BLACK HILLS SPORTSMEN CLUB
The Newsletter of the Black Hills Sportsmen and Sportswomen
Mission Statement: To promote the conservation, sound management, and sustainable use of wildlife and wildlife habitat and to protect the privilege of sportsmen to hunt and fish through advocacy and education.
___________________________________ ~ Happy December ~
So far so good on the weather front. I currently do not see any super cold weather or snow situations on the horizon. I will be honest, the geese around my stomping grounds have not shown up yet as a result of this good weather. I guess that's a fair trade off, geese or good weather...hmm? Standing in the creeks fishing in my summer waters is a good compromise! As everyone knows, this has been a wild year for everybody. However, that does not mean we don’t also have major issues affecting the sportsmen and women of this state. The Black Hills Sportsmen Club is working to ensure our club has a voice and we are representing the sportsmen interest even in these wild times. I can assure you we are staying on top of the larger upcoming issues facing our industry. We understand that without regular meetings and get togethers it is becoming harder to expand support for our club. This is why it’s still extremely important that we maintain strong membership numbers to help us retain our voice locally and statewide regarding the sportsmen and women issues. In the next few months we are going to be pushing hard for memberships, it's going to be tricky without the in person contact we are used to. The club has created an extremely easy way to renew or sign up for a membership though our website: "https://blackhillssportsmenclub.com/." It takes just a couple of minutes and allows your voice to be heard regarding the issues you care about. Just follow the link and renew your membership and sign up a buddy! If we can get you renewed, it takes you off Santa Jeff's naughty list he creates this time of year of people we need to chase down! As of right now we are planning on being able to start up our luncheon meetings towards the Spring if all goes well. We are looking for anyone who would like to write in the newsletter! This includes, but is not limited to, telling a hunting story, fall experiences, pictures, or maybe you are just working on something cool. All you have to do is type up a quick story and email it to me at email@example.com and I will get it in the next newsletter!!
-Cody Hodson, President
~ Current News ~
The SAH board knew it would be a challenging year; the GFP has required testing in certain areas and SAH has required testing for all deer harvested WR. I have butchered two antelope and one doe so far with a cow elk hunt next month. Enough meat for me, so Avery and I donated our two mule deer bucks. I removed the lymph nodes myself and took it to the region one office after filling out the online form. You can take out lymph nodes yourself, store the quarters and straps in your own fridge (34 degrees), and deliver to the processor when the test comes back negative. They send it in to the facility for testing and the results are posted on your personal page on the GFP web site, it took five days and it is pretty slick. You simply go the page where you apply for licenses and the results show up. I will have to pick up the burger and deliver to the food bank myself. Cutting Edge are only taking deer that are skinned already and if you want to donate to SAH, in addition, they will only take deer that have already tested negative. SAH was not aware of the processor making these changes; this is not the way SAH set up the process but it appears that this is the only system that will work 100% at this point! That being said, I encourage hunters that want to donate to pull their own sample as option number one (it is very easy once you watch a YouTube video or two). You can drop it off or send it in yourself, but you must package it with ice. Region One can pull the sample for you, I just dropped the head off at the drop location at the outdoor campus, but you will not get results posted on the website if you do it that way. You will need to call for results or they may call you, storage is the issued on all options. I have a large two door commercial fridge, which does work out nicely because the processor does not have room to store a carcass waiting for test results. We had our deer made into burger before testing came back. If it came back positive, it was up to me to discard or keep but I could not donate it. Remember with bucks you have to pay for the processing regardless of donating. Western Buffalo and Spidle's is doing things different than Cutting Edge. I would call them before you go to donate. Things may change but this is the future I see for donating to SAH. In addition, feeding SD will pick up burger at the processors. Is this the kiss of death to our program? No, but it is hard on it. Last year, almost 70% of our donations came from City Deer and GFP harvest animals. Regardless, every deer we get can feed many people in need. We will continue to work on an easier process, but in the mean time I really hope sportsmen will step up to the plate and take these extra steps! The city is proposing to shoot 250 deer again this year and it appears that will happen, so while we will be way down on hunter donations, our city deer programs will still feed many families in need. If you need any help in the process of donating, I would be eager to help. I can pull samples and maybe have room for storage.
