The SCI Foundation and its members generate support for SCI’s successful efforts to protect the freedom to hunt and promote conservation.
By Scott Mayer
It’s pretty amazing what professional wildlife managers can do to manipulate animal populations to meet specific cultural, economic, or geographic needs. For example, when I was growing up in rural Virginia, the rule when deer hunting was “bucks only,” as the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries was managing the herd for growth. It succeeded. In fact, some would say they over succeeded as today Virginia has liberal antlerless deer opportunities as the Department works to either sustain or in some places even reduce deer populations.
Indiana is no different in managing its deer herd to suit that state’s needs as evidenced by the Indiana Natural Resources Commission recently approving an indefinite extension of a management tool commonly referred to as the “one-buck” rule. That rule limits hunters in Indiana to only one antlered deer during the regular archery, firearms and muzzleloader deer seasons.
The rule was first applied in 2002 and was set to sunset after a five-year period. I spoke with Chad Stewart, the deer biologist for Indiana, about the “one-buck” rule, its background, and the effect it has had on the deer herd and hunting in Indiana.
Stewart wasn’t with the Commission when the rule was implemented, but his understanding is that sportsmen and women lobbied for the rule to manage the herd for more mature deer. Steward explained that in 2001, the year before the one-buck rule was applied, 56% of the bucks harvested were yearlings. He recalls that at the time, there was some push-back from some groups of hunters, but the rule was renewed in 2007 and today 65% of Indiana hunters support the rule, and most of those support the rule “overwhelmingly.”
According to Stewart, the popularity has a lot to do with hunters seeing more bucks, and the bucks they are seeing are larger and more mature. In fact, in 2011 (the latest year for which there is data) the yearling buck harvest was only 39%. As Indiana’s one-buck rule demonstrates, when hunters and game departments work together and use sound wildlife management practices, great things can happen.
The Arizona Game and Fish Commission recently voted to oppose efforts to create a 1.7 million acre Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument in northern Arizona proposed by the Grand Canyon Wildlands Council, Center for Biological Diversity, and the Wilderness Society. The commission opposed the measure for several reasons. For one thing, the land is already mostly public land that is currently managed and conserved under multiple-use concepts. Instead of continuing to conserve the land, the measure was an attempt to “preserve” the land, and that would impact the commission’s ability to manage it using sound wildlife management practices.
In many instances, “preserve” means the land is locked away and humans may not be able to access those lands for recreation. It can also mean fish and game departments are prohibited from augmenting wildlife populations, manipulating habitat, or developing wildlife watering areas–all of which have far reaching implications. For example, the monument proposal entailed voluntary retirement of grazing leasing on those lands. A department analysis pointed out that “loss of livestock management can cause significant loss of water availability for wildlife.”
Another management practice lost under “preservation” is the ability to mechanically thin high-risk forests with unnatural densities or to do prescribed burns. Both of those practices are necessary to protect forest habitats from future exposure to the possibility of catastrophic wild fires. Other concerns included the monument designation prompting external pressure to ban traditional ammunition thus jeopardizing success of the Game and Fish Department’s ongoing voluntary non-lead efforts to restore California condor populations, and further restrictions on motorized game retrieval.
Ultimately, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission adopted a resolution concerning the continuing and cumulative effects that special land use designations have on multiple-use lands, including effects on access, conservation efforts and wildlife-related recreation. The resolution does not prevent future discussions and dialogues on the issue, but sets the appropriate stage for those discussions.
Browning has introduced a line of MOA shooting bags configured to suit a variety of range and field shooting conditions. The line includes a two-piece set, a utility shooting rest, and a window mount rest.
The two-piece set is what you traditionally find on a shooting bench. They’re designed to securely cradle the fore-end and toe of the stock and have a clever D-Ring with snap hook so you can join the two bags together for transportation or storage.
The Utility bag provides a fairly large platform for shooters who prefer to use only a fore-end rest and is sized to work well for handguns.
Though called a “window” mount, the V-shaped base of the MOA Window Mount Rest is equally effective straddling the railing of a metal treestand or the wall of a shooting house.
All are made of ballistic nylon and are filled with polymer pellets. Rubberized top and bottom surfaces keep your gun and the bag in place.