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January 05, 2013

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Well put. The popular (as opposed to expert) ecology movement has paid far too little attention (in my opinion) to the disruption we have caused by eliminating the big predators.

We eliminated them because they were dangerous, either to us or to our domestic animals. But eliminate them we did, and without doing anything to pick up the function that they perform in the ecosystem. The result has not been pretty -- and not just with deer overrunning rural and suburban areas. My local suburban area is actually overrun with wild turkeys. (Not native to this part of California. But someone was raising them. When he died, his wife just opened the back gate and let them loose.)

The more the ecology movement and the hunters figure out that they have to work together, the better. And as a side benefit, we may see an organization arise which represents real hunters, rather than just using "hunters" as a foil to promote a completely different agenda.

I’ll never forget the first time I looked into the eyes of a death dog.

It was a tooth-cracking cold morning in Arkansas when I crawled into a small tower blind overlooking a vast wheat field. The landowner gave me specific orders to shoot as many does as possible to help with his management program.

“By the way,” he said as he walked me to my stand. “If you see a coyote, kill it, too. They’re wreaking havoc on our deer herd.” “Ten-four,” I nodded.

The morning was barely an hour old when I caught movement in a distant fence row. Coyote!

-Are Coyotes Killing Your Deer?

"In 2011, nearly 14 million Americans hunted, while NRA members number about four million–fewer than half of whom actually hunt."

That would make 50% of NRA members, and about 5% of the overall population, hunters. So, yes, I think it WOULD be possible for the NRA to represent him less.

Oh, and that Remington .270 he loves? http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=1&vote=00217>The Democratic party made a serious effort to ban it. Which Obama voted for.

Well, if he had to mothball the Remington .270, I'm certain, if what I read here and elsewhere has any validity, that the substitution effect would quickly take place.

He'd just sneaky-pete up behind the deer, wrestle it to the ground, slip a plastic bag (the 100-gallon industrial capacity) over its antlers and, demobilizing the animal's hind quarters with his powerful legs, smother it.

Crossbows.

Then there's our old fallback weapon -- the SUV --- drive it into a crowd of deer and, presto-quicksie, your larder is full until next Fall.

Atlatls from inside an SUV.

You'd have to get the lengthy discussion out of the way first about which part of the contraption is actually the atlatl, perhaps googling its spelling on your smartphone, because unless you're dealing with your tame suburban deer, there is little time to waste on idle chit-chat when the game is afoot.

We could use the human persuasive powers God gave us, and that we use to such world-shaking effect every day on the internet, and sweet talk the animal through the back door into the kitchen, hooves a-clacking on the linoleum and, perhaps getting it drunk first -- the poison gambit, creatively deployed -- with a convivial pre-prandial bottle of Aquavit (be sure not to confuse your Aqua Velva cologne with the Aquavit), convince it to fold its legs of its own volition and nestle into the pan on a bed of fennel and juniper berries.

At this point, the beast, now putty in your hands, would look up at you, it's Bambi-eyelashes batting like Betty Boop's, and pour a second bottle of Aquavit over its own head.

"Arlow me to baste!" it would slur, grabbing the ladle.

Then you would be free during the shank of the afternoon to go catch the first course of fish down at the lake, and if you couldn't find your fishing rod, my suggestion for a substitute method could be, if you are a fully-provisioned patriot like me, the dynamite cache we were keeping out back for the entirely likely eventuality of blowing up the Presidential motorcade to secure our freedoms.

Guns don't kill people, people who drink cooking sherry early in the day and then suggest we retrieve Uncle Bill Burroughs' hunting rifle from the attic, turn up the William Tell Overture on the stereo and position Aunt Bea on the loveseat with a piece of fruit on her head for a little target practice while the venison rests kill people.

And then they later quote Uncle Bill regarding our precious freedoms when the chips, they are down.


Actually, I kind of like crossbows for hunting. Not so much for myself, a compound bow would suit me just fine, but my wife is 80 pounds of "petite", and might find a cross bow easier to handle.

Guns are nice, but they do tend to disturb the neighbors when you're taking out that deer munching on the shrubs.

My mother lives in a wooded suburb in western PA and the deer are in your face year-round despite the armored divisions of hunters fanning out over hill and dale every Fall.

There are moments you can sit on the porch --- I grew up in the house -- during early morning and dusk and the backyard looks like a mini-Serengeti.

Once, there were a dozen deer tentatively browsing at one end of the yard and a flock of wild turkeys emerged from the woods at the other end.

Apparently, deer don't eat the junipers, which I always thought stemmed from their naturally in-bred sense of irony, given the recipes, but it turns out they just don't find the leaves palatable, unless they are starving.

These deer are fat, like the kids at the mall.

