Firearms deer season finished the day before yesterday. Muzzleloaders up next, then late archery, so the 2013 deer season is not yet finito.
Michigan deer do not have the benefit of these antibodies. Losses may be severe, and while impacts on deer numbers are typically restricted to localized areas, recovery may take longer than has been experienced in other states. Large-scale regional deer population decreases have not been observed.”
Scenes from yesterday follow. Over.
Yesterday was the Last day of firearm deer season and I was with an officer from a southern Michigan county.
Funny how things happen. A motorist noticed a pile of deer carcasses.
CO visits scene, finds a tag on one of the deer. Station 20 in Lansing identifies the hunter and provides an address, a female. We motor out there to interview her.
“You shoot a deer?”
“Yah, a doe.”
“Where is it?”
“Gave it to a friend who needed the meat.”
“We found the tag in a pile of carcasses out in a field. How did your tag get out there?”
“I gave it to my friend. I don’t know how the tag got out there.”
“But you shot the deer?”
“I shot it for a friend who is having marital problems and has three kids and wanted the meat.”
“Who were you hunting with?”
“My dad and my friend.”
“Did your dad shoot anything?”
“Did your friend?”
“Not that day.”
“I don’t know, I haven’t seen him since then.”
She gives us the date.
“How big was the deer?” my partner asks. (We have the carcass in the bed of the truck.)
What we have is a small button buck with her tag on it. “Okay, what’s your friend’s name and where does he live? Oh, and don’t call him when we leave here.”
We then motor to Subject B’s place of employment, but he is not working today. Instead, the dad of Subject A appears out of nowhere and wants to “chat,” sort of explains what happened, etc. Confirms what his daughter told us, but something not adding up. We have Subject A’s deer in the truck and show him. Father of subject A says, “That’s not the deer. It was a really big doe.”
What we have is a button buck, technically not an antlered deer. And it is small. So how did the tag get on this animal? Weird.
Huh. Okay, “Don’t call subject B” Dad agrees. Thus we motor to Subject B’s home. Lo and behold, Subject B is waiting in the driveway for us, because dad has called him. Eventually admits HE shot a buck on Oct 31 AND the deer with Subject A’s tag.
“What happened to the buck from Halloween?”
“Gave it to friend for his parents.”
“Then you killed the doe because you wanted meat for your kids?”
“That makes no sense.”
“I didn’t know on Halloween I’d be split from my wife and I’m the only one who works.”
My partner says, “You shot Subject A’s deer?”
“Yes, sir, and they were hunting with me and I did not want to transport it without a tag, which I never bought, because I didn’t want to spend the money.” He adds, Subject A “volunteered” her tag for the dead doe. Did Subject B dispose of the animal in the field? Nope, Subject B gave it to a friend to process for him, an individual, who is married to his cousin, and who is running an unauthorized processing facility.
“Don’t call ahead,” we advise the man.
We motor to Subject C’s facility, find Subject C and a Subject D and Juvenile kin of Subject D. After much back and forth we learn Subject C shot all six deer being butchered, five does one day, and a buck on Turkey day “because it was suffering from a previous gunshot, and he didn’t want it to suffer.”
And Subject B’s meat is in a freezer and not yet picked up. Subjects B and C confess and write confessions. We take meat from seven deer and a shotgun with us. My partner will write reports and refer them to the prosecutor for charges. From one tag on a deer carcass, we find seven illegal deer, which we took to a local processor who will handle distribution to needy families. You just never know if you don’t follow through on every detail. There’s more to this, but the details will have to wait. Last day of deer season. Oh yeah, Subject C says, “I’d like to get the gun back. It has sentimental value, ya know, belonged to my Granddad. “ Right, that’s original: we hear this line or some offshoot of it over and over from folks not wanting their weapons condemned in court. It rarely works.
Wonderful day. At one point we stop at a gas station and a woman comes over and gives us a new box of Christmas cookies and says, “For all you guys do for all of us.”
Back in the truck today. Who knows what the day will offer us. Pix follow. Over.
