Can You Salvage Roadkill Deer In Your State?

va buck hit may - CopyFrom Popular Science: Jessica Mundall came across a dead buck while driving. The animal had just been hit and killed by a semi-truck, and was still “super fresh.” She and her husband, both hunters, processed the deer on the side of the road….

“After that, we were hooked,” says Mundall, 26, who works for the state’s fish and game department in Boise, Idaho. “We ended up getting our freezer filled off of roadkill.”

Idaho is one of 20-some states that allow the free salvage of roadkill animals (you simply need to report your take to the state and answer a few questions within 24 hours). Other states that allow it include Washington, Pennsylvania, Oregon, West Virginia, Montana, Tennessee and Alaska.

There are some obvious concerns: Is a car-struck deer salvageable or too damaged…? Is the meat still fresh or spoiled…? In a CWD area, is the meat safe to eat…?

But according to State Farm Insurance, an estimated 1.33 million deer will be struck by vehicles this year. A lot of those animals will be salvageable, so that’s a lot of fresh red meat for our freezers, or for a shelter.

California is the latest state to get in on salvage. A recently introduced bill states “the intent of this legislation (is) to make available to Californians tens of thousands of pounds of a healthy, wild, big game food source that currently is wantonly wasted each year following wildlife-vehicle collisions.”

Why don’t all states allow a person to recover, take home and eat a dead deer if you’re willing to take a picture of it and get a salvage permit?

This seems to be a win-win. Would you salvage a roadkill, or maybe you already have?

Laws and Ethics of Drones & Hunting

drone

I heard an amazing prediction the other day: In less than 20 years every person in the world will have a “pet drone” or at least access to a drone.

What will 10 billion of the things buzzing around the land mean for hunting? Is there any place for a drone in the deer woods? As the technology advances and drones become cheaper and easier to fly, it is inevitable that people will try to find a way to use them for all activities, including hunting.

People already have. State troopers and wildlife cops in Alaska are aware of at least one drone-assisted (and illegal) moose kill, back in 2012.

Other than shooting cool footage for personal video or a TV show (more on that later) I can’t think of any good use for a drone in the deer woods. To me it would not be ethical to fly a drone over the fields/woods where you hunt, scouting from the air and sizing up buck racks (though that would be almost impossible with a drone’s wide-angle camera), or looking for funnels where bucks walk, and then moving in on the ground with a stand for an ambush.

Alaska was the first state to prohibit hunters from spotting game with drones, and others have followed. I expect all states to follow suit with specific restrictions on drones for hunting.

A few years ago, the National Park Service announced that it was taking steps to limit and/or prohibit drones from 84 million acres of public lands to keep the unmanned aircraft from harassing wildlife and annoying hikers, camper and all visitors. Check out the drone regulations before flying on in a national park.

As mentioned, one legal and ethical use of a drone is to get killer TV footage of landscapes, terrain and hunters walking around and glassing, etc. You see it on almost every show you watch on Sportsman Channel, including BIG DEER TV. But even this can lead to potential problems.

Several years ago, one of my former TV producers alerted game wardens in the area that our crew would be out there for a week, flying a drone with a camera attached to it to get some cool footage. We would not be using it as we scouted or hunted, just to film general landscape and hunter shots in the middle of the day.

filming with drone

That was back in the day when a drone was a novelty, and size-wise, big as a small helicopter (above). One evening, the warden in the area pulled up to property where I was hunting and confronted my friend as he waited to pick me up after dark.

“Where the hell is Hanback, I hear he’s using a damn helicopter to hunt, I want to talk to him.” He roared off and said he’d be back. He never tracked me down that week, and I’m glad. We flew the drone on private land and got some good footage, but I was uneasy about it.

We’re always ethical, and authorities are more familiar with drones today, but still it can be a tricky issue, especially on public land.

Lost in all this talk is the hunt itself—the stillness and solitude of the woods, the connection to nature and the land, the anticipation as you sit in a tree stand and wait on a magnificent buck, the sight of which takes your breath…

Who wants to ponder a hunting world with a billion drones buzzing overhead, watching your every move.

Sounds weird, but they say those days are coming. What do you think?

Is “Lion Zebra Death Struggle” The Best Taxidermy Ever?

taxidermy cool lion and zebraGot this from a guy who wrote: Mike, don’t know anything about this other than it is cool as hell!

The message with the picture read: “World Taxidermy Championship a few years ago, notice how carefully this was put together…look at each angle and remember, there are no ropes or lines holding any of this up. The Lion is held up by his tail, where it contacts the zebra’s leg, and the entire mount is supported by the zebra’s back leg. Pretty amazing.

And cool as hell.

Hunt Of A Lifetime: Kodiak Brown Bear

AK brown bear sam

My friend and fellow Virginia hunter Sam Fullerton just returned from a dream hunt and filed this field report:

The hunt took place in a special draw area on the northern end of Afognak Island in the Kodiak chain. It took 3 years to draw the permit.

