By Gerry Augustin, Outdoor writer
Enid News and Eagle
Citizens in Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska and Wyoming voted on separate proposals to add protection for hunting, fishing and trapping to their state constitutions. The measures were approved in all four states, and now those activities are protected rights in each state’s constitution.
Voters in these states overwhelmingly approved the propositions. Hunters, trappers and anglers have always been, and will remain, the backbone of wildlife conservation in North America.
The amendments provide protection for hunting, trapping and fishing including the use of traditional methods, preservation of these activities by law, and the establishment of these activities as preferred methods of wildlife management.
Those four states joined these 13 other states that previously amended their constitutions to protect these rights: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin and Vermont, which is the only state to have written the measure into its constitution in 1777.
Urge U.S. Senators to vote yes
In the next few days, the U.S. Senate is expected to vote on the most comprehensive package of sportsmen’s legislation in recent years. Introduced on Sept. 10, the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 (S. 3525) includes 15 bills that will benefit the sport-fishing community, as well as recreational shooters and hunters.
This historic legislation provides for increased access, habitat conservation and improved fish and wildlife management.
Oklahoma deer hunting forecast
Based on stable harvests going back to 2006, mostly in the 110,000 deer range, the state’s deer herd is doing well. Oklahoma’s northwest region and southeastern counties tend to produce the largest bucks on a consistent basis.
According to Oklahoma Department of Wildlife, the northwest has a good mix of native habitat, cropland and fewer people, and that allows the bucks to grow.
In 2011, Oklahoma hunters harvested 112,863 deer, the fifth year over 100,000 deer were harvested. The largest number of deer killed was in Osage County with over 5,000, followed by Pittsburg with 3,700. The top public hunting area in 2011 was Three Rivers, followed by Black Kettle.
The largest land predator is the polar bear. There are 24,000 species of butterflies.
Here is another polar bear question: A polar bear’s body temperature is 99 degrees, but it cannot be detected by what? What is the average speed of a dog?
F.I.S.H. Pays Landowners to Allow Access
Kansas Dept. of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s F.I.S.H. Program, which stands for Fishing Impoundments and Stream Habitats, was patterned after the very successful Walk-In Hunting Access Program with a goal of increasing public fishing opportunities in Kansas. First introduced to Kansas anglers and landowners in 1998, F.I.S.H. leases private waters from landowners for public fishing. Landowners participating in F.I.S.H. receive payments, and F.I.S.H. provides anglers with a place to fish, while leaving the land in private ownership. The deadline for landowners to enroll for 2013 is Dec. 15.
Special regulations are in place for F.I.S.H. properties, and KDWPT officials periodically patrol the areas. Violators will be ticketed or arrested for vandalism, littering or failing to comply with fishing regulations. Access is limited to foot traffic, except on roads designated by the landowner in the case of very large tracts of land. Additionally, under this program, some landowners are eligible for fish stocking, habitat management, fence crossers, cattle guards, rock boat ramps, or rocked parking areas.
Each year, KDWPT publishes a fishing atlas featuring maps that show each body of water enrolled in the program, boating allowance and fish species available. F.I.S.H. sites are open for public access from March 1 to Oct. 31 or year-round. Landowners allowing year-round access receive a 10 percent lease increase.
Augustin is outdoors writer for the News & Eagle. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org