PORTAGE, MI — Friday, November 29 — Great Thanksgiving of wild turkey breast courtesy of a CO friend whose son shot it, sweetateys, green beans, peach cobbler and Lonnie’s own gluten-free cinnamon pumpkin pie. Watched the Lions until game score was knotted at 10-10, then slept until they were in post-game interviews after the game. Perfect. I drove hom on Tuesday Nov 26, from Stephenson in Menominee County to Portage, a nice 8-hour haul. When I crossed the Mackinac Bridge the deer count was as follows: 2013 = 3,609 and 2012 = 5,889, a 39 percent drop over last year. Not surprising given the severity and lateness of last winter, which in some UP counties continued with snow on the ground into mid-May. This is the kind of winter that takes a heavy toll on deer, especially on fawns which typically are born in late May, early June. Wildlife personnel tell us that the average winter in the U.P. typically kills 100,000 deer and a hard winter like the last one takes double that toll.
The first modern wolf hunt is underway and as of yesterday 13 of the 43-wolf quota has been taken. Given all the bullshit opinions and massive lack of knowledge by wolf haters and lovers alike, this number has astonished a lot of people, who expected the quota to be met in hours if not a few days. My thoughts? Look at Wisconsin’s first hunt last year. It took a long time to reach their quota. The learning curve on wolf hunting is real. It is one thing to sit on your deer bait and have a wolf wander in, which happens. It is altogether a different proposition to sit in your deer blind waiting for your wolf to come to the bait. Most hunters in the UP have never seen a wolf and many who say they have, are imagining it or misidentifying. Some of the eight-ball wolf-haters think the DNR is lying about the number of animals in the UP and that instead of 650-700 animals, it is more like twice that or more. These people don’t believe anything any unit of government tells them. The bottom line is that wolves are smart and very wary and you have to have special skills and knowledge to bag one of them. Probably we’ll fill the 43 quota in the three wolf management areas, but it will probably take most or all of the season. I expected the number will increase started December 1. Why? Because the Blaze Orange Brigade (BOB) will be out of the woods. When the deer season began, concurrent with the wolf season, you had many hunters afield with electronic predator calls and they scare and confuse the hell out of deer and wolves alike. They also irke hunters solely after deer. It seems likely to me that once the number of hunters falls, the wolf-take should increase. It still strikes me as odd how only three wolf management units were chosen. There are wolves virtually everywhere in the UP and there has been predation on sporting dogs and farms animals in lots of counties outside the hunt areas.
I saw my first wolf on the Fox River Road north of Seney in mid-December,1998, and over the years have seen wolves in Luce County, Mackinac County, Delta County, Schoolcraft County, Dickinson County, Iron County, Houghton County, Baraga County, and Keweenaw County. This month I spent 10 consecutive days on patrol in Iron, Gogebic, and Ontonagon County: We saw one wolf in Iron County, and the tracks of four others, none of them in designated hunt areas. We continue to hear tales of wolf haters who brag they are gut-shooting every wolf they see, hoping the animal will crawl off and die. These are scumbags of the lowest order. Yet I have problems too with those folks who want no wolf hunting, in part from no personal experience with wolves, and in part because I smell an anti-hunting movement afoot with the wolf being used as a lever in that effort, the same as doves were used earlier in this state. Most of the anti-wolf hunt fiscal support comes from outside the state.
We have a department of educated, experience personnel charged with managing our wildlife on the basis of science (except on occasions when politics intervenes). We should trust them to do what they are hired to do and stay the hell out of their business.
OK then. Back on patrol tomorrow and the next day. Over.
CRYSTAL FALLS, SUNDAY, November 24, 2013 – Television BTB is a fragmented wasteland of garbage and TV up here is even worse because there are so few people and such a lower advertising base. This morning I watched a rerun of F Troop, which was running in prime time when I lived up here in 1966-70. Very, very odd. And this morning I was treated to last night’s news from Marquette, which really bollixed my sense of reality. Were they talking about Sunday’s weather, or what? Weird. After ten days of patrols up here, a few observations, and they are only that, observations of small-ball observations, not things to be generalized across the board:
1. Last winter was very, very tough on the deer herd. There was snow still on the ground in Iron County on May 13. It is the late March, April and May snows that take the biggest toll on deer. In the past wildlife people have said an average winter kills 100,000 deer, and a bad one upwards of 200,000 or more. This was surely upwards of bad, and hunters and officers report seeing fewer fawns than usual. We had the same experience in the eastern UP.
