By Don Mallicoat-As the year changes from 2013 to 2014 it is also a time for changes to existing laws. January 1 is historically a date when many laws in NC passed in the last legislative session go into effect. This year is no different. There is one in Session Law 2013-283 that all hunters and anglers need to be aware of.
Effective January 5, 2014 there will be a $2 transaction fee added to each hunting or fishing license purchase in NC. Before you get up in arms let me explain. License agents who sell licenses in their business normally receive a 6% commission for each transaction. So if a License Agent (I am one at the store) sells a $40 Sportsman License the agent gets $2.40. If they sell a $20 basic hunting license they receive only $1.20. For an Infant Lifetime the agent makes $12. The worst case is the renewal of big game tags that expire on June 30th. There is no charge and the agent receives nothing. Yet the agent is paying for internet service and print cartridges.
Under the new system every transaction will be a flat $2 fee. As I understand the change, a Sportsman’s License will cost you $42, a Basic hunting $22, and when you renew Big Game tags there is a $2 fee. I guess in the long term it will be a break even for the license agent since they are now receiving a fee for Big Game tags but less on Lifetime licenses. So be prepared when you go in to renew your hunting or fishing license. There will be a $2 transaction fee added to the transaction.
There was a recent news release that garnered much attention in the news. The last remaining natural lead smelting facility in Missouri will close next year due to increasing EPA regulations. That is not rumor, it is fact. What is not fact is that it will affect the production and cost of ammunition. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and ATK Corporation which owns Federal ammunition refute the rumor to the effect. Both organizations say, and this surprised me, the ammunition manufacturing industry has been using recycled lead for years. So when your friends tell you the ammunition shortage and price of ammo is caused by the loss of the smelting factory in Missouri tell them it is not true. The current shortage has always been, and continues to be, a result of the supply and demand economy we live in. As for .22 LR ammo, we will get healthy faster if shooters simply do not pay exorbitant prices for the ammo that is being sold by profiteers cleaning out WalMart and large retailers.
The Mountain Region deer season is officially over, ending December 14th. The rest of the state enjoys a season through January 1st. I’m not hearing a lot of success stories out there. I’ve had a couple of 8 or 10 pointers brought by the store. And some folks have taken several deer. But across the board many hunters are not seeing as many deer as they normally do, even in the central and eastern zone. Although there is no scientific data to back it up, most hunters I talk to think it is due to poor oak hard mast production. It has really thrown wildlife movement and feeding patterns off to include bears. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see when the final reporting statistics are released.
For the Big Game hunter in the mountains the only thing remaining is bear which opened December 16th and will continue through January 1st. Small game and waterfowl season is hitting its stride. My time of year! The last split of the dove season opened December 13th and will continue until January 11, 2014. Waterfowl season reopened December 14th and stays open through January 25, 2014 for ducks and February 8, 2014 for Canada geese. Of course all the small game seasons are open: quail, rabbit, grouse, rabbit, etc. Most small game seasons continue through February 28th. So get out in the woods, fields, or on the water and pursue your favorite small game. All I ask is that you be safe and come home from the hunt. Happy Holidays!