As Lawmakers Vote, Sportsmen Take Note

Weekly news, tips, trivia, fun facts and wild tales from the outdoors

Feb. 11, 2004

As Lawmakers Vote, Sportsmen Take Note

Now that general assembly members, senators and representatives are back in action on the floors of statehouses across the country, it’s time for sportsmen to be especially aware of the activities taking place in their state capitols relating to conservation, wildlife and shooting sports issues. While it’s encouraging to note that today, in 2004, the overall political strength of sportsmen’s groups has probably never been stronger in some states and regions, the need for vigilance remains vitally important.

Sportsmen’s Watchdogs

Thanks to hunting and sportsmen’s organizations such as Safari Club International, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, the National Rifle Association and the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, legislators in state capitols and in Washington, D.C., hear the collective voice of American hunters, anglers and shooting enthusiasts like never before.

J.R. Absher

To be sure, there are other groups too numerous to list in this article that do a commendable job at protecting sportsmen’s rights and privileges and watch-dogging lawmakers on the issues — including local rod and gun clubs, bowhunting groups and state alliances. Several states are now in the process of creating their own sportsmen’s legislative caucuses in an effort to create an unwavering, unified voting block for conservation and outdoor-related legislation.

These national groups, while different in structure, goals and methodology, are each worthy of support from all of us interested in future outdoor adventure and the protection of wild places.

Michigan Dove Hunting

The U.S. Sportmen’s Alliance has alerted Michigan sportsmen to a bill deserving their immediate attention.

Last week, a Senate committee hearing was canceled for legislation that would add Michigan to 39 other states where dove hunting is legal and popular.

Without explanation, Committee Chairwoman Sen. Shirley Johnson, R-Troy, abruptly canceled the hearing on Wednesday.

The USSA is encouraging Michigan sportsmen to continue contacting their senators, requesting a “yes” vote on HB 5029, and also ask that the vote be held soon.

Angling For Gold In The Cold

While things may be heating up in the hallowed halls of state capitols, it’s still plenty frigid for the avid wintertime sportsmen elsewhere in the world.

As an example, beginning February 13, ice fishing teams from around the globe will be testing their mettle in hopes of a medal, in Riga, Latvia.

There, six-member teams from Canada, China and 11 European states will go head-to-head for gold, silver and bronze medals, in an event not unlike the Olympic games. Over two days of competition, one angler from each team is restricted to one of five zones on a given lake, with one angler kept as an alternate. Anglers claim a small parcel of ice, drill holes with a manual auger, and can change locations throughout the competition.

The tiny and ultra-light gear utilized by the Canadian team includes a 23 centimeter (about 9-inch) rod weighing less than 28 grams.

“The rod is about the size of a chopstick and its head is about the size of a small cellular phone — everything is miniaturized,” according to Team Canada manager Corey Nault, who added that the team will use bloodworms as live bait.

The competition ends February 16.

Outdoor News Hound Police Blotter

Here’s another example of how the life of a fish and wildlife agency officer is never dull. Undercover officers posing as hunters and anglers in MacClenny, Fla., last week arrested a dozen people on charges ranging from poaching alligators and deer to making and selling moonshine whiskey.

According to Karen Parker, a spokeswoman for the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, two large freezer chests full of deer and alligator meat were purchased during the sting operation.

The charges range from illegal possession of an American alligator, to illegal sale of alligator meat, to illegal possession of whitetail deer during closed season, to illegal purchase and sale of freshwater game fish to illegal sale of moonshine whiskey. Baker County Sheriff Joey Dobson said that state alcohol and tobacco officers found the illegal whiskey still near Glenn St. Mary.

“It has been a long time since we’ve had any moonshining,” Sheriff Dobson told reporters. “Back in the ’70s, when I was a young deputy, we found a big moonshine still. I thought we are past all of that.”

Outdoor News Hound Almanac

When your trophy mounts don’t appear to have that life-like quality they had when you first got them back from the taxidermist, try a few basic cleaning and maintenance tips to help restore your treasures.

Clean your mounts regularly using a soft, damp cloth, wiping lightly in the direction the hair/fur naturally grows. Clean the nose, lips and eyelids using the same procedure, then apply a thin coating of petroleum jelly or linseed oil.

Regularly check your mounted trophies for any signs of moth infestation or other insect damage — look on the floor or furniture below for any sawdust or hair. When in doubt, consult your taxidermist. You may just have to take your older mount in to the shop for a little “tune-up,” which may a new paint job around the eyes, ears and nose to help prolong its quality for decades to come.

Quote Of The Week

“When I get up at five in the morning to go fishing, I wake my wife up and ask, ‘What’ll it be, dear, sex or fishing?’ And she says, ‘Don’t forget