A Northeastern Iowa man who guided and outfitted illegal deer hunts was sentenced on September 23, 2021, to federal prison. Cory Gene Fritzler, age 46, from Lansing, Iowa, received the prison term after a March 18, 2021 guilty plea to one count of conspiracy.
Evidence at Fritzler’s plea, sentencing, and other hearings established that Fritzler operated a guiding and outfitting business in Northeastern Iowa known as “NE Iowa Outfitters.” The Northeastern Iowa region is nationally recognized as a prime geographic area for hunting mature whitetail buck deer. Hunters travel to Northeastern Iowa from all over the United States to hunt high value, mature buck deer with large antlers. The demand for out-of-state hunting licenses, however, greatly exceeds the supply.
During the 2015 hunting season, Fritzler agreed to conduct an illegal hunt with two hunters from Florida who were actually undercover law enforcement officers. The agreed-upon cost of the illegal five-day hunt was $3,450 per person, plus an additional $500 per person for illegal licenses that Fritzler provided. Fritzler recruited others to participate in the illegal hunting scheme by applying for and receiving Iowa hunting licenses and tags to cover the deer.
That same hunting season, Fritzler legally provided guiding and outfitting services to two non-resident hunters from Louisiana. In 2015, one of the hunters shot a valuable “double drop tine buck” but wounded this deer in its backside only. When the hunters did not obtain out-of-state licenses the next year to obtain this deer, known as “the Monster Buck,” Fritzler accepted $3,450 from the hunters to guide and outfit their illegal hunts during the 2016 hunting season. Fritzler instructed the Louisiana hunters to tell people, falsely, that they were hunting in a public area in Wisconsin to hide the fact that they were illegally hunting on Fritzler’s ground in Iowa. When questioned by law enforcement, Fritzler and the Louisiana hunters falsely stated they were hunting in Wisconsin. In the ensuing months, Fritzler later encouraged the Louisana hunters to continue to “stick to their story” as law enforcement was investigating the case.
Fritzler was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams. Fritzler was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment, two months of home detention, and fined $5,000. Fritzler must also serve a one-year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.
Fritzler was released on the bond previously set and is to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons on a date yet to be set. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tim Vavricek and investigated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
It would be probably be enough to know the Green Bay Packers were about to start their season.
Or to see yellow buses ferrying students to and from schools.
But for a segment of the Wisconsin populace, there’s another sign that autumn has arrive: the start of hunting seasons.
“The best time of year is upon us,” said Jay Snopek of Nelson, who hunts white-tailed deer, wild turkey and waterfowl in the bluffs and waters of Buffalo County. “Time to escape this crazy world and get into the swamp and woods.”
Snopek is among an estimated 1 million license buyers who will pursue game in Wisconsin this year.
The agency has issued forecasts for the 2021-22 seasons, notes about rules changes, safety guidelines and recommendations to keep the state’s woods and waters healthy and reduce spread of invasive species.
With many hunting seasons opening Saturday, here’s a preview of information for the fall.
With a mild 2020-21 winter and below-average harvests in 2019 and 2020, Wisconsin deer hunters can look forward to increased harvest opportunities around the state, according to the DNR.
That includes northern Wisconsin, where the mild winter allowed for deer population growth across the region, the DNR says.
It’s important for hunters to remember habitat quantity and quality varies greatly across the landscape and the number of deer inhabiting individual properties can vary significantly.
This season 36 counties will offer the antlerless-only holiday hunt from Dec. 24 to Jan. 1.
In addition, archery and crossbow deer seasons have been extended in 27 counties, closing Jan. 31.
Due to recent findings of chronic wasting disease, baiting and feeding regulations have changed in select counties. For example, a CWD-positive deer found this summer at a deer farm in Taylor County led to a new ban on baiting and feeding in that county; it took effect Sept. 1.Your stories live here.Fuel your hometown passion and plug into the stories that define it.Create Account
A record of about 130,000 people applied for Wisconsin bear harvest authorizations in 2021, an indication of the strong and growing interest in bear hunting in the state, according to the DNR.
The agency made 11,530 bear permits available for this fall.
New this year is a six-zone bear management structure. The reconfiguration was a central recommendation from the Wisconsin Black Bear Management Plan finalized in 2019.
The new zones are designed to better reflect Wisconsin’s bear population distribution and to address human-bear conflicts, the agency said.
Mallards are the most abundant duck in Wisconsin and make up 32% of the state’s total duck harvest. Mallard numbers dropped 5% this year but remain within 4% of the state’s long-term average.
The 2021 breeding population estimate of Canada geese in Wisconsin was about 181,000 birds, nearly 70% higher than the long-term average and a sign of a continuing increase in the state’s goose population, according to the DNR.
This year’s Wisconsin waterfowl seasons will feature a change in hunting zones. The Mississippi River zone has been eliminated and replaced by an Open Water Zone in Green Bay and Lake Michigan. The Mississippi River will follow the southern zone season framework.
Also new this year the scaup bag limit will decrease to one scaup for 15 days and two scaup for 45 days based on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s season framework.