It would be cool if one morning there were wildebeest munching the bluegrass and a Tyrannosauros Rex crashed through the trees and carried several off in its jaws.

Plus, it would be amusing to observe my brother doing a spit take and spilling his 11:30 am bourbon apertif down his front, so that I could remark to Mr. Know-It-ALL that, look at it this way, at least THAT one doesn't eat all of the green shoots in the Spring, before he ordered me and whomever else happened to be standing around to immediately commence constructing a 40-foot-high high voltage on the perimeter.

Tell that to my mother (well, you could NOW and she would merely say "really" with alarming and dispiriting mildness, although she might ask later, if she didn't immediately forget the conversation and having vaguely chewed on these thoughts, if the deer and the turkeys and the wildebeest and Tyrannosaurus Rex might get into the house and do a Who concert to the joint and maybe endanger her).

For a number of years, she and my brother spent lots of time necessarily scurrying about protecting the shrubbery and the perennials from the ravages of the deer and so measures are in place, but then a number of years ago, at the behest of the local shrubbery lobby, the borough (gummint, arming the people) authorized certain parties to patrol, I guess, the environs year-round with crossbows and bow and arrow to thin the deer population.

They must stay in woods but they have the right-of-way to cross private property, so I'm told, mostly at night.

Anyway, I spent my adolescence exploring every square inch of the woods over a fairly wide area and one year while I was visiting my mother cautioned me, as I headed out for a trek, that it was entirely possible that I could be mistaken for a deer and have an arrow get me as in Drums Along The Mohawk or Last of The Mohicans, which I found enthralling in a perverse you've-got-to-be-kidding-you mean-I-can't-walk-in-the-effing-woods kind of way, and for God's sake, Countme Junior, don't go out for those walks at night on the roads like you used to. They hunt at night!

At any rate, I thought one day about breaking an arrow in half and securing both ends to either side of my neck, Steve Martin-style, and appearing nonchalantly at the dinner table and awaiting my mother's notice (probably she would have smirked and said "Very funny", before then going off into a lengthy I-told-you-so about her previous entirely accurate prediction decades ago regarding Lyme Disease, but never mind) and saying "What? Oh, this, fingering the point of the arrow. Well, you were right, Mom."

As an American transplanted to Norway I can verify that this is a killer recipe and the brown goat cheese adds an immense amount of flavor and creaminess to the sauce. The first time I had that here was a total OMG moment.

And now this is on our list of things to make in the next couple of weeks. Thanks!

pbs/go.org hahaha at any rate,i had pbskids.org and pbs.org.

My 4 year old son, Victor, was so excited to show me his very first blog comment, then, "poof!". Still, I suppose it wasn't on topic...

Geez, sorry about that. I saw the url and thought 'god, it must be bad when PBS is spamming the comments.' and didn't even thing about the last name or anything like that. It's been re-published and I would encourage young victor to comment to his heart's content.

No, don't sweat it, it lasted long enough for him to show me, he never saw it was gone.

Only one site he visits on a regular basis, and I suspect you can guess what it is...

NRA Centerfold?

Ha! ;)

At 4 years old? No, I'm not getting him his own membership until he starts kindergarten.

Doc S--'baiting' is fairly common in Texas for deer hunting. Many, maybe most, deer hunters use corn feeders that throw 3-4 cups of corn set by a timer and the deer come in to feed. Sporty? No, not at all. Bad, as in reprehensible? Maybe, but there are two sides to the story, the flip side being safety.

Depending on the size and nature of the property being hunted and the number of hunters on the property, there are a lot of good reasons to allow baiting, despite the absence of sport. First, most hunters are urban dwellers, unaccustomed to getting about in dense brush. It is easy to get lost, to fall, to twist or break an ankle or leg and become immobilized. If no one can find you, it's problematic. If you are in a stationary deer blind with a known location, you aren't walking around (much) and are easy to find if something goes south.

Shooting over a feeder channels the line of fire into a known, safe and limited area. The risk of shooting another hunter or sending a round off into who-knows-where is significantly mitigated. Also, having hunters roaming randomly over a ranch or farm increases the chances of an inexperienced hunter mistaking a human for a deer (stupid, but it happens).

Another safety factor is poisonous snakes. Anyone who has hunted in the southwest for any period of time, even with limited walking, has encountered at least one rattler or, if duck hunting, a cotton mouth. Copperheads are everywhere in East Texas, although their venom is relatively mild. The more people move around in the brush, the more likely an encounter is. A bad bite for someone alone and unable to get help quickly is very bad news.

Another aspect of baiting is that, in most states I am familiar with, it is fine to plant crops that attract deer and hunt over the planted field. This is substantively no different from dropping corn on the ground. One is viewed as acceptable, the other is not.

