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New Year’s Resolutions for 2015

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First on the calendar is ruffed grouse hunting. Last year I got a leg injury at the end of December kept me out of the woods. This year I plan to get out for at least two to three hours each week in pursuit of the Bonasa Umbellus. Many people have given up on grouse hunting here in the mountains as their habitat and numbers dwindle. The problem is just as with deer, you’ve got to do your homework to hunt grouse anymore. I’ve got a couple of private properties staked out and there are a couple of promising public lands out there. This year I do it.

After hunting season ends my thoughts turn immediately to a couple of things: sporting clays and fishing. Every year I make resolutions to do more fishing that go unaccomplished. Again other distractions keep me from going. But I have to throw in a bit of laziness to boot. After we go to Daylight Savings Time I could go after work but sometimes I’m just flat out too tired to go. It would be easy to load the gear in the truck and go straight to the French Broad River for an hour of smallmouth fishing. Or a little more driving could get me into some Delayed Harvest water on the Shelton Laurel.

What I really want to do is fish for walleye. It is something I’ve never done before. Fishing for them on our deep mountain lakes differs between spring/summer and fall. Not only do I not have the basic knowledge to get started one critical piece of equipment is missing: a boat for lake water. Guess I’ll have to start asking around to see if someone will be willing to introduce this neophyte to the sport. Have you ever eaten walleye? If you have, you know why I want to go.

Next, I want to score over 80, preferably an 85, at a 100 round course of sporting clays. I came mockingly close last year with a 78 at Fowler Farms. After a score that close I thought for hours about the 2 – 3 targets I missed that could have given me the magic number. I’ve been able to shoot consistently in the mid to low 70’s this past year but just not breaking into the 80s. The basic skills are there; it’s just focus and concentration that are missing.

Next resolution deals with my nemesis the wild turkey. I still haven’t harvested a turkey in this twilight period in my life. I’ve given it a half-hearted shot in the past and come close a couple of times but never connected. This year I get serious with some pre-season scouting. I’m not looking for something to put in the trophy books. Just want to experience luring in a tom, bringing him to bag, and the savory taste of smoked wild turkey. The one thing I do know: I’ll never get one if I’m not in the woods.

As we roll into another hunting season in September, I’m going to get really serious about goose hunting. Yes, my obsession continues. I’m finding out that goose hunting is not as simple as it seems. I’ve been playing hide and seek with a local flock of geese for three months now with only one in the bag. They just don’t seem to be cooperative. Just when they establish a pattern and I set up for it, they change their pattern. Again, the only way to succeed is being out there hunting.

And lastly, this year I will accept my friend’s invitation to go deer hunting with him. He has got access to some private land that is relatively close by and allows more doe days than we get here in the mountains. Again, not looking for a trophy, just the experience and putting some meat in the freezer. That’s where I am as a hunter.

EPA can’t regulate lead bullets, says federal court

Hunters, hold your fire — the Environmental Protection Agency won’t regulate your bullets.

A federal appeals court denied a lawsuit Tuesday by environmental groups that the EPA must use the Toxic Substances Control Act to regulate lead used in shells and cartridges.

“We agree with EPA that it lacks statutory authority to regulate the type of spent bullets and shot identified in the environmental groups’ petition,” Judge David Tatel wrote for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Environmental groups had sued the agency to do so, saying spent lead ammunition posed an “unreasonable risk of injury” to wildlife and humans who would eat the animals they kill. The groups rejected the EPA’s assertion that it lacked the authority to do so.

Environmental groups were challenging an earlier dismissal by a lower court.

“No matter how one characterizes their claim — whether as an effort to regulate cartridges and shells (EPA’s view) or as an attempt to regulate the lead in bullets and shot (the environmental groups’ view) — their petition seeks the regulation of spent lead yet suggests no way in which EPA could regulate spent lead without also regulating cartridges and shells,” Tatel wrote.

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