Thursday, February 03, 2005
Bill Cochran's Mailbag: Of dogs and ducks
Bill Cochran's Outdoors
- Virginia’s hunting totals produce mixed results
- A good trade: Virginia trout for Kentucky elk
- Forget the odds-makers; Salem’s John Crews believes he can win the Bassmaster Classic.
- The good and bad of the 2012 saltwater fishing season
- Column archive
Bill's Field Reports
- Virginia General Assembly goes soft on outdoor issues
- Quail Unlimited calls it quits
- Field reports archive
BILL: Your articles about hunting dogs are beginning to get on my nerves. I’m involved in a case now where I found eight pens of starving hunting dogs in Chesterfield County and one was being eaten alive. It was a living nightmare and one that I will not soon forget. Dogs were crawling to me dying before my eyes, skin falling off their bodies. When the crime lab got there the deputies were throwing up it was so bad.
So how can you sleep at night knowing that this goes on all the time and that only a few of the hunters take care of their dogs? The law, I hope, gets passed. And if necessary I will send photosof the dogs and their autopsies to every newspaper and media who will print them and to the president if necessary. Believe me, they are not pretty. I will get my hands on them some way. I have my own that I took and they were better than what the police took cause no one could aim the camera and look without throwing up.
In addition I’ve been taking pictures of every hunting pen I can find with dogs in it and the conditions are horrible by anyone’s standards. My case has been bound over to the grand jury, which will meet some time in April, and I am sure you will hear about it. In fact, I will make sure you will. Even the judge got sick looking at the pictures.
Not thanking you at all for your so-called articles,
JO ANN MARTIN
JO ANN: I invite you to read how I feel about dogs. Click here.
BILL: It is great that you are interested in the menhaden issue. It is a relatively unknown issue because there are so few people directly involved in it. Prior to last year the majority of Virginia legislators had never heard of a menhaden. It didn't take long once the issue was introduced in the General Assembly before the stakeholders went into action. There is a lot at stake. Mainly money for OMEGA. It seems that OMEGA has their people in the General Assembly and therefore prefers that "their people" remain in charge of the menhaden resource rather than have the resource be managed by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. Hopefully you and other sports writers can inform and educate the general public as well as Virginia legislators so that progress can be made.
BILL: What is your take on the proposed state duck stamp? Isn't this just another license increase?
I've hunted ducks in the Shenandoah Valley for about 20 years. The numbers go up and down. That’s especially true with native wood ducks, the recipients of nesting habitat improvement, which seem to correspond more to the spring weather than to any habitat changes.
With low harvest numbers, a state duck stamp is just another increase in the price per duck, which between the special bismuth shells and the federal duck stamp, a single duck costs more than a deer.
Shouldn't I be able to support Ducks Unlimited and others if I want to and avoid the VDGIF overhead? Since organizations like DU typically do a matching grant project with VDGIF, doesn't this just remove portions of the project from state purchasing policy?
What next, a turkey stamp?
BILL F.: This bill would enact a mandatory $9 state duck stamp in Virginia. The current voluntary state stamp is operated by Ducks Unlimited with modest success. It is a great idea, and what money it brings in is well spent, but people simply don’t know about the stamp or don’t support it.
One estimate shows that a mandatory stamp would bring in just under $200,000 annually. The bill proposes to split this money after administrative costs, with half of it going to nonprofit organizations for habitat improvement and the other half to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to protect, restore, enhance, and develop waterfowl habitat. It is hoped this money also could be used to acquire habitat, but that is not spelled out.
Wwould all this benefit ducks and duck hunters, or would it just make duck hunters the heaviest taxed of all outdoor sportsmen? Would duck hunters simply drop out of the sport and overall revenue decline? Rather than splitting the money, would it be best for all of it to go into the DGIF Game Protection Fund for waterfowl habitat and acquisition directed by biologists? There are no easy answers.
BILL: Require a state duck stamp? I already buy a federal stamp for $15, I think. I hunt ducks in streams and beaver ponds maybe three or four days a year. Most of what I encounter are wood ducks, with a two-per-day limit. Bismuth shells are $2 every time you pull the trigger. For the half dozen or so ducks a year that I kill, it's hardly worth it even now. I now need to either patch my waders or get a new pair. Maybe I'll just buy a couple new turkey calls and get out of the duck hunting business all together. I didn't kill a single duck this year anyway.
BILL: Did Leesville Lake loose its big stripers, like Smith Mountain Lake did?
JEFF: No major fish kill at Leesville Lake was reported to the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, according to biologist Dan Wilson. Population samplings with gill nets turned up some 10- to 15-pound stripers (it is tough to sample bigger fish than that), yet for the first time on record no citation striper was registered from the lake in 2004. These mixed signals are typical of Leeville, which is a tough place to figure out. And you don’t get much help from anglers. “Some of the better big-fish anglers at Leesville don’t tell,” said Wilson. Citations have been declining since 2000, when 14 were registered. In 2001 the count was nine; in 2002, six and 2003, one.
BILL: Funny about the Sunday hunting bill. I went to the Game Commission hearings for 6 years only to ask one question: “Why can’t we hunt on Sunday but can fish on Sunday?”
The answer was the same every time: “The game needs a day off from hunting pressure.” So I would counter with: “Give them Wednesday off if that is indeed the real answer."
It is religious driven.