The big game hunting season has passed its midpoint and, to date, the take has been meager. While there have been a few reports of deer trickling in, it appears the deer are faring better than the hunters.
The arrival of cooler weather and snow would go a long way toward reversing the odds. However, it appears that Bob LaVergne of North River hasn't had any problems. Last week, LaVergne took a big 21-point buck on the Gooley Club property near Newcomb. Although the monster only weighed 178 pounds, it sported a non-typical rack that was more typical of a reindeer than a whitetail.
Elsewhere, entries in most local big buck contests are significantly off the pace, while meat cutters complain that business has been very slow. However, it is expected to pick up with the opening of the Southern Tier regular gun season this weekend.
As usual, I've got a haystack of notes and notices cluttering up my desk. I didn't realize it had gotten out of hand until I could no longer locate the phone. Hoping to alleviate the situation, I have sifted through and sorted out the timeliest items.
New right-to-hunt states
Despite the turmoil brought on by the Tea Party in recent elections, voters in three states approved constitutional amendments to insure that "citizens shall have the personal right to hunt and fish."
These constitutional amendment efforts received very little mainstream media coverage.
Hunting and fishing were once common activities in this country, but as the nation's population increasingly gravitates toward urban areas, traditional consumptive pursuits have lost their place in society.
Hunting is perhaps the most scrutinized of all outdoor activities on public lands. Voters in Arkansas, South Carolina and Tennessee agreed to amend their state constitutions to include the right to hunt, while voters in Arizona rejected a similar amendment.
In Arkansas, where 83 percent of voters favored the amendment and 17 percent opposed, the state legislature had recently voted to make animal cruelty a felony. Hunters, worried that animal-rights activists might use the law against them, passed the right-to-hunt amendment as a hedge against possible animal-cruelty charges.
In Tennessee, voters concerned that animal-rights groups may sue to shut down a hunting season, passed the amendment with 87 percent of the vote. The amendment states: "The citizens of this state shall have the personal right to hunt and fish, subject to reasonable regulations and restrictions prescribed by law. The recognition of this right does not abrogate any private or public property rights, nor does it limit the state's power to regulate commercial activity. Traditional manners and means may be used to take non-threatened species."
Hunters provide a valuable tool in terms of game management. I would think that their rights would be guaranteed by common sense. Due to the expatriation of most natural predators, hunting serves to control game populations and the threats that can arise from overpopulations such as Lyme disease, car/deer collisions and overbrowsing.
Currently, the right to hunt and/or fish is protected by the state constitutions in Virginia, Louisiana, Minnesota, North Dakota, California, Wisconsin, Vermont, Montana, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.
It is interesting to note that hunter harassment laws in all 50 states protect hunters.
NFCT Auction 2010
The sixth annual Northern Forest Canoe Trail Online Auction is now open for bidding with over 500 items, including boats, gear and guided experiences.
The auction runs from Nov. 3 to Dec. 3, with all proceeds supporting the trail that stretches from Old Forge to Fort Kent, Maine. The auction can be found online at www.BiddingForGood.com/TheCanoeTrailAuction.
It is a great opportunity to find a tried and true Christmas gift for the outdoor enthusiast on your list, while supporting the longest "blue trail in the eastern United States."
Pine plantation = buck refuge
I came across an interesting article that should be of interest to any Adirondack whitetail hunter. Written by well-known whitetail authority J. Wayne Fears, it claims, "Most hunters consider pine plantations biological deserts and rarely go into the pines to hunt."
Pine plantations can be found across the Adirondacks, composing over 10,000 acres of the Park. The Civilian Conservation Corps planted most during the depression era on former farm lands or in areas where forest fires had ravaged the land.
However, a majority of Adirondack hunters avoid the plantations due to the symmetry of the rows and the open lanes of vision. Many believe the pines don't provide enough food sources to attract deer.
However, the Fears claims that, "Inside many pine plantations, you'll find windrows covered with blackberry bushes and other lush foliage the deer will eat, where old stumps, logs and brush have been piled up and burned when the land had been cleared to plant the pines. From the middle of the season until the end of the season, deer will move into these pine plantations and feed along the edges of these windrows."
I also believe that pine plantations are used as refuge areas, especially for bucks in areas where adjacent state lands receive a good deal of hunting pressure.
Although I've hunted the pines at times, we've never conducted any organized drives. However, I'd sure be interested in hearing from hunters who have.
EPA denies lead ban
On Aug. 3, the Center for Biological Diversity, the American Bird Conservancy, the Association of Avian Veterinarians, Project Gutpile and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility filed a petition with the EPA to ban the production and sale of lead-based ammunition and fishing tackle under the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) of 1976.
In late August, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied a portion of the petition to regulate the use of lead in the manufacture of rifle and pistol ammunition. Under the Toxic Substances Control Act, the EPA has no legal authority or control over this type of product.
At the time, the EPA agreed to consider the petition calling for a ban on the manufacture and use of lead-based fishing gear.
Currently, several northeastern states, beginning with New Hampshire in 2000, followed by Maine in 2002, New York in 2004 and Vermont in 2007, have established total or partial bans on lead sinkers for fishing to protect birds and waterfowl from ingesting lost or discarded lead.
In early November, the EPA denied the petition asking for a ban on the manufacture and use of lead based fishing gear, stating "The petitioners have not demonstrated that the requested rule is necessary to protect against an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment, as required by the Toxic Substances Control Act."
In effect, the EPA stated that the petitioners did not have conclusive evidence that lead fishing tackle warranted control under the TSCA. Additionally, the EPA indicated that the increasing number of limitations on the use of lead fishing gear on some federal and state lands, as well as various education and outreach activities, called into question whether a national ban on lead in fishing gear would be the least burdensome, adequately protective approach to address the concern, as called for under TSCA.
The EPA's letter also noted that the prevalence of non-lead alternatives in the marketplace continues to increase.