Once again this year the Wisconsin duck seasons are 60 days long with six-duck daily bag limits. A full breakdown of bag limit by day is available on the DNR website.
The DNR issued 81,710 fall turkey harvest authorizations in 2020, and hunters registered 4,600 birds, a year-over-year increase of 21%.
The 2020 season saw a 5.6% hunter success rate (uncorrected for non-participation), similar to 5.1% in 2019. Many people hunt turkeys in fall at the same time they are hunting deer during the bow seasons.
Results are not yet available from the 2021 spring ring-necked pheasant crowing survey and the rural mail carrier survey.
The 2020 rural mail carrier survey results indicated an 18% decrease in pheasant populations from 2019, with the highest numbers of pheasants seen in the northwest, specifically St. Croix, Polk and Fond du Lac counties. A long-term decline in stable grassland cover across the state has contributed to a decline in ring-necked pheasant populations.
The State Game Farm is raising pheasants again this year and plans to release 75,000 pheasants on public properties.
In 2020, 42,532 hunters spending 29,586 days afield in pursuit of pheasants and harvested 272,023 birds, a drop from 291,400 in 2019.
Ruffed grouse are on the downward portion of their traditional 10-year population cycle but are still present in good numbers in areas with good habitat, according to the DNR.
A new permanent rule will take effect this season and close the grouse hunt on Jan, 9 in Zone A (northern Wisconsin). The season had closed Jan. 31 under the previous format.
Chronic wasting disease
CWD is a fatal, contagious neurological disease of deer, elk, moose and reindeer caused by a misshapen form of a protein called a prion. It has not been shown to cause illness in humans but health experts advise meat from CWD-positive animals not be consumed.
The disease is spread to healthy animals through contact with an infected animal’s saliva, urine, blood, feces, carcass or contaminated environment.
By taking precautions while in the field, hunters can minimize the spread of CWD. The DNR recommends using synthetic scents, refraining from baiting and feeding and properly disposing deer carcasses.
In 2021, CWD testing will be available to all hunters through a combination of in-person, self-service and on-request sampling locations.
Individuals and organizations can volunteer to sponsor a self-service CWD kiosk or deer carcass dumpster through the DNR’s Adopt-a-Kiosk and Adopt-a-Dumpster programs. Again this year, the department will offer a cost-sharing option to offset the expense of sponsoring a dumpster. Find more information on how to get involved on the DNR website.
Help prevent spread of invasive species
The DNR is also asking waterfowl hunters to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species this fall.
Just a few minutes of preventative action can help preserve and protect hunting lands for generations to come, according to the DNR. Before launching into and leaving a waterbody, waterfowl hunters should:
Inspect waders, boats, trailers, motors and hunting equipment, including boots, blinds and dogs.
Remove all plants, animals and mud to the best of their ability.
Drain all water from decoys, boats, motors, livewells and other hunting equipment.
Remove all seed heads and roots when using vegetation for duck blinds.
Never move plants or live animals, such as snails, away from a water body.
The DNR encourages all hunters to complete a hunter safety course or do a quick skills refresh prior to the season.
More than 20,000 people take hunter education courses in Wisconsin each year, according to the agency. Anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1973, must have a hunter education certification to purchase a hunting license unless hunting under the Mentored Hunting Law.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced that DEC has adopted new rules for deer and bear hunting in New York. Rule changes include extending hunting hours and dress code requirements when afield to improve hunter safety.
Establish a nine-day season for antlerless deer in mid-September (Sept. 11 – 19, 2021) using firearms in Wildlife Management Units (WMUs) 3M, 3R, 8A, 8F, 8G, 8J, 8N, 9A, and 9F, and using bowhunting equipment in WMUs 1C, 3S, 4J, and 8C. Management objectives in these units are either to decrease the deer population or maintain a stable population, and increased antlerless harvest is needed to achieve these objectives. Objectives are based on public input and assessments of deer impacts to forests. Hunters may only use Deer Management Permits (DMPs) and Deer Management Assistance Permit (DMAP) tags in this season;
Restore antlerless harvest during the early muzzleloader season in Northern Zone WMUs 6A, 6F, and 6J. The management objective for these units is to maintain a stable population and the deer population in these units has grown aided by a series of mild winters and prior restrictions on antlerless harvest;
Extend the hunting hours for deer and bear to include the full period of ambient light from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. All other states allow deer hunting beginning one-half hour before sunrise or earlier, or specify daylight hours, and 46 of 50 states allow deer hunting until some period (mostly one-half hour) after sunset. This change conforms to the national standard for big game hunting;
Require anyone hunting big game with a firearm, or accompanying someone hunting big game with a firearm, to wear a solid or patterned fluorescent orange or fluorescent pink hat, vest, or jacket. Most two-party hunting-related shooting incidents in New York involve a hunter victim who was not wearing fluorescent orange or pink clothing. Similar fluorescent orange requirements exist in most states;
Simplify bear hunting season in the Adirondack region by extending regular season to cover the entire hunting period; and
Remove outdated language related to deer tag use during the September portion of the early bowhunting season.
Habitat, not predators, is the major factor determining mule deer numbers in Nevada. (Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).
