Thoughts on hunting and fishing licenses

Today I got off my rear end and purchased my 2015 hunting and fishing licenses.  Typically I buy them in early January but I’ve been behind this year and just finally got to it.  I always enjoy buying my licenses; the primary reasons are as follows:

  1. The excitement and anticipation of the adventures that lie ahead.  A hunting and fishing license is the equivalent of a passport to adventure.  The licenses are purchased at a time when I’m not typically engaged in any fishing or hunting pursuits, yet having them in my possession gets me thinking about it.  I see the license and the harvest tags, and I begin pondering questions with unknown answers.  How many times will I get out to hunt and fish?  Where will I go?  What will the weather be like?  How many fish will I catch this year?  Will I get to fill out that turkey tag or finally tag a deer this year…or am I destined to eat “tag soup”?  Who will I share these experiences with?  The questions go on and on.
  2. I take pride in generating revenue for habitat, conservation and wildlife preservation.  Every dollar that I spend on hunting and fishing licenses goes directly to a State agency that invests those dollars right where I want them to go.  Unlike taxes, these funds do not go into a governmental abyss where they are subject to misuse and waste, and for that I am grateful.  In order to maximize the dollars I contribute to these conservation efforts, I buy every license that is available for purchase whether I intend to use it or not.  This year, as I do every year, I purchased the following licenses: freshwater fishing, saltwater fishing, basic hunting license, turkey permit, bear permit, waterfowl permit, archery permit, primitive firearms permit and a whitetail doe permit.  All of that totals up to almost 90 bucks and it’s money very well spent.
  3. License purchases register me among a minority of United States citizens who take to the field and engage in hunting and fishing activity.  According to survey data produced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the percentage of the U.S. population participating in hunting and fishing continues to decline.  The most recent comparison data reveals that in 1991, 40 million Americans were recorded as active sportspersons who participated in hunting and/or fishing activity.  Twenty years later in 2011, the number declined by 2.6 million people to 37.4 million.  Upon initial examination those numbers might not seem alarming, especially if you do the math and say “it’s only a 6.5% decline over a two decades.”  In order to put those numbers into better perspective, one must consider the population growth that the country has seen during that same time period.  In 1991 the U.S. population was 253 million; in 2011 it had expanded by 23% to 312 million.  What’s troubling is this: in the early 90’s 16% of the U.S. population was hunting and fishing.  Twenty years later that number has declined to 12%.  Today, if you put 100 people in a room, on average only 12 of them are likely to hunt or fish.  Needless to say, that’s an alarming fact and perhaps a subject for another post.

For these reasons, as well as many others, I love having hunting and fishing licenses in my pocket.  I’ve made a financial contribution to conservation, I have a permission slip for future adventures, and I register myself in the small segment of our population who seeks the challenge, enjoyment and solitude that can only be experienced in the great outdoors.  If you haven’t purchased your licenses yet this year, please join me and go get ’em!

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A day at the spa

This past Friday I was presented with an opportunity to grab a day off from work.  What should I do with this gift of time?  I decided to do what a lot of people do to recharge their batteries … I’ll make a visit to the spa.  The difference, however, is that I set out to visit a spa of a different nature than most.  In fact, my spa is nature.

Eager to take advantage of the historic snowfall that we’ve experienced and to try out a new pair of snowshoes I recently purchased, I set out on my mission.  The plan was to enjoy some fresh air while hiking and scouting for deer activity.  I’ve been concerned about the deer throughout the entirety of this brutal winter and I was eager to see some sign that they are alive and well.

I planned two hikes for the day; the first one got underway at 9:45 am.  The weather was crystal clear skies, 15* temperature with a reported windchill of 7*.  Perfect weather to throw on a pair of snowshoes and get after it; there certainly was no worry about getting overheated!

snowshoes

I hiked a loop through mostly hardwood forest and encountered some deer sign, but not a lot.  Total distance of this hike was 2.1 miles and it took me 1 hour and 11 minutes.  For the majority of this hike I was off trail and I found blazing my own trail quite easy with the new snowshoes.  It was a beautiful hike.

deer tracks 1st spotcreekSunny pic

The second hike began at 11:30 am with a temp of 19* and no wind whatsoever.  This hike was far more productive in terms of deer sign.  This was a 1.6 mile hike in a new location; total time spent hiking was 1 hour and 4 minutes.  This hike was at a much slower pace because I encountered a lot more deer activity.  At one point I decided to follow the deer sign and it took me on an adventure through some incredibly thick underbrush.  I’m glad I stuck it out and inched my way through it; as a reward for my efforts I discovered a deer bedding area that I was previously unaware of.

deer tracksdeer beddeer bed 2

I had a great day.  I encountered promising deer sign, I found a new deer bedding area and I saw plenty of other wildlife activity including that from coyote and raccoon.   It was a perfect say at the spa, one that left a big wide grin on my face!

Hike pic of me