Aug
07

National Deer Alliance

What is the National Deer Alliance?  In early March 2014 the first ever Whitetail Summit was held in Branson Missouri at the Bass Pro Shops’ Big Cedar Lodge. The summit had representatives from several different stakeholders in the deer hunting community. Different groups included deer hunters, non governmental organizations such as QDMA, state wildlife agencies, the scientific community including university’s, land owners and managers, and the hunting industry.

The Whitetail Summit came up with the top 10 issues impacting deer hunting and management.

1. Hunter Recruitment and Retention

2. Education and Outreach to Support Current and Potential Hunters

3. Hunting Land Access

4. Political influences on Deer Hunting and Management

5. Captive Deer Industry

6. Deer Dieses

7. Public Concern for Deer Population Levels, Low or High

8. Landscape Change / Habitat Loss

9. Connecting Hunters With Accurate Scientific Information

10. Impacts of Predators, Feral Hogs, Invasive Species

In response to the issues identified at the summit the National Deer Alliance was created. The mission statement of the NDA is To Ensure The Future Of North America’s Wild Deer Wildlife Habitat And Our Hunting Heritage. 

The sad truth is less than 1% of the estimated 11 million deer hunters belong to a conservation organization dedicated to deer hunting. The NDA hopes to change that. The NDA’s Goal is to unite deer hunters like never before and harness this power to achieve positive outcomes for deer and deer hunting. Perhaps deer hunters have taken the White-tailed Deer for granted. Perhaps we assumed deer herds would stay healthy and continue to flourish. I urge you to go to the NDA’s website and join. Membership is free in order to avoid another barrier from keeping our voices herd. Every week the NDA will send  e-mailed newsletters highlighting major issues threatening deer and deer hunting. The newsletter also contains an array of deer related information videos and articles on the lighter side as well.

 

 

 

Aug
05

Campfire Pizza Pockets

This recipe is so easy I hesitate to call it a recipe. Campfire Pizza pockets are a great tasting supper requiring very little preparation and almost no clean up. Start with a piece of pita bread and with a knife create a pocket in the bread. Stuff the pita with pizza sauce, cheese , and your favorite pizza toppings. Take a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil and spray  the inside with cooking spray. Wrap your pizza pocket in the foil and place it directly on the coals of your campfire. After three to four minutes flip the pizza pocket and cook for an additional three to four minutes and your done.

Jul
23

Thoughts On The Failed Sportsmen’s Act

I have two main thoughts after reading an article about the failed Sportsmen’s Act. First and foremost, we as hunter’s need to become more involved in the political process. If we want to continue to have the ability to engage in our passion of hunting, fishing, and other outdoor pursuits we need to solidify as a group. We need to have our voices heard by the lawmakers in Washington and our state capitals. When there is pending legislation we need to reach and contact our elected officials. Failing to do so is only helping the anti-hunters and their agenda. I also implore every hunter to support at least one if not multiple pro hunting conservation organizations. For suggestions of a few good organizations look at the links page on this blog.

I’ll try and keep my second thought short and sweet. Congress is broken and this another example of politics taking precedence over setting differences aside and working in bipartisan manner.

Senate to Sportsmen:You Don’t Count

Apr
29

Wolf Population Declines in Wisconsin

Collared Wolf in Wisconsin

Collared Wolf in Wisconsin


Below is a press release from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announcing the Wolf population in our state has declined by 19 percent. Without a doubt the anti-hunter’s and wolf loving environmentalist are going to use this news to play on the emotions of people who are not informed about wolves in Wisconsin. They will say wolves in Wisconsin are in danger of being wiped out because of the irresponsible DNR and all the gun toting redneck hunters who hate wolves.

The doom and gloom the anti’s will portray will be based on emotions while ignoring facts and science. The fact is the wolf population in Wisconsin is strong, healthy, and not in danger of being wiped out by the reasonable quotas set by the WI DNR. The fact is the reduction of the wolf population was intentional. Let us not forget the original wolf management plan called for 350 wolves, not a population hovering around 1,000. As the wolf population continued to increase so did conflicts with humans and depredations on pets and livestock.

The fact is many hunters if not most hunters respect wolves and are willing to except a reasonable population of wolves provided they are under state management and there population is kept to reasonable number. There are hunters who have bought into the myth wolves are the reason for declining deer numbers in the northern part of the state. I don’t have the room here to go into detail but that is just not the case. Wolves may be a small piece of the puzzle for low deer numbers in the north, but the main reason for a struggling deer herd in the northern forest is a habitat issue. It’s a complex issue with many factors; in it’s simplest form the northern woods in Wisconsin have large areas of mature forest (which is poor deer habitat for several reasons) while having minimal areas of early successional forest.

One of the issues, which has yet to be determined is what is a reasonable population goal. Peoples views range from no wolves to having no set number on their population while prohibiting any type of management that would slow the population growth. In my opinion as a hunter and conservationist both views are wrong. I support a management plan based on science, allowing a healthy population of wolves without allowing their population to increase to the level where it exceeds the biological carrying capacity of the habitat.

At this juncture I do not have a set number of wolves in my mind, however I view the population reduction in the last year as a good thing. I look forward to the future wolf hunting and trapping seasons in Wisconsin. In order to ensure the future of such seasons it is imperative hunters educate themselves on the issues so we can help counter the misinformation regarding wolves and wolf management.

Press Release:

MADISON – The preliminary 2014 Wisconsin late-winter wolf count indicates there are a minimum of 658 to 687 wolves distributed across the state, according to Department of Natural Resources officials. The preliminary numbers equate to a 19 percent decline in the late winter population compared to last year, as predicted by scientific models considered by the Wolf Advisory Committee and Natural Resources Board prior to establishing 2013 quotas.