Nevada’s Department of Wildlife needs more oversight, says state Sen. Pete Goicoechea, who is sponsoring legislation to add two members to the Wildlife Commission. But environmentalists and animal activists say the measure would tilt the board even more in favor of hunting, trapping and fishing interests.
The Wildlife Commission is the “the least democratic of all state boards or commissions which provide oversight to a public resource,” says Donald Molde of the Nevada Wildlife Alliance. “In fact, I’m not sure there is another that is so tilted.”
By law, Nevada’s nine-member Wildlife Commission, which has wide latitude to enact policy and spend money, must have five “sportsmen,” i.e. hunters, fishermen or trappers who have purchased a license in three of the past four years, one rancher, one farmer, one conservationist, and one member of the public. Members are appointed by the governor.
“The current composition of the Wildlife Commission is wildly out of balance with the population of Nevada,” says Patrick Donnelly, State Director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “It’s almost exclusively white men from rural and northern Nevada. While only 3 percent of the state holds a hunting license, 55 percent of the commission is represented specifically by hunters.”
A spokeswoman for the Nevada Conservation League declined to comment about the legislation on the record.
A recent attitude survey of 1,133 Nevadans who responded indicates:
About one in five Nevadans — 22 percent — identify as Traditionalists, who essentially believe humans have dominion over other animals, which “should be used and managed for human benefit,” says the survey.
Some 44 percent identify as Mutualists, who ascribe to the belief that “wildlife are part of our social network and that we should live in harmony.”
One in five Nevadans say they hold both views, and 15 percent are indifferent to animal issues, according to the survey.
Goicoechea’s bill would add two spots on the Commission. One is for a local elected official.
“The Commission needs a little transparency and oversight,” he said. “We (legislators) aren’t looking at it. We’re not giving it the scrutiny it should have. The commission has discretion to spend money and they don’t get any approval.”
Goicoechea admits lawmakers already have authority to augment oversight.
“I’m confused by what kind of oversight he’s looking for,” says Commission Chairwoman Tiffany East. “The department is audited all the time. There have been 27 separate audits over 15 years.”
The second new position would be held by a Master Guide — a licensed individual who leads hunting, fishing and photography expeditions.
Molde says Goicoechea sponsored the bill at the urging of the Master Guide industry, which he says wants “representation on the commission to perhaps increase their personal income by influencing commission action favorable to them.”
“That’s an industry that is dependent on wildlife. If wildlife diminishes, they truly suffer. They should have a seat at the table,” says Goicoechea, whose Senate district spans the open expanses of the state, from its northern border in Elko County south to Clark County, reaching into Lincoln, Eureka, White Pine and Nye counties along the way.
“We already have a sub-guide on the Commission,” said East. “He’s a sportsman out of Southern Nevada but he is a sub-guide.”
The bill “will only serve to enhance the already disproportionate role that hunters and rural interests have in managing our wildlife,” according to Donnelly.
It “would further aggravate the composition of the commission in the wrong direction in our view,” says Molde. “Sportsmen control the commission via seven of nine seats. And, if the ‘conservationist’ goes their way on some issues, we’ve been outvoted on our issues eight to one even before the debate gets started.”
Among the items that have been rejected by the Commission, according to Molde:
Numerous requests for quotas on bobcat trapping, either statewide or per trapper. California became the first state to ban bobcat trapping in 2019.
Requests for trapping reform to protect animals and birds inadvertently caught and killed by fur trappers have never received a vote, because the commission chairman won’t put it on the agenda.
Two petitions to end coyote killing contests.
Efforts to reduce the black bear hunting season and establish a zero quota.
A petition to ban dogs from being used to hunt bears. Another petition is pending.
Chairwoman East has headed up the commission for six months and was a member for three years. She says she’s unaware of the activists’ inability to be heard.
NDOW Deputy Director Jack Robb says the activists have been heard. They’ve filed lawsuits and lost.
Robb says the Commission hears information on bobcats once a year. He says there’s never been a petition to ban bobcat trapping and he says the science reviewed by the Wildlife Commission indicates trapping “doesn’t have a negative effect on the populations.”
How can trapping not have an effect on the animals?
“We don’t manage animals. We manage populations,” says Robb.
‘We have extremely good data on our bobcat harvest,” according to Robb, who says the 2011 Legislature mandated a review of high use areas to determine setbacks for trapping.
“As a result, the Wildlife Commission put a half mile trapping setback from trails and urbanized areas,” Robb said.
In 2013, lawmakers required the Wildlife Commission to review the 96-hour trap check requirement.
“We held multiple meetings,” says Robb. “We had one meeting in Las Vegas on trapping reform that lasted from 11 a.m. to after 9 p.m.”
In the end, the commission determined that mandating more frequent trap checks would prompt trappers to set their snares closer to urban areas.
“So trapping reform has been looked at closely,” says Robb. “Some of the individuals that say we’ve neglected to put trapping reform on the Commission agenda, they didn’t like the reform that came out of the 2011 and 2013 sessions.”
