear hunting



Hello to all of my non-hunting friends!

I am writing this letter to you because I want to encourage you to become educated on one very important topic that you will be seeing and hearing more about.  It is the issue of bear hunting in Maine.  In the upcoming months, there will be a lot of political spin on the bear issue in Maine.  I want you to feel as though you are getting a real picture of what the issue is before you cast that ballot next November. 

Am I biased?  Yes.  I do not bear hunt but I know enough about it to have a very strong opinion about this issue.  I am hoping that as my friend, you will grant me a few minutes to hear me out on the issue.

First, when you are hunting, there is no guarantee that you will shoot the animal that you are after.  No matter what you do.  When it comes to bear hunting, Maine is the only state that allows three different types of hunting; hounds (you must train dogs to find and then tree a bear), trapping (imagine a circle that you step into and it tightens around you. It only tightens if you pull on it but will not cut into you.  It also loosens up if you don’t pull at it or if you pick at it like you would a knot in your shoe lace.  Legally, you must check on these types of traps daily and each hunter is only allowed one of these traps) and baiting (you leave a barrel of sweets in the woods and hope the bear finds it and keeps coming back).  All of these methods only work if there are bears around and you are in the right place at the right time and choose to shoot the animal.  You are not going to find a bear hunter who will shoot a cub or a sow with cubs.  You won’t.  And if you do, they should not be allowed to hunt.  Period.  

Second, Maine has some of the BEST state biologist around.  Randy Cross is the bear biologist in Maine.  I went with Randy one spring to tag bear cubs and I can assure you that he lives and breathes bears.  He has been working with the bear population in Maine for more than 30 years! He has been studying and learning about the bears here for as long as I have been alive.  Think about that for a minute – that is A LOT of first-hand knowledge on a single population.  When the state biologist tells you that you need to harvest (aka kill) ‘x’ number of bear to keep the population healthy and in check, I believe him.  I trust him. I encourage you to learn more about what Inland Fisheries & Wildlife and the biologists have to say about this issue.

Third, bear hunting is a population management issue that the Humane Society of the United States wants to turn into something different. In some states, it’s legal to shoot deer over bait (like a pile of apples) because they need to keep the population numbers in check. It’s the same thing here for bears.  No one (especially hunters) wants to see an animal be wounded or injured instead of killed quickly when we are out hunting.  It may sound odd but it is true.  A person who wants to see an animal suffer is a not a hunter, they are a sociopath. 

Lastly, trust us! Trust the hunters, outdoors-women and men, Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the biologists and owners of the hunting camps that all rely on a healthy animal population to keep the Maine outdoors as we know and love it.  We are the people who walk the Maine woods and see and love these animals.  We are not an outside interest group who is trying to bully people into voting for their agenda.  Talk to us!  Ask us questions so you can learn more about the topic.  I am more than happy to share with you some great blogs from bear hunters, like my friend Robin, who have first hand knowledge of what is it like to bear hunt.  If you run into someone who is working on the campaign to ban these hunting practices, ask them if they have first-hand knowledge of using these tools.  Ask them to explain their side of the issue to you so that you can be an educated voter when this issue hits the ballot next year.

Thank you for reading my letter and I hope in some ways, it has helped. 



Thursday, September 19, 2013

The best thing about deer season is...

Besides getting a deer, it's the quiet of sitting alone in the woods.  I have always felt that sitting in a tree for hours is kind of like having a zen moment (or hours) and I love it.  I don't think I have appreciated it as much as I probably will this year.

As I write this, my three month old is having a total melt down over nothing (side note, I will eventually put his photo here http://www.reasonsmysoniscrying.com/ for others to smile about. It's a GREAT blog).  And as much as I love spending time with my family and cuddling with my son, I have not had me time for a while.  I look forward to being alone in that tree just listening to the birds, squirrels and passing traffic.

An added benefit of hunting season - good mental health!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Got it!

Today the any deer (really, doe) permits were released and Dad got one!!!

Between finding that out, all of the posts on Twitter with friends and followers posting photos of elk, antelope and other critters they have shot, I can not wait until deer season starts.  Can you imagine if Dad gets a doe and I get a buck?!? We have yet to each get a deer in the same season although we had the chance last year =)

Come on November!  

"I couldn't do it again if I tried"

This little story has been locked away since last season.  I was sworn not to share it.  It was a story I was willing to lock away forever.  But, when Dad told a few people, it was like getting the ok to share it. 

