04/23/06 — Early turkey season proposal shot down

View Archive

Early turkey season proposal shot down

By Gene Price
Published in Sports on April 23, 2006 2:16 AM

Forget about that early 2007 turkey season for six southeastern counties. Last month, at the request of the Wildlife commissioner from that area, the commission approved a season beginning the first Saturday in April, 2007, for Robeson, Bladen, Pender, New Hanover, Columbus and Brunswick counties.

The proposal had been opposed by the Wild Turkey Federation and commission biologists had some reservations.

Because of a technicality, the commission had to take a second vote in a telephone conference meeting. While it again was passed, it wasn't a unanimous decision. Commissioner Bobby Purcell and I cast the only dissenting votes. Our concerns were based on the opposition that had been expressed and whether the issue would pass muster before the Legislative Review Commission.

It didn't.

It was summarily rejected because it was regarded as too significant a change to be made without first going to public hearings. In effect, it would have added a week to turkey hunting in some areas and would have established a second youth hunt day.

As a result, the earlier season is dead until at least 2008. In all likelihood, it will be on the public hearings agenda next year.

GSPS Cruise

The Goldsboro Sail and Power Squadron will make its "Shakedown Cruise" Saturday, taking off from New Bern and traveling to Oriental. The boats will be leaving New Bern at around 10 a.m.

Coming up on May 20 will be the squadron's annual boat inspections. They are offered at no charge to boaters. When boats are approved, owners are issued certificates and stickers showing they have met all the requirements.

It's a good opportunity to have vessels inspected by trained examiners -- not just to avoid getting a "ticket" but, more importantly, to be sure your boat is seaworthy and has all the required safety equipment.

Check you boat out beforehand -- and make sure you have your registration aboard when you arrive. That's the first thing to be checked.

The Sail and Power Squadron is made up of some fine citizens who not only enjoy boating but each other; and all are dedicated to safety on the water.

Duckling invasion

Rex Smith called on a recent afternoon to report his equipment company on William Street had been invaded -- by a family of ducklings!

The tiny ducks had slipped in through a back door and were "all over the place." Smith gathered them up in a cardboard box and wanted to know what to do with them.

On advice of Game Protector Chris Holmes, he released them in the yard behind his business. The next morning they all were gone -- apparently retrieved by their mama.

The law requires that they not be kept captive except by licensed rehabilitators. And biologists say it always is best to leave the little ones where they are found -- provided, I suppose, that they are not found under tables, chairs and cabinets in one's place of business!

Coming up

Mark your calendar for May 2. The Wayne Friends of the National Rifle Association will be meeting at the Shriners' Club at 6 p.m.

Disrupted hunt

Billy Ray Hinson shared a note with me about a disturbing experience he had trying to harvest a turkey on his property in Duplin County. Soon after he put out his decoys and started calling, a gobbler emerged and began moving toward the decoys.

But at about the same time, Billy Ray heard dogs chasing a deer. As the chase came closer and louder, the gobbler began moving away.

It would be a long shot, but Billy Ray took it. To no avail. The tom turkey "took off like a jet," according to Billy Ray. But that didn't deter the dogs.

"Five German shepherds came out an charged toward my decoys," wrote Billy Ray. He was ready to cut loose on them had they attacked the three decoys, but they ambled off, apparently trying to pick up the deer trail.

His hunt was over.

As Billy Ray put it: "Was this fair to a 75-year-old hunter who got up at 5 a.m., drove 50 miles one way, burning $2.69 cents per gallon gas, and hunting on his own land?"

He said he is now working with that county's "dog warden" regarding the problem. Billy Ray Hinson was not "a happy hunter."

And he isn't the only one who has had that kind of experience while still hunting.

The Pfiesteria debate

Millions of fish -- mostly menhaden -- died in some North Carolina coastal waters during the 1990s.

An N.C. State scientist, JoAnn Burkholder, and a research assistant said they had identified the problem, an organism named Pfiesteria.

It was said to be capable of producing a toxin that caused ugly, bleeding sores on fish. It also had the potential of being harmful to humans.

In the late 1990s, a portion of Maryland's Eastern Shore was closed temporarily after a major fish kill in which Pfiesteria was the suspected cause.

Fish kills are not unusual during prolonged periods of hot weather and after hurricanes. Many times they can be attributed to lack of oxygen or stagnation. In time, nature corrects the problem.

But Pfiesteria was a cause for concern.

Now some federal scientists believe the fish kills blamed on Pfiesteria were not caused by that organism but by a common mold found in water.

Ms. Burkholder says the federal scientists' studies were based on findings in fish killed in 2004. For them to say fish killed in the early 1990s died of the same causes was "making sweeping assertions far beyond their data."

She sticks to her early findings.

And the federal scientists stick to theirs -- to a degree. Said one molecular biologist with the National Ocean Service at Beaufort: "We're telling the people that as far as we know, this (Pfiesteria) is not a problem.

A spokesman for the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration said the issue is not yet resolved. And NOAA is funding research on "both sides of the issue."

At the state level, the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources is following the debate "with active interest."

As for me, I love fish -- but don't serve me any with bloody lesions!