2. Very few hunters out this year. Every year seems to have fewer. The DNR says the biggest growth in licenses, percentage wise is among females, but I haven’t seen this and neither have the officers I talked to. It may be that the distaff element does not partake of the deer camp tradition as much as males do, and that they do their hunting closer to home in mornings and evenings before and after work. But in terms of seeing women and girls hunting, just not seeing it, and what I’ve seen has not changed in 13 years in trucks. When we do see kids, they are often hunting unsupervised. It’s as if they take hunter safety and then just do what their families have always done. When I do hear of kids hunting, apart from the very few I see, there are tales of 5-6-7 yr. olds hunting and shooting deer with their mentor. Something about this rubs me wrong too. In the old days over in the Eastern UP and across the river in Soo Canada, young boys went with pop and older brothers and uncles, etc, but were there merely as physical labor and once they hit 12 as gun bearers. They did not start actual hunting until they were older. Their training consisted of following blood kin around. I don’t know, but a six year old shooting a deer? Can he or she distinguish the diff between actual killing of a deer and an electronic game? No opinion, just a rub in my gut.
3. As has become normal, I saw no African American hunters up here this season, or Asian Americans, or Hispanics. Over 13 years I’ve seen 10 black males, 8 in one group over 13 years. Handfull of Asian Americans and Hispanics in that time. Not sure this means anything because down where my mom is from in Mississippi lots of black folks (her neighbors) hunted and fished with my mom’s dad and her brothers. Maybe this reflects socioeconomics and more effects of the recession? Just asking. Seems if pro-hunting groups are serious they need to expand their efforts from women and kids to skin colors other than white. Maybe they are? If so, I’ve seen or heard nothing about it. Also then makes me wonder what the racial makeup of NRA membership is.
4. Crystal Falls Forest Park lost yesterday in the high school football state semifinals, ending their season at 12 and 1. Their girls volleyballers lost Thursday night , also in the state semifinals. Great seasons for the Trojan jocks and jockettes. Great job, players and coaches. The Ishpeming Hematites won yesterday and will play in the state Division final next week, as will the Menominee Maroons in Division 5 (I think that’s the div). Great job by UP teams all. Seemed sort of sad to play their games in the warmed Yooper dome instead of outside in da untrammeled snow, eh, the way we did back in da day.
5. The last two days of patrol weather was anything but pleasant, yet the officers were out there pressing forward. Downstate officers in most counties find it easy to find hunters and revelers. Up here you have to hunt for them, which add another element to the job. Down below, generally, there is a lot more traffic and contacts. No matter where you are game wardening, snow the a great gift from the Game Warden in the Sky.
6. I dread going back below and being exposed to all the political bullshit floating in the “politosphere.”
7. Lots of cops hunt up here. Not sure why.
8. The “theme” this year seemed to be loaded guns in vehicles. Every year is diff. We took only four illegal deer, which is down from a much higher average, but there is a week left in the season and more shenanigans lay ahead for sure.
9. If you like “wild” country, the western UP is the place for you, but please get off the paved roads and out of your vehicle to see the real beauty up close.
10. The wolf hunt has so far logged 10 animals legally taken. There have been some illegal kills, but at least two of these people turned themselves in because the wolves they shot were collared. A smart move, methinks.
11. Our COs are equipped with good trucks and communications, great clothing, etc, but every officer still needs to have in his or her possession an infrared scope and the newest generation of night vision. A few pieces at District HQ is not adequate for the job. If the state can’t or doesn’t want to pay, why not find a wealthy benefactor to take care of it and let the state pay for replacement equipment down the line? Just asking. There may be perfectly good reasons for the situation as it is, but being in the right side of the truck for a sustained period, night and day, I don’t see it. What I see is an unmet need.
All from here for now. Off today to see friends with dinner with some CO pals Monday night. The sun is shining, the wind finally down and the temp a sweaty 9 degrees. Snow on the ground, but only an inch or two down here in the south county, 4-5 inches further north. I suspect south of here will have less. Hope to get some good outdoor and wildlife photos over the next couple of days, but we shall see. If you’re hunting, be safe. If you’re a CO, be even safer. Over.
