Monday, February 10, 2014

February 10, 2014 Deer feeding-politics-issues in general

The other day, in the news-tribune, there was an article about winter severity and statistics from other years and whether or not people should be feeding deer.  Wolves were also discussed and whether or not they have an impact on the deer population.  Do you have to wonder if some of the people writing this stuff have any idea, whatsoever, they are talking about!
Granted......there is always going to be discussion on whether or not to feed deer.  I guess that would depend, largely, on where you live.  I happen to live in a place where I have the shelter, running fresh water year around, browse and open area.  They have places to rest or to play.  They also are nicely supplemented with alfalfa and corn.  What's not to like as long as you have a healthy herd.  By watching deer hunting statistics, I see that our area consistently has heavier weight deer than just about any other area of the state.  Some areas have bigger antlers.....but, we consistently win in weight categories.  The deer can have some pretty serious issues to contend with up here so they have to be healthy and strong.  There also are a number of people that feed deer in the winter in this area.  I think maybe that could tell you something about if it does some good.
Then, of course....there is the mind set that .....well, if they die, or be it.  Maybe they shouldn't be here.  Well, they have been around ever since I was a kid.  Some of the people that have moved into this area haven't.  I, personally, don't like seeing starving animals.  So, if they are started on good food to supplement their diet early in the winter...they won't get so run down.  Plus, they won't eat every tree and shrub around your house either.
Then, there are other issues thrown into the equation.  Hunting, for one.  If people shoot hundreds or thousands of deer every year.....while, for many years, completely protecting the can you think this is a good deal for the animals?  The wolves also kill deer to make a living.  If no one is keeping them in check, you have another thing taking down the deer herd.  Of course, there is also all the road kill.  So...I just have to say, if we have so many issues to reduce their numbers.....maybe helping the ones that are around isn't such a bad thing.
Another issue: logging.  I have NOTHING against logging, let me be clear about that from the start.  What many of you don't know is that logging brings deer onto the job sites in the winter.  They have downed trees to browse on....given it is the right kind of trees.  The site is packed down by equipment so they can get around easily.  However, so can the wolves.  It also brings them to the site to get the more readily accessible deer because they too can move around more easily.  Go talk to a logger or two and find out how many have watched wolves watching them work on their site.  Or, maybe they were working on a piece of equipment to look up and find a wolf standing there staring at them.  Or, maybe they had to throw a binder at them and jump in the truck because it was standing right there.   The wolves are a big part of the deer herd numbers equation.  I am quite pleased they finally put a season back on wolves.  Wolves having some respect for people again is a good thing.  It most certainly keeps them safer, in the long run, if they stay out of people's yards. 
What I don't like is people from the cities or the big monied conservation groups saying what we can or can't do about them.  They aren't living with the animals and probably have never even had a close encounter with them.  If they don't know anything about the issue, they shouldn't have a say.  Then, sometimes people making the rules don't know what they are talking about either.  There is so much cronyism going on in politics these days.....I don't guess I even better start on that one.  The best person for the job isn't necessarily the one that gets it.  Somebody gets a plum job because of who helped who in the last election or because they need a person of color or a woman or whatever other quota they need.  We need the "best qualified" people for the jobs, in them.  Period.
How many of you have ever been out in the woods and had close up and personal interactions with a timber wolf or a pack of them?  What can you tell me about them from first hand experience?
I have had a good many, starting when I was 16 years old.  I have had them throughout my entire life.  Sometimes it was one or two wolves.  Sometimes it was 12 or 13 in a pack.  Then, a lot of other times it was 4-6, which is an average size pack around here.  Heck, one year I was trying my hand at bow hunting bears.  I had a bucket of honey out as an attraction for them.  I was sitting in a stand and a pack of wolves came in and were circling.  They came back a second time that evening too.  It was a bit disconcerting to have that many large wolves around, near dark, knowing you had a ways to walk back to your truck.
Or....out deer hunting.....heading into the wind....hear a sound....look to your right and there is a wolf going same direction 25 yards away, another behind you and another to your left.  Then, you wonder, how many more aren't you seeing.....
Or, out on an outcrop of rock surveying your kingdom...and 12 wolves go walking by right below you....
Or, the time you are sitting in your deer stand toward evening and you can hear the pack on the ridge getting closer and closer to you.  It's a ways home in the dark and you can't see them then.  Do you leave now or wait to see them go by. 
Or, out walking the dog on a county July, and meet 7 of them on the road.  You grab your dog and get it on a leash, first of all....then what? 
I could go on and on......this is only a small sampling of my wolf interactions.  I haven't even gotten to some of the most up close and personal experiences....
So, just maybe I might know something about how wolves in the "wild" act around people.  I have to say, after all these years......I have not lost a dog to them or been attacked.  I have been very very close to many of them.  I have had some very intense moments.  But, I never had to shoot one of them in any of those circumstances or any of the others I haven't mentioned.  But, I don't honestly 100% trust them not to do that. goes back to if we have seasons and predations on one animal, the others have to have something to keep them in check too.  If the deer need some extra food in a hard winter, give it to them.  The wolves will get their share, you can be sure of that.  It isn't a "Bambi" world out there where all the critters get along just fine.....  But, we live in a real where humans interfere and the natural balance isn't kept.  So, unless it is.....feed the critters if they need it.


  1. I'm thinking this winter will be hard on the deer. So much snow is hard for the deer to move around in, but easier for the wolves to stay on top of.
    We have packs of Timbers that come to the corners of our pastures. We also have a donkey that moves our cattle out of harm's way. Many neighbors have lost calves to wolves in the last couple of years. I haven't had near the experiences you've had with the wolves. Sounds like heart pumping adventures.

  2. I agree with all you say, Sandy. Plus, I don't know of anyone who has been out and about among the critters of nature more than you have.