Lawsuits filed by activists have failed in Washoe District Court and the Nevada Supreme Court, Robb says in defense of NDOW policies.
“Most states, including Washington, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and more than 30 others, require 24-hour trap checks in at least some trapping situations or for some trap types,” according to the U.S. Humane Society.
“Make a commitment to check your traps at least once every day,” says the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “When you set out a trapline, you assume responsibilities. Animal welfare is a top priority.”
Culling the herd
Call it ‘wildlife management’ or ‘conservation,’ hunters contend they perform a valuable service by controlling overpopulation.
Critics contend it’s a fallacy.
“When NDOW says they are buying water guzzlers for the wildlife to drink from, that’s because they want to have an endless supply of animals to kill,” says Fred Voltz, a Boulder City resident and animal activist, who says it’s a “myth that people who want to kill the public’s wildlife have the wildlife’s best interest at heart.”
Goicoechea agrees that some species “need to be maintained.”
“If they (NDOW) don’t turn something around quickly, we are going to destroy our deer herds in the state. If they don’t shorten the season up and give these deer some relief, it’s going to be like it was in the 20s,” Goicoechea says of a dry time in the state’s deer hunting history. He says restoration projects in the 1940s “brought back the herds.”
Other species need to be thinned.
“Antelope and elk are on the rise,” the senator says.
“People who are interested in killing the public’s wildlife don’t know what’s best for wildlife and the majority on the Commission have that mindset,” says Voltz. “The same problem exists with the Community Advisory Boards to manage wildlife; they are overwhelmingly dominated by wildlife killing interests.”
Goicoechea says he intends to introduce an amendment that will require future members of the Wildlife Commission to be nominated by the advisory boards before being appointed by the governor.
“The appointments are getting political,” he said.
East says some communities don’t have enough interested residents to form an advisory board.
Pay to play
In a state where a small fraction of citizens participate in hunting, trapping and fishing, why should those interests dominate the commission?
“They pay the fees,” says Goichoechea. “A good chunk of NDOW’s budget is sportsman fees. There’s also a lot of federal money.”
Molde says according to state law, wildlife belongs to everyone.
“There is no pay-to-play statute,” he says. “The law doesn’t say that you have to buy a hunting license to have a say about wildlife management, or that, because hunters buy a license, they have the right to make all decisions. Yet, sportsmen have a stranglehold on wildlife management through the wildlife commission.”
Several years of ongoing drought conditions and the extreme drought this summer have decreased mule deer populations across the state. Here are a few things people hunting deer and elk this fall should know.
Drought impacts deer by decreasing their body fat (because there are fewer plants and available food sources on the landscape). If the does have poor body fat and nutrition, it leads to smaller fawns, and those fawns have a decreased chance of surviving. If an adult deer has too little body fat at the beginning of the winter — especially a severe winter — it will often not survive the winter months.
The current deer population in Utah is roughly 320,000 deer, which is the lowest total number of deer in the state in several years (although not as low as 2010 or the early 2000s). While hunting bucks doesn’t impact the total population growth rate, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has decreased the total hunting permit numbers for the last several years in order to better manage to the buck-to-doe ratios outlined in the management plans.
“Deer numbers have decreased roughly 60,000 from about four years ago due to climatic effects and drought,” DWR Big Game Coordinator Covy Jones said. “Hunters should be aware that when there are fewer total deer on the landscape, it may be harder to find deer during the hunt.”
Elk are not impacted by drought the same way as deer, and elk populations have remained stable for several years with an estimated 80,000 across the state. Elk adults typically won’t die due to low body fat conditions the way deer do, but their pregnancy rates may be reduced, resulting in fewer new calves being born that year.
Recent projects to help big game populations
DWR biologists are continuously working to better manage and help big game populations, especially during drought years. Here is a look at some of those projects over the last year:
From December 2020 to March 2021, the DWR and its partners captured 1,024 big animals across Utah (651 of which were deer and 115 were elk). These captures take place so biologists can perform health assessments and place GPS collars on the animals to learn more about their survival and migration patterns. This monitoring helps biologists determine factors that are limiting the population, which allows them to implement management actions, such as habitat projects to improve winter and summer feeding ranges for big game.
In addition to monitoring adults and six-month-old fawns, the DWR has also been studying deer and elk on the Book Cliffs to learn more about the primary causes of death for newborn deer fawns and elk calves. DWR biologists, in partnership with researchers from Brigham Young University, captured and collared 30 pregnant does and 30 pregnant elk in March. They implanted trackers to learn when the animals gave birth, and then they later placed tracking collars on the baby deer fawns and elk calves. When one of the collars emits a mortality signal — indicating an animal has died — the biologists can quickly find the animal and determine a cause of death. Determining the cause of mortality allows biologists to address factors that are limiting population growth. Biologists caught and collared 27 newly born deer fawns in the Book Cliffs area of northeastern Utah, and later learned that 16 of those died with the majority of the deaths being related to drought. Biologists also captured and placed tracking collars on 30 newly-born elk calves in the Book Cliffs. In contrast to deer, only five of these calves have died, and most were killed by predators.