The phenomena of large deer herds in heavily populated areas is as much a product of deer losing their fear of humans as it is food supply. I agree this is problematic, but in those areas particularly, because hunting is the only way to thin the population, baiting allows for channeling shots safely. Randomly discharging high powered rifles in semi-rural areas is a recipe for tragedy.

A final note: I shot two deer this year over a corn feeder. I did it for the meat and, having killed somewhere between 50 and 100 deer over the years under a variety of conditions (including with a pistol), have nothing to prove sporting-wise. It's easier and quicker that way. And, it makes for a cleaner kill since the hunter is shooting from a rest. Both of my deer were one-shot kills, and relatively painless.

we just moved into the woods, and were surprised to see a dozen or so deer out in our front yard every morning, earlier last month. they'd walk right up to the porch, or wherever the freshest, greenest grass shoots were. and then deer season started. haven't seen any in weeks.

McKinney makes an excellent point.

Having grown up in a rural area, the biggest hazard we faced was what we called "mighty hunters" -- the guys from the urban or suburban areas who came out to the country and shot at deer (or anything else) in blissful ignorance of who or what might be down range. (They were also cheerfully ignoring the legal requirement that they not discharge a weapon within 1 mile of a road or a house, but that's another story.)

If baiting is a way to reduce that, I'm all for it!

Another safety factor is poisonous snakes.

I think you mean "venomous snakes." Unless you're eating them.

/pedantry

"The NRA isn’t for hunters any more than AAA is for bicyclists."

Perhaps better to say, "than Toyota is for bicyclists".

About "baiting": I once saw a picture of a sign on a tree which read,
"BAITING DEER IS STRICTLY ILLEGAL
CORN PLACED HERE IS FOR SQUIRRELS ONLY
ANY DEER EATING THIS CORN WILL BE SHOT!"
I swiped the photo and turned it into one of those (de)motivational posters, with the caption, "If the Department of Fish and Wildlife were run like the SEC".

If you're going to shoot at the king, don't miss.

That is all.

Both of my deer were one-shot kills, and relatively painless.

Didn't hurt you a bit, eh?

My front door is regularly over run with politicians every November. They rapidly deplete my valuable patience. Is there some bait I can put out that will keep them from knocking on my door? Shooting them seems pointless. There seems to be an inexhaustible supply.

wj,

The http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Road%20Hunter>RHA (Road hunters Association) is a mighty social and political force. Don't bait them.

Is there some bait I can put out that will keep them from knocking on my door?

A big bag of Uncle Ben should do it.

I live in far western Fairfax County, near Clifton, where it is very wooded and there are a lot of deer.

1.) "My" deer love daffodils. They will eat every flower I have. They don't eat the stalks, just the blooms.

2.) I seriously think that the deer have learned how to deal with cars a lot better. Twenty years ago, if you saw 2 deer pass in front of your car, you had to really watch out, because deers # 3, 4 and 5 were likely to launch themselves in front of your car. This hasn't happened to me in a few years;now, the rest of the herd will just stand and watch you go by.

The deer here eat my apples and my garden too if I'm not careful. But they are safe from me.

Because I eat moose. I just cooked a moose roast on Sunday. O.K, fine, I threw in a chuck roast from the grass-fed steer I just received from a client into the dutch oven too. That was totally unnecessary but I wanted to see how good the steer tasted. I already knew the moose was the king of the deer family.

I hunted every year before I moved from Alaska. But I didn't shoot every year. Moose are just that big.

Ari LeVaux's comments on hunting in the last paragraph match my own (his implied limitation of the 2nd Amendment to hunting is another story). I'd almost call myself a harvester instead. I like to know what I'm feeding my kids.

obviously the problem is that humans wiped out all the large predators. nature is out of balance. humans, as primates with herbivore digestive tracks, were not supposed to be part of the equation.

nature is out of balance

I believe the technical term for "nature out of balance" is "koyaanisqatsi".

Hunters don't replace the top predators. IF they filled that role, they would go for the old, the sick or ijured, or the very young. Instead they go for the buck, the bigger the buck, the better.

I'm not arguing agaisnt hunting. I'm just sayig that it is not an ecology-balancing activity.

In fact in some states pressure from hunters on game management is detrimental to the ecology of the hunted areas. I'm thinkig of those areas where hunters push for policies that will keep the deer herds higher than they should be to make hunting easier.

An of course there's all that crap about "Did the coyote or cougar get your deer?"

Hunters don't replace the top predators. IF they filled that role, they would go for the old, the sick or ijured, or the very young. Instead they go for the buck, the bigger the buck, the better.

I can't speak for hunting practices outside of Texas, but this is mostly wrong, but for a partially correct reason.

