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At this point, I’m as sick of politics as anyone. I’m glad I spent last week hunting in Kansas with no television. It was a welcome departure from the norm.
Still, there is one major happening in the political world that is drawing me in since it affects my way of life and that of every other outdoorsman in this nation. Consider this a “call to arms” for every American hunter and fisherman.
As the 112th Congress begins its session, an important piece of legislation is on the table. It’s the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012.
According to a press release by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, “The Sportsmen’s Act is a package of 19 separate bills - the majority of sportsmen’s legislative priorities on Capitol Hill. A similar package of bills - the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act of 2012 - was passed by the House in the spring by a bipartisan vote of 276 to 146.
Passage of this pro-sportsmen’s legislation will promote, protect and preserve our nation’s hunting, shooting and conservation heritage for generations to come.”
At no time in our nation’s history has our hunting heritage been under attack by anti-hunting and fishing groups as it is now. The last thing groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Human Society of the United States and Center for Biological Diversity want to see is federal protection for everything they’re against.
Despite support from every major conservation organization, such as NSSF, National Wild Turkey Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Quality Deer Management Association, National Rifle Association and 40 more, your help is needed. Let your voice be heard by contacting our South Carolina senators and urging them to vote “yes” on the Sportsmen’s Act.
The offices of senators Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint can be reached by calling 202-224-3121.
Watch out for deer
As I drove through Kentucky and Illinois on my way to and from Kansas last week, it was amazing to see the numbers of deer carcasses along the interstate. If I had started to count them, I surely would have lost track. It made me wonder: who is responsible for more annual deer kills in that area - hunters or motorists?
Although we don’t have as large a deer population as those two states, driving in the early morning and evening hours can be just as dangerous around here. The Department of Natural Resources is urging everyone to be aware of roaming deer along your route.
“Reported deer-vehicle collisions have averaged about 2,200 the last few years, according to the S.C. Department of Public Safety. The number of collisions has declined since the 1980s. However, this decline may have more to do with lack of reporting for minor damages than with an actual reduction in collisions,” said Charles Ruth, DNR’s Deer/Turkey Project coordinator in a press release.
“Sound deer management through regulated annual harvests is the most effective way of curtailing deer-vehicle collisions, but following some common sense rules for driving defensively in deer country will make the trip safer,” he said.
Anytime deer are sighted ahead of you, Ruth recommends blowing the horn several times and flicking the headlights (as long as there is no oncoming traffic) while reducing your speed. However, if the deer are closer to you when spotted, these same techniques may spook the deer and increase the likelihood of an accident. In that situation, it’s best to simply slow down.
“Pay attention to changes in habitat types along the highway,” he said. “The zone between habitat types is a likely place for deer to cross a road. Creek bottoms and where agricultural fields meet woodlands also are prime areas for deer to cross roadways.”
If you think this is not a concern for you because you live in town, think again. Just a couple of weeks ago, a deer collision took place in front of Clover’s Police Department and Town Hall.
Top rabbit counties
For as much as I’m obsessed with deer and turkey hunting, rabbit hunters face a similar affliction. For those searching for the hottest spots to turn their dogs loose, they need look no further than the latest results from our state’s Small Game Project annual survey.
Results of this survey are derived from rabbit hunters who maintain detailed records of their hunts during the previous season and provide data to DNR for analysis. The information includes the number of rabbits jumped, the dates, times and locations.
This year’s survey shows our state’s top five counties as being: No. 1 Lee, followed by Greenwood, Hampton, Chester and Abbeville.
The number of counties reporting hunting activity dropped for the first time in six years. Survey participants said dry weather and above average temperatures had a negative effect on their efforts this past season in both hunting action and dog performance. A lack of quality rabbit habitat on public hunting lands and restricted access to private lands that are leased by deer hunting clubs remain major concerns for the rabbit hunters.
Brad Harvey is a freelance writer in Clover. Visit his website at bradharveyoutdoors.com or follow on Twitter- @BHarveyOutdoors.