My column on a legislative discussion to allow nonresidents to hunt on the first day of the firearms season on deer stirred a lot of people up, on both sides of the issue. But the majority fell on the side of no, no, a thousand times no.
Let’s start with my Sportsmen Say Survey question: Should nonresidents be allowed to join residents on the opening day of the firearms season on deer? A total of 337 people answered the survey so far, with 60 percent (202) saying no, 38 percent (129) saying yes, and 2 percent (6) undecided. Actually, it surprised me that more than 1/3 are willing to share opening day with nonresidents.
Some of them may have family members who live in other states that they wish could join them for an opening day hunt. Yes, some nonresidents are members of our families! And some are landowners who allow us to hunt on their property, even on opening day when they are not allowed to hunt there.
And that’s where the legislature’s Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee started, with LD 609, a bill that called for reduced hunting license fees for nonresidents who own 250 acres of more and allow residents to hunt there. The committee has discussed lowering the acreage to 25, and the possibility of just letting all nonresidents hunt on the first day of the firearms season on deer.
While some of the comments posted after my column were brutal, and some were very simple yes and no answers, here are a few of the more thoughtful comments.
Shawn Groder: I bought a 2016 nonresident license in Kansas last month, and am allowed all the opportunities that residents are, just at a higher price. I was displaced due to a military career. I grew up in Maine and was even lucky enough to be stationed here. Loring’s closure moved me on to my next assignment. I retired and live out of state, but love to come back and hunt with my family. But all I can do on opening day is sit on the couch.
Troy Frye: After reading this article, there is more to this than just saying yes or no to the non-residents. I personally have no problem with the out-of -state hunters joining us on the first Saturday of deer season. I very seldom run into other hunters where I hunt. People need to remember that non-resident hunters account for less than 15% of our deer harvest each year. I would be interested in knowing what our Maine Guides think about this issue and how it will affect them.
Richard Whiting: I’ve never understood the “residents only” day. Are we really such poor hunters that we need that first day advantage? Many “out-of-staters” areMaine natives returning to hunt for a week or two, having moved away for decent jobs to support their families.
Mike Walsh: If their land is open to hunting and fishing, they should be allowed to hunt on opening day and pay the same price as a resident to hunt or fish.
Hesa Olewheezer: Yes they should – all 10 or 20 of them! This is an old law from back in the days when the State actually attracted out of state sportsmen in droves. Like the Springsteen song: Those days are gone boys and they ain’t comin back. Get rid of it. It’s an embarrassment.
Michael Rioux summed it all up nicely, for those who oppose this: There are 25 days this year for deer season. On 24 of those days nonresidents can hunt. Twenty of those days are working days when the majority of residents will be working to put food on the table, not hunting. The vast majority of nonresident hunters take time off to come to Maine to hunt and are not typically Saturday hunters like most of the resident hunters. I am not sure why one extra day for nonresidents is a big issue unless you are a sporting camp owner or make money in some form from the nonresident hunter.
I hear the argument about the nonresident who owns property and does not post it but what about the nonresident who posts his property from residents but continues to hunt there?? And the argument about the nonresident seeing a resident hunter taking a buck off his land on the resident only day is no different than the resident landowner seeing a nonresident hunter taking a deer off his property on the days he has to work. Let’s save one day that the resident hunter can call their own.
I really enjoyed Bud Simpson’s humorous response: I think non-resident licenses should have the same privileges as resident. I think Sunday hunting should be permitted. After all, there aren’t enough deer for everyone now. If that doesn’t work, let’s license night hunters, too. Let’s get them deer killed off as quick as we can so we can all stay at home and enjoy a good TV show! Oh, I forgot, There aren’t too many of those left, either. Well, there’s always jig-saw puzzles.
Tomorrow, I expect the IFW Committee will make a decision on this issue. Should be interesting! And I’ll be there to let you know what that decision is.
If you haven’t answered my Sportsmen Say Survey question, you can do that now, here.