I booked the hunt through Wade Darby at Crosshair Hunting Consulting. Wade booked me with Afognak Wilderness Lodge, which has an extremely remote camp that the Randall family has chiseled out of the Afognak wilderness over the last 50 years. It is an impressive camp considering every single thing was either made from the rocks or trees growing on the island, or brought in by float plane or boat.

We left base camp every day by boat, and after about an hour’s ride to our permitted hunting area we glassed from the boat along the shore lines and hillsides.  We concentrated along the beaches at low tide. When we spotted a bear and determined it was a good one, we launched a Zodiac with a small motor and maneuvered to shore to get a closer look at the animal. We saw from 5 to 20 bears each day. Many were inaccessible and we simply watched to see if they would move or feed into better position, which rarely happened.

One day we spotted a bear, launched the Zodiac and got into position. My guide, Josh Randall, immediately realized we were looking at an exceptionally good one. After a good bit of slipping and sliding we were able to get into a good shooting position on a slime-and-barnacle covered rock along the beach. The bear fed towards us, flipping over rocks and driftwood looking for food.

I shot the bear squarely in the front shoulder with hand-loaded 270-grain Barnes TSX from my .375 H&H. Hit hard with the first shot, it spun and snapped a few times. I followed up with a second shot and the bear dropped on the beach within 40 yards.

I feel extremely fortunate to have had an opportunity to harvest such a majestic animal like this. Walking up to this bear was like a dream. I was in shock at the sheer size of the animal. The hide was spectacular, heavy and thick. Its head was massive.

My guide Josh was as excited as I was. We were able to get the main boat to the beach and winch the bear onto the front of the boat to return to camp for skinning, which was an all-day affair.

The hide was not stretched and had been salted when the hide measurements were taken. The bear squared 10 feet 7 inches claw to claw wide, and was 9 feet 6 inches nose to tail, putting it just over the magical 10-foot squared mark.  Alaska game and fish biologists measured the skull at 27 9/16, which will qualify it for Boone & Crockett awards. It was tentatively aged by the biologist at approximately 25 years old. Nearly all the bear’s teeth were either broken or rotten.–Sam Fullerton

Tech notes: Sam Fullerton is a well-traveled big game hunter and hand-loader. Sam reports that while skinning the bear, he recovered the first Barnes TSX bullet, which had entered the front shoulder at a slightly quartering-to angle; it was bulging under the hide just in front of the opposite side rear hip. “Perfect bullet performance with nearly 100% weight retention,” he says. Sam has also used the Barnes TSX in both 270- and 300-grain on a variety of African big game with the same impressive results.

Mule Deer: Why Antler-Point Restrictions Don’t Work

mule deer 2 ptMost western states and provinces have, over the years, implemented some type of antler-point restrictions during mule deer hunting seasons. On the surface, antler restrictions make sense: If by law hunters cannot shoot young fork-horns and other immature bucks, those deer will grow older and bigger next year and the next. More mature bucks is good for the health of any herd, right? And most hunters want to shoot a deer with big antlers, right?

Not necessarily, say experts with the Mule Deer Working Group (MDWG). These researchers and biologists report that antler-point restrictions have proved to have limited potential to produce more trophy bucks, and they result in a myriad of challenges and problems. For example:

– Available data and experience from across the West suggest that antler restrictions result in no long-term increase in either the proportion or number of mature bucks in a herd, or the total deer population. Antler-point restrictions have been shown to actually reduce the number of trophy bucks in a herd over time by protecting only smaller-antlered young bucks.

–Antler-point restrictions do not increase fawn production or herd population size.

–Antler restrictions dramatically reduce hunter participation, success and total harvest. They can cheapen the value of young bucks by changing the threshold for success from “any buck” is good to a quest where “only a big buck will do.” Antler point restrictions may discourage hunters (especially beginning and young hunters) because it can be difficult to locate and identify legal deer.

WORST UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCE: Antler-point restrictions increase the number of deer shot and illegally left in the field; this can be significant and has been documented in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Nevada, and Montana.

The MDWG says that after decades of disappointing results, most western states and provinces have discontinued statewide antler-point restrictions (although some local jurisdictions still have them in limited areas). The two main reasons for abandoning them are: (1) unacceptable accidental-illegal kill, and (2) increased harvest mortality focused on the very age class of buck of it was intended to promote.

Today, according to the MDWG, most states and provinces have concluded that rather than antler-point restrictions, the best way to improve mule deer numbers (including number of mature bucks) and buck:doe ratios is to reduce the annual harvest through 1) a limited-quota licensing system that decreases overall total buck harvest while allowing for some level of doe harvest; or 2) setting a very short hunting season in early fall (before rut) when mature bucks are less vulnerable.

Bottomline for those of you planning a mule deer hunt anywhere out West: Anticipate more draw/quota hunts, and perhaps more and shorter seasons in early to mid-October.

Photo above: The problem with antler-point restrictions. While this 2-point buck is fully mature and should be fair game for any hunter, he would off-limits in an area where “one antler must have 3 points.” Also, while an antler-point restriction rule would unnecessarily protect this older buck, all he’ll ever be antler-wise is a 2-point… most hunters are looking for at least a mature 3-point and more typically a big 4.