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.