“Excessive population growth can reduce output per worker, stifle the living standards of the masses, and lead to conflict.” Confucius (552-479)
“The hungry world cannot be fed until and unless its resource growth and population growth balance. Every man and woman and every nation must make conscientious and political decisions in the face of this great problem.” Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973)
The other day, when the summer heat, even in the shade of the great oak tree, was too oppressive for dogs and humans; I came across an article in the legacy outdoor press about deer hunter numbers being in a state of prolonged decline. The ‘get-you-to-read-on’ line continued with; “Combine that with a lack of natural predators and you get an increase in the whitetail population, leading to the need for new tactics to manage deer populations.”
I was instantly hooked and confused. So, I was blindly mistaken in reading in the boredom of air conditioning. Thank goodness you don’t have to pay to read silly stuff like this.
It was obvious that the author knew little, if any, about our local plethora of natural predators that manage to keep our Tennessee deer herds in some kind of symbiotic balance.
Why do we have black bears scratching women and children out of tents in the Smoky Mountains, bears dragging 90-year-old moms and grandmothers from East Tennessee off cool nighttime porches? Every deer hunter in this state knows very well that we have bears roaming around and decimating our corn feeders and killing fawns by the hundreds.
And, certainly, there is no one, no one, paid wildlife manager brave enough to count how many deer are mercilessly killed by mountain lions around here. Especially, after years of denial by TWRA officials that our top predators, the deer, the cougar, can’t or won’t swim in the Mississippi River.
That reminds me of “old Roy Blount’s” line when he asked the good old man; “Do you think there are panthers in Tennessee? believe it? @#$%, I’ve seen the photos!”
By far our most efficient natural local predator of deer is probably another unprecedented but surprising phenomenon. Around these parts, exactly how many Ford F 150s on our roads are eaten or seriously injured by deer?
So ruling out the authors’ obvious failure to investigate our local predator management strategy to control our deer herd, I read on and found that he was actually talking about some problem with booming deer populations in the Northeast. Specifically; the great state of New Jersey.
Why was I surprised? Who would have thought that state had problems?
Apparently, the state of New Jersey has an estimated deer density ranging from 60 to 239 deer per square mile, according to the New Jersey Farm Bureau.
I tried to imagine a New Jersey Farm Bureau agent trying to count 239 deer contained in a square mile. I could not do it! So I kept reading while laughing. The Farm Bureau recommended an optimal deer density that should be in the range of 10 to 15 deer per square mile.
It’s pretty easy to conclude that most people in New Jersey just can’t afford a good used Ford F 150. It’s equally easy to assume that our local mountain lions and bears are more than happy and well-fed enough to stay here and help with our local deer density nightmare. Why would a panther worth his salt from East Tennessee want to walk all the way to New Jersey?
The author went on to explain that less than one percent of the New Jersey population has a hunting license. Who would have guessed?
It’s probably because they don’t know how to own or drive trucks, or some other kind of weird northeastern problem. For example, no self-respecting New Jersey Uber driver will strap their dead deer to the hood of their Uber and drive you and your trophy across town to the nearest checkpoint.
So Jersey’s cool wildlife officials are looking at non-lethal options like fencing and spaying instead of handing everyone a used truck when they buy a deer tag.
They didn’t really ask me, but if I were asked; I think it might actually help those confused New Jersey wildlife officials with their booming deer dilemma.
Why not sell a ‘deer only’ hunting license and have wildlife managers pay each successful Jersey deer hunter who harvests a bountiful deer between 50 and 75 cents per pound of meat? Wildlife officials could process the animals and ship the venison to people who never had a chance to eat venison. Could officials then charge meat-hungry consumers half the price of what they would pay for steaks at the grocery store?
I’m sure the association of beef producers in Brazil and Mexico would howl for a while at this new deer population management strategy, but who cares? Has a pound of hamburger been trading in Jersey lately?
I’ll bet you money that more than half the gangsters in Jersey would suddenly become law-abiding market hunters overnight. They might even invest in a good used F 150. The key word here is pure profit. Everyone gets fat on this deal, especially where there is a potential 239 deer per square mile.
Like I said, if you ask me, this is what looks like a pretty solid business model to me. Especially if you look at the cost of spaying 239 deer per square mile, or the cost of buying a fleet of F150s.
Inflation, inflation, inflation.
