This time of year most outdoorsy people are focused on fishing, camping, outdoor boil-ups and the like, but the deadline is fast approaching to file your big game applications for the fall 2012 hunt.
The hunting and trapping guides were a bit late coming out this year, at least that’s the way it seems to me. If I recall correctly, they once showed up in the mailbox around late February or early March. The days were short and hunters could pass away cold blustery nights perusing the stats on moose and caribou hunting areas. You could take your sweet time deciding which area and what type of licence to apply for, cutting only into your fly-tying or TV time.
This time of year there’s so much to do, and the days are getting longer. Most of us are out and about after the work day is ended. There’s lots of fishing and yard work to do on the weekends.
Many domesticated hunters have already given the lawn a cut or two. With all the rushing about, for heaven’s sake don’t forget to file your big game return by June 1. That’s the deadline and they must have received it by that date before the close of business hours. Postmarked on June 1st just won’t cut it.
Most of us these days are applying for our licences online on the provincial wildlife division’s website. It’s mighty convenient for both hunters and those civil servants handling and processing the applications.
Imagine the paperwork before the draw was taken over by computers. There are 32,810 sets of moose tags being issued for the fall 2012 hunt. That’s a lot of names to draw out of a hat. I guess that’s why the application process once started in mid-winter but nowadays is left until May. Once all the applications are in, the whole licence-issuing process likely takes only a few hours. The time-consuming part is physically putting the tags and paperwork in envelopes and mailing the packages to us.
I bet the guys and gals working at wildlife get mighty irritated by the analogs amongst us who still send in the old-fashioned paper applications. They have to transfer manually all your scribbles to the computer so it can include you in the digital draw.
The geek hunters who use the Internet to apply send their information directly to the computer. But maybe I’m wrong on thinking there’s no love for the analogs. They might be creating a job or two while the rest of us are putting people out of work. I’m not sure on this one but either way you can’t ebb the flow of technology.
I see one huge practical advantage to applying online. You will never have your application rejected for making dumb mistakes, omissions or oversights. The computer will correct you along the way and not permit you to submit your application until it is filled out correctly with all the necessary choices and information. Paper applications will be rejected if you leave out licence type or other pertinent information. Maybe you make your 2s like 7s and could end up getting a licence for the wrong area. None of this can happen online. But if you have had a bad experience with the online process, please let me know.
I was hoping to get a moose licence this season. I’m in pool 5 and my favourite area, Bay de Verde, drew bull-only tags all the way down to pool 5 individual last year. The last moose licence I had was back in 2000, having spent much of the past decade hunting caribou on the Cape Shore.
Since our disastrous caribou decline I’ve been patiently waiting for a moose licence in the area where I have my small backwoods cabin. I’ve been hankering for a relaxing home turf moose hunt. But I might be sadly disappointed. It seems that for some unexplained reason the quota for Bay de Verde has been cut from 650 down to 500 permits. That’s a decrease of 23 per cent in one year. Does this mean there are proportionally fewer moose in the area? I don’t know. For whatever reason the cut is made and I might have to wait one more year for my long anticipated hunt.
Actually, Bay de Verde isn’t the only area on the Avalon Peninsula that’s had its quota cut. Licences have been reduced on the Cape Shore by 50 and Placentia by 300. Salmonier, St. John’s and the Southern Shore remain the same as last year. In total, that’s 500 fewer opportunities to hunt compared to last season.
With the caribou depleted on both the Cape and Southern Shores, it’s going to be much tougher to draw a tag. I can only assume that hunters who once chased woodland caribou over the barrens are now attempting to fill the freezer with moose.
I’m puzzled because there seems to be plenty of moose on the Avalon. At least that’s the way it appears from an anecdotal perspective. Around our cabin, the moose are as plentiful as ever, judging from our own looking about with binoculars and photos captured on our network of trail cameras. And if you listen to the radio, you will certainly hear of numerous moose sighted on our roads — more than ever it seems to me. But maybe our wildlife managers have more scientific data on which their decisions were based. I’m going to ask if I can get the right person on the phone.
If the decision to cut quotas was solely based on hunter success rates, I have a bone to pick. So many people in this area obtain a licence and don’t even bother to set foot in the woods. Yes that’s right; they don’t make the least effort to fill their tags.
Many of us wait years for a chance to hunt and others draw a permit and have little or no interest. They might muster a bit of energy and drive the roadside for a morning or two and then call it quits. I can name dozens of armchair moose hunters.
Then there are those who try and get others to illegally shoot a moose for them. Those individuals are clearly only in the draw for the meat. All this makes it more difficult for hard core and dedicated hunters to get a licence more than once or twice a decade.
My point is that the success rate isn’t necessarily a clear indication of population dynamics, at least not in my neck of the woods.
Paul Smith, a native of Spaniard’s Bay,
fishes and wanders the outdoors at every opportunity. He can be contacted at