Outdoor News

March 2015
Edited by V. Paul Reynolds

Last February, if you recall, that darned legendary marmot in Pennsylvania – Punxsutawney Phil – saw his shadow. Later on in April, I returned from Florida in mid-April to find the ice in front of my lakeside home in Ellsworth locked up tight! Still plenty of snow left in the shady areas, too. Six months more of winter my foot; more like 12. Well, guess what folks? The buck-toothed weather prognosticator has done it again - seen his shadow. So don’t count on an early spring. But before you strike out with your .243 for a ground hog hunt in Pennsylvania, remember this….

Spring will come.

We'll be smelting, picking fiddleheads, and scouting for turkey activity before you know it.. So....hang in there. Go to church. Tie some more flies. Check the fishing gear, again. Revisit the Bean catalog. Shoot a coyote. Take a vacation in the Florida Keys or get to as many state sportsmen shows as you can. To find a sportsman show in your area, check this month's ads in the Journal

CAPTION FOR PHOTO ABOVE: Nathan Paradis of Biddeford with his 20 pound togue (lake trout).

Club News

If your club or outdoor organization has news or photos that warrant publication in the Northwoods Sporting Journal, send them to: Club News, NWSJ, P.O. Box 195, W. Enfield, ME 04493, or e-mail news to: paul@sportingjournal.com

Maine - Moose Harvest Down

Despite brief warm spells during both the September and October moose seasons, 65% of all moose hunters harvested a moose last season. With 3,095 moose permits issued, 2,022 hunters were successful in getting their moose. Hunter success rates varied throughout different regions of the state with over 80 percent of the hunters getting moose in Wildlife Management Districts 3 and 5 in Aroostook County and under 10 percent of hunters getting a moose in WMDs 23 and 25 in Waldo and Knox Counties.

The 65% success rate for hunters is lower than the 73% success rate for hunters in 2013.

“Weather certainly played a factor,” said IFW’s moose biologist Lee Kantar. “Moose tend to travel less and spend more time in cover when it’s hot. Hunter effort also declines.”

Maine’s moose season is split into three segments with six-day seasons in September, October and November. Temperatures were above 80 degrees on the first day of the season in September, and despite a cool start to the October season, warmer weather in the 70s prevailed during the middle of the October season.

“We expect to see a higher success rate in September, as moose are more receptive to calling,” said Kantar. “But in WMD 3, only 79% of the hunters were successfully in September compared to 91% in October. ”

Kantar also added that there are fewer moose on the landscape than in previous years.

“Looking at the survival data from our radio-collared moose last year, we know that winter ticks during the winter of 2014 had an impact on moose,” said Kantar. “It was an impact that was likely above normal, somewhat similar in its impact to a tough winter on deer.” As a result, the department decreased the number of permits available to moose hunters.

The radio-collar moose study is just one aspect of the department’s ongoing research on Maine’s moose.

IFW is currently in its fifth year of conducting aerial surveys to estimate moose abundance and population composition (composition of male/females; adults/calves). The aerial surveys provide data used to estimate the moose population and health of the herd.

During the moose hunting season, biologists also examine teeth to determine a moose’s age, measure antler spread, monitor the number of ticks a moose carries and examine ovaries in November to determine reproductive rates.

Biologists are set to recommend moose permit numbers for the fall 2015 moose season. The number of available moose permits is based upon population numbers and the composition of the moose population in wildlife management districts, as well as the population goals and objectives for that district.

New Hampshire - Pickup Goes Through Ice

A full-size pickup truck fell through the ice on Meredith Bay at about 5:30 this morning (Friday, January 30, 2015), as its owner John Ash, age 44, of Laconia maneuvered the vehicle, intending to set up a vending station at the New England Pond Hockey Classic.

The incident occurred about 100 yards from shore, at a point where the ice was just four inches thick. The outlet to Mill Falls enters Meredith Bay nearby, so moving water below the ice had prevented thicker ice from forming. About 30 feet from the scene, the ice was 10 inches thick.

As Ash heard the ice crack, he put his window down and attempted to reverse the vehicle, but it nose-dived through the ice. Fortunately, the water was only about six feet deep there, and the front of the truck came to rest on the lake bottom. Ash was able to scramble out through the truck window and escape unharmed.

New Hampshire Moose Lottery

New Hampshire's 2015 moose hunt lottery is now open. Enter today to try your luck on the adventure of a lifetime -- hunting moose in the rugged woods of the Granite State. Entering the lottery costs $15 for New Hampshire residents and $25 for nonresidents.

To enter the N.H. moose hunt lottery, visit http://www.huntnh.com/Hunting/Hunt_species/hunt_moose.htm, where you can enter online or print out a mail-in application, or buy one in person from any Fish and Game license agent or at Fish and Game headquarters in Concord. Moose hunt lottery applications for 2015 must be postmarked or submitted online by midnight Eastern Time on May 29, 2015, or delivered to the Licensing office at Fish and Game headquarters in Concord before 4:00 p.m. that day. Winners will be selected through a computerized random drawing on June 19, 2015, at the NH Fish and Game Department in Concord.

Each applicant can enter the moose hunt lottery once a year. A bonus point system improves the chances for unsuccessful applicants who apply each consecutive year. For example, last year the overall odds of a resident applicant being drawn were 1 in 59, while resident applicants with a total of 11 points had a 1 in 28 chance of being drawn. For nonresidents, the odds increased from 1 in 221 overall to 1 in 106 for applicants with 11 points.

Last year (2014), more than 10,000 people entered the lottery for the chance to win one of 124 permits. More than 1,400 people continued to accrue bonus points because they submitted an application for a point only. Hunters from eight different states won permits in the lottery.

While people travel from all over the country to take part in the New Hampshire moose hunt, the majority of permits (about 85%) go to New Hampshire residents. The number of permits available to nonresidents is capped, based on the prior year's sales of nonresident hunting licenses.

The exact number of moose hunt permits that will be offered for this fall's hunt has not yet been determined. Because of the continued decline in moose numbers in some areas, permit reductions are possible in parts of the state, according to Wildlife Programs Supervisor Kent Gustafson. If needed, permit allocation proposals for 2015 will be developed through the state's formal rulemaking process.

While permit numbers may be reduced in 2015, your chance of being drawn and offered a permit in the lottery will be improved if you rank all wildlife management units on your application, Gustafson noted. You will have the option to decline a permit if drawn for a unit you prefer not to hunt.

Maine - Moosehead Fishing Derby

We wrapped up the 8th Annual Moosehead Lake Togue Derby with Ricky Craven on Sunday afternoon. This year was a record-setter. Nathan Paradis of Biddeford brought in a 20.66 lb togue on Saturday which is a new record for the derby. The 37.5 inch fish was in terrific shape. Nathan purchased his ticket at Lucky Bait and Tackle in Greenville and that turned out to be rather prophetic because he in addition to collecting $1,500 for the biggest fish, he also won a door prize, a guided fishing trip with Steve Cole on his boat the “Reel Affair” this summer on Moosehead Lake. Second place went to Josh Nelson of Gouldsboro with a 10.45 lb togue and third place went to Mark St. Armand of Windsor with a 5.86 lb togue.

In addition to setting the record for the biggest derby fish, ticket sales also set a new high in 2015. Ticket sales for the derby have been in the 200-300 range for the past few years. This year NREC changed the format to include obtaining sponsors, big door prizes, advertising on social media, and internet ticket sales. NREC sold just over 700 tickets to this year’s derby. Sponsors like Indian Hill Trading Post, Bangor Savings Bank, and the Maine Highlands Credit Union really helped to build this derby into a great community event. It was amazing to see tickets purchased from York to Fort Kent and from Jackman to Seal Harbor. In all, around 192 towns in Maine and 8 total States were represented in this year’s festivities.

NREC and the American Legion held a well-attended wild game dinner on Saturday night that was sponsored in part by Coca-Cola. After the meal, Ricky Craven was on hand to swap stories and draw the winners of the door prizes.

The first door prize was the choice of a vacation trip or cash and Justin Moore of Skowhegan was the winner. Morgan Whitten of Winter Harbor and Willie Strid of Greenville were the winners of the two firearms. Jason Crea of Brookline, NH got the call Sunday morning that he won the ice fishing package donated by Indian Hill Trading Post and he picked it up on his way out of town and Keith Palmer of Dexter won $250 in the door prize raffle. Just over 40 participants took home door prizes this year.

We want to thank all the businesses that donated to this year’s events and thanks to all the anglers that make the trip to our beautiful region to make this derby a great event.

Maine - Bethel Moose Festival

Each year, over 60,000 sportsmen and women from around the state and the country enter a drawing to fulfill a dream: to hunt a Maine moose. The odds are long, with 3000-4000 people ultimately winning a permit annually. Many wait years before their names are chosen – and on June 12-14, 2015, thousands of hopeful hunters and their families will travel to Bethel in person to see if, this year, they will finally get their chance.

To welcome the crowd, the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce and the UMaine 4-H Camp & Learning Center in Bryant Pond are organizing the Bethel Maine Moose Festival, presented by Cabela’s – three days of festivities in celebration of wildlife and the outdoor sporting lifestyle.

A 4th regional qualifying round for the Maine Moose Calling Championship will start off the event at The Bethel Inn Resort on Friday, June 12. Maine’s nationally touring alt-country rock band, The Mallett Brothers, will also perform Friday evening.

The moose hunting permit lottery will anchor the event on Bethel’s town common on Saturday, June 13. The day will also feature the finals of the Moose Calling Championship, kids’ activities, hunting and fishing demonstrations, a raffle, and vendors including guides, outdoor products, non-profits, crafts, and food.

Youth Field Day at the UMaine 4-H Camp & Learning Center in Bryant Pond and a golf tournament at The Bethel Inn Resort to benefit camp scholarships round out activities on Sunday, June 14. “This year’s moose lottery and festival in Bethel will showcase all of the great local opportunities for sportsmen and women. The fact that a portion of the proceeds will help give young people an opportunity to come to camp is an added bonus,” said Scott Olsen, from Bryant Pond 4-H Camp.

In addition to Cabela’s, Bethel Bait Tackle & More, L.L. Bean, Townsquare Media, Allen’s Coffee Brandy, Baxter Brewing Co., Bangor Daily News, and Orion Outfitters & Guide Service have signed on as sponsors of the event. The Maine Office of Tourism also awarded the event a marketing grant.

“Cabela’s has been involved in Maine moose lottery events all over the state for several years,” said Greg Sirpis, Cabela’s marketing director. “We think the crowd will be excited about the schedule of events and believe that Bethel will host the best events surrounding a moose lottery yet.”

To get in the Moose Festival spirit, local businesses are encouraged to paint their own moose silhouettes, which will be available to purchase from Bethel Bait Tackle & More. The chamber will organize a self-guided tour of the moose art to encourage visitors to patronize each business.

Other ways to get involved in the Moose Festival include becoming a vendor, advertising in the official program, volunteering, or creating a special activity in conjunction with the event. For information, contact the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce at info@bethelmaine.com, (207) 824-2282, or visit www.bethelmainemoosefest.com and www.facebook.com/BethelMaineMooseFest.

Maine - Youth Writing Contest

Again this year, the New England Outdoor Writers Association( NEOWA) is sponsoring a New England wide youth writing contest. The contest has a senior division, grades 9-12, and a junior division, grades 6-8, and is open to all New England schools. In addition to cash prizes of $125 for the State and At Large winners and certificates for all the winners, the two New England winning essays will receive an addition $150 making their prizes $275 and their work will be published in a future issue of the North Woods Sporting Journal (www.sporting journal.com) enabling these two young talented writers to become published authors at a young age.

Randy Julius, president of NEOWA said, “The contest is a new endeavor, developed to provide an incentive for kids to get involved in outdoor recreation and writing. This is the third year for the competition and we hope, as the word gets out, to attract more New England students to write about their outdoor experiences.”

Teachers or students seeking more information may contact Diane Reynolds at 207 745 0049 or email her at vdianer@tds.net. Or contact NEOWA president, Randy Julius, at 508 378 2290, or email randyjulius@verizon.net.

Maine - IFW To Resume Moose Capture

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife will take to the air soon in year two of an intensive five-year moose study that will provide a greater understanding of the health of Maine’s moose population, particularly factors that impact their survival and reproductive rates.

A trained crew that specializes in capturing and collaring large animals is utilizing a helicopter and launched nets to capture and collar female moose and calves in an area located in and around Jackman and Greenville (centered in Wildlife Management District 8).

“By radio-collaring moose and actively monitoring their movements, we can further understand the factors that can impact Maine’s moose population,” said IFW moose biologist Lee Kantar.

The radio collar study is just one component of the research that IFW conducts on moose.

IFW also utilizes aerial flights to assess population and the composition of the moose herd. During the moose hunting season, biologists also examine teeth to determine a moose’s age, measure antler spread, monitor the number of ticks a moose carries, and examine ovaries to determine reproductive rates.

Depending on the weather, the crew plans to start next week, and they plan to capture and then collar 3 adult female moose (cows) and 35 moose that were born this past spring (calves) with GPS collars that will track and broadcast their movements to IFW biologists.

This is the second year that the crew from Aero Tech, Inc. will work in Maine capturing and collaring moose. Aero Tech specializes in this type of capture and collaring, and is currently performing a similar job in New Hampshire. The crew, based out of New Mexico, consists of a team of four, with each having a specialized role in the process.

Prior to their arrival, Kantar and several other IFW biologists will fly and scout different areas of WMD 8 in order to locate cow-calf groups. This pre-capture scouting worked very well last year by providing GPS coordinates to Aero Tech pilots who were able to fly to these areas, and capture and collar moose with an increased efficiency that decreases their time in the air, and the number of days they fly.

Last year, the department collared 30 adult cows and 30 calves.

Once collared, the GPS-enabled collars transmit twice a day, providing biologists the ability to track moose movements. The GPS collars are expected to transmit movement signals for four years. If there is no movement for a certain period of time, the collar transmits a mortality signal, and biologists will then travel by foot to investigate the cause of death.

“Once we receive a mortality signal, we locate the dead moose within 24 hours,” said Kantar. Biologists conduct an extensive field necropsy on each moose, taking blood, tissue and fecal samples that will later be analyzed by the University of Maine-Animal Health Lab as well as other specialized diagnostic facilities,.

This is the second year of the monitoring study. Additional moose and calves will be captured and collared next year.

“This project is just one component of the Department’s multi-faceted moose management system. It provides us with another important tool to ensure we have the most relevant data needed to manage our moose population,” said Kantar.

Vermont - Hunters Successful

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department says preliminary numbers show hunters took slightly more deer in 2014 hunting seasons compared to an average of the previous three years, reflecting a stable and healthy deer population in the state.

Deer biologist Adam Murkowski says reports from big game check stations indicate hunters had successful deer seasons in 2014. Hunters took a total of 13,590 deer in the state: 3,143 during archery season, 1,652 during youth weekend, 6,140 in rifle season, and 2,655 in muzzleloader season.

“Compared to the previous three-year average, harvest levels rose slightly during the archery season, were roughly the same for muzzleloader season and slightly decreased during the youth and rifle seasons,” said Murkowski.

Each year the department operates biological check stations during deer hunting seasons to gather information on the age, sex, field dressed weight, antler characteristics, and overall health of Vermont’s deer herd. Murkowski says biological data from 1,097 deer examined during the two-day youth hunt and November rifle season will be important in further assessing the status of local deer herds throughout the state.

According to Murkowski, the primary goal of Vermont’s deer management strategy is to keep Vermont’s deer herd stable, healthy and in balance with available habitat. “Maintaining an appropriate number of deer on the landscape ensures Vermont’s deer and the habitats that support them remain healthy and productive,” he said. “Healthy habitats and stable deer herds are beneficial to the deer themselves, important to Vermont’s deer hunters, and they are beneficial to the health of the land and other wildlife.”

“Under our current goal of maintaining a healthy deer herd, a stable harvest is a good indicator that we are meeting our management objectives set out in Vermont’s 10-year Big Game Plan,” said Murkowski. “Season totals in any given year may be up or down from the previous year. But the fact that fluctuations are small, rather than major boom and bust cycles, is an indicator that management strategies are working.”

The 2014 report on deer hunting seasons with final numbers will be on Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com) by early February.

Youth (2011-2013) - 1,721 & 2014 1,652

Archery (2011-2013) - 3,084 & 2014 3,143

Rifle (2011-2013) - 6,237 & 2014 6,140

Muzzleloader (2011-2013) - 2,360 & 2014 2,655

TOTAL (2011-2013) - 13,402 & 2014 13,590

New Hampshire - Sledders Go Through Ice

On Sunday January 11, 2015, members of the Laconia Fire and Rescue Department, as well as N.H. Fish and Game Conservation Officers, responded to a 911 call for assistance after two snowmobiles went through the ice on Lake Winnisquam in Laconia.

At approximately 7:15 PM, Andrew Grant, age 25, of Belmont, and his friend Terry Threlfall, age 22, of Lochmere, were snowmobiling on Lake Winnisquam. They intended to ride from their bobhouse at Ahern State Park to the Belmont Town Beach. Riding the lead snowmobile, Grant was traveling on snow-covered ice when he noticed that the ice was black. He knew that he was traveling on new ice that was thin, and decided to turn around. When he slowed down, his snowmobile suddenly went through the ice, leaving him stranded in open water. He attempted to get on top of the ice, however it was too thin to support his weight. He eventually ended up in an open channel and was able to get his helmet off and held it at chest level, using it to stay afloat.

Threlfall was following behind Grant and saw his friend's snowmobile disappear from sight. He slowed down to determine what had happened, and his snowmobile went through the ice as well. Threlfall was able to get back onto the ice, and he walked to the nearest occupied home on Shore Drive in Laconia. 911 was notified of the incident. Threlfall then returned to Grant's location with a Personal Floatation Device and rope, but was unable to assist because Grant was now approximately 200 feet out in an open channel.

Laconia Fire and Rescue members responded within minutes to the scene on Shore Drive. They could hear people yelling for help out on the ice. Four ice rescue technicians traveled out on the ice and initially found Threlfall, sending him back to the residence on Shore Drive. They had difficulty locating Grant, due to the darkness and the fact that only his head was exposed above the open water. The ice rescue technicians, after falling through the ice several times themselves, eventually entered the channel and located Andrew. They had to swim approximately 200 feet in open water, in blackout conditions, before locating Grant, a truly heroic effort.

Grant was eventually pulled out of the water and loaded onto a rescue sled and carried back to shore to a waiting ambulance that transported him to Lakes Region General Hospital in Laconia. Threlfall was also treated at Lakes Region General Hospital, and was released later that evening. Grant was kept in the hospital overnight for observation. Both men were treated for hypothermia.

The distance from the shoreline to the open channel was 1,400 feet (a quarter mile). Grant was in the water for an estimated 50 minutes prior to his rescue.

Vermont - Poacher Loses Licenses

A Barton, Vermont man will pay more than $1,000 in fines and court fees and lose his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for three years. Kenneth Bacon, Jr. of Barton pled “no contest” on January 7, 2015 in Orleans District Court to taking deer in closed season and reckless endangerment.

Bacon shot from a vehicle on a Craftsbury public road on November 30, 2013 and then fled as Vermont Fish & Wildlife wardens attempted to apprehend him, putting one warden in danger of serious injury.

Wardens were in Craftsbury at the time conducting an operation in response to several complaints of illegal road hunting and poaching activity in the area.

On December 7, 2013 Bacon was apprehended in Barton and issued tickets and citations for possessing a loaded rifle in a motor vehicle, shooting from a motor vehicle, attempting to elude a game warden, taking deer in closed season, and reckless endangerment.

Further investigation revealed that Mr. Bacon had already shot and reported a deer earlier in the season. The legal limit for deer during the November rifle season is one.

Bacon will be required to successfully complete Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s “Remedial Outdoor Ethics Course” before his licenses can be reinstated.

Vermont wardens continue to rely heavily on confidential information provided by the public. If you witness illegal activity, please alert a Vermont State Game Warden immediately by calling your local State Police Barracks. You can also contact Operation Game Thief at 1-800-75ALERT (1-800-752-5378) or online at (www.vtfishandwildlife.com/laws_thief.cfm). Rewards are paid for information leading to an arrest.

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