Wednesday, October 27, 2010

ND Hunter's for Fair Chase Measure

KFGO pod cast featuring Orion founder Jim Posewitz talking about hunting heritage and how it relates to high fence shooting operations:

ND Hunter's for Fair Chase Measure 2 pt1
Dick Monson and Jim Posewitz, North Dakota Hunter's for Fair Chase, talks about Measure 2 on the November 2 ballot.

Fish & Wildlife Commissioner raps elk hunting park plan

From the Burlington Free Press:
Politics and Government
A trophy elk strolls along a road at Big Rack Ridge in Irasburg on Monday, June 14, 2010. It is part of a herd of 50 or more male elk on the square-mile property. Owner Doug Nelson of Derby sells elk hunts for $2,000 to $7,500 to clients from across the Northeast.
A trophy elk strolls along a road at Big Rack Ridge in Irasburg on Monday, June 14, 2010. It is part of a herd of 50 or more male elk on the square-mile property. Owner Doug Nelson of Derby sells elk hunts for $2,000 to $7,500 to clients from across the Northeast.

By Candace Page, Free Press Staff Writer • Wednesday, October 27, 2010
  • Debate continues to swirl around Big Rack Ridge, the hunting park in Irasburg that is home to non-native elk, exotic deer, native white-tailed deer and an orphaned moose known as Pete.

In a six-page letter to the Agriculture Agency, Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Wayne Laroche says the park’s proposed management plan fails to comply with state regulations and might not protect the health of the park habitat, the captive animals or Vermont’s wild deer.
“The plan offers little, if any, assurance that management of this captive herd will be conducted in such a manner as to secure the health of Vermont’s free-ranging white-tailed deer and moose population,” Laroche wrote late last week.
He was responding to a plan filed by Doug Nelson, a dairy farmer who also raises trophy-sized elk, which are confined to Big Rack Ridge, where hunters pay to shoot them. The management plan was written by Nelson’s consultant, James Kroll of Texas, a wildlife biologist and an expert in managing captive deer.
Nelson and his attorney did not respond to requests for comment about Laroche’s critique.
Laroche has no power to approve or deny the plan. In legislation written behind closed doors earlier this year, state lawmakers stripped his department of oversight of the Nelson park and transferred that authority to the Agriculture Agency.
Legislators acted after public protests that Fish and Wildlife rules would require killing all the native deer and moose trapped inside Nelson’s five miles of fencing as a disease-prevention measure. State wildlife biologists say the non-native animals brought to the hunting park could spread a feared illness, chronic wasting disease, to Vermont’s wild herd.
Protesters were defending Pete the Moose, an orphaned bull moose adopted by a local man and later housed at Big Rack Ridge. Pete became a cause celebre, with his own Facebook page and rallies.
But the legislators’ decision also sparked outrage, this time on the part of some hunters who fear not only the spread of deer diseases but viewed the law change as giving Nelson ownership of the white-tailed deer inside his fence, deer that by longstanding doctrine are considered the property of all citizens.

read more:

Agriculture Agency Denies Management Plan for Elk Farm

From blurt Seven Days staff blog:

Agriculture Agency Denies Management Plan for Elk Farm

250-LM-moose21 The Vermont Agency of Agriculture has rejected plans to manage wildlife on a 700-acre Irasburg game preserve owned by Doug Nelson, whose herd of elk became famous this year when it was joined by a moose — Pete the Moose.
The agency said Nelson's 20-page proposal offered few details about how he planned to ensure that his captive animials would not mix with the native species. The proposal also failed to show how Nelson planned to accurately catalogue all of the animals currently penned inside his 700-acre Irasburg preserve, and it provided the agency with no plans for how it would manage the herds going forward.
In a separate letter to Nelson the agency did approve elements of his fencing plan, which includes adding a second perimeter fence around his game preserve as a way to keep native species out and nonnative species in. However, the agency asked him to add one electrified wire at 54 inches from the ground. Nelson has proposed only going as high as 42 inches.
The rejection is the latest in a nearly one-year saga that started when a national public relations campaign was launched to "Save Pete the Moose" from being killed by state officials. Nelson has been flaunting state authority for years, and the state was trying to force Nelson to find better ways to keep wild and captive species from mixing. Their fear? Chronic wasting disease, a brain disease that affects cervids in a similar way to how "mad cow disease" affects bovines.
Part of that plan included a culling effort to thin out the herds through controlled hunts.
The public outcry eventually led to a last-minute, secretive legislative deal that ensured that Nelson could ensnare, and eventually kill, all wild animals found on his property. Nelson also owns a private stock of breeding elk in Derby.
In short, Pete may have been "saved", but Nelson also got to keep all of Pete's friends to hunt at a later date. That outraged many hunters and wildlife advocates who believe the move violated the stae's public trust doctrine. How? By handing over a public asset— the wildlife — to a private individual to later for profit.
Part of the last-minute legislative deal included a caveat that the Agency of Agriculture — not the Department of Fish and Wildlife — would regulate Nelson's herd. For years, Nelson had rebuffed efforts by DFW to regulate his herd of elk. In part, because DFW wanted Nelson to have a better culling plan to thin out his herd, and to ensure that wild deer were not mingling with some of his own captive deer.
Read more