Trophy hunters *do* go for the big buck. For reasons unknown to me, they will pay thousands of dollars to shoot one. Ranchers who want those dollars, therefore, practice 'game management'. Every year, intelligent/capitalist ranchers have a wildlife biologist do a census and tell the rancher how many doe, young bucks etc need to be taken to keep the heard healthy. Then, the rancher restricts the size and number of bucks that can be taken.

A group of us leased the same ranch for 15 years and did the same thing. We shot doe at a ratio of 5 to one on bucks and allowed one buck of ten points or better per paying member (or a total of 8 bucks) annually off of 6600 acres. This is pretty typical. So, because hunters do like to shoot a big buck, they practice game management to maximize a healthy, sustainable deer heard year in and year out.

In fact in some states pressure from hunters on game management is detrimental to the ecology of the hunted areas. I'm thinkig of those areas where hunters push for policies that will keep the deer herds higher than they should be to make hunting easier.

This is wrong for the reasons stated above, at least in my experience in Texas. Game management has been a distinct feature of deer hunting since the mid-80's to my knowledge and probably before that.

Maybe we should distinguish McTex's game ranches in Texas from suburban NJ. There isn't a lot of game management in suburban (unless you count cars killing dears and getting totalled) and it extremely difficult for hunting to do the job. There's lots of patchy land around development suitable for deer grazing but completely unsuitable for hunting: no one is happy with hunting within 100 yards of houses.

A few well-placed (anti-personnel) landmines should do the trick. They come cheap at about $3 per item ;-)

and it extremely difficult for hunting to do the job. There's lots of patchy land around development suitable for deer grazing but completely unsuitable for hunting: no one is happy with hunting within 100 yards of houses.

Correct. Which is why it makes sense, in this and in other contexts, to bait the deer into a known, safe shooting zone. Don't confuse this with hunting, because it isn't. It's shooting. Or, harvesting, to put a more pleasant spin on it.

McTex's game ranches in Texas

Missed this. There are some 'game ranches' where the primary goal is improving wildlife numbers and quality to support commercial hunting. The majority of Texas hunters lease working ranches where the rancher is fully engaged in raising livestock. My group leased a working ranch. Game management is practiced in either situation, and is usually a requirement of the lease agreement with the rancher.

In Texas and in different degrees in other states, a good reason to turn your property into a hunting preserve is to avoid property taxes.

McK, game management practices vary from place to place. I was careful not to generalize.

I'm a birdwatcher. Area where hunters are pressuring state goveernments or other agencies to kill coyotes and cougars in order to increase the deer population are, in fact, pushing for policies that are detrimental to many other species due to habitat damage from over-foraging by deer. Or areas wherer there is pressure to kill wolves for the same reason.

NOt all areas even allow the hunting of does. I don't know what the laws are in Iowa now but when I lived there the idea of shooting a doe was considered outrageous. The local hunters where I live, an island that is over populated by deer tothe point that they are unhealthy and stunted, It's the bucks that get thinned out every fall.

BTW I ahve an acquaintance who runs a game ranch in Montana. He bought a peice of cow bombed property and did a lot of planting of native speices to re-create the habitat that had been ther before over grazing. Now he makes his living by letting people hunt game birds, deer, and elk. He could probably make money off bird watchers, too, if he wished. No questio, his game ranch is an improvement in ecology, over the cow ranch it used to be.

BTW2 this gentrleman takes in undaptable dogs. He has twelve, I believe, all big homely black mongrels. Those dogs live the life of Riley on his ranch.They go wherever hey wish, do whatever they want: swimming, varmit hunting, pack runs, sunbathing. He had a three legged pitbull that was a better retriever than an expensive prue bread brought to the ranch by one of his hunters.

"NOt all areas even allow the hunting of does. I don't know what the laws are in Iowa now but when I lived there the idea of shooting a doe was considered outrageous."

When I lived back in Michigan, you were limited in how many buck permits you could get, but they handed out doe permits like candy. This never bothered me, but I supposed I'd be called a "harvester", not a "hunter", I just figured killing deer and putting them in the freezer was like picking the wild strawberries, one of the reasons I'd bought the land, but nothing to get excited over. (Never did get enough of those strawberries back to the house to make a pie...)

Laura, a couple of things. First, unless a rancher is severely overgrazing his/her land, cattle don't compete with deer for habitat. Sheep, goats and feral hogs do. Coyotes don't impact deer populations. They do impact sheep and goats, heavily. Wolves are rare outside of the far north and northwest. Cougars have a much broader range, but are rare. The only way to manage a deer population, other than complete urbanization which destroys it, is by controlled harvesting, which can only be done safely in a semi-urban area by luring deer into a safe shooting zone. Deer are difficult to trap and relocate, which, of course, doesn't reduce the overall population, it merely spreads it around. Hunters who won't take doe are ignorant. Perhaps well meaning, but ignorant.

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Whatnot


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