From July 2020 to July 2021, DWR biologists and partnering organizations also installed 33 water guzzlers and repaired an additional 18. Guzzlers are large devices that catch and store water from snow and rain. They provide drinking water for wildlife and are especially important during hot, dry summers. The DWR currently maintains 774 guzzlers across the state.
From July 2020 to July 2021, DWR habitat biologists and partners through Utah’s Watershed Restoration Initiative improved 227,267 acres of wildlife habitat, including areas that had been burned by wildfires. Of that terrain, 161,485 acres were big game habitat areas. The habitat crews used various restoration methods, such as removing invasive plants; planting beneficial feed such as sagebrush, grasses and bitterbrush; restoring aspen trees to landscapes; repairing and restoring eroded streams; and rehabilitating an area after wildfires.
“As an agency, we strive to do everything we can to help big game and other wildlife populations remain healthy throughout Utah,” Jones said. “Whether you are a hunter or wildlife watcher, we want all Utahns to be able to enjoy the incredible animals that we have here in the state.”
The general-season buck deer archery hunt and the general spike and any-bull elk archery hunts are the first big game hunts of Utah’s fall season, and they all begin Saturday, Aug. 21. The general-season spike and any-bull elk hunts (with any legal weapon) run from Oct. 9-21, and the general-season buck deer hunt (with any legal weapon) runs from Oct. 23-31.
Whether you are a first-time hunter or a seasoned veteran, it’s always a good idea to get a refresher on things that can help you be successful during your hunt. If you are planning to hunt deer or elk in Utah this fall, here are some tips to help you be successful during the archery and rifle hunts:
Hunt away from the road
If you are hoping to harvest a deer or elk this fall, make sure you are hunting in areas away from the road.
“Elk avoid roads, so especially when you are hunting elk, get off the road,” Jones said. “Get out and do some hiking and scout to see where these animals are before the hunt begins.”
Look for rugged terrain
When it comes to deer, mature bucks and does are not together during the August archery hunts. So, if you are seeing a lot of does in an area, it’s a sign that you should probably move to a different spot. Does have to care for their fawns, so they typically prefer areas where there is a lot of water and the terrain is more gentle, like in rolling aspen groves.
“Bucks will gather in herds of little ‘bachelor groups,’ and they like more rugged mountain terrain,” Jones said. “So, if you are looking for a bigger buck, look for terrain that is harder to access.”
Pay attention to the direction of the wind
Another tip for archery hunters is to know the direction of the wind. That way, you can make adjustments and prevent your scent from reaching the animals before you get within range. As the sun heats the ground, the wind direction changes. For example, wind almost always blows up canyons in the morning and down canyons in the afternoon.
To know the direction the wind is blowing, you can buy an inexpensive item called a wind or breeze checker. Releasing powder from the checker will let you know the direction the wind is blowing. Once you’ve determined the direction the wind is blowing, approach the deer from the side (a 90-degree angle) rather than approaching it with the wind in your face (at a 180-degree angle). If you approach with the wind in your face and then the wind shifts and starts blowing from your back, it’ll blow your scent directly to the deer. Approaching from the side reduces the chance that a wind shift will carry your scent to the deer.
Be prepared for the weather and possible emergencies
Hunters should also be prepared for any weather and should always have a first-aid kit and plenty of water with them. The weather in Utah’s mountains can change very quickly and go from sunny to snowing in a matter of minutes, so hunters need to be prepared with adequate clothing and supplies.
Use binoculars and be stealthy
Having success during the archery hunt requires stealth and patience. For example, if you’re going to use a spot-and-stalk method, don’t just walk through the woods, hoping to find a deer without spooking it. Instead, spend time looking through binoculars at an area to find deer and locate where they’re bedding. Then, after they’ve bedded down, plan your stalk, remaining quiet and doing all you can to approach the deer at an angle that keeps your scent from reaching them.
“Stealth and knowing the wind direction are more important for archery hunters than for rifle hunters, as archery hunters need to get closer to the animal to be effective,” Jones said. “It all depends on the hunter and their skill level and equipment, but typically, most bows have sights that allow for shooting at 60 yards or less. And typically, the accuracy of most rifles starts to decline between 300-400 yards. I recommend not trying to ‘overshoot’ with your equipment and to stick with a distance where you are comfortable. You should also always know what is beyond your target before taking a shot.”
Do your research before heading out
It is also a good idea to visit the Utah Hunt Planner before heading out into the field. This great online resource includes notes from the biologists who manage the various hunting units across the state as well as general information about the units and safety and weather items. You can see information about the number of bucks on the units, compared to the number of does. You’ll also find maps that show the units’ boundaries, which land is public and private, and the various types of deer habitat on the unit.
Keep the meat cool
After you harvest a deer or elk, don’t hang it in a tree to try to cool the meat. The hot temperatures (especially during the archery hunts) can spoil it. Plus, hanging a deer or elk in a tree might draw bears into your campsite. Instead, cut the animal up in the field and remove the meat from the bone. After removing the meat, place it in a cooler.
“Dry ice can be used to cool the meat quickly and keep it cool for a prolonged period,” Jones says. “You want to keep the meat as cool as possible until you can process it and get it into your freezer.”