Monday, October 25, 2010

Major Sportsmen’s Victory in Maine

Court of Appeals Upholds Major Sportsmen’s Victory in Maine

U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation and Leading Trapping Groups

Win Again in Precedent Setting Case

(Columbus) – Trappers in Maine and sportsmen nationwide scored a huge victory after a Federal Court of Appeals rejected an effort from anti-hunting groups seeking to use the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to stop trapping in the state. This decision reaffirms a lower court decision that set a precedent against manipulation of the ESA to stop hunting, fishing, and trapping.

“We are ecstatic and relieved that this lawsuit is no longer a threat to our lifestyle as we prepare to open the 2010 trapping season,” said Skip Trask of the Maine Trappers Association. “The Maine Trappers Association couldn’t be happier with this decision. It is much more than just a victory for Maine. This decision will help protect all trapping and other sports from coast to coast. We appreciate the support and guidance of the U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance Foundation (USSAF) legal team and all of our partners.”

The anti-hunting groups had originally filed the suit in 2008 against the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. They had argued that Maine’s trapping regulations provided insufficient protection for the Canada lynx, a species listed as threatened under the ESA, and thus required the season to be stopped.

The USSAF, along with the Maine Trappers’ Association, Fur Takers of America, National Trappers’ Association, and several individual sportsmen, intervened in the case on behalf of the state. The groups argued that those seeking to shut down an entire season of trapping (or hunting or fishing) must not only prove the incidental take of an ESA-protected species, but also “irreparable harm” to the population.

In the initial lower court decision, Judge Woodcock concluded that the take of individual members of a reasonably numerous protected species does not necessarily meet the requirement of irreparable harm. He also indicated that the take of lynx occurring in Maine foothold traps, typically catch-and-release incidents, did not constitute irreparable harm in this case. Consequently, Judge Woodcock declined the injunction and the trapping season was able to take place.

Unhappy with the result, the anti-hunting groups filed an appeal in December, 2009 seeking to reverse Judge Woodcock’s decision. The USSAF and the others immediately filed legal briefs in order to defend the major legal victory.

In the unanimous opinion rejecting the appeal, Chief Judge Lynch affirmed Judge Woodcock’s findings that the plaintiffs’ failed to demonstrate the irreparable harm necessary for an injunction. Judge Lynch then went on to criticize the plaintiffs’ last-minute request for lesser sanctions restricting trapping. In the lower court, Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) expressly refused that option and instead pursued a full ban on trapping.

“It may well have done so for tactical reasons, preferring to stress the inadequacy of other remedies in order to strengthen its case for injunctive relief against foothold traps,” wrote Lynch. “Parties are held to their choices and AWI's bait and switch tactics in the courts are to be deplored, not rewarded.”

The latest decision should assist in the defense of any further lawsuits by anti-trappers. It leaves the plaintiffs in this case with few options other than a petition to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case. The Supreme Court agrees to consider only a few dozen cases a year out of the many hundreds of cases filed with it each year.

“It was clear all along that anti-hunters were looking to set a precedent that could be used in state after state to shut down not only trapping, but hunting and fishing as well,” said Bud Pidgeon, USSAF president and CEO. “With this strong decision, antis are going to have a far more difficult time doing this.”

About the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation

The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing, trapping, and shooting – that generate the money to pay for them. The Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research. Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible.

