Proposed federal legislation protects hunting rights, increases access to land

October 3, 2013 

Every once in a while, something good actually happens in our nation’s capital. And despite this week’s bickering between the parties about the health care plan and the government shutdown, a few members from both sides did work together to push for a piece of legislation that makes sense.

Members of the bipartisan Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus just introduced the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act of 2013 (SHARE) in the U.S. House of Representatives. If it passes, the legislation will go a long way in protecting our hunting rights while correcting a number of issues that have caused problems.

“This bipartisan legislative package is an important advancement for the outdoor sporting community. Contained within this legislative package are proposals that will increase public access to our nation’s lands, prevent an unjustified ban on certain types of fishing tackle and also promote the conservation values of hunting and recreational shooting,” said chief sponsor of the bill Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) in a prepared statement.

Latta said: “As the co-chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, I believe it is essential to preserve and advance the values and traditions of sportsmen and sportswomen in my home state of Ohio, and throughout the United States. I look forward to advancing this legislation and other legislative priorities that serve to the betterment of current and future generations of hunter-conservationists.”

Co-chairman U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) added: “Today, the co-chairs of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus introduced meaningful legislation that promotes the interest of hunters and anglers. I look forward to working with my colleagues in a bipartisan fashion to advance this legislation.”

With its passage, the SHARE act would address a number of priorities. Here’s a quick rundown of a few of the items on the table.

This legislation would:

• Specifically exclude certain ammunition and fishing tackle from the Toxic Substances Control Act and leave all regulatory powers to state fish and wildlife agencies by removing the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to determine legal status of ammunition and tackle.

• Amend the Pittman-Robertson Act and free up funding, giving states better access to money for the creation and maintenance of shooting ranges.

• Grant the Secretary of the Interior the authority to authorize states to issue electronic duck stamps and outlines those requirements.

• Allow the Secretary of the Interior to grant permits for the legal importation of polar bears harvested legally in Canada before the 2008 ban.

• Establish the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council Advisory Committee which would advise government agencies on conservation practices and issues related to the shooting sports.

• Require the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service to keep those lands open to hunting and fishing and provide adequate access for these activities.

• Remove the authority of the federal government to manage the red snapper fishery throughout the Gulf of Mexico and place the responsibility in the hands of those individual states.

• Set forth an annual permitting fee of $200 for small film crews and other members of the media when filming and photographing on federal lands as opposed to the current situation where media members are charged ridiculously high fees that vary by location and must be paid each time out.

Hopefully, SHARE will be given quick passage and will run through the Senate as well.

Watch out for deer

As they do this time each year, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources is reminding drivers to be constantly aware for deer on our roadways. Our state’s Department of Public Safety reported about 2,300 deer and vehicle collisions last year.

According to S.C. Deer/Turkey Project coordinator Charles Ruth, deer are masters at evading predators. However, these same instincts can cause them to dart in front of approaching vehicles.

When the animals are sighted well ahead of you, Ruth recommends blowing the horn several times, flashing the lights — if no other cars are approaching — and reducing speed.

That said, if the deer are much closer when spotted, these tactics may well spook them and increase the likelihood of hitting them.

Deer movements are at their greatest during the breeding season from October through November and the majority of collisions take place during this time.

“Pay attention to changes in habitat types along the highway,” said Ruth. “The zone between habitat types is a likely place for deer to cross a road. Creek bottoms and where agricultural fields meet woodlands are also prime areas for deer to cross roadways.”

Despite a persistent rumor that rears its head each year, neither the S.C. DNR nor any other state agency compensates motorists for damages from deer impacts. In other words, be sure your insurance is paid up.

How big is your buck?

Jason and Anita Shaw, owners of the Sharon Grill, have introduced their first Big Buck Contest to make this year’s deer season more interesting.

Prizes will be awarded for legally taken S.C. deer in three categories, including archery, rifle and youth, with the highest-scoring rack in each group determining the individual winners.

Second and third places for those categories will also be awarded and the largest overall rack will receive the grand prize.

An end of season awards dinner will be held on Jan. 20, and winners must be present to claim a prize. Cost will be $10 per person.

If you’d like to enter your buck, you can either bring it by the Sharon Grill where they’ll take a proper picture of it or email a photo to them. If providing your own picture, it should be a “head on” shot and must include date validation in the form of a current copy of the newspaper or something similar within the image.

Scoring of the deer is obtained via Buckscore software.

For more information along with the appropriate email address, contact the Sharon Grill at 803-927-7821.

Brad Harvey is a freelance writer in Clover. Visit his website at www.bradharveyoutdoors.com or follow on Twitter @BHarveyOutdoors

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