2017 Maine Deer Kill Highest In A Decade

maine meat poleDeer hunters in Maine harvested 27,233 deer in 2017, the highest total in the last ten years and an increase of 15% from 2016.

“An increasing deer herd in southern and central Maine, and favorable hunting conditions contributed to the best deer hunting season in ten years,” said Nathan Bieber, Maine deer biologist.

Maine’s deer hunt is broken down into several seasons for firearm hunters, muzzleloaders and bow hunters. Most deer are harvested during the general firearms season (23,288), which started on October 28th and continued until November 25. Bowhunters took 2,099 deer, and hunters took 970 deer during the muzzleloading season. Maine’s junior hunters were also very successful on youth day, with 876 youth hunters taking a deer this year.

Adult bucks comprised the vast majority of the harvest, with hunters taking 18,255 antlered bucks. With 66,050 anterless permits issued, hunters harvested 8,978 antlerless deer.

According to surveys, on average Maine deer hunters spent 37 hours hunting deer during the season, averaging 4.3 hours afield each trip.

What Happens To Ammunition In A House Fire?

fire ammoOne night a few years ago my Canadian friend Grant Kuypers returned home to find his shop and man cave engulfed in flames. By the time the fire department got there, everything was gone—Grant’s truck, ATVs, 70 game cameras, all his hunting clothes and dozens of guns in a safe…

Grant said most of his stored hunting ammo had simply burned up; a few cartridges had exploded, as evidenced by holes and dents in the gun safe’s walls. The photo here of burned ammo is from the fire at Grant’s.

Turns out, this is typical of what happens to ammunition in a house fire.

According to this KRCR News report, fire officials say that burning ammo is not as dangerous as you might think. The popping noise people hear when ammo is burning is not the bullet flying away from the casing with any force, regardless of what you may have seen in the movies.

“It’s like an aerosol can going off,” a fire expert said. “Of course it’s a flying hazard, but it’s nothing that we have to take shelter from.”

The way you store ammunition also has a lot to do with how dangerous it could be in a fire. “Metal containers (for ammo) are typically not ideal,”a fire expert said. ” …when  ammunition gets super-heated to ignite, if it’s stored in a steel container, that can create quite an explosion within the steel container.”

He says the best place to store ammo is in a dry spot and in a wooden container.

 

Some People Are Mosquito Magnets, Are You?

mosquitoSome people are more attractive to mosquitoes than others, says a Baylor mosquito expert.

Jason Pitts, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology in Baylor University’s College of Arts and Sciences, studies “host seeking”—how mosquitoes find their next blood meal. He said odor is a major factor why mosquitoes bite some people more often.

Female mosquitoes, which bite because they need blood for reproduction, have the ability to smell odor over long distances.

“Females are able to track upwind.” Once they get that stream of odor, they fly in and out of the stream of odor to orient themselves to try get to the host.”

It is not just odor. Heat—at very close range—also is very attractive for female mosquitoes.

“Mosquitoes are exquisitely sensitive to differences in temperature on surfaces. When it comes to heat or carbon dioxide, both can be beacons for mosquitoes as well,” Pitts said.

Lastly, researchers have found that in addition to odor and heat, mosquitoes can use the sense of taste to decide whether to feed.

“Once a mosquito lands on (your) skin, they taste the skin to decide whether this is a good host or not,” Pitts said. “They can actually taste DEET, which is long-range repellent. They can smell it and avoid it. When they taste it, they will also fly away. Therefore, we know that taste is also important in some ways. Taste is the final choice before blood feeding.”

Whether you are a favorite food among mosquitoes or not, Pitts recommends these three tips for minimizing your chances of being bitten.

1. Reduce mosquito breeding grounds.

The most important thing that anyone can do is to reduce breeding sources for mosquitoes by eliminating stagnant water near your home and from your yard.