About the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance

The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance is a national association of sportsmen and sportsmen’s organizations that protects the rights of hunters, anglers and trappers in the courts, legislatures, at the ballot, in Congress and through public education programs. For more information about the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance and its work, call (614) 888-4868 or visit its website,

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Backpacker Hunter - "Killer Hike"

This is one of the rare times that I have seen an article on "the other side" done to this level.
*Note* there are 9 pages to it, so when you finish the first click on the 2 just below it, then 3, etc. I struggled a bit until my 9 year old pointed it out...........Mark Hirvonen

From Backpacker Magazine
Killer Hike

When a lifelong backpacker decides to shoot a deer, will he lose touch with the wilderness he loves--or get closer to it?
by: Bruce Barcott Photography by Paolo Marchesi
Tracking dear in the Snake River Bluffs.
Tracking dear in the Snake River Bluffs.

Day three: Gator’s last chance at a deer. We decide to hit it hard, hunting the Blue Mountains’ ponderosa pine forests in the morning and working the isolated Grande Ronde River breaks in the afternoon.

At first light, Gator and I and Shaun Bristol, who has joined us for the morning, set up on the edge of a Blue Mountain meadow. We’d seen some does browsing in the field at dusk the previous night, and figure we might catch a buck among them this morning. We lean against the rough bark of the ponderosas, trying to blend in and remain motionless. If open-field hunting is all about covering ground and flushing game, forest hunting requires opposite tactics: Hide and wait for the prey to come to you. Or so we think. We’re hunting for the first time without Jennifer—a solo flight of sorts.

As Gator creeps forward for a better view, a spear of meadow barley nails him in the eye.

“God damn,” he says, pulling the barbs out of his eyelid.

“Um, guys…” Shaun is trying to get our attention.

“Did you get it out?” I ask. Gator shakes his head.

“Guys…” Shaun says. I look back at him. He points to two whitetail bucks quietly crossing

the road 20 yards behind us.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I say. The deer catch our movement and bolt into the
forest. I laugh at the thought of Gator and me standing there, Jethro and Elmer Fudd, as our prey fearlessly strolls by.

In the afternoon, we load our packs with food and water and hitch a ride to the rim of the Grande Ronde River canyon. The Grande Ronde, a tributary of the Snake, unwinds like a curling ribbon through the Columbia Plateau near the Oregon-Washington border. It’s world famous for its steelhead, and the dry, brushy ravines above the river are prime habitat for deer, coyote, wild turkey, chukar, black bear, elk, and bighorn sheep.

We have a plan. Gator and I will start about a quarter-mile apart at the top of the rim, then pick our way down in a V that meets at the bottom of the ravine. I’ll flush the deer in Gator’s direction.

As I heel plunge down the scab-land ravine, my eyes scanning for movement, Gator in my periphery, a sort of perfect moment comes over me. My own hunt is done. Because I’ve already bagged my deer, I can relax and enjoy the hike, the camaraderie, the strategy and cunning, the suspense, and the pure joy of physical movement in the wild. Gator, on the other hand, hunts with all the pressure and anxiety of a live trigger. If you’re doing it right, hunting comes with a huge responsibility. You’ve got to line up a good shot, not carelessly wound the animal, not shoot something illegal, not crack off an errant bullet that flies into a house a half-mile away, and not kill your partner. It’s not that far from mountain climbing, in fact. A certain amount of danger and risk enhances the experience of moving across wild terrain. It revs up your adrenaline and puts the senses on edge. Hunting combines strategy, motion, experience, skill, and danger.

read more:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hunting Stories

Vermont Folklife Center Radio
Deer Stories

Deer Stories

Deer STories
Hunting is as fundamental to Vermont's cultural heritage as dairy farming, and its lineage reaches back beyond the arrival of the first European settlers. But as Vermont has changed, knowledge of hunting is no longer universal and some Vermonters are entirely outside its culture.
Based on interviews with hunters conducted by the Vermont Folklife Center, the Deer Stories series does not advocate for hunting but rather explores the experience from an insider’s point of view. In programs that range from tracking to taking an animal’s life, deer hunters introduce us to their world through stories that illustrate its culture, practices, and core values.
The twenty-three narrators featured in this series were chosen for their passion, knowledge, commitment and excellence as deer hunters, and their stories are representative of stories heard many times over in the course of this research.
About the Series
About the Hunters
Read the Transcripts
Listen Online (sign-in required)

