Archive for March, 2007

Buckmaster’s Tips: What You Can Learn From Tracks

Thursday, March 15th, 2007

Once you’ve located deer trails, look for tracks. If all the tracks are going in the same direction, follow the trail to determine where it goes. Depending on where the food source is, you might have found the main trail heading to the food source. It’s helpful to know how far deer are traveling from the bedding area to the food source. Deer sometimes enter a food source on one trail and leave on another. Other trails might be used both as entry and exit routes. You can study the tracks to determine what kind of trail you’ve found. If you’re hunting a field, set up in the morning on a trail the deer are using to travel from the field back to the bedding area. In the afternoon, set up on a trail deer are using to travel from the bedding area to the field. When hunting pressure gets heavy, it’s good to know where the deer are bedding, as they become nocturnal. If you hunt a morning stand near a food source, the deer might leave the field and be past your stand before daylight. If you hunt an afternoon stand near the food source, they might not come out until it’s dark. If you set up near the bedding area, you have a better chance to see morning movement back to the bedding area at first light. You also have a better chance to see an afternoon buck moving toward the food while it’s still daylight. If you can find two or three trails that merge into one trail, you know you’ve discovered a great place to put a stand. Also keep in mind that big bucks might not use the main trail. Look for less-used trails that parallel the main trail and watch for that smart old buck.

You can get these tips in your email box by visiting the Buckmaster’s Website.

Taking Advantage of the Hunters…

Thursday, March 1st, 2007

Minnesota is now trying to increase their hunting license fee by $1.  Most of us have gone through rate increases.  Here in West Virginia, the rates went up pretty significantly just last year.  We often complain about the increases, but end up putting up with it becasue we can see the benefits to us as hunters.  Hunting fees pay for many of the benefits that we get as outdoorsmen.  However, in Minnesota, that isn’t going to be the case.  Why the $1 increase?  To pay for processing deer that have been donated to the less fortunate of the state, through a program such as “Hunters Helping the Hungry”.

This sounds like a great thing…and most of us as hunters and outdoorsmen would not think of this being an extravagent fee.  So, then what is the problem?  The problem is that the state is already going to be relying heavily on hunters for supplying “free meat” to the food pantries as it is!   The current policy of the state of Minnesota is to make the hunter who wishes to donate venison pay for the processing himself.  That  costs anywhere from $60 to $80 per deer.  Not surprisingly, there are not a lot of deer being donated.  It seems that the state believes that if they raise the price of hunting license by $1 and then use that money to pay for the processing of the deer, then hunters will be more likely to dontate more deer.  They also believe that this will be a valuable management tool, because if it is easier for hunters to donate kills that they do not want to consume themselves, they will be more likely to hunt for a few extra deer.

So, what is the problem?  This sounds like a win-win-win situation.  Hunters get to hunt more.  The state gets more deer killed, thus controlling the population better.  Less fortunate people receive free, high quality, venison. 

In my opinion, this is the problem.  Hunters are required to foot the bill for something that is a general social program.  Why should hunters be asked to pay for something that benefits society as a whole?  I am certainly not opposed to donating venison for the benefit of families that could use it.  But, this is a significant amount of money, raised by essentially taxing hunters, to pay for something that should be taken care of by a more general fund.  After all, hunters are already paying a significant fee to be able to donate that deer.  They had to pay for the tags for those deer.  I don’t know how much that fee is in Minnesota, but if it is similar to West Virginia, that would be at least $10.  That in and of itself is a significant sacrifice. 

I am sure that many will wonder why this is such a big deal.  It is only a dollar, they will say.  But, that is not the point.  Hunters and outdoorsmen willingly make sacrifices such as paying for that extra tag for the purpose of donating the deer, or helping a family that they know could use the meat.  We do it because we enjoy being able to hunt, and we like having the opportunity to help others.  What we don’t like is being taken advantage of.  In this case, all Minnesota hunters would be forced to pay for a community service that no one else in the community is willing to pay for. 

There are certainly other alternatives.  One possibility is to sell discounted tags, specifically as “donation” tags.  Any deer taken on such a tag would be designated for donation to the food pantries.  The money collected from those tags could pay for the processing of the deer.  That would keep the burden from being paid for by those who don’t want to participate in the program.  Hunters would still be paying for the fee, but they would actually be paying less, not more over all!  I believe that hunters would gladly buy a discounted tag (50% off perhaps?), so that they could hunt for a little longer.  The state would have the opportunity to have the herd brought under control by having more deer killed in season.  And, the food pantries would benefit by having more venison donated, since the hunters would not be hit with the high cost of processing the game.  Best of all, we as hunters would not feel like we were being taken advantage of!  I am sure, however, that there is some bureaucratic reason why this couldn’t work.

See the Star Tribune for original article.