“The population is within the range predicted by University of Wisconsin population models used in the quota development process” said David MacFarland, DNR large carnivore specialist. “The increased 2013 quota resulted in a reduction in the wolf population toward the goals established in the state wolf management plan. We are collecting important data on which to base future management decisions and will continue to learn with each season.”

The count is conducted at a time when the wolf population is at its lowest point in the annual cycle. The population nearly doubles when pups are born in spring, resulting in a higher population in October when the hunting and trapping season begins.

This year’s count compares to the 2013 count of a minimum of 809 to 834 wolves, which was similar to the late winter population count prior to the state’s inaugural 2012 wolf hunt. Wolf counts have been conducted by DNR and cooperators in Wisconsin since winter 1979-1980 when 25 wolves were counted in the state.
“Wisconsin’s monitoring protocols are considered the most reliable method for monitoring wolf populations.” said MacFarland. “They include a combination of radio-telemetry, pilot observations, and winter track counts conducted by staff and trained volunteers across the state’s wolf range.”

While the number of wolves is down from the 2013 count, the population is still nearly double the current goal of 350 wolves, and over six times the federal delisting goal of 100 wolves for Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The DNR is currently reviewing and revising its wolf management plan.
On April 29, the Wolf Advisory Committee will meet for a preliminary discussion of population data and 2014 wolf quotas. The committee will meet again in May to finalize wolf quota recommendations. Department leadership will consider their recommendations before developing final department recommendations for Natural Resources Board approval at its June meeting.

The state’s wolf management objectives are to ensure a sustainable wolf population; quickly and effectively address conflicts; begin to reduce the wolf population toward the established population goal; and learn for future wolf management adaptation.

Apr
29

Family Fun In The Rain

image

Looking for a fun activity to do with your entire family in the Fox River Valley area in the next couple of days? Check out the Sturgeon spawning sights along the Wolf River. My friend Matt took this photo near New London WI at the Wolf River Sturgeon Trail. According to Matt his kids had a great time despite the rain.

Apr
24

Deer Over Browsing

This video clip from Outdoor Wisconsin with Dan small does a great job illustrating the damage deer can do when the deer herd is over the biological carrying capacity for the habitat in the area.

Apr
20

Well Said Chuck

Apr
15

Mineral Supplementation for Deer

 

Deer at Mineral  Block

Deer at Mineral Block

If you have not already and it’s legal where you are it is time to place mineral supplements out for whitetails. Not only are minerals helpful for antler development at this time of year minerals can improve a deer’s overall health.  Although typically deer use mineral licks most heavily April through September they do use them all year.

There are several factors to keep in mind about mineral supplementation for whitetails. First of all there has been little research on whitetails and minerals. A lot of the opinions on the subject are based on research regarding domestic livestock and mineral supplementation.  However, the research conducted indicates deer would benefit to some degree from mineral supplementation especially from calcium, phosphorus, and sodium.  Another key factor to consider is there is a wide array of products on the market to fill this niche for whitetail hunters. Make sure you do your research on the product you pick as the quality of the products varies greatly.

Perhaps most importantly remember mineral supplementation is only a small piece of the puzzle for whitetail management. A lot of hunters are under the impression putting out a mineral lick in the spring will lead to trophy deer being behind every tree in the fall. This is simply not the case. The Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) puts it best, a 1 ½ old deer is a 1 ½ deer weather it has access to minerals or not.

If you do decide to use mineral supplementation put some thought into the location of where you place it. Along trails especially near intersections are good places to start looking. I like to place mineral blocks on top of stumps, which seems to help the block last longer. I have also seen deer lick the stump well after the block was gone. An interesting note however from the book Quality Whitetails the How and Why of Quality Deer Management is wild whitetails, are more likely to lick leached minerals from the dirt than actually licking a mineral block. That information would suggest you may be better off placing the block right on the ground. Based on my observations, specifically trail camera pictures deer do not hesitate to lick from the block.

One point I really want hammer home about mineral supplementation is if it is illegal where you hunt do not place out minerals. The QDMA and to my knowledge every state wildlife agency believes mineral blocks aid in the spread of dieses such as Chronic Wasting Disease. The benefit the deer would gain from minerals does not out way the negative effects of spreading disease throughout a deer herd.

Deer at mineral block

Deer at mineral block

Trail cam

A buck approaching a mineral site.

Apr
14

Wolf Hit Near Portage Wisconsin

image

This wolf was hit by a car in South Central Wisconsin in late March. The area is not considered prime wolf habitat, but the Wisconsin DNR has reported an increase of wolves passing through the area in recent years.  Another example of why it is important the State of Wisconsin is allowed to manage the wolf population through hunting and trapping.

 

Apr
12

Book Review: Whitetail Advantage

Whitetail Advantage by Dr. David Samuel and Robert Zaiglin is not your typical book about hunting Whitetails. You will not find information on the latest gadgets or strategies promising the reader they will bag a mature buck, although I enjoy those books as well.

Instead the book is crammed with nearly 300 pages of information on Whitetail biology and behavior. The authors say it best in the forward of the book “this is not a how to hunt book. Rather it contains tons of information that will explain why and what you what you saw from the tree stand”.

The book is written in a straightforward manner, which is easy to understand and entertaining. Wide ranges of topics are covered including Whitetail history, aging deer on the hoof, reading a deer’s body language, and the latest research regarding scrapes. I also enjoyed the chapters on Chronic Wasting Disease and the Future of hunting. The authors do a great job of blending scientific research and hunting experience to deliver an excellent book for hunters to gain a better understanding of deer and deer behavior.

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