March update and thoughts on hunting.

It’s been a typical March here in New Hampshire with the late season Nor’ Easter’s dumping 26 inches of heavy, wet snow and sub zero temps following.  The fox are in the dens, and the sap is making it’s second good run of the season.  Unfortunately, the last cold snap we had froze and split 10 of our 150 buckets, but we think we can repair them with some tin solder.  It looks like another good week of boiling before the maple buds come out, so it should be a good syrup season overall.  I plan on making maple sugar again this year because  we find that it is good in most recipes to replace processed sugar and that has been a goal over the last year.

The ice fisherman are still at it where the ice is accessible.  My friends Randy and Mike are pushing record numbers with the Lake trout (togue) they have been jigging up this year.  Randy Rod Co. makes handcrafted ice fishing rods that come in a variety of models.  He makes a “Laker Taker” that is good for the deeper jigging that has some clandestine back bone but has an ultra-sensitive tip.  My favorite is the “Spicy Noodle” that we use for jigging saltwater smelt up in Maine.  My friend Big Al and I had a good season up there but it always is too short with ice conditions being what they are. You can check out the Randy Rod on YouTube and Instagram on his channel Randy Rod Co.

I was hoping to get in some last minute snowshoe hare  hunting as the season goes until March 31st, but with the boiling of sap and work it doesn’t look like I will get the chance.  It’s hard to believe with the number of coyotes we have now there are any snowshoe hare left, but they still seem to be in decent numbers as compared to 20 years ago.  Rabbit populations do cycle for one reason or another. The development of land and loss of habitat is probably the biggest reason for it.  There have been some programs in neighboring states to reintroduce the cottontail and there seems to be some success at it.  It is hard to imagine any wildlife reintroduction program ever being more successful  than the wild turkey.  When I was a kid back in the 70’s there were none at all.  Now you can’t go out in your car and not see a flock of these things.  Its a good thing but some think we are getting overrun with them and its hard to disagree.

Many hunters and non-hunters think the state should allow more birds to be harvested. Change like this comes slowly when it has to be passed through legislature.  A good example of that is the grey squirrel, the Sciurus carolinensis (grey squirrel), was protected in some counties for decades.  I don’t think anyone would disagree that there was no shortage of these tree rats, and it was hard to believe you couldn’t hunt them. It was too bad because they are great eating and it gets the younger generation into hunting and that value of hunting is learned and passed on.

Its a tough pill for some to swallow, but without ethical hunting the wildlife would be endangered or extinct.  It is the hunter/sportsman that support the wildlife habitat.  Without programs funded by hunters  the animals wouldn’t be managed properly and would exceed the carrying capacities of areas leading to either nuisance issues or starvation. This is an age old argument, but fact is, without the tradition of hunting and harvesting the wildlife suffers.  I also have to mention again, this only works when done ethically.  The same goes as far as fur bearers.  It makes more sense  to harvest an animal ethically and make use of it than to let the species get overrun,  become a nuisance to people in sub-developments, have the habitat destroyed, and ultimately abolish the species.  Fur harvesting is under fire across the country and better education needs to be in place to promote the ethical harvesting of wildlife.

I have always felt, personally, if you ethically harvest an animal from the wild and make 100% use of it,  that animal has had a far better life than one raised for human consumption.  There is no peaceful end in the wilderness.  Death comes hard and  is not always swift.  Its a very emotional issue for many, and even worse as the generations get further removed from the tradition of the hunter/gatherer.

This is just my personal opinion and nothing else.  I have seen a change in lifestyle over the last few decades and I wonder where its all going.  The truth  is that wildlife shouldn’t live behind fences, and we as humans need to live with it.  I have learned a few things about animal habitat, food source, reproduction and the carrying capacities that are necessary to support wildlife and I learned it all through hunting them.

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