“Hunting should be fun, and you should enjoy it. It’s a great time to see Utah’s amazing wildlife and to make memories with your family and friends. Get outdoors this fall and have an adventure or two in our beautiful state.”
Bill ConnersOutdoorsView CommentsAD0:07https://imasdk.googleapis.com/js/core/bridge3.473.0_en.html#goog_16279170
It really irked me to have to report that there were three hunting fatalities during the 2020 big game season. All three were self-inflicted, all by experienced hunters. One of the three involved a crossbow.
The crossbow incident involved a hunter in the Syracuse area – Onondaga County – and happened when, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation Police, he was hauling his loaded and cocked crossbow into his tree stand.
According to the incident report, the victim had 10 years’ hunting experience. No matter how many times you go afield, you only have to be careless once.
I raise the specter of the crossbow incident because early Monday morning I received a call from an upstate contact and in the course of our conversation regarding anticipated changes to deer hunting regulations, he asked if I had heard about an incident involving a crossbow that happened Friday night. I had not.
According to published reports, a 58-year-old man in the town of Taylor, Cortland County, about an hour south of Syracuse, was having a problem with a skunk. He and another man were attempting to dispatch the animal when one struck the other with a bolt (arrow) from a crossbow. The injury resulted in a fatality.
A preliminary investigation showed that the victim was unintentionally struck, but the investigation is ongoing, according to the state police.
Chasing skunks or other animals at night with anything as deadly as a crossbow is a recipe for disaster. You have a wildlife problem, call DEC. If you don’t want to do that at least use some common sense. A Havahart Live Trap would be the far better approach. Attempting to kill a skunk in the dark and out of season is not hunting. Unfortunately, this incident could very well go on the record as a Hunter Related Shooting Incident (HRSI).
As hunters we all have to think through anything we are doing with a firearm, crossbow, or any other hunting implement because the outcome becomes a reflection on all of us. We struggle enough trying to get people to accept hunters and hunting. This the kind of incident that confirms the worst thoughts that the anti-hunting community has of us.
As I reported two weeks ago, the Dutchess County Legislature approved a local law to allow 12- and 13-year-old hunters to use shotguns and crossbows to hunt deer here in the county. I have to admit that I was skeptical when the State Legislature approved the necessary change to the state’s Environmental Conservation Law with the proviso that each county would have to opt in.Your stories live here.Fuel your hometown passion and plug into the stories that define it.Create Account
My fears were that it would be difficult to get the counties to buy-in, especially in the downstate area. As luck would have it, the county legislatures were not nearly as resistant as I thought they would be.
To their credit, many did ask – just as Dutchess County legislators did – for additional information about the safety requirements imposed on the young hunters and their mentors.
They were informed that:
The hunting had to be from the ground and not from tree stands and both the junior hunter and the mentor must wear fluorescent hunter orange or pink visible from all directions: shirt, jacket, or vest with at least 250 square inches of solid or patterned orange or pink (the pattern must be at least 50% orange or pink) OR a hat with at least 50% fluorescent orange or pink
The adult mentor must maintain physical control over the junior hunter at all times while hunting. This means the mentor and junior hunter must be close enough to talk without the aid of a radio and must be able to see each other
The State legislature will have to renew the law at the end of 2023. It is called a sunset provision. The intent is to have the opportunity to evaluate the safety provisions after three seasons to be sure they are adequate.
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Ontario County will follow suit with many other local counties in lowering the age for deer hunting this season.
The Board of Supervisors lowered the age from 14 to 12.
Before counties made the decision to lower the age, New York only allowed 12 and 13-year-olds to hunt with a bow and arrow. It was the only state with those rules.
In order to participate, the kids under the age of 14 must be supervised by a licensed hunter 21 or older who has minimally three years of hunting experience, they must remain on the ground and not in tree stands, and they may shoot deer but not bears.
Living near prime wildlife habitat means that at any given moment you might witness the astounding sight of great Vs of migratory ducks or cackling Canada geese flying right overhead. If you’re lucky, trumpeter swans might be among the waterfowl feeding and calling in the nearby estuary. And wood ducks or hooded mergansers might pay your inland pond a visit while searching for a quiet place to nest.
The downside of living near a natural wonderland? Being awakened Sunday morning at first light by the repeated volley of shotgun blasts, as though all-out war has been declared on all things avian (as is currently happening here this morning). The Elmers (hunters) out there (no doubt dressed in the latest expensive camo-pattern—a fashion statement apparently meant to impress the other Elmers out there) must be reveling in the fact that the dense morning fog allows them to “sneak” (in their loud outboard motor boats) up close enough to the flocks so that a large number of birds will end up dead, winged or otherwise wounded when they suddenly stand up and spray lead at all things avian or otherwise.
Duck hunting is the ultimate betrayal. It happens well into the winter, long after just about any other hunting season is over, when the birds are congregated in flocks on their wintering grounds.
