Walk on the Wild Side

Brad Harvey: Santa, legislators need some understanding

December 21, 2012 

Hello, Old Jolly One.

It’s me, again.

Let me start out by fessing up right away, since I know that there’s no getting anything past you. I’ve been pretty good, but won’t stretch it by trying to convince you that I’ve been perfect this year.

I haven’t. I do hope, though, that you’ll see fit to take care of me when you swing by the house in just a few nights.

My list of Christmas wishes is really not too long. In fact, there are only a few things that I’d like for you to work on for me this year.

Ready? Here goes…

I really appreciate everything you’ve done for us the past several years in regards to granting our wish of seeing our wild turkeys bounce back. It’s been quite a remarkable sight, and we’ve all been thrilled to see numbers of them that haven’t been in these parts for a long, long time.

That said, I did get a bit of recent news that there’s been a little setback.

Unlike the past two years, our state’s Department of Natural Resources is now saying that turkey reproduction actually dropped in 2012. The number that they gave shows it was down around 15 percent.

That might not sound like a whole lot, but after a decade of really bad years, these birds need to string together a bunch of good ones to get us back to where it should be.

You see, there’s no comparing how many we now have to what was wandering our woods back about 20 years ago. This doesn’t really mean that we should have a bad turkey season this spring, because there should be a good number of now two year old birds out there.

We might see somewhat of a dip in mature gobblers a couple of years down the road, however.

Since that’s the case, would you mind reminding a few of our hunters that they really need to lay off of the jakes in 2013? It’s not like there’s any great challenge to bagging one of these little boys anyway, so what’s the point?

Kind of along the same lines, our deer population is now off at numbers that are approaching 30 percent from where they were as well. It’s never been more important that folks pay attention to what they’re harvesting and let those young bucks walk. A little reminder for them wouldn’t be a bad thing either.

Our DNR has finally seen fit to start making some changes to how we manage deer in the Palmetto state, but as is always the case, politics comes into play when they’re trying to get anything done. If something doesn’t happen soon, things are only going to get worse.

Kinda dumb, huh? You’d think that someone would have made some changes as soon as it became obvious that things needed improving.

You just have to understand the way things work in South Carolina, and I’m afraid we live in a crazy state. Most places allow game regulations that relate to animal harvest to be set by the biologists that actually know what’s going on with that respective state’s wildlife. Ours doesn’t.

Instead, S.C.’s DNR biologists have to make a recommendation to our elected officials and allow them to vote on it at whatever point they actually get around to it. It’s a long, slow process.

More than two years ago, the agency took a survey of licensed hunters asking for their opinions on deer management. Some received it by phone while others responded online.

With nearly 11,000 taking part in the survey, a whopping 70 percent were in favor of limiting the number of bucks that a hunter may take annually by purchasing a set number of buck tags. Sixty-two percent even favored the initiation of antler restrictions in hopes of allowing the young deer to grow up before being harvested.

Santa, we need you to help our legislators understand what our hunters obviously already do. Our natural resources are our state’s greatest asset and can’t be replaced.

If our state’s experts have determined that a particular species needs some sort of help then they need it right then. It really takes nothing more than common sense to tell you that sooner is better than later in a situation such as this and waiting for a bunch of bureaucrats to get around to it just compounds the problem. That seriously needs to change.

Any chance you could drop them a little note in hopes of lighting a fire under their butts when you slide down their chimneys?

Sadly, it’s not only our folks on the state level that need to get to work on legislation that relates to our wildlife and hunting heritage. Those federal fellas need to get something taken care of as well.

Introduced some months back by U.S. Sens. John Tester (D- Montana) and John Thune (R- South Dakota) as an amendment to the Farm Bill, the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 is addressing a number of issues that have shackled both our nation’s fishermen and hunters for quite some time.

It includes two bills that have already passed the House of Representatives within the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act, including new legislation that halts a potential federal ban on lead ammunition and fishing tackle.

When it comes down to it, this is the largest, most diverse pro-sportsmen legislative package introduced in recent memory and includes several stipulations that will move to further the conservation of habitat and populations while boosting recreational opportunities for us all.

Obviously, these guys are also dragging their feet and need to get with it. A little prodding from you just might do it for us.

Santa, I can’t tell you just how much I appreciate it. With a little help from you on these things, both our wildlife and sportsmen will have a bright, bright future.

Have a safe flight!

Your pal,

Brad

Brad Harvey is a freelance writer in Clover. Visit his website at bradharveyoutdoors.com or follow on Twitter- @BHarveyOutdoors

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