PORT ARTHUR —
Someone asked me why hunters they talk with almost seem antagonistic about nongame animals, especially the endangered ones.
This is a great question.
There truly seems to be a giant divide amongst hunters about endangered animals and anything other than game animals. Hunters for years have touted how we are stewards of all wildlife but there is genuine animosity toward species like wolves in certain portions of the hunting community,
I think some of it has to do with the political ploy some interests have made of the Endangered Species Act to shut down logging and business practices that has burned many people.
People who hunt are rightfully nervous about people who will use whatever legal maneuvering they can to take away hunting privileges and property rights.
There is, however, another side to the story.
In the last 20 years, we have raised a kill-only, instant gratification generation of hunters who are more worried about getting a cool kill shot for Youtube on their video camera than they are the actual hunting experience.
It is amazing how limits driven hunters under the age of 40 are and if you venture onto hunting social media, the commentary can be disappointing.
Our society as a whole has a huge entitlement mentality and this has filtered into hunting as it has everything. Buy a license and you are entitled to shooting a limit, giant buck, etc.
It does not help that we are raising a generation who have played hundreds of hours of hunting and shooting video games where gratification in instant, the racks are always big and there is always an opportunity to shoot a full limit of ducks.
Add to that hunting television programs that are based on one-upping one another to the point seeing a record class buck taken on television is no big deal.
These are all factors in the equation and my concern is we may loose the heritage of conservation that birthed modern sport hunting.
The sum total of hunting efforts makes a positive impact economically and biologically in most cases no matter the intentions of the hunters but we have to start asking who will be the future members of Ducks Unlimited (DU) the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), Safari Club International (SCI) and other hunting-based groups with conservation missions.
There will always be leaders in every generation who rise to the top and hopefully this one has people to follow them. If we are going to say hunting benefits not only game animals (as the industry has for years) it has to come from a place of sincerity and there is plenty of room for that.
After all, hunters pushed state fish and game departments to enact bag limits on game animals.
Hunters lobbied for excise taxes on sporting goods to go toward wildlife conservation.
Hunters have saved millions of acres of wetlands through DU and Delta Waterfowl and have helped untold numbers of big game animal populations grow through groups like RMEF and SCI.
Hunters are the visionaries in the conservation movement around the world but we have to take an honest look at the world we live in and start emphasizing the experience of the hunt and teach the future (and present) young hunters to respect all of the creatures they see in the field.
In the current climate, all it would take is about three years of drought in the prairie pothole duck nesting region and the corresponding cut in bag limits and seasons to lose a gigantic proportion of young duck hunters. We have had liberal season and bags for so long many would not have a clue what to do if they could only take three birds.
We need to raise up a generation of hunters who are in it for the long haul and realize it is just as much a blessing to see an eagle flying in the sky while lying in the field to hunt geese as it is shooting specklebellies.
And we need to let our kids come up shooting does and spikes to work their way up the hunting ladder instead of pushing a trophy hunting mentality on them before they enter kindergarten.
We are blessed to have many good, conscientious hunters in our region who instill these kinds of values and their children and grandchildren will be the future leaders in the hunting industry.
Let us hope they have millions to follow them to restore a deeper respect for the resources and stand proudly for our heritage of conservation.
(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI.)
PORT ARTHUR —
Bassmaster Elites are coming back
The Bassmaster Elite Series returns to Southeast Texas in March 2015 to fish out of Orange.
The announcement was made last week, ahead of Bassmaster’s official tournament schedule announcement and the buzz is already strong in Southeast Texas and beyond.
I was in Orlando, Fla. attending the ICAST (fishing trade) show and talked with a number of top anglers including Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli and Shaw Grigsby who said it was no surprise they would return considering the massive turnout for the weigh-ins and that the area welcomed them in a very special way.
It’s far too early to speculate anything like who the top contenders will be or how the fishing will be but there are some things to keep in mind and to look for over the next few months and into the event itself.
• Prefishing-There is a pre-fishing cutoff that usually extends to right before the Bassmaster Classic and I fully expect most of the anglers in the Elites to come back and prefish.
Last go-round probably 2/3 of the field fished the area but this time I expect that to be just about everyone. Many of the anglers that did not pre-fish told me they expected to have a lot of water to fish but the sheer volume and diversity was almost overwhelming.
Beginning probably in the early fall we will see many anglers fishing local waters to get a better idea on how to approach the area.
• East to West Runs-The Elite anglers fished far and wide but I expect even more running next go-round. After launching from the Simmons Drive Boat Ramp in Orange angler Bill Lowen ran down the Intracoastal, across Galveston Bay and fished in the Clear Lake area and placed in the top 12. The more adventurous anglers will try super long runs, in my opinion, even longer than last time to try and score on big fish. The Intracoastal Canal system makes that possible.
• Sabine River -Very few of the anglers actually fished in the Sabine River despite the event being called the “Sabine River Challenge”. I think that will change with more anglers running as far north as they can to find pockets of fish that receive little pressure and perhaps a four or five-pounder to push them over the top.
• Bigger Turnout-Last year some 34,000 people attended the event which set a Bassmaster record for an Elite event.
It was broken a couple of weeks later in New York but I fully expect the 2015 tournament to draw 40,000 plus. The reason they are coming back is not for the stellar fishing because while we have lots of bass, everyone knows our fishery cannot compare to Toledo Bend for example.
The support from the public however was amazing and that is what is bringing the top anglers on the planet to fish our area.
We will have the very best coverage of the event beginning now and leading up to it with exclusive interviews with all of the top pros with not only their thoughts on the big event but with unique tips on how you can catch more fish.
It’s an exciting time and I look forward to bringing you special coverage on a special event.
(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at email@example.com. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on GETV.org)
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