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Another 45 have died. I know because I counted them. Add in the two dozen or more from before, and that seems to be a pretty significant number. (And apparently the coyotes can’t keep up.) According to Game and Fish literature, it’s expected that about 10 percent of a population will perish through the winter, especially in high-stressed areas. If this is an accurate percentage, then we definitely had more than 500 deer in our yard.

We were working on a bill that would have allowed unfilled deer licenses to be used in areas that are facing extreme amounts of deer pressure. These tags were ones that the Game and Fish Department had already sold and profitted from, I’m assuming with the intentions that they would be filled. If the Game and Fish Department deemed an area a “problem,” then December through March 15, the tags could have been filled.

A perfect solution? Of course not. Another tool in the tool box? Certainly. Apparently continuing on with the status quo isn’t working.

One of the legislators that I contacted regarding the issue was kind enough to reply. He told us that they are sending the bill to a “special committee” to come up with another idea, perhaps with food plots and feeding areas. They don’t want to see the deer shot. My question is why? These are tags that were already paid for and calculated by Game and Fish as being acceptable to lower deer numbers.

Somewhere, somehow, we need to start thinking outside the box and trying something new.

Battle weary

It’s been one of those days. You know, the type of day where you just can’t wait to crawl into bed, knowing that when you open your eyes, at least it will be a different day?

Tonight, let me focus on the problem we HAVE NOT gotten rid of yet (check here and here for reminders as to what’s been going on)…and that would be deer. That’s right, they’re still here. And for argument’s sake, let’s just say the number is 500.


The deer are dying in and on our feed supply for our cattle.

Boss Man is trying to put plans in place so that we’re able to be better prepared for next year. Apparently this year is a loss. We will never get back what the hay was worth that has been destroyed. (Think in the terms of multiple thousands.) There is nothing we can do about that. So we need to move ahead.


He spoke with North Dakota Game and Fish today. They are less than receptive to assisting. According to them, we have been uncooperative. By uncooperative, they mean that we were not interested in the only plan that they came up with. This “plan” was to wrap our bales with a plastic wrap, that would supposedly deter the deer from eating our hay.

Every person we have spoken to regarding the plastic wrap has claimed that it does NOT work. Not only are there problems with the wrap coming undone, or stacks falling over, but remember that we’re trying to sell our hay that is salvageable. That means that we would have to wrap and unwrap bales each time we were moving or grinding hay. We would also have to dispose of the wrap as we were using the hay.

Another concern we had with the hay wrap was that once the deer made our yard their winter habitat, without STRONG encouragement, they would still be in our yard, just forced to feed with our cattle. The deer are a danger to our herd, just by being in their feed supply. But the danger would be even greater if they were nose-to-nose and feeding out of the same bunk.

So, by trying to protect our livestock, while still being conscientious of the wildlife, we are now deemed uncooperative. Thank you.

Tonight, Mark decided to be proactive and try to call some of the neighboring landowners, making them aware of what the problem is, and asking if we could all be more receptive to allowing hunters access to prime hunting land.

The first call was to a “neighbor” who happens to own a hunting lodge and guide service. He basically thanked my husband for ruining his evening, told him not to tell him how to run his business and hung up the phone.

Most of the other phone calls went very well. Most people understand what the problem is, and are willing to do what they can to help. Here’s hoping that they remember next fall.

Here’s what I’d like to remind Game and Fish: this isn’t just another hay yard, another complaining farmer, another “problem” that they’d rather not deal with. This is MY hay yard, MY herd and MY sons’ futures. I have four boys that I hope have the opportunity to continue to make this farmstead their home, and continue to live and prosper in North Dakota.

I hope and pray it’s not just a dream.

And by the way, if you’re looking for a place to hunt this coming fall, I can hook you up…bring your family, your friends and your neighbors!

Post of destruction

I’m not sure that words are necessary…so just watch the slide show.

