Hunting Lease Highlights - Atlantic District - Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia
Behind the scenes, laws pertaining to hunting and fishing are constantly changing. Each year, proposed legislation is submitted to the Virginia General Assembly (State House and Senate). Though new laws or changes to existing laws may seem minor, each one affects you as a sportsman in some way or another. For example, current law requires the Director (or VDGIF officer) to investigate crop damage before issuing a Damage Permit to kill bear or deer causing the damage.
On January 10, legislation was proposed that would add elk and Canada geese to the list of species for which the permit could be issued. On January 31st the bill was considerably amended, removing the investigation requirement from the current law. Removing this requirement would have allowed people claiming "damage" to agricultural operations to obtain a permit, without prior investigation, to harvest deer, bear, elk, or Canada geese outside of the general season. The bill quickly passed the Senate and moved on to the House in early February, where it died. Though this particular piece of legislation is no longer moving forward, it is a good example of how quickly and quietly regulations can be amended.
How can sportsmen stay informed on proposed legislation? More importantly, how can you be sure your voice is heard? The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' website is the answer. There, you can find information on current Virginia Assembly Legislation and who to contact if you have questions, comments, or concerns about a particular bill. Check out the following link to see 2011 legislation: www.dgif.virginia.gov/legislation/.
A SCDNR news article released on January 7, 2011 highlights DNR's recommendations for a new comprehensive deer management program. Proposed changes include, among other things, a buck limit, as well as an enforceable tagging system for all deer. Many of the recommendations in the new management program are based off of hunter input from surveys and public meetings that have taken place since 2003.
On December 17, 2010, the DNR Governing Board took the first step in the process, and voted to support the new management program. We recently spoke with Charles Ruth, SCDNR Deer Project Supervisor regarding DNR's push for the new management program. A lot of folks think this is a done deal, but it is far from it. According to Ruth, hunters should first understand that this is in the early stages; no bills have been drafted by the legislature. "Don't get caught up in the specifics of the proposal", Ruth said. "When the proposal gets legislative attention, there will likely be a lot of changes in the details." Ruth ended by saying "The support for making changes to deer management in South Carolina is high among hunters, [we] just need to get it going."
Making changes along these lines would be a big step in bringing South Carolina's deer management program into the 21st century.
Spring is a great time to be in the woods searching for sheds, scouting for next deer season, and most importantly chasing a turkey! In 1973 the wild turkey population in Georgia was estimated to be as low as 17,000 birds. Thanks to restoration efforts and cooperation among hunters, the NWTF and the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division (GWRD), the current population is estimated to be about 335,000. Though about 34,000 turkeys were harvested by 47,275 hunters last year, based on poor production levels in 2007 and 2009, GWRD estimates that turkey harvest will be down in 2011.
Hunters should be on the lookout for jakes though, as 2010 production levels indicate a high number of juveniles will be roaming the woods this season. With fewer mature gobblers in the woods, younger birds may be more vocal and vulnerable to hunters. Similar to deer management, "let em' go so they can grow" applies to turkeys as well. If you want more gobblers in coming years, you must allow jakes the chance to mature.
Back to Westervelt Outdoors Spring 2011
The above article was featured in the Westervelt Outdoors: Spring 2011 issue. To view publication in its entirety, please view/download the PDF.