Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The times, they are a changin'

Announcements from around the country over the last few weeks show that wingshooting in America is anything but stagnant. The possibility of a sandhill crane season in eastern TN, the lack of a sage grouse season in SD, the return of dove season in MN, even  increased limits on migratory birds. Some of this bodes well for hunters, some will drain a serious amount of enthusiasm.

Purists cringe when you fiddle with the established norm, and it's not just the principle of change that bothers them. Hunting is a sport of tradition, of opening days and bird camps and road trips and Saturday mornings before sunrise, and when you start messing with a man's tradition you might as well be messing with his wife or his dog. It's tradition because we like it. We also depend on it as a stabilizing element in the year, an anchor, and sometimes a beacon in the distance beyond rough water.

sandhill crane season in TN
Sometimes what appears to be a change for the better is insult in disguise. Case in point: several years ago our mourning dove limit was raised from 12 to 15 birds. More is better, right? I've spent more time and more shells trying to get those last 3 birds....

For better or worse, hunting is also a sport of nature and subject to its ebbs and flows, and while we can't control aspects like weather, we can and often do impact other factors. I'm thinking about land and habitat, specifically those parts that hang in the balance and can be nudged and persuaded back into something more favorable to birds. It's not predestined that certain species will fade into memories.

This is why I'm putting time and effort into restoring the bobwhite populations in our state. I don't ever want to open the paper someday and read that the DNR has cancelled quail season because there just aren't enough birds.
sage grouse need help in Montana

A similar effort is under way in Montana to help the sage grouse, as detailed in this story on NPR. And there are initiatives in most other states for species that aren't yet officially threatened.

It's true that we can't fix it all, but that's no excuse for passing on what we can. Fight for your traditions. Better still, preserve them with a little forethought.


  1. Ahh, the cruel joke of the Atlantic Flyway, "Oh yeah, we have a 7 duck limit!" I then think about the fact that we sometimes have 4 people in a blind, and I think of the absurd notion that we might EVER have a stack of 28 dead ducks at our feet. It's really silly.

    On doves, well, I've certainly SHOT AT 15 doves in an afternoon, but as you mention, I've never actually KILLED 15 doves in an afternoon. They may as well make the limit 100 per person (half joking).

    That's exactly what happened with the urban deer zone in Maryland, too. At one point, you could cobble up permits, extra tags, etc. and potentially bag 42 antlerless deer per season. Finally four years ago they made it "unlimited antlerless harvest." Because no one is killing 42 deer during deer season. I mean, seriously.

    1. Our quail limit is 12 per day and I don't know anyone who's bagged that many wild birds in decades. I'd love an unlimited anterless harvest, though.