By Don Mallicoat
Sandy Mush – Well, that time of year is fast approaching. Anybody else getting that itch to drag out the gear and start getting ready? Yep, hunting season officially starts on Labor Day, Monday, September 2nd. That’s right, while you read this we are less than 45 days away. And usually the first seasons to kick off are dove and resident Canada goose. Federal migratory bird regulations do not allow bird hunting prior to September 1st. The opening day usually falls on the first Saturday in September, but thanks to the vagaries of the calendar, and the fact there’s STILL no Sunday hunting for migratory birds in NC (let’s not go there), the season opener will fall on a Monday this year.
Dove season is the more popular of the two seasons. And with the excellent habitat work being done at Sandy Mush Game Lands that is the most popular destination for dove in the mountains. Given a good growing season and plentiful birds it’s not difficult for hunters to bag their 15 bird limit at Sandy Mush on opening day. There is one catch: The first two weeks of dove season at Sandy Mush are by permit only. That’s a change from previous years when it was only the first week. You have to go to a license agent or file for a permit online. Permit filing began on July 1st. Another change: permits this year will cost you $8 instead of the $5 for past years.
Because of its popularity, permits at Sandy Mush (Item #8610) usually fill up fast. Only 95 per day are available. So you enter your hunt choices and if you have a group of hunters file for a Party hunt. Each hunter must file separately under the Party number. Permit dates and their corresponding numbers are: September 2 – 1000; September 4 – 1001; September 7 – 1002; September 9 – 1003; September 11 – 1004; and September 14 – 1005.
Based on previous experience the first three days of the season all 95 permits will be drawn. If there are any leftover permits you can purchase them before you go out hunting.
Sandy Mush is not a large area and limiting the number of daily hunters is important for safety reasons. Wildlife Enforcement officers tell me that the biggest violation they find the first week of the season is people hunting without permits. The reason given? They weren’t aware a permit was required. Ignorance of the law will not get you out of a ticket.
In other hunting news, there was an interesting development in our nation’s capital recently. You may have seen the President’s speech on the environment. A couple of days after that speech several Senators, including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, announced the formation of a new Congressional Caucus, with Republican members of both the House and Senate. It is called the Roosevelt Conservation Caucus, in recognition of President Teddy Roosevelt’s legacy in conservation policy in our country.
With explicit goals of embracing and promoting “constructive efforts to resolve conservation and environmental problems that align with market-based approaches and promote American ingenuity,” this could be an answer to the extreme measurez that has shaped conservation and federal land use policies for the last few decades. Those policies are primarily responsible for the decline of the local National Forests.
Senator Steve Daines of Montana, one of the Caucus leaders said, “We need to move forward on forest management reform. Either we are going to manage our forests, or our forests are going to manage us. We’ve got to deal with the wildlife situation that we have and we can reduce the risk of wildfires and severity of those wildfires by better forest management practices.”
The President and Agriculture Department have already started reducing the regulatory burden that prevents active forest management.