Dad and I were in the Sky Condo the weekend before the last week of deer season.  It was about 3:30 pm and we were waiting to see if any deer would come in.  To look out from the SC, the left front corner has canvas around it to help cut the wind down.  It can also cut down on a clear view of the woods from that direction but move about 6 inches to the right, and that small piece of woods is visible again.  That is where I was sitting; about 6 inches to Dad's right.

We heard a noise and Dad lifted his hat off of his ears.  I assumed it was a squirrel.  We have never seen or shot a deer in the afternoon, always the morning.  I looked in the direction of the noise and there was a crotch horn.

"Dad, it's a buck"  Pause.  "I can't move 'cuz he is looking at me"

My Dad is awesome.  He has amazing hunting stories and has shot a lot of deer since his first deer at the age of 12. Dad shoots left handed.  As this buck was making his way out of the woods, I spooked him just enough that he started to turn and quarter away from us.  Dad leaned to his right, lifted the gun and shot.  The deer crumpled in a heap.

I remember asking Dad if he was going to get down and he shrugged and looked out at the dead deer.  I called Mom to let her know that we might be home later than normal because we would need to gut and tag the deer. Before I got off the phone, maybe two or three minutes later, the deer starts kicking. Kicking and thrashing.  Dad and I look at each other and he starts to climb down the ladder to take another shot.

I sit there and watch the deer, still on his side, use his back legs to thrash and kick and plough his way through the grass and dirt and into the woods. What happened next, I will never forget.

Dad was walking around the woods, looking at the deer's trail, and scratching his head.  There is no deer.  We looked along all of the trails that the deer have been using to and from the Sky Condo.  We look at where the deer dropped and there was no hair or blood. How could a deer drop like that, be out cold for so long and then wake up and disappear??  The only thing we could come up with is that Dad must have shot the deer at the base of his antler and it knocked him out cold.  When he came to, he pushed himself back into the woods, up against a tree and got on his feet and ran off.

We can laugh at it now, but we were both in shock.  Dad said in all his years of hunting, he has never had a shot like that, "I couldn't do it again if I tried."

The next weekend, we heard the same noise and assumed it was the same deer.  We had a photo of him on the trail camera at 9pm that very night.  And, I think we are getting some photos of him on the camera again this year... but we will see if this time, Dad can bring home some meat =)

I think this is the same deer that Dad shot last season.  Let's hope we get him this season!





Monday, September 2, 2013

Guest Blog: It's all about placement

Deer season is approaching and it's almost time for Dad and I get our tree seats up.  Blake Anderson at Huntertreestands.com offers this advice for the best places and types of tree stands to use to ensure you land that buck!

Thanks Blake!


The Sky Condo that Dad and I built.
Optimized Tree-Stand Placement

There are a lot of elements during hunting that are often out of your control, which can ultimately lead to an unsuccessful hunt. However if you optimize those components that are within your control, then you can quickly turn a disappointment into a great victory. Tree stand placement is one of those key rudimentary elements that will decide whether or not you end up empty handed, and there is more to it than just finding a great location.

Proper height placement will help you solve several different problems that most hunters face when hunting deer and other intelligent animals. Deer have a keen nose and will easily evade even the most experienced hunter if the proper steps aren’t taken to give you the advantage.

The goal when selecting how high up to place your tree-stand is to go as high as possible while still remaining safe. A good starting height is around 20 feet, but I’ve heard of hunters working their way up to 25 to 35 feet into a tree. The reason why great emphasis is placed on tree stand height is because it helps you solve two key elements that are in your control. The higher up you go, the less concentrated your scent will be when it arrives at the deer’s nose. Obviously if you are trying to stalk a deer at ground level, then your smell is at its strongest levels. So it only makes sense that the higher up you are, the less likely you will frighten off a deer due to your scent. The other advantage is that not only will you be able to see further, but there will be a less likely chance that the deer will spot you.

No matter how high up in the tree you go, you should still always keep the direction and strength of the wind in the back of your mind. It can be as equally and even more important than a tree stands height placement and mean the difference between seeing multiple deer that day or none at all. Choose your stand location so that the animal will arrive upwind or in the crosswind of your stand. 
 Also be sure to approach the location by walking up to it with the wind blowing towards you.

The best tree to choose will be the one that is easiest to climb and doesn’t require a ton of preparation and movement before you are fully situated. Look for a tree that is as straight as possible and doesn’t have a lot of branches that will break and fall on your way up. It makes no sense to choose a great spot and then thoughtlessly scare every deer in the area away. Keep these few basic principles in mind when looking for a great tree stand location and you’re sure to optimize your chances of having a successful hunt.

Blake Anderson
Huntertreestands.com