2. Stick with DEET

Bracelets, bands and other wearable devices that emit repellent compounds, such as citronella, lemongrass oil or eucalyptus, probably do reduce some mosquito bites. However, Pitts said these devices don’t provide absolute protection against bites. Topical repellents, he said, are still the best. They cover your skin and will not only have a volatile repellent effect, but if a mosquito lands on a person’s skin, it will not bite.

3. Avoid peak biting times.

Typically, mosquitoes bite at dusk and at dawn. Mosquitoes are most active when the sun is rising or setting. If you like to take a morning run or walk at dusk, you should apply DEET repellant to avoid being bitten.

Source: The Outdoor Wire

Whitetail Science: Young Bucks Breed 30% Of Does

deer breeding in febFor many years biologists and hunters believed that most adult does were bred by bucks 3.5 years and older, a theory I always questioned. In many areas of the U.S., deer herds are overloaded with does, and there are relatively mature bucks 4.5 years and older.

So in peak rut, when many does come into estrus at one time, which bucks are actually doing the breeding?

According to research published in the Journal of Mammalogy, immature bucks (1.5 and 2.5 years of age) are breeding does at a much higher rate than once thought. In one study, researchers analyzed the DNA samples of more than 1,200 whitetails in 3 different populations (Mississippi, Texas and Oklahoma) and found that young bucks sired 30 to 33% of the fawns.

This seems to prove my personal and totally unscientific theory, but one I think makes a lot of common sense: On public and private lands that are not managed and which do not have a large population of 3.5 to 5.5 year old bucks, the 1.5 and 2.5 year olds MUST be doing a lot of breeding. I’d bet it’s more than 33 percent in some areas.

But here’s an interesting finding. The DNA researchers found that even in a population with a good number of mature bucks, immature males still sired 30% or so of the fawns. So in layman’s terms, the old boys don’t suppress the randy youngsters with big rubs, snort-wheezing and their mere big-racked presence as much as we once thought.

Upon analyzing these studies, one whitetail biologist said, “This genetic research crushes our thinking on how whitetails do their breeding. What amazes me most is that we really believed for the longest time that there were a few dominant bucks that did most of the breeding.”

Cool stuff. I feel sort of vindicated.

DNA Testing Confirms Montana Mystery Animal Was Gray Wolf

MT wolf mystery solved

In May a mystery creature was shot and killed on a ranch outside Denton. What the heck is it? Locals buzzed about the possibilities. Some said wolf with weird genetics…others grizzly cub…conspiracy theorists screamed Dire Wolf, an extinct prehistoric carnivore that some people swear still lives…or Dogman, a relative to Sasquatch, a large cryptozoological creature that looks and walks like an upright canid.

The DNA results are in and, ho-hum, it was a common old gray wolf. This press release from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks explains:

The canine creature shot in Montana a month ago that captured the curiosity of the nation is actually a gray wolf. DNA from the animal, which was shot legally by a rancher near Denton on May 16, was tested at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service forensic laboratory in Ashland, Ore.

The lab compared the animal’s DNA with thousands of other DNA samples from wolves, coyotes and dogs. The conclusion was clear – this animal is a gray wolf from the northern Rocky Mountains.

Confusion about the animal might be due to the condition of the animal and the photos, which seemed to show short legs and big ears. Inspection of the animal at the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wildlife health lab in Bozeman revealed a relatively normal looking, dark brown wolf.

Physical variations aren’t unusual for animals, said Mary Curtis, geneticist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Within species there can be variability that’s not surprising at all,” Curtis said.

The wolf was a non-lactating female, which means she didn’t have a litter of pups. However, any unique physical features she has might also appear in her siblings or parents and may continue to be passed along by others in her family. The wolf measured 45 inches from the tip of the nose to the rump and weighed 84.5 pounds. It’s estimated that the wolf was between 2 and 3 years old.

According to the 2017 Montana Gray Wolf Program Annual Report, population estimates suggest there are approximately 900 wolves in Montana. This marks the 13th consecutive year that Montana has far exceeded wolf recovery goals.

Property owners in Montana have broad legal authority to shoot wolves they feel might be a threat to their livestock, as was the case with this wolf near Denton.