1. Hunting with My Dad
2. The Changing Culture
3. A Championship Buck
4. "Hunt Like an Indian"
5. Careful What You Shoot
6. Being in the Woods
7. The Rut
8. Taking a Life
9. Hunting Companions
10. Mother and Daughter
11. Dogs and Deer
12. Cleo Johnson and Lady

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On Wolves and the ESA

The following is from a message sent out to Montana Wildlife Federation folks:


I stumbled on this posting today from In this link, Don Peay, of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife outlines why he’s upset with Senator’s Baucus and Tester for their insistence that a moderate, reasonable wolf bill be considered over the Texas bill which would permanently preclude wolves from ever being listed under the Endangered Species Act. That means if we were down to one wolf in Alaska, wolves would never be listed and/or protected. That’s a damned shame. We would never agree to that for elk, otters, bighorn sheep or any other animal, and we should never agree to that for wolves, as troublesome as they are.

Regardless of how we individually feel about wolves, and the impacts wolves are having to hunting and ungulate populations, it is imperative for Hunters to maintain their conservation roots. To permanently exclude one animal based on inconvenience and political punditry is an affront to our conservation heritage. States can manage wolves effectively and sustainably, while mitigating impacts. Our state and Idaho have developed plans that would reasonably manage wolves. That’s all we’re asking for from Congress.

To permanently preclude a critter based on hatred or convenience is a horrible precedent to set, and it paints hunters and slathering fools who only care about species that we hunt and fish for. I don’t know one hunter or angler who cannot identify the warble of meadowlark, or who doesn’t spend some time watching mink, martens and otters. Our outdoor experience is heightened by these non-game species, and we must constantly strive to protect them as much as we protect elk, mule deer and bighorn sheep. To do otherwise betrays the heritage that our fathers, and their fathers have passed down to us.

Please take a moment and read the link. The position that people who are pushing for a Texas solution to a Montana issue do not have your best interest at heart. They are more interested in wielding power and influence. These same advocates have turned Utah into a “once in a lifetime” state for nonresident elk hunters, and in many areas, for resident hunters. They have, through their advocacy, kept Wyoming’s flawed plan in place, and have kept the Rocky Mountain Wolf listed for more years than any environmental group. Their policy has nothing to do with the North American Model of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, and everything to do with transferable tags, set-asides, and blocking off public lands for the well heeled.

We have seen the enemy, and he is us, as the old saying goes. Senators Tester and Baucus have genuinely worked with MWF and other local stakeholders to develop a solution that has a chance at passage in the lame duck, but it will require hunters to stand up and support reason, civility, and most importantly, a Montana solution.

Representative Rehberg will be holding three panel discussions regarding Wolves next week in Hamilton, Kalispell and Dillon. Don Peay, founder of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife will be at the Dillon meeting and possibly the Hamilton meeting as well. Luckily, due to MWF’s and our club leaders’ hard work on this issue, we will be included in these panels as well. It is critical for clubs to turn out and let Representative Rehberg know that while we demand that the wolf be delisted, we also firmly believe that any attempts to weaken the ESA under the guise of wolf delisting is a dead end street for us.

Whether or not the Endangered Species Act needs reform is not the issue. That can be taken up in the next Congress. Now, under the stresses and complications inherent in a Lame Duck Session, we have the opportunity to delist wolves in Montana and Idaho. We should take that opportunity and move forward.

These meetings will take place as follows:

October 5:  Dillon
9:00-11:00 AM
University of Montana Western, Lewis and Clark Room at Matthews Hall
October 5:  Hamilton
3:00-5:00 PM
Hamilton Performing Arts Center
October 6: Kalispell
10:00-12:00 PM
Flathead Valley Community College, Arts and Technology Large Meeting Room.

Please plan on attending these meetings and give support to the North American Model, and to sensible management of wolves.

For all wildlife,

Ben Lamb
Conservation Director for State and National Issues
Montana Wildlife Federation
P.O. Box 1175
Helena, MT 59624
(406) 458-0227 xtn 108

Examine each question in terms of what is ethically and aesthetically right, as well as what is economically expedient. 
Aldo Leopold

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wolf hunters and haters are creating more anti hunters

From the 
Some interesting food for thought. It  also seems to be a call for action for more moderate folks on both sides of the debate to come up with some solutions that don't involve throwing the baby out with the bath water!

