Do You Need A Salvage Permit For Deer Skull/Antlers?

tag deerEvery winter and spring shed hunters find and pick up big “deadheads,” and many of them can’t wait to post images of their finds on Facebook or Instagram.

Let me remind you that if you find any size skull with antlers attached in the woods you might—actually you probably– need to obtain a salvage permit (or at least verbal permission) from the state to possess and transport that skull/antlers. You do not need a permit to pick up and possess shed antlers (no skull).

In most states a deadhead—the skull and rack from a buck that died of disease, was hit by a car, or was lost by a bowhunter in the fall—is treated like a roadkill buck, and subject to the same state laws, which in most cases means you need to call a conservation officer or sheriff and get a salvage tag (or official permission) before you move and take possession of the antlers.

States where I can confirm you need a salvage permit, which is usually free and available online, for a deer skull include: Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New Mexico, Arkansas, Montana, Washington, Michigan, Idaho, Oregon, North Carolina, and there are certainly many more.

Check your state regulations before you go shed hunting.

Are Crossbow Hunters Killing Too Many Bucks?

crossbow for webBack in 2014, I blogged that Wisconsin was the latest major whitetail state to permit the use of the crossbow during the regular archery season. Since then, the crossbow season in the state has run concurrently with the archery season, typically mid-September through December.

One of the original complaints from traditionalists and vertical bowhunters at the time was that crossbow hunters would kill too many bucks. There is no denying that it is easier (and takes less practice) to kill a deer with a crossbow than with a compound or recurve.

Well, 5 years later, with crossbow technology having increased tenfold, turns out those fears might have been warranted.

WKOW in Madison reports that at a recent Wisconsin Natural Resources Board meeting, Director of Wildlife Management Eric Lobner reported that crossbow hunters today are killing a larger share of bucks.

The solution would be to “reduce your crossbow harvest by 5,000 to 6,000 animals.”

Lobner presented options for changing the crossbow season, such as ending the crossbow hunt earlier than bow season, to starting the crossbow season later, and even to banning the use of crossbows on weekends.

Adding another layer to the controversy, complaints are coming from gun hunters as well as vertical bowhunters. Many gun hunters think crossbow hunters are killing too many bucks during the rut and before firearms season opens, lessening their chances.

At the center of the new crossbow debate is advanced technology. The improved power, range and efficiency of the crossbow combined with the long deer season accounts for the higher buck kill in WI.

Two things complicate this discussion even more: 1) the ongoing loss of people hunting and buying licenses these days; and 2) a concern for adding more red tape and confusion to the hunting regulations.

No doubt that expanded crossbow seasons, in WI and other states, have increased hunter participation and retention. If you restrict crossbow use, you will no doubt lose a number of hunters. With hunter numbers down significantly across the U.S., the hunting and conservation world cannot afford this.

Also, WI DNR data show that complicated and confusing game regulations and red tape drive people away and may reduce the number of people buying a hunting license, saying it’s not worth it anymore.

Upcoming public comment periods and hearings on proposed crossbow season changes are sure to be raucous and controversial, with both crossbow proponents and critics pounding their opinions and positions. And you can bet other state DNRs and hunting clubs are watching what happens in Wisconsin.

The new crossbow debate is back in 2019. How do you feel about it?

New York Hunter Mistakes Woman For A Deer, Gets Prison Time

dark woodsI blog this as a reminder to look, think and analyze every situation before we pull the trigger:

From Pennlive.com:

It was a fatal mistake that left a woman walking her dogs dead and a deer hunter facing a prison stretch.

The day before thanksgiving 2017, the hunter mistook the woman for a deer and shot. The hunter heard her screams and ran over to help, but it was too late. Court authorities and investigators said the shot rang out around 5:20 p.m., after legal shooting hours.

The hunter plead guilty last October to criminally negligent homicide and was sentenced to one to three years in state prison, according to Erie News Now.

The victim’s husband said he hopes the tragedy resonates with all hunters:

“From the beginning, I wanted the defendant to take responsibility and be held accountable,” he said. “I want the next hunter who thinks about shooting after hours to think, ‘There was this guy that went to prison. I should just go home.’”

Look, think, and know your target as a deer.

Every afternoon that you hunt, check and confirm the end of legal shooting hours. If it is 30 minutes after sunset in your state, check the official sundown time on your phone. 29 minutes later, unload that rifle and go home.

Trail Cam: New York Albino Buck

NY albino

The National Deer Alliance (NDA) recently held a Velvet Buck Photo Contest, and not surprisingly Dennis Money’s shot of this New York albino buck took first place. Dennis’ grand prize was a Bear Legion compound bow package.

ny 2 buck scrape

Second place went to Jeffery Antes, who captured this Michigan buck working a lick branch, with what I assume is a buck fawn looking on, hoping to learn the scraping ropes. Bucks make and use scrapes in July more than most people realize.

BTW, you need to join the NDA, whose mission is to monitor current events in the deer-hunting world. CWD, new state laws, conservation, anti-hunters… This organization is dedicated to keeping us informed, to benefit America’s deer herds and to protect our hunting heritage. It’s free to join. You’ll receive a weekly newsletter with all sorts of current deer information and photos.

 

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?