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“We just voted down a referendum that would ban using bait to hunt bears,”Maine resident and TTAG reader Hobbez writes. One of the ban’s leading proponents was one Joel Gibbs [at start of video above]. “This Gibbs fellow was one of the leading crusaders against bear baiting,” Hobbez reports, “citing that it was ‘unfair’ and ‘cheating’ and ‘not how real hunters hunt’. Seems his idea of fair hunting is a bit skewed as he was arrested for shooting at a Ruffed Grouse out of the window of his truck in full view of a Game Warden. The hypocrisy of some of these folks amazes me sometimes. Oh, and I love how the paper sat on the story for two weeks and only released it late in the day before the election.”

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  1. So I guess I am the only one that thinks baiting and treeing are screwed up forms of hunting, especially considering it is trophy hunting and not subsistence hunting. Oh well.

    • Neither of those even count as hunting. Unless you are actively tracking the animal is is not hunting. It’s waiting and shooting. We seem to be some of the few people who actually want a hunt to be involved in hunting. To each their own.

        • Ralph, there are an awful lot of people who get their ideas of what hunting is and what hunting should be from cartoons and movies.

          Did everyone just /forget/ that the American Indians, who everyone considers to be some of the greatest hunters ever pretty much took game in any way they could with 30# bows?


        • subsistence hunting for meat and trophy hunting for sport are in no way equivocal and should not be treated as such. I am not a hunter myself, and I have no problem with responsible hunting, but limits need to be drawn on sport hunting. You will never see me complain about baiting feral hogs or taking deer for meat, but baiting a bear simply cause you want a new head on your wall is beyond what I and many people consider reasonable.

        • “subsistence hunting for meat and trophy hunting for sport are in no way equivocal”

          You seem to be of the misinformed opinion that ‘trophy hunting’ and ‘hunting for meat’ are mutually exclusive. This is what’s called a ‘false dichotomy.’ One can be both.

          The truth is that most people that hunt in the US are just “hunters.” Hunters don’t typically classify themselves as one or the other….usually because they are most technically described as both simultaneously.

          “I am not a hunter myself”

          This explains a lot of your comment.

          “I have no problem with responsible hunting, but limits need to be drawn on sport hunting.”

          Gee willikers that has a familiar, and distasteful, ring to it. Someone obviously ignorant (and even admittedly so) on a subject laying down opinions about restrictions after trying to soften the blow with an attempt at equivocation….where have I seen and heard that before, I wonder….

        • As JR_in_NC stated, people often (most of the time) hunt for sport and food. Very few people don’t use the meat they get from hunting for food (not sure if its illegal but in most places I think you are supposed to anyway).

          Even people trophy hunting in Africa gave the meat they couldn’t take to local villages.

        • Yes, Vhyrus, people eat bear. What, did you think they took the head and pelt and left the rest of the carcass to rot?

        • Vhyrus, I’d just stop typing if I were you.

          Seriously. I think I left a bruise with the last facepalm.

    • If the number of tags available is set as to keep the game population sustainable, who cares how they are taken? Why do you care how someone else does something?

    • As a hunter in NH, I have several Maine friends who hunt bear; not one of them hunts for the “trophy”, the cape is just a bonus, the bear meat is the real prize. It’s better, IMHO, than any other large game meat in this area.

      Additionally, baiting bear is the recommended method by the Maine Game Wardens and Dept of Wildlife. You are woefully uninformed if you think hunting involves walking through the woods and hoping to come across some game.

      • I’m iffy about baiting (specifically as it comes to things like deer) but, then again, I live in a state with a huge whitetail population. What I draw the line at is unattended traps. Having an animal suffer for a day or two because you can’t bother sit sit your ass in the woods for a half a day, or at least regularly check your traps isn’t right, and doesn’t conform with the tenets of being an ethical hunter.

        Your kill should be as quick and as clean as possible, and cause the briefest possible distress to the animal.

  2. Calls and lures are common in hunting. Since before the invention of gunpowder. Dogs were no doubt originally converted from wolves by thag and ogg to help with the hunting.

    Even in the era of modern firearms the animal has all the advantages. I miss a lot more quail than I bag. On many hunts I come up empty, even using all the advantages.

    Don’t get me started on being outfoxed by fish……

    • Being outfoxed by a fish is nothing to be embarrassed about. But being outfished by a fox, now that’s a real embarrassment.

    • This, exactly this.I don’t support legislation removing our right as hunters to use traditional methods to take game. Just like I don’t support regulation of firearms based on features I find distasteful… edit: responded to wrong post.

  3. It’s hard not to respond emotionally to that video and others like it. A lot of people DID respond, which made for a fairly close vote. If all you were voting on was this kind of perceived cruelty, it was a no-brainer. Fortunately, most people up here studied the issue at length and came to their own conclusions. A very big factor for the opposition was the fact that this referendum was paid for almost in its entirety by the Humane Society of the United States, and outside group that came here trying to change the way we do things in Maine. That group has said publicly that their ultimate goal is to ban all forms of hunting. Meanwhile, several respected animal biologists and control officers in Maine spoke out in opposition to the bill, insisting that the ban would actually make conditions more miserable for the bears as the population grew out of control and starvation began. Passage would have been the beginning of a complete erosion of hunting rights up here, and most clear thinking voters saw that. I don’t think it means they’re celebrating the painful death of any woodland creature. In fact, I know it, because that video makes me queasy and uncomfortable, yet I voted against the ban.