Another column from New West: Wolf hunters and haters are creating more anti hunters

Here's another side to the wolf debate that comes from George Wuerthner at New West. He says hunters could drive more moderates into the anti-hunting camp with their anti-wolf rhetoric and insistence on killing wolves.
It's an interesting counter to another New West column I posted below by Bill Scheider that said wolf advocates have over played their hands by suing to have wolves relisted and possibly causing Congressional action that will weaken the Endangered Species Act. A bill is now pending that would do just that.
Read more:

Here is the Wuerthner article:

Wolf Restoration is a Challenge to West’s Old Guard

If hunters succeed in this end run around the ESA, and there is the perception of a widespread slaughter of wolves, they risk long term public opposition and loss of public support for all hunting.

By George Wuerthner, 9-27-10
  George Wallace defying federal officials at U of Alabama
  George Wallace defying federal officials at U of Alabama
A year ago I wrote a New West column asking rhetorically if hunters were stupid. In that article I wondered if hunters were aware of the fact that shooting wolves is unpopular with most Americans and if hunting of wolves continued, it might create a backlash against hunting. 
To answer my own question I have to say that hunters are not stupid—but most are clueless.  Hunters don’t seem to have a inkling about how non-hunters perceive them.  Public support for hunting is only luke-warm—the majority of Americans grudgingly accept hunting, but they are not enthusiastic about people killing animals. Only 10 percent or so of Americans hunt. Hunters are in the minority and they are largely older white males. In America older white males are in their twilight years.
read more:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The ethical life: Hunting leads to an appreciation and understanding of life, nature

The ethical life: Hunting leads to an appreciation and understanding of life, nature

Robert Marshall, co-founder of the Wilderness Society, predicted that wild places would acquire even more value as they became scarce.
He thought, as many did in the early 20th century, that wilderness is an ineluctable human need, like food, water and security, and that the less people have, the more they will desire it.
But history has proven him wrong. Wilderness appears instead to be an evanescent good, like art or literature. The less we have, the less it is desired. In its absence, other things, arguably less valuable, take its place. (Facebook, anyone?)
In his best-selling book, “Last Child in the Woods,” Richard Louv documents how our society is raising a generation of children who are technologically adept but ecologically illiterate. He refers to the condition as “nature-deficit disorder,” a condition characterized by both indifference to and fear of the outdoors.
My own introduction to and, ultimately, infatuation with wild places came through hunting and fishing, but by the time I had children of my own, I had effectively given them up as serious pursuits.
We were living in a big city, and instead of going hunting and fishing, we would read our kids nature books, take them to the zoo, go on trail hikes and the occasional camping trip. All of which are fine entertainments. But they allow children merely to observe — not to have a participatory relationship with — wild things.
So I began hunting and fishing again with regularity, making those activities part of a seasonal routine integral to my life, so that I could introduce our children to the natural world in the same manner that I was... read more


Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Matter of Life and Death, Hunting in Contemporaty Vermont

This post is from my friend Tovar Carulli's blog The Mindful Carnivore. I highly recommend reading the book he comments on, A Matter of Live and Death by Marc Boglioli. As a former Vermont Game Warden the commentary on rural culture and hunting resonates loud and clear with me.

Redneck culture, city culture: The clash over hunting

Eighteen years ago, I had no doubt: hunting was wrong.
Not that I made big distinctions among kinds of violence. I abhorred the idea of industrial meat operations, and thought little about the alternatives. Why split hairs? A murdered animal was a murdered animal.
Hunting, however, did seem especially gratuitous. We no longer needed to do it. Thanks to agriculture we now had ample plant matter to survive on.
At the same time, though, I mourned the extermination of indigenous hunter-gatherer cultures around the world.
If someone had pointed out that contradiction—the fact that I wished for the survival of cultural traditions that involved killing animals—I probably would have argued that such cultures, like ours, could make moral progress away from hunting and meat-eating.
Yikes. Might I have made a good missionary?
I also would have argued that indigenous cultures respected animals in ways that Euro-American culture did not. My problem wasn’t really with human predation in all times and places. My problem was with hunting here and now: mainly white folks with guns.
Now, most of two decades later, a new book has me reflecting on the views I held back then.
In A Matter of Life and Death: Hunting in Contemporary Vermont, anthropologist Marc Boglioli argues that mainstream American culture is increasingly dominated by a particular way of seeing (and talking about) nature and animals. “Killing beautiful wild animals,” he writes in the Introduction, “simply does not fit into the mainstream urban worldview.”
Read More: