Monday, November 26, 2012

PostHeaderIcon Minnesota Hires Non-Hunter To Manage Deer Herd

Journalists often use the phrase “burying the lead”.  It means the reporter doesn’t mention the most important part of the story until the end.  Two reporters from the two largest newspapers in Minnesota have done just that over the past few weeks.  In fact, one of them has ignored the lead completely.  Minnesota has hired a new big game program leader.  The position manages the deer, elk, and moose programs.  Leslie McInenly started her new position within the DNR on November 15.  She was previously on staff with the Minnesota Forest Resources Council.  Before taking that position, McInenly spent four years studying elk in Alberta.  She majored in wildlife management and biology at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, one of the prestigious wildlife management schools in the country.

If we look at the above qualifications on paper, McInenly certainly deserves to be in the discussion for the job of managing the deer herd in Minnesota.  But there is one big problem.  McInenly has never hunted deer.  Sure, there are sales managers that have never worked in sales.  There is a good chance your boss has never done your job.  But this is deer hunting.  Hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans and several thousand non-residents hunt the state’s forests and fields for deer every year.  Now their hunt will be managed by someone who has never participated in a tradition they live for.

The funny thing is both Twin Cities newspapers make readers work to find out about this apparently unimportant nugget.  In fact, readers of the Minneapolis Star Tribune wouldn’t know about it at all.  The writer never mentions it in his story.  Dave Orrick of the St. Paul Pioneer Press does write about it but doesn’t bring it up until nearly the end of the story.  Here’s the most interesting part of Orrick’s story:

"Actually, I don't hunt," she said. "Obviously I'm not at all opposed to it. My father died when I was 10. A lot of people get hunting from a family tradition. I didn't have that opportunity. Just me personally, I'm not someone who joins groups of people I don't know, and hunting, it's always appeared to me, has involved groups of friends and family going out together. I've never been invited to a hunt."

She’s not at all opposed to it??  What a relief.  She’s not someone who joins groups of people she doesn’t know??  She just joined the fraternity of deer hunters whether she likes it or not.  According to Orrick’s story, she was never asked whether or not she hunted during the interview process.  That could be the most egregious statement in the story.  Why wouldn’t that be part of the interview process?  Isn’t that important?  It is to deer hunters.

But the story gets even better.  We’ve all seen political debates in which candidates are asked about specifics.  Orrick does a great job of doing just that.  When political candidates don’t know the answer or don’t want to be tied to one side of an issue they often side step the question.  Here’s McInenly’s answer when Orrick asks about deer management specifics:

"I don't think I'm in a position at this point to talk about specifics. I'm still getting up to speed. I am really eager to see how the harvest data looks in a lot of these areas, like the antler-point restrictions."

I applaud Orrick for asking McInenly these questions when it seems that no one else was willing to.  But I’m left to wonder why he waited until the closing paragraphs to reveal the answers.  Orrick is the outdoor reporter for the Pioneer Press and as a beat reporter it is often difficult to be critical of those you will deal with on a day-to-day basis.  Deer hunting probably isn’t as important as legislative issues or crime, but it is a big deal to many.

Perhaps McInenly will do great work in her new position.  I hope she takes on the challenge of hunting for the first time.  But until we see results, deer hunters should keep an eye on what is going on within the department.  We may be the only ones who are.
Saturday, November 24, 2012

PostHeaderIcon Family Affair: A Big Buck Down Story ProStaffer Justin Davis recently tagged his best buck ever.  It is a big one by any measure.  Here is Justin's story.  

My 2012 season started off slow. After not taking a deer with my bow, and seeing very few deer in the first six days of the Wisconsin nine day gun deer season, my luck finally changed on Friday. The warm streak finally broke and the temperature dropped. Our mid fifty to sixty degree weather was replaced with low thirties and high winds, too windy to sit in a stand. My father, brother-in-law, and I were forced to sit on the ground that morning.

After a few hours, the wind and cold temps had taken their toll on my father who was the most exposed to the wind. We hunted as a team, as we always do.  Finally we decided that I would push some small brushy areas to try and move some deer. I worked my way down the hill, through the briars and brush. After nothing came out I went around the woods to come from a different angle hoping that the deer would run toward my father. After emerging onto the field and remarking to my team over the radio that there was nothing in the woods, we decided to head back in and try again later in the day.

Before going in, I checked my trail cameras to see if any deer were moving in the area. As I came to the camera I heard a crash in the brush, the sound of breaking branches. As I looked, I saw the buck running away. It happened so fast-I remember seeing the deer falling in the scope, but I don’t remember aiming or pulling the trigger. As my dad and I walked up on my buck together, we could see it’s rack a foot above the grass. I realized I had shot the biggest buck of my life.

As amazing as it was to shoot that deer, the reaction of my dad and my brother-in-law was even better.
They were just as excited as I was, cheering and hands shaking. They were happy for me as team
members should be, not jealous or envious. That is what hunting should be like.

Justin has a little history with this deer.  He has three incredible trail camera photos of this great deer from earlier this season.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

PostHeaderIcon Action Packed Deer Season Upon Us

The last four weeks have been a whirlwind and there is just one more week to go.  Instead of spreading out my hunting days throughout the season this year, I put all of my chips in from late October through November.  Three of the past four weekends have been four day hunting excursions.  This will be my last weekend in the field for at least a month.

As mentioned in previous blog posts, the team is documenting the season by camera.  Our film project is titled The Stand.  My goal was to begin premiering episodes November 1.  I was able to produce the trailer for the video but unfortunately, the episodes are still in the works.  I’ve only been at home for four of the past 14 days… It’s been tough to get the time to put out the episodes I want to produce.  My new target date for the first episode is November 28.  I want the episode to reflect the effort we’ve put into it.  Rushing the project out doesn’t serve anyone.

To say it has been an exciting season is an understatement.  I have never spent this much time in the woods in November.  My friend Jason has been in the tree with me all season and we have seen some amazing sights.  Here is a short clip of a half rack buck that walked directly under our stand.  He arrived within a few minutes of putting down the rattling antlers.  You will see the tree in front of us shake just before he walks into frame.  He rubbed that tree before walking up to ours.  Very exciting stuff!

We nicknamed that buck “Hollywood”.  He just couldn’t get enough of the camera.  We filmed him once in late October and then three times on the day the video was shot.  We spent a lot of time hunting scrape lines this fall and we had several deer make scrapes in front of us.  The rut literally unfolded in front of us over the past few weeks.  In early November we noticed a lot of young bucks chasing does with very little movement from more mature bucks.  Last week the big boys started moving.  We identified at least four different mature bucks tending does in front of us.  Here’s a short video clip of a buck pursuing a doe.  Unfortunately for him, the doe he was looking for was piled up by an arrow about 30 minutes before he arrived.  There would be no love for him.

The rifle season opens this weekend.  Jason and I are looking forward to having a little more range this week.  We were teased by a few very nice bucks that skirted the edges of our effective archery range this past weekend.  The rutting cycle has surely changed since last week but we expect pressure from neighboring properties to help us out this weekend.  As is the case with hunting any time of year, you never know what will happen.  It will be fun and I can’t wait to share our season with you over the next few months.

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