    • I would agree its all about the emotional response, like watching the ASPCA commercials I see on TV regularly showcasing horrible living conditions for domesticated animals(as a dog lover/trainer it hits me right in the feelz). The idea that population control is inhumane, is just another feel good progressive idea that doesnt take into account the actual factors it takes for a wild animal population to thrive.

    • “That group has said publicly that their ultimate goal is to ban all forms of hunting.”

      And, there you go. Slippery slope on display, folks.

      At least they are open enough about it to state it publicly. Good to see how they attempt to use emotion to meet their cause. See lots of parallels with grabbers in general in this little gem of a story.

      Even better that they were seen through.

    • Below is my attempt at the “cliff notes” on this issue.

      Maine has approx. 30,000 bears and approx. 3,000 must be hunted and killed in order to keep the population stable. If not, bear nuisance complaints and threats to humans get out of hand. Bears are very difficult to hunt. The success rate is only 10% by walking around the woods with a rifle. There is NO WAY that the needed hunt is possible using this method.

      Enter the baiting, trapping, and hounding hunting methods – which only have a 30% success rate (sounds pretty “sporting” to me). By the way, the traps are wire traps, not the jagged traps used many years ago.

      The Maine Wildlife service is nationally recognized for their bear research and they recognized that the only realistic way that the bear population can be kept within targets is via the hunting methods that would have been banned. They OPPOSED this initiative to ban bear baiting, trapping, and hounding.

      Oh by the way, if this initiative had passed – baiting, trapping and hounding would have continued – except that instead of it being done for “free” by hunters, the state would have had to hire professional hunters to cull the herd.

      I am actually proud that a majority of my fellow Mainers got informed on this issue and voted in an intelligent way to preserve these needed hunting techniques.

  4. You gotta be a special kind of stupid to do something like than in front of Mr Green Pants. Then again the GW has to have a certain sneakiness about him to actually be effective (are there female GWs? Never met one but I bet she would be a special breed indeed.)

    While I think fair chase is important, and have done the majority of my hunting from stand of some sort, stalking here and there when applicable, I still believe in hunting as humanely as possible. This includes not using maiming items like bear traps in this case and not taking shots you feel are going to end up with a gutshot deer dying in the woods that you may never find(maybe I need better tracking skills 🙂 ).

    Vermin eradication is a different story entirely when it comes to things like hogs and other animals destroying land/fences/crops/whatever you depend on to feed your family.

    On a side note, Ive never had bear meat, how is it? On another side note, damn I want to watch Jeremiah Johnson now.

    • I’ve had bear two or three times. Like anything else, its diet and how its prepared go a long way. Once was in a stew with rabbit and squirrel, which wasn’t too bad, and once was a patty that tasted just like sausage which was heaven.

      • Bear sausage is the best!
        And you are spot on with the bears diet. Over here, it doesn’t get cold enough for them to den up for long periods, and the fall has black berries, raspberries, huckleberries in abundance.
        Those berries definitely have a positive effect on the taste.

    • As I said in a previous comment, I think bear meat is the tastiest of the “big three” that we have up here in the northeast (deer, moose, bear). And as someone else has already pointed out, it makes the best sausage!

  5. the ban folks over reached and if they had just made it a matter of no hunting over a pile of bait they might have had a chance but they loaded their measure with a ban on trapping and a ban on hunting with dogs and then in a lot of their advertising somehow forgot to mention that they wanted anything more than a ban on shooting over a pile of bait… this basic dishonesty in both the over reach of the proposal and the selective focus of their advertising cost them. Fortunately the Maine game warden service and the state biologists took part in an aggressive counter campaign that showed the truth of the matter

  6. No problem with baiting…wish we could do it here in my state. I do have a problem with snares and traps…goal is to humanely harvest, not let the critter suffer for hours in terror. Maine bear hunting over bait is fine…trapping big game over bait is just not right in this day and age of non-subsistence food availability. Don’t like chasing with dogs either, but at least the game not in pain the whole time, and usually quickly shot when treed.

    • How do you think biologists capture bears to tag and study? They use the same traps/snares as hunters. This is because the bear can be released unharmed. It also allows for release when a hunter traps a sow with cubs or a young bear that he/she doesn’t want to harvest.

  7. Did anyone pay attention to the “bait” they used in the video? Donuts! They were using Donuts! How can this be legal? How many innocent donut munchers have been caught in these diabolical traps? What do these “hunters” do when they check their trap and realize they have caught the wrong kind of bear? Do they even check for wide brimmed hats?

    Bambi and Yogi are cartoon characters that bear no relation to critters in the woods. Bears are not noble savages, really bad things happen to people when bear populations are not kept in check. I can barely imagine a bear cares if it is killed in a sporting fashion. Dead is dead.

  8. Its funny, but when i hear baiting, i think of the historical practice of taking a captive bears and siccing dogs on them. Needless to say its been illegal for decades so the title here confused me

    • There’s an old story about the Pilgrim forefathers abolishing the practice of bear baiting, wherein the local dogs were allowed to torment a chained bear. The religious leaders banned this “sport,” not because of the pain it inflicted on the bear, but because of the pleasure it afforded the spectators.

      • That would fit with puritan actions during the commonwealth era, I’m pretty sure it was on crommwell’s list


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