- Jeff Olson, Treasurer
~ A Short Story ~
"My husband, Gary, and I step out of the pickup at our familiar deer hunting spot and are instantly greeted by the not-so-distant chorus of a coyote family. The high pitched squeaks indicate an exciting reunion and the coyote family is doing what all families do. Gary and I smile at each other. The coyote howls are a sign of a great day in the woods.
My husband and I are both wildlife biologists and so maybe our hunting excursions take on different meanings compared to other hunters. He and I are in the field quite a bit for our work, and we often see big game shuffled through the state check stations. Sometimes I wonder if seeing all these harvested animals has somewhat dampened my enthusiasm for wanting to harvest the biggest of a species. Probably. I do know that when I go hunting, I see the ecology of life cycles and that everything is connected. I cannot "unsee" the songbirds which I attempt to identify to species, the acorn production that year, the lichen on tree bark, the deer beds and where deer stopped to feed, the condition of streambanks, the disturbed soil caused some critter, or the trash left by careless idiots. I cannot unsee the poor land management by whoever owns and manages the land. I cannot unsee the excellent restoration of impaired landscapes by landowners that practice science and stewardship. I hear the jays, crows, and squirrels sound their alarm that a stranger is in their midst and I know the deer can hear that alarm call, too.
I am fortunate that I have learned wildlife habitat and to identify the plants that deer prefer for dinner. So I know where to hunt: where there is quality food, water, shelter (topography, bushes, sunny hillsides, dense cover) and space (can they see their surroundings?). While I do not know or own high tech hunting equipment, artificial scents, blinds, and other gear for hunting, I do know habitat. The rest is nearly 50 years of experience crossed with random odds that I encounter deer. Hunting is so personal to each one of us. As long as everyone is legal and ethical, I am not one to say what hunting is or is not to others. I will share my story on what hunting means to me.
I got into the wildlife field because of my dad. I grew up in a time when girls were not encouraged to hunt, much less touch a gun. But my dad never once even hinted at such nonsense. As early as about 7 years old, I was allowed to tag along with my dad as long as I promised to be quiet and watch where I was stepping. "Michele, stop stepping on branches!" (I knew he was mad when I was called by my formal name). I often was so busy looking at rocks, plants, and the scenery, that I annoyed my dad until I spied a deer that he didn't see. Eventually, I WAS QUIET about my awe of nature! Because of my early observational skills and being quiet, at the age of 14 I shot my second deer; an amazing mule deer buck that was hunkered down in plum bushes and could barely be seen. But I saw him. I was all alone and my dad was walking parallel to me on an opposite ridge. Dad not have a license to hunt that year. I think my dad was more excited about me harvesting this giant deer than I was. He experienced such a magnificent animal vicariously through his young daughter. Because of this shared memory with my dad, I truly have never again had the need to harvest a monster male ungulate. I have even passed up shots at amazing male ungulates because I realize that this cool dude evaded bullets for years, so I'll let him evade my bullet and pass along his genetics. But I let my eyes take in his magnificence.
Did you notice I did not use the word "trophy" buck? I have started to work on word choice because if we are to encourage young people and non-traditional people to hunt, why is harvesting a fawn of that year or a doe, a less "trophy?" It isn't, in my opinion. I would prefer we stop perpetuating old-time myths. In fact, at age 12, I harvested my first deer; a small bodied yearling. My dad made such a big deal out of it that he smeared a big X of the deer's blood on my arm and told me that I was now a great hunter. Hmmm, maybe that is why that hunt sticks out in my mind as more rewarding compared to the big mulie buck 2 years later. I had accomplished some unspoken ritual in my dad’s eyes and it meant the world to me. Not to kid anyone, harvesting that huge mulie was something, yes it was, but it didn't infuse a need to continue to shoot big bucks after that. One was plenty.
