Tuesday, September 18, 2012

$5 Hunts

It's time for everyone's favorite time of the year....applications for the $5 hunt. Many state owned duck impoundments are available to any lucky son of a gun who has $5 to blow and has the luck needed to win the Carolina Cash 5. Before you protest me, no, I'm not upset that I never get drawn. What I am upset about is how gullible the hunters of this great state can be...

Problem number one with the $5 duck hunt is that it's open to everyone. Well, anyone with an Abe Lincoln not intended to wipe ones bottom with. I wish I could count  the buddies I have who also purchase licenses for their wives and children, so that they can apply for certain federal permits. I know of one family that puts in 9 members of the family. That's remarkable. Mattamuskeet's draw odds are tougher than 1 in 500. And then, you don't get to enjoy the foot race to the blind. And once you're to the blind that the feds have decided you'll hunt from, you have to hope the weather is right. But back to the $5 permit...the PETA's even apply. One doesn't have to have all of the necessary stamps and permits and privileges to apply for the specialty hunts, with the swan tag being the only exception. Even out-of-staters put in for our permits, which to me, is just unfair. They'll pick up to 5 dates, with their only intention of being 1 to two dates maximum. But it's only $5, so what's the big deal. If they aren't drawn, they absolutely will not purchase a North Carolina hunting license - which generates waaaay more income for the NCWRC than the $5 Duck Hunt. And of course, any jackwagon can get on this very website and determine which impoundments are the very best...so they'll hedge their bets on those impoundments, sight unseen, and scouting unplanned. But hey, it's a $5 duck hunt.

Problem 2 with the $5 duck hunt is the fact of the matter that most are fairly inaccessible. Sure - some have a "disabled sportsman" blind, but they only have one or two. And by the way, if you want to be politically correct, one might want to call them "sportspeople with disabilities", but that's for another discussion. The paths to these locations are horrid and I've seen many a child take a spill on youth days and many a moron plow off into the unsuspected and unsuspecting canal. Sure, there are maps to read, available online, but none warn of any dangers other than rough waters and "present" alligators. I can't take anybody much older than 60 on these hunts because they just can't make the haul. Until two years ago,at least one such impoundment had ZERO access over canals. Pack your wetsuit and your lawsuit. You'll want both. And while I don't mind a brisk walk, especially if bears and alligators are present, walking over a mile is tough on anyone, even me, and I run 5 miles a day before hitting the gym. But still, the Drake Prostaffers that apply for these hunts apply first and ask questions later. One mile walk? Fuhgeddabouddit. But it's just a $5 duck hunt.

Problem 3 with the $5 duck hunt is the broad scope of wildlife infractions that occur. It is absolutely sickening to talk with Mr. Greenjeans at the end of the hunt to find out that 75% of the hunt parties were cited for something like (1) forgotten duck stamp, (2) over the limit, (3) one to many "black ducks", (4) one too many black ducks, and (5)early shooting. And of course, there's always the party who didn't actually sign up for the "party." Aside from the real infractions, there are those who like to hunt over two decoy spreads - there's and your's. Of course, their two dozen jumbo mallards aren't good enough, nor is their duck call ever loud enough. At least they're practicing, but please, please, don't practice at the hunt. Your excuse of "well, I just like to call to 'em" is a relief to the birds. Ducks have many advantages, but don't make it easy for them, Mr. Facepaint. Hell, what other game animal comes out of the sky! And just because they are in the sky, doesn't mean you should poke holes in the atmosphere with your extra-great Blindside and Black Cloud shells. You may get lucky, but it's called luck because it don't happen much. But they're not your ducks and it is just a $5 duck hunt. I've made it a point to go to state impoundments after hunts to count the cripples. It's sickening. And it's not because you left them there. It's because you shot them too high, crippled them, and turned them in to fox food. But a fox has to eat, too, huh?

Problem #4 with the $5 duck hunt is that the lucky recipients get to hunt over an impoundment that is often ajoined by another impoundment or club that is managed much, much better. And a lot of those impoundments have the best decoys. I'd hate to advertise for them, but the decoy rhymes with "korn." And the state impoundment that you've hauled your gear too is what they like to call "moist soil" managed. That's a good idea, but moist soil impoundments aren't preferred to the high energy grains that ducks actually need in the winter. Moist soil impoundments are muddy and weedy and are primarily used by hens who must feed to sustain their fertilized but unlaid eggs...in the spring!

I'm not complaining. Well, yes I am. I think it's high time that fees are raised, violators are banned from draw hunts, and that the game land impoundments are a source of pride for North Carolina hunters. I'll also be satisfied if they're managed with the fervency that privately held impoundments enjoy. If you don't agree, then the deadline for the draw is October 1st, I think. But me, I'm better than a $5 duck hunt. It's not fair to the good hunters who have limited access or time to hunt, it's not fair to the wildlife officers, and it's not fair to the birds themselves. When it changes, I might.

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