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Hard to say if opening-day change is working

Commentary

Just a few weeks before deer season opened in 2019, I wrote a column suggesting that perhaps the authors of the regulation that the opening day of deer season should be switched from Monday to Saturday had perhaps not thought it through thoroughly as to the impact it would have.

I wondered in that column if restaurants and stores where hunters shopped for supplies would feel a loss of customers and therefore a financial loss.

Not being a prophet, I could not actually predict it, but as one hunter who had always been part of the preseason excitement of traveling to deer camp the day, before the season opened and stopping to eat as we traveled, and visiting stores to pick up last minutes supplies or needs, I simply sensed this effect. The excitement of the day before the season would often open the purse strings, leading to spending more money than you intended to pick up the latest gadgets on the market and snacks and food to take to camp.

So I read in the Mirror last Tuesday that business people across the state are upset and ready to sue the Game Commission because of the substantial losses they say they have endured because of the changing of opening day. This should have been anticipated and perhaps it was, I don’t know, but the attitude that was proffered publicly before the season was that the whole question rested on the whims of the hunters. Was this change of opening days going to be alright with them?

That change in opening days had to have an unavoidable impact on so many people in this state: both businesses that profit from their business, and on hunters who are inconvenienced in many ways by it. I don’t know exactly how they are going to poll this reaction by hunters but they surely will. This is a knotty problem for the Game Commissioners to grapple with and I’m glad it isn’t up to me in any way.

Wild creatures finally had to cope with winter ice and snow, with ice being the worst of it.

I just know that getting from my car door to my car last Sunday morning was a life and limb threatening operation. Deer and turkeys can cope with snow much easier than they can with ice.

Deer have great difficulty walking on ice and they often slip and fall, many times breaking pelvis and/or leg bones. This is a horrific injury and then they become easy prey for coyotes or free-running dogs. It’s a gruesome way to die.

Wild turkeys can navigate ice pretty well, it is deep snow they have trouble with. We didn’t have snow deep enough this last week to endanger turkeys, I don’t think, but if they fly down from the roost into deep snow, they cannot get enough purchase with their great wings to lift themselves out of it.

This happens when we have the 20 inches of snow from a blizzard. One thing that both turkeys and grouse and other birds do is to fly from branch to branch and feed on whatever buds or berries are available.

As I have mentioned before, Ruffed Grouse often burrow into soft snow banks to find shelter and stay warm. But if the snow freezes while they are in this hideaway they cannot get out and will die in there.

Mother Nature is a pretty feisty old gal. She makes no special arrangements to protect wild creatures, and many more than you know die each winter if conditions are severe and prolonged.

But we all know spring will come and I have a number of projects ongoing at my house that must be done before spring gobbler season arrives. Practicing with turkey calls is just one, tuning up box calls and other friction calls is another. I also have to fix some holes in my chair blind that developed over the fall season. So I got some iron-on tape with which to repair the blind and that will be a big endeavor. Cleaning and oiling the shotgun and then when the weather warms, taking it to the range and patterning it.

I drive myself to get these irritating chores done during the winter because I can do most of them while watching the playoff football games and don’t have to sandwich them in when it’s time for preseason scouting.

Outdoor shows will soon be popping up and one of the things we all love to do is to shop for the latest offerings from the turkey call, gun and clothing companies.Despite our vows to not spend money foolishly, we do it anyway.

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