For harvesting deer and antelope, I have used the same rifle since I was 12; a 6mm Remington that rumor has it is no longer in production or soon may not be in production. I don't know that for sure. I know that rifle like one of my appendages. I have a respectful relationship with that weapon because I know what it is capable of and what my limits are with it in my arms. I pass on some shots not because of the rifle's ballistics or accuracy, but because if I cannot down an animal in one shot, I don't take it. The thought of a wounded animal escaping me is more than I can comprehend. Besides, I am too out of shape to run up a hill after wounded quarry! I know my limits now, too. Hunting to me is very personal. It is being with my husband, observing nature, challenging myself to quietly get as close to my quarry as possible, and meat in the freezer. It gives me satisfaction knowing where that food came from and how that animal was appreciated and processed.
Gary and I return back to the pickup to rehash our day's events. The highlight was the huge mountain lion tracks we spotted in the newly fallen snow. The lion and us were after the same dinner. I hope it found its meal. I had taken several shots that day...with my camera. I'll share a few of my "trophies" with you as I nurture that young girl inside me that would probably annoy you on a hunting trip because I quietly stop to observe nature's wonders that I spotted along the way."
- Shelly Deisch, Member
~ COVID-19 Deer Tags ~
It is sure has been a strange time and seems to have forced change in many areas, deer tag distribution not being immune to this weirdness. Almost 1,500 people have cancelled their deer hunt in SD and were offered money back for their tags. In addition, 951 residents and 544 non-residents at the time of writing this article. The GFP decided to put these tags back on the market on a first come first serve basis. When their website was not crashing, you could get as many tags that were turned back as you wanted on their website at noon on Wednesdays. If you are Facebook savvy or had friends in the know that informed you of this great deal, you may have been aware of this new process. I was not and neither were many other disgruntled hunters with no tags this Fall. 29 hunters were skilled enough to draw 4 or more Black Hills buck tags in this process on the same day and the same time. I have not received any information on how many got two or more tags. An educated guess tells me that most of the hunters who got a hold of these “COVID-19” tags already had tags.
In the past, any tags returned for various reasons went to someone on the unsuccessful draw list. This is what they did for elk tags turned back for COVID-19 reasons. It is unclear why they did not do this with deer. 1,500 tags are a lot of revenue, but I feel they could have replenished those funds easily by offering these tags to those unsuccessful in the draw. These are coveted tags, not unwanted tags that are left over after five draws. Unfortunately, they were not treated that way. There are many frustrated hunters out there and a few happy ones. I cannot imagine a sportsman going out shooting 4 bucks in the hills and it probably will not happen. The sad thing is, all those without a hills tag that could have been hunting had the GFP done a better job in informing all sportsmen of the availability. What makes this even more backwards is the fact that they made a big change in the licensing system recently to ensure everyone who wants to hunt can at least get one preferred tag. Spread the wealth was one phrased used. Well there are now a large number of hunters with more than one buck tag hunting the Black Hills unit (29 with 4 or more) and thousands of Black Hills deer hunters with no tag at all. Where is the fairness and equity in that? GFP has acknowledged their mistake on the lack of public awareness and the lack of fairness in distribution. I hope that they can also figure out why and how it happened and correct the problems within the department moving forward.
- Jeff Olson, Treasurer
Please visit "https://blackhillssportsmenclub.com/"
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“The true trophy hunter is a self-disciplined perfectionist seeking a single animal, the ancient patriarch well past his prime that is often an outcast from his own kind… If successful, he will enshrine the trophy in a place of honor. This is a more noble and fitting end than dying on some lost and lonely ledge where the scavengers will pick his bones, and his magnificent horns will weather away and be lost forever.”
– Elgin Gates