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I didn’t take the picture of the Game and Fish official who stopped and had picked up a pick-up load of the carcasses. (He did give me permission to take a photo.) These were just the ones left behind, or the ones not picked up yet. It makes me sad, frustrated and wondering.

To quote the Game and Fish website, the department’s mission statement is:

“The mission of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department is to protect, conserve and enhance fish and wildlife populations and their habitat for sustained public consumptive and appreciative use.”

Well, they’re failing.

A new twist

So, I’ve written quite a bit about our deer problems. But now they’ve taken a whole different turn. Now the deer are dying.

I don’t mean that one or two has met its maker in a peaceful ceremony performed by the deer-healer. No, we’re talking more than a dozen of them, all lying in our feed. I actually believe that there are at least two dozen carcasses, but I’m not interested in actually going out and counting. Here, see for yourself.

So, yeah, it’s a problem. And here’s the kicker…why are they dying? There’s plenty of feed (although, truth be told, deer aren’t meant to eat dairy-quality alfalfa, so that could be part of the problem), they’ve made nice little burrows in our haystacks, which should be providing excellent cover. Do they have diseases? Are they sick?

Next comes, what will happen to our feed? Is our herd at risk?

The master-minds at Game and Fish are supposed to be here in the morning. One of our neighbors called them this evening. It seems that one of the deer decided to die next to his house. Even kicked the house as it was taking its last breaths. I’m very sorry that the deer caused such a commotion, but I’m grateful that our neighbor called Game and Fish to complain. Perhaps if we’re not the only ones calling, they’ll start paying more attention.

Well, I better head to bed. There’ll be a long night of checking cows, since it’s so cold tonight. Plus today was a very stressful, crazy day. I’ll tell you more about it later.

If I remember.


We head to Mayo tomorrow. It’s hopefully time to finally get to some answers. Poor kid has been through the ringer, and all before he turns 2. I’d complain about the fairness of it all, but we all know that fairness doesn’t play into these things.

Anyway, while all this is going on, we’re still at the mercy of winter, still have cattle to care for and still have chores that need to be done. Which means we start planning now, preparing for the worst, hoping for the best, making sure that everything is in place, so that if (I should say when) it snows while we’re gone, it’s not a lot of extra work for whomever is helping us out.

So Boss Man is off, getting things ready. I’m packing bags for all of us, arranging staying places for the other three kids, arranging back ups, in case someone is sick, and the back ups for the back ups, just because we roll that way! Planning out time of departure, time of arrival, places to stay in Rochester, what mode of transportation to take, etc., etc. Like planning a great vacation, minus the fun and vacation!

And just when I thought I had it all planned out, up pops another problem. Our deer situation has gone from kinda crazy, to absolutely unbelievable. It’s hard to even imagine saddling someone else with this issue while we’re gone, so we’re trying to do what we can to help the situation out.

Here’s my latest shots, without any voiceover. I think it speaks for itself:

I’ve contacted the proper authorities (probably even a few that could care less), shot footage and sent e-mails. I’m not sure what will happen from here on out, but I know we’re working on it.

I will try to keep everyone posted on how things are going. And we’ll hopefully be home before we know it. I’m also wishing that maybe we’ll be a few hundred deer shorter than where we are now!

Points of clarification

So, apparently I finally rattled a few cages with my blog and my concern about what could all happen if this deer issue isn’t addressed somehow. But a few questions keep coming up, so I’d like to clarify a few things:

1) Is our land posted? The answer is yes. I know that by admitting that, many will say that alone is our problem, but trust me, it’s not. There is only one person that has ever asked to hunt that we have turned away. In fact, I’ve brought in many hunters…and not just for deer. We open our land to pheasant hunters (out-of-state and in-state), youth hunters (two of my nephews tagged deer out of our land this fall!), etc. Pretty much anything, anyone. We do NOT charge anything to hunt on our land and we wouldn’t post our land either, if it weren’t for the few bad actors that we have. Actually, we shouldn’t even have to post our land, since our cattle were in one area, and the other hunting area is behind our house…but we do anyway. And as long as people are aware of the cows, and aware of the house and children, then I have no problem at all with them hunting and taking whatever game they legally can.