That brings me back to a local squirrel management issue. It happens that there is a problem of squirrel density locally. No, I haven’t counted them, unless you count the ones that haven’t recently survived 410. But I must admit I’ve lost count of the ones that haven’t recently attacked plums, pears, and tomatoes. People, we have a serious problem here.
TWRA probably has a solid foundation for its rules on when it’s legal and illegal to kill a Silver Queen corn squirrel. But, I really don’t care at this point. This squirrel population boom has reached the breaking point here. It’s gotten to the point between me and the chipmunks that I’m willing to stand before a cranky old judge and a wannabe district attorney and plead self-defense.
I’ve reached that point between potentially spending a hard time in the county jail and applying sound but marginally illegal management tactics to eliminate the booming squirrel population that exploits locally.
I never once considered trying squirrel spaying. Leave that all-too-bizarre concept to a guy named Christie and the rest of the official wildlife management geniuses in Jersey.
Sometimes, when I get rid of the local squirrel population explosions, I have a tendency to fall into a state of melancholy. In hindsight, I am concerned and a little sad that he was not the type of person to keep more sophisticated and detailed records.
Sometimes when I look back on the days when I was unleashed with a .22 rifle, I think it would be more than fascinating to be able to count exactly how many squirrels I accomplished in the name of preventing pear and corn population explosions by eating furry tails. .
Those were the days when chipmunks were the only big game available. True trophies, down to the last. I had so many furs, with mustaches and tails, pinned to my bedroom wall, that for a time in those days my mother flatly refused to clean my room.
She said all the dead squirrels, plastered to every square inch of the trophy room wall, gave her a massive case of the chills.
So this ‘clean your own room @#$% phenomenon’ went on for a short period of time. Yes, very short-lived.
I never really understood what exactly made it explode, it just broke one day.
I had seen this kind of ‘lose your head the moment your hat falls off’ before, but this day was a little different from any before in particular, during the edge moment, I had endured it with my mother.
The snakes in the house seemed to give him this kind of exaggerated hysteria quite often.
I walked home one night to find my prodigious pile of gray trophies and fox squirrel pelts sitting on my front steps in a large crate of A&P apples. The destroyed stack of trophy room exhibits was attached with a malevolent note.
The rather petty note read as follows;
“You can’t get into this @#$% house until you get rid of all the @#$% rat skins! PS I’m putting toothpaste in all the holes in the plaster and painting the walls. Go somewhere else to sleep tonight. I don’t care @#$%# where!”
I called my fellow hunters from the North Chattanooga Squirrel Killing and Expeditionary Society (NCSKES) and we spent the night in our hideout smoking rabbit tobacco in corncob pipes and trying to figure out how to steal beer from whatever dad’s cold brew supply. member of the Society. . One particular fat member with a good reputation bet us all the knives we had that he could turn farts into flames. I lost my best Barlow that night.
I made a rather stylish vest out of my most prized trophy squirrel fur. I hid it in the garage to keep my mom from slipping over the edge again. Tails for fringe really made the outfit perfect. It was a true masterpiece of fashionable outdoor outerwear.
There were a couple of minor issues with the fancy new garment. The vest seemed to attract a considerable amount of attention from the large dogs that would bite when you passed these vicious animals on a bike.
This vicious dog handling problem was quickly solved by placing a doorknob in a sock and applying it quite forcefully to the cranial part of the slowest of the huge dogs who seemed to be so thoroughly and savagely irritated by the sporty, fringed outerwear . NCSKES members dubbed this new sporting challenge ‘dog polo’. It caught on pretty quickly.
I don’t remember how the vest ended its days. That’s another sad regret I have with my poor record keeping habit.
I slowly began to realize that the squirrel sports vest also had a weird repelling factor when it came to my more than feeble attempts to impress the young ladies in the neighborhood.
I noticed that these shy and slippery young women seemed to yell a lot and slam doors in my face when I showed up. Standing on their porch, I could clearly hear them screaming inside the house as they excitedly yelled to their mothers that I was out on the porch, all covered in rats.
They begged their mothers to quickly bring daddy’s shotgun and save me from this terrible attack by a swarm of out of control eating vermin.
I never realized that these naive, sweet-smelling young women with pink ribbons in their hair simply didn’t understand the complexity of modern wildlife management tactics designed to address squirrel population explosions, the real hunt for trophies and the call of the wild. .
I can’t remember what happened to that old vest. It was a thing of sheer sartorial beauty.
A note from the WOMR:
Growing food is simply too much work to donate to a squirrel. That’s a fair enough motto.
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