November 23, 2013 –DAY 10 dawns: a crispy, nose-hair-stiffening 8 degrees this morn, wind at 15 mph G 29, chill factor WAY BELOW ZED, a day to test the sangfroid (and sangfreud) of all hunters. Wisconsin’s deer season opens this morning. My hotel is filled with them, the border being only 6 miles distant. Michigan hunters will be lined on our side of the Brule River. When the full-body punkin’ suits start shooting over in Cheesieland the deer will hustle en masse through the river to the imagined safety of Michigan, and be met by more salvos. If you are down by the river you can actually hear the deer crossing on both sides of where you stand. I will be so glad to be mostly inside the truck with a heater. The only factor that reduces river-crossing slaughter is that much of the land along the river is privately owned and this will reduce the number of ambushers. My last day in a truck up here for the year, but more ahead below the bridge. I found it odd that I saw not one mention of the JFK assassination on Facebook yesterday. Weird. It was all over the television at night. Over.
Friday, November 22, 2013 — DAY 9 is in the books. Photos of the last two days follow. This is sure a beautiful place. Over.
DAY 6 complete, trucks parked. We rolled this morning to the District office and picked up the unmarked truck. Then up to Watersmeet to drop some information on cases to the USFS law enforcement officer. Lunch at the casino, then up throug…h Gogebic to Ontonagon County. Were were the only truck on in four counties today and worked our way up through the B Wolf Management Unit. Ran into one hunter with a license, and heard of a second one who was out in his blind where a wolf had been seen. We saw 8 deer alive on the day. Up to Bergland for fuel, then up the 400 road to the Norwich Road where we found a grandfather and grandson hunting the road, the boy with no license; he claimed it was in his dad’s truck.. Warned the kid and grandpa the boy had to to have it with him.. From there north to Onty to the sheriff’s department. En route we encountered a camp of 11 hunters who had taken 8 bucks, 5 of them 8 points or more. Everything tagged properly and tin order. AFter Onty, we sailed south through Rockland and out the Victoria Cutover where we immediately ran into two side-by-sides, everything legal, the hunters from around Otsego. Told them I was from Portage and they wanted to know how I got up ther and I told them I walked and we drove away. Shortly thereafter we encountered a vehicle with five hunters, all guns unloaded and in back and a couple of 50 yr old plus passengers with open intox, which we had them dump. Beginning to darken fast. and up the road we ran across two young men smoking dope, which we confiscated, and with open intox, which we had them dump. Their rifles were unloaded. Gave them a verbal warning and moved on. This is deer season and this was the bewitching hour for hunters coming out of the woods, so we moved on across and reversed our route and stopped at a truck parked up a power line. We had seen it earlier and no sign of the hunter yet, so we backed into the weeds and sat on the truck, sensing we might have a loaded gun. What we got was a giant 10-point, the biggest deer the guy had ever shot and he was still shaking so badly he couldn’t use his knife to tag the deer, so we settled him down and watched him take care of it. He should have tagged it in the woods, on the spot, but he was too shook up and we reminded him of the law and moved on. We followed a vehicle eas and watched him run a stop sign and pulled in behind him and my partner gave him a talking to. Turns out one of our NRC members hunts out of the camp. We then got a call from CO Doug Hermanson. A hunter from Rockland had seen a kid shoot a doe off his bait pile. No doe permits there. The hunter called the RAP line who called Doug who called us and we went to the house and retrieved the deer from the family. Dad will get a ticket for failure to supervise, the 14 yr old, who just finished hunter safety lost his deer, but we told them it would go to a needy family, and instead of a $1500 fine, they would just lose the animal to a good cause. Then we shot south to see an older fellow with cancer, who can’t hunt anymore and who is getting monthly blood transfusions. Not sure why, but he and his wife have two young grandchildren living with them and neither of them can work. They were very pleased to have the meat. We probably checked 20 or more hunters today, almost all of them doing things right, which is how it should be. The exceptions have been noted. Out again today. Photos that follow are from patrol days 5 and 6. Over.