As a rule most of us — even those who try to stay informed — learn about new state laws after the fact.

It’s the nature of the beast. If you quit your job and became a total recluse holed up in a cave with nothing but an I-Pad, a year’s supply of energy bars, and an internet connection, you still couldn’t keep up with what goes on at the state legislative level.

Many folks I know have simply given up trying to stay up to speed with state law-making activity. I try to at least keep abreast of lawmaking activity that impacts Maine outdoor folks. Increasingly, though, stuff gets by me.

For example, I just learned that this year Augusta lawmakers enacted far-reaching changes in the state any-deer permit system. This was the first I had heard of it. Credit goes to George Smith for dredging up this well-kept secret and sharing it with his readers.

Here it is, in two parts:

1. This fall, licensed junior hunters will be allowed to shoot a deer of either sex anytime during the entire deer season if they are hunting in a wildlife management district that issues any-deer permits. Heretofore, they could only take a doe on the one designated Youth Day.

2. Starting in 2014, 25 percent of the allocated any-deer permits will be issued to Junior hunters.

The underlines are mine, because I think that this is a biggie!

You can’t help but wonder if Augusta policymakers, either at IF&W or the legislature, thought this one through.

Oh, it is at first glance a lofty sounding act of social engineering: Attract more youthful hunters to the fold. If you study that math, as Smith has done, this is just an extention of the slicing and dicing of the entire any-deer permit system.

Lawmakers have used the any-deer allocations as a sort of bribe; a carrot to atttract Super-Pack licensees, nonresidents, landowners, and now, junior hunters.

According to Smith, there was a time not so long ago that resident Maine hunters got 84 percent of the any-deer permits.

Mathematically speaking, the question becomes 84 percent of what? With Maine’s deer shortage in many areas of the state, a majority of the any-deer permits are issued in only five wildlife management districts: 15, 17, 20, 21 and 23. Of course, in many WMDs there are no doe permits issued at all.

Thanks to some consecutively mild winters, the deer are recovering. This fall IF&W will issue 46,710 any-deer permits. This is significantly higher than last year’s allocations.

In the fall of 2014, all things being equal, resident hunters, willingly or unwillingly, will be receiving far fewer any-deer permits. Smith’s math suggests that under the new apportionment of any-deer permits, landowners and junior hunters will be getting about half of the resident allocations.

Smith stops short of having an opinion about this change. As for me, I’m on the fence. When I was a junior hunter, I didn’t need preferential treatment from state lawmakers to keep me interested in deer hunting. I guess I really don’t mind giving up my any-deer permit position in the lottery line to a young hunter ( I never draw one anyway).

As an outdoor writer, though, I’m still trying to figure out how this one was kept beneath the radar. Or was I asleep at the switch?

V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide, co-host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors” heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network (WVOM-FM 103.9, WQVM-FM 101.3) and former information officer for the Maine Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. His e-mail address is [email protected] . He has two books “A Maine Deer Hunter’s Logbook” and his latest, “Backtrack.”


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