And it happens often on lands supposedly set aside as wildlife “refuges.” Pro-kill groups like Ducks Unlimited (DU—an appropriate acronym that looks like an abbreviation for “duh”) insist that they have the animals’ best interests in mind. But when it comes right down to it, all they really want to preserve land for is to have a playground for killing. (Just listen to them scream if you try to propose a refuge closed to hunting.)
The other day, after the constant blasting of shotguns earlier that morning, I heard and saw a lone goose calling mournfully for his or her lost mate. It is not a game or a sport for the birds—for geese and their advocates it’s nothing short of heartbreak.
As you might have assumed by now, I’ve thought about the issue of sport hunting a heck of a lot over the years and I’ve long-since declared myself a staunch anti-hunter. Not only am I anti-hunting, anti-trapping, anti-whaling and anti-sealing, I’m anti any form of bullying that goes on against the innocents—including humans. I am not an apologist for the wanton inhumanity of hunting in the name of sport, pseudo-subsistence or conservation-by-killing. In fact, I’m not a fan of any society that allows or encourages such atrocities.
Most sport hunters meanwhile must be anti-wildlife, anti-wilderness, anti-nature and anti-competition, since they’re notoriously anti-cougar, anti-coyote and unquestionably anti-wolf. At the same time, they’re pro-killing, pro-death, and when it comes right down to it, pro-animal cruelty.
In my book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport, I spend an entire chapter probing “Inside the Hunter’s Mind.” Hence, I’m here to tell you it’s a dark and disturbing place in there—and no one divulges that better than the hunters themselves. Here are a couple of quotes from hunters waxing poetic on the thrills they get out of killing:
“I had wondered and worried how it would feel to kill an animal, and now I know. It feels — in both the modern and archaic senses — awesome. I’m flooded, overwhelmed, seized by interlocking feelings of euphoria and contrition, pride and humility, reverence and, yes, fear. The act of killing an innocent being feels — and will always feel — neither wholly wrong nor wholly right.”
A sentiment perhaps once shared by this other unabashed killer:
“You’re the last one there…you feel the last bit of breath leaving their body. You’re looking into their eyes and basically, a person in that situation is God! You then possess them and they shall forever be a part of you. And the grounds where you killed them become sacred to you and you will always be drawn back to them.”
Both quotes were from people who considered themselves hunters—men who stalked and killed innocent, unarmed victims. The first was taken from a New York Times article written by Bill Heavey, an editor at large for the “sportsman’s” magazine, Field and Stream. The second one triumphantly reliving his conquest was none other than the infamous Ted Bundy, as he sat on death row musing over his many murders to the authors of The Only Living Witness.
It seems that, whether the perpetrator is engaged in a sport hunt or a serial kill, the approach is similar. Though their choice of victims differs, their mindset and/or perhaps mental illness is roughly the same.
Even our former cold war enemy seems to be light years ahead of the U.S. in moving beyond the barbarity of hunting. Oleg Mikheyev, MP of the center-left Fair Russia parliamentary party, told the daily newspaper Izvestia just what I’ve been saying all along: “People who feel pleasure when they kill animals cannot be called normal.”
Mikheyev entered a draft law to ban most hunting in Russia and expressed his belief that hunting is unnecessary and immoral, regardless of whether one sees it as a sport, a pastime or an industry. According to the bill, forest rangers will still be allowed to hunt but must first pass a psychological test, which Mikheyev points out, “…can help us in early detection of latent madmen and murderers.” https://www.rt.com/russia/ban-game-hunting-total-164/ .
Here in the states, Heavey went on to write, “What ran in the woods now sits on my plate… What I’ve done feels subversive, almost illicit.”
Then why do it?
Though some hunters like Heavey may put on a show of innocuousness by temporarily eschewing guns and choosing to test their skill at bowhunting—arguably the cruelest kill method in the sportsman’s quiver—the typical American hunter sets out on their expeditions in a Humvee or some equally eco-inefficient full-sized pickup truck, spending enough on gas, gear, beer and groceries to buy a year’s supply of food, or to make a down payment on a piece of land big enough to grow a killer garden. Clearly the motive for their madness is more insidious than simply procuring a meal.
There’s been plenty of discussion about controlling weapons to hopefully stave off the next school shooting, but the media has been mute over the role hunting plays in conditioning people to killing. And the New York Times article is a shameful example of the press pandering to the 5 percent who still find pleasure in taking life. Do we really want to encourage 7.8 billion humans to go out and kill wildlife for food as if hunting is actually sustainable and wild animal flesh is an unlimited resource?
Overhunting has proven time and again to be the direct cause of extinction for untold species, including the passenger pigeon, the Carolina parakeet and the Eastern elk. Meanwhile, hunters out west are doing a bang-up job of driving wolves back to the brink of oblivion for the second time in as many centuries.
Heavey ended his Times article gloating, “I have stolen food. And it is good.” Like serial killers and school shooters, hunters objectify their victims; so insignificant are they to them that hunters don’t even recognize them for what they are—fellow sentient beings. Does somebody have to point out the obvious—he didn’t just steal “food,” he stole a life.
