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Hunting season draws to a close

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By Don Mallicoat-It is hard to believe but the regular hunting season only has about one week left in it. What few small game seasons that are open will close on February 28th. How has your season been? Mine has been a bust. It started off great on September 2nd with a morning goose hunt where I bagged one honker (I’m hooked!) and an afternoon dove hunt that got me enough for dinner for me and my wife. After that it went downhill.

Five days of grouse and woodcock hunting in Michigan in above average temperatures produced only one grouse and one woodcock. After returning home the requirements of work, lousy weather, and a mid-season injury pretty much kept me out of the woods and fields and off the water. But I think that’s the allure of hunting; the promise of what is to come. There is always next season and the hopes of better success.

There are two things to keep us going until then. First there is turkey season in April and May. But with a two bird season limit some hunters’ season will end shortly after it begins. What I’m going to do this year to “keep it going” is to try hunting coyotes. I’ve got the gun, a Savage Axis camo pattern in .223 Winchester that should fit the bill. Access to land shouldn’t be a problem; landowners, particularly with livestock, are gladly welcoming anyone who wants to shoot coyotes. My only obstacle is the one I seem to always have to overcome: time. Finding time to do it. The good news is that Spring and Summer mean longer days so I should be able to go out before and after work for a few hours each week. I just have to make the commitment to do it. We’ll keep you posted.

Several months ago I reported that PETA was selling drones to be used to harass hunters. Well, some states are considering legislation to protect hunters, anglers and trappers from harassment by unmanned, aerial drones while exercising their legal right to pursue and take wildlife. As reported by U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance (USSA) in October of last year, PETA has offered small drones for sale and is encouraging its members to utilize them to monitor sportsmen in the field.

Following the example set last year by Illinois, which passed a law to prohibit the use of drones to interfere with sportsmen, the USSA is seeing similar bills put forward in other states early in 2014. Bills to outlaw harassment of sportsmen with drones are currently being considered in Alabama and Tennessee.  While in Hawaii, a broader bill addressing unmanned aerial vehicles contains a prohibition against causing a nuisance with drones, and a New Jersey bill increases the penalties for harassing a person legally taking wildlife.

“It is encouraging to see legislation arising that takes a stand against the extreme actions of the animal rights lobby,” said Nick Pinizzotto, USSA’s president and CEO. “Hunters are the driving force behind wildlife conservation in this country and should not be painted as criminals by radical anti-hunting organizations.”

You would think that after a year this rumor about the cause of the ammo shortage would be dead. It’s not. I hear it every week at the gun store. The government is not buying all the ammo! As reported by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) which represents the firearms and ammunition industry, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) ammunition purchases have been declining for the last four years and will continue on this trend in 2014, according to a report issued this week by the independent Government Accountability Office (GAO). In the past year, the Internet has been full of rumors and speculation concerning large-scale ammunition acquisition by the various agencies that are part of DHS. While it is doubtful that this report will extinguish those rumors, it does provide factual information of interest to those in the industry who field questions from customers asking about the internet reports.

Speaking of turkey season, probably the last chance you will have to complete Hunter Safety training is coming up March 4th at the Dana Fire Department in Henderson County. The course on those same dates at Skyland Fire Department is already full. The class will be from 6 – 9 p.m. each evening. There are only a few seats remaining. Sign up online at www.ncwildlife.org, click on the Hunting Tab at the top, and click on Hunter Education in the middle of the page.

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