Outdoors with Gene Price
By David Rouse
Published in Sports on June 13, 2004 2:00 AM
Big Rock also means some big money, too
MOREHEAD CITY -- Billfishing teams from throughout the U.S. and many other parts of the world are poised here for the 46th annual Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament.
Some 200 boats will be heading offshore Monday in competition for more than $1 million in prize money.
Last year's top winner took home almost $421,000.
"Took home" probably is a stretch.
Participating in the tournament is not for penny-pinchers. To sign up for all events this year costs $14,000 per boat. That includes a new "winner take all" category which costs $2,500 more than all of last year's events, which totaled $11,500 in entry fees.
But teams will spend far more than that -- probably pumping more than $20,000 each into the area's economy during the week-long tournament. No small item in this year's costs will be fuel for the big boats involved in the offshore trips after marlin and other big game fish.
More than $100,000 in tournament revenues will go for area charities. While the tournament has been a resounding success since its beginnings, bigger things could be ahead. Promoters are studying the possibility of developing international competition with teams from all over the world vying for prizes.
Weigh-ins for the daily competition are conducted at the Big Rock headquarters on the downtown Morehead City waterfront.
The 2004 reported spring harvest of wild turkeys in North Carolina was down 10 percent.
Wildlife Commission biologists attribute the reduction in large part to the impact of heavy rainfalls on last year's reproduction. Another factor could be the change in the system for reporting kills. Under the present system, kills must be reported by toll free phone calls or on the commission's Web site.
Previously, reports could be made to the commission's cooperator agents, such as sporting goods stores.
Despite the overall drop, some counties experienced increases in turkey kills.
Duplin County hunters reported 85 kills. Wayne had 18 and Johnston reported 16.
North Carolina had few wild turkeys until the Wildlife Commission and the Wild Turkey Federation began a restocking program several years ago. So successful has been that effort, wild turkey seasons were open in 99 counties this year. Only Wilson County was closed to turkey hunting. Next spring, all 100 counties will have seasons.
Is Wayne County serious about its interest in making and keeping our roadsides "beautiful?" One peak under the Sam Casey Bridge on Bill Lane Blvd. and the adjoining Wildlife boating access area suggests a rather disheartening answer.
The area has been turned into an uncontrolled dump site including abandoned stoves, refrigerators, mattresses, cans, bottles, fast food debris, condoms -- you name it.
The situation was brought to light publicly a few weeks ago by Mount Olive Tribune columnist William Holloman and by an article in this column. I mentioned it personally to the county's officer assigned full-time as a captain responsible for enforcing littering violations.
The problem is bound to be known to our county commissioners, legislators and Keep Wayne County Beautiful.
But to my knowledge, there has been no demonstration of concern.
This past week, two technicians from the Wildlife Commission Engineering Division were at the scene and filled bags with small trash. They said it was one of the two worst areas they had seen.
Free lance photographer Bobby Williams took pictures of the mess and his photos subsequently ran on the front page of the News-Argus.
Robert Anderson, one of several private citizens to express concern, suggested that the area be fenced to retard trashers' access to the area under the bridge.
Contact is being initiated with the Department of Transportation, which owns the property, to discuss this possibility.
I have considered suggesting that the boat ramp area be closed altogether but this should be a last resort.
Meanwhile, I hope CrimeStoppers will consider making littering at the ramp one of its "crimes of the week." I transferred more than $2,000 to the CrimeStoppers account recently to be used to encourage reports on wildlife violators. I feel it would not be inappropriate to include wildlife boating access ramp littering and vandalism in that category.
A public hearing will be held in room 332 of the Archdale Building in Raleigh Monday at 11 a.m. on establishing archery hunting only on 93 acres of Jordan Game Land in Durham County. Information: Wildlife Game Management Division (919) 733-7291.
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