2) The problem is not just the deer…although they are making a mess as well. The problem is also that there is another significant creature that follow the deer. That is the coyote. The coyote is a predator, and our cows don’t take too kindly to having coyotes nearby. Now, add in a cow that’s just had a calf, the fresh blood and afterbirth smell lingering in the air, a cow nervous about making sure her calf is safe and a farmer trying to get the calf into a barn before it freezes to death. That, right there, is a recipe for disaster. Our cows are gentle and are accustomed to us walking through them throughout calving season. But once a cow has a calf, it’s like a switch is flipped.

A good cow has a good mothering instinct. A good mother protects her offspring with whatever means are necessary. If a cow senses that its calf is in danger, it will do whatever it deems necessary to protect it. That includes throwing a farmer over a fence…or worse yet, a farmwife!

3) Deer poop. Yeah, I know, that’s a shocking revelation, right? Well, they also pee. Cows don’t like either…especially on their food. So, this means that everything that gets deer poop or deer pee in it is basically useless. And really, who can blame them? I have a hard time eating off the same spoon as my kids, I couldn’t imagine anything else! (Just kidding, by the way.)

So, that should cover some of the questions that were asked (but please, feel free to ask more if you have them!)…let’s hope they get us somewhere!

Ever increasing problem

We have a “small” problem on our farm. I call it a small problem, because the animals themselves aren’t all that large, but the number in which they are here…that’s where the issue lies.

Last year it started as a nuisance. I warned Boss Man that I thought the deer around our house seemed to be getting closer and closer, and seemed to bring their extended families with them. At first, he kind of brushed off my concerns, saying that they had never really bothered the hay before and that they would probably move on shortly.

They didn’t.

In fact, they seemed to rather enjoy themselves, and made themselves right at home. As you can see here: (Warning, this is the first video I had ever shot, so please excuse the nausea-inducing zooming and movement…I’ve learned…well, at least a little.)

This year is a whole new ballgame. We have already enrolled the help of our state Game and Fish, who have come up with some interesting tactics. (For instance, a really neat gun-looking, bottle-rocket-on-steroids type thing!)

To explain it from my husband’s point of view, I’ll just give you the run-down of a conversation we had:

“It’s a double-edged sword. If they eat my hay, they won’t starve. They’ll be stronger and healthier, but then they’ll also survive winter and there will be more next year.

“If they don’t eat my hay, they’ll starve. But they’ll be weak and more susceptible to disease, exposing my herd to who-knows-what.”

And this is what we’re talking about for this year:

So, you see, we’re in a tough spot. If we don’t feed the deer, they will get sick and die. But may expose our cows to all sorts of unwanted stuff.

If we feed the deer, they won’t leave, and could still get sick and die. And we will still have exposure to whatever it is they are carrying.

We have already spent money on buying panels to place all around our feed, such as the silage that we cut and the freshly-ground hay. Game and Fish suggest that we space our hay stacks closer together, but our insurance insists that our hay stays further apart. I personally don’t believe that where our hay is located would make much difference to this large number of animals.

The amount of money that has been lost through the hay and feed that has been destroyed is almost nauseating. But the danger to the health of our herd is what has us the most concerned. We are doing all we can to protect our livestock, but it would be nice if there was a better system in place to assist producers that come across these issues.

Trust me, this is something that Boss Man and I will be working on.

Hoping for a good weekend

This week has been a mixed bag of ups and downs, sickness and wellness, etc., etc. We were blessed with pink eye on Thursday, which means eye drops for all! Although things have cleared up remarkably well today.

I’ve been working on trying to tag my deer this year. And I will say that I did get two shots off this morning on a pretty nice buck, but I wasn’t expecting him to pop up and wasn’t prepared. My own fault, I’ll admit.

