Pheasants, target practice and worrying about CWD

The best pheasant hunting to be enjoyed this fall season may be the special youth pheasant hunts being offered.

These are special hunting opportunities for junior hunters between 12 and 16 years of age, who have successfully completed a basic Hunter-Trapper Education course.

Each year, sponsoring sportsmen’s organizations from around the state host these instructional events. Hunting licenses are not required. Participants must register and wear the necessary amount of fluorescent orange and be accompanied by an adult.

On Saturday, Oct. 7, and again on Saturday, Oct. 14, there will be two days — sponsored by the Bedford County Sportsman’s Club at 1072 Oppenheimer Road in Bedford for shooting.

These events are being run in basically 2¢ to 3-hour shifts for the youngsters, the first beginning at 8 a.m., the second at 10:30 a.m. and the next at 1 p.m. and so on. So there is a need for registration.

These hunts being offered on two separate days make it convenient for youth to participate in at least one of those days.

But, some of the events are already filled up so I would get this registration done pronto if you have a youngster that would be interested.

Not to my liking

The discussion of pheasant hunting in general has been met with skepticism and disgust.

Pheasant hunting has not been that great for years and farm-raised birds were all that most sportsmen could enjoy and now with one game farm closed down and the Game Commission imposing a pheasant stamp of $26 on those who wish to hunt pheasants.

Well, the hunters have been turning away with sneers. I suspect that the fall turkey woods will see many more hunters than usual this fall.

Hunters never much appreciate changes in their rules and regulations and the one that hit home this year was that we no longer get the digest book with all the rules and regulations in it with our licenses.

Now to get the full digest, one must pay $6 for it. It isn’t really the fee — that is small enough — it’s just the idea of it. Having to pay for something that you have received for free for as long as you can remember is a shock and not received happily.

The digest is online so you can look up anything with your computer or smart phone. If you have yours in the woods with you, and most do, that works, also.

What to do

Those who have purchased senior licenses, and I am one of them, resent having to also pay higher prices for extra tags and licenses. They feel these should be given to them at the same price they were when they bought their licenses.

But the most worrisome issue that confronts hunters, especially in this area since we are in the heart of the Chronic Wasting Disease Area is that there is still so much uncertainty as to whether or not deer from this area should be consumed by humans.

We were told when this crisis began that it was perfectly safe to eat the venison, but now, as more research is being done, we are being told not to take a chance of eating the venison because it simply isn’t really known yet exactly how safe it is to consume it.

So I ask, who wants to eat a deer that might be dangerous to your health?

I know that I eat every scrap of venison that I harvest. This will be a serious blow to me and to many others who also depend on venison for winter meat. So, like many others, I look for a place to hunt where this threat has not yet arrived.

A plateful of seared venison steak or chops garnished by sauteed onions and mushrooms, eaten while I stare into my fireplace, reliving every moment of the hunt that brought it to me, is one of my private and most delightful moments each year. But I want to know absolutely that the meat is not toxic.