Most people are anthropocentric by nature and have little or no compassion for non-humans. To reach the average reader, the mainstream media tries to frame everything in the context of how it affects people. Keeping a record of hunting accidents may seem a rather morbid effort, but it’s a good way to remind the public about the lethal violence inherent in the “sport” of hunting. If a human doesn’t get maimed or killed once in a while, people continue to believe the misguided notion that hunting is just a friendly, social hour for traditional family-values proponents, “ethical” conservationists (claiming to be doing the animals a favor by killing them) or worse yet, those fashionable so-called locavore foodies who think of wildlife only as a source of flesh to stuff in their trendy, goateed, hipster gob.
Never mind that folks can get together in the out-of-doors to take a hike, watch birds or photograph wildlife—without taking any lives. No, hunting isn’t going to end because of a high hunter body count. Not unless those who survive are willing to teach others to learn from their mistakes and encourage them to lay down their weapons once and for all.
Okay, so maybe there’s sometimes more to sport hunting than just mindless plunking away at innocent, undeserving animals. Besides the selfish, sociopathic satisfaction they get out of snuffing out their fellow sentient beings, some hunters are also motivated by the prospect of eating the flesh of their conquests.
These so-called “sportsmen” (or women) are not starving or suffering in any way (outside of being burdened with an abnormally low self esteem) at the time they commit their offenses — they just have a hankering for something perversely pleasurable to them. Here’s a description, in a hunter’s own words, of how much he enjoyed consuming the flesh of a scarce, embattled trumpeter swan: “You would think it would be goosey, but it’s more ducky, tight grained, very flavorful. The fat was delicious. I plucked it all the way to the chin and used the neck as a sausage skin.” (From the article, “Utah hunters killed 20 rare trumpeter swans by accident this year. Here’s why that matters.”)
Clearly, some of these sport-eaters fancy themselves gourmets and may even pride themselves in their abilities to turn a deceased carcass into a delectable feast, but the same could probably have been said about Jeffery Dahmer and his unfortunate victims.
And the fictional serial killer (based on an actual doctor incarcerated in Mexico), Hannibal Lecter displayed typical hunter-bravado when he bragged to FBI agent Clarice Starling: “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.” Sorry to tell self-excusatory sportsmen and other unapologetic killers, murder does not magically become sacred once your victims’ flesh passes through your digestive tract.
But, everyone has a right to feed themselves and their family, don’t they? Well, does everyone—all of nearly 7.8 billion humans and counting—have the right to subsist off the backs of other animals when there are more humane and sustainable ways to feed ourselves? How many self-proclaimed “subsistence” hunters are willing to give up all their modern conveniences—their warm house, their car, their cable TV or their ever-present and attendant “reality” film crew—and live completely off the land like a Neanderthal? Not many, I’m sure—at least not indefinitely. That I can guarantee.
Deer, along with most other animal species—besides Homo sapiens, have built-in mechanisms that cause their reproduction rate to slow down when their population is high or food is scarce. Though state “game” departments are loath to share any information that might work against one of their arguments for selling hunting licenses, even they know that in reality the wildlife can ultimately take care of their own. According to the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, “A mule deer herd that is at or above the carrying capacity of its habitat may produce fewer fawns than one that is below carrying capacity.” https://docplayer.net/133460707-Of-nebraska-lincoln.html
The fact is, hunting encourages ungulates to reproduce more, thus seemingly warranting the alleged need for population controls via, you guessed it, more hunting.
Hunting industry propagandists have a lot of people convinced that culling is a necessary evil for controlling animal overpopulation. Lethal removal is their one-size-fits-all solution, no matter the circumstance. But there are always alternatives to that fatal fallback position. When we finally get past the viewpoint of animals as objects, or “property of the state,” and start to see them instead as individuals, the justifications for culling begin to wear thin.
Many places that provide habitat for healthy populations of deer could also support the natural predators who evolved alongside them. All that’s required of humans is to stay out of the way and let nature take its course, or, in some cases, repair the damage they’ve done by reintroducing wolves or other native carnivores who were foolhardily eradicated. Yet, in the western US and Alaska, as well as in Canada, natural predators are still being killed to allow deer, moose or elk hunters a better chance of success. While some people complain that these browsers and grazers have gotten too tame, hunters in states like Idaho and Montana are whining that wolves make the elk too wild and thus harder for them to hunt.
I tend to be even more cynical about areas where humans have claimed every square inch for themselves and aren’t willing to share with native grazers. When I hear grumbling about deer, elk or geese pooping on a golf course, I have a hard time relating to people’s grievances. It’s the height of speciesism to expect that these animals should face lethal culling for successfully adapting to an unnaturally overcrowded human world.
Ours is the invasive species, overpopulating and destroying habitats wherever we go. We wouldn’t want some other beings jumping to a knee-jerk “cull them all” reaction every time humans reached their carrying capacity in a given area.
Sooner or later Mother Nature will tire of humans’ destructive dominance and come up with a way to bring life back into balance. I can just hear her telling off the hunters: “Other animals have a right to be here too—just live with it, Elmers!”
Portions of this article were excerpted from the book, Exposing the Big Game: Living Targets of a Dying Sport by Jim Robertson.