One of my problems seems to be someone who thinks I need to be babysat. No matter when I go or where I’m at, it appears as if a vehicle or two just happen along and stop and watch. It’s driving me nuts!

I get it, I know that my presence isn’t exactly wanted. No one on this farm has hunted in many, many years (if ever), and so the idea of someone who would like to shoot an animal in this area is daunting for some. But if I’m that intimidating, then I would gladly teach them a lesson or two on how I got to be the powerful sportswoman I am today! 🙂 Anything to get the high-powered binoculars off my back.

Just some background on my hunting: I have a gratis, which means that I can only hunt on land that we own or operate. That’s it. No more, no less.

Since I have a gratis, that does mean that I can shoot a buck or a doe. My choice. (Actually, more like the bullet’s, but that’s another story.)

I hunt because I like to have the meat. Although for some it’s the thrill of the chase, for me it’s the pleasure of knowing that I’m providing a meal for my family…and one that is mighty tasty! (We also process our own sausage, which is unbelievably nummy!) And it’s one less animal out there for my van to hit.

At the end of deer season, all I want is to have an animal in my freezer. Buck or doe, doesn’t really matter. In the last 5-6 years, I have only shot two bucks. One was not definable as a buck until you were up close and personal. The other is mounted on my wall. I am not a trophy hunter.

Although, I do have to say that with the attention I’ve been getting lately, I wouldn’t mind at all to shoot the buck that legends are made of…but that’s just a little dream of mine. As long as my tag is on something, I’ll be happy. It does me no good to have my tag at the end of the season.

I’m not real fond of the taste of paper.

Measure Two

I have never been the type to write what people would consider “political” editorials. Don’t get me wrong, I have very strong convictions, but I’ve always felt that everyone is entitled to their positions and my chance of changing anyone’s opinions was between slim and none.

I’m rethinking that now.

There is no way that I will be able to protect my children’s legacy if I do not take any given opportunity that I have to voice my thoughts and opinions. And so I begin…

The latest item that has come up that has me concerned is Measure 2 in North Dakota. At first, it appears innocent enough. The measure calls for banning what they deem as high-fence hunting…in essence, it’s a step in the direction of banning all fee hunting.

To me, it’s a very, very slippery slope. Don’t get me wrong, I do not participate in fee hunting. I do not participate in high-fence hunting. I, personally, do not see myself ever involved in either. But guess what? That’s my choice. Freedom of choice has always been an American principle.

Part of the measure that bothers me is the infringement on property rights. If I have bought and paid for the land to be hunted on and the animals to be hunted, why can’t I market them the way I choose? Where does the line get drawn?

Someone said to my husband that by banning high-fence hunting, we will appease the animal rights movement and they will leave the rest of hunting rights in North Dakota alone. Really? Ask Ohio how easy it is to appease the AR groups. How about California? In fact, please, please find me an example where giving in to any of the AR groups has been successful in easing their demands and creating a peaceful existence for all.

The other part of the measure that bothers me is the vagueness of the wording. When discussing “privately-owned big game,” I wonder if the sponsors of the measure realize what they are saying. If big game is privately owned, then it is no longer wildlife. It is now livestock. Can you see where I’m going with this?

If I’m reading the measure correctly, it basically states that hunting of privately-owned wildlife (livestock) in a man-made enclosure (fence) would be illegal. There are no specifics to the height of the fence, no specifics to the types of animal, no specifics whatsoever. So if we now pass a measure that makes the use of non-traditional livestock illegal on your OWN property, then how far is the step to make the use of cattle illegal? Is it a far stretch? Maybe. But not nearly far enough for my comfort.

This measure is a step in the wrong direction…and to top it off, immediately it’ll only effect 12 operations in North Dakota. Twelve! We are putting hunting as a whole at risk, we are putting animal agriculture at risk, just for the sake of putting 12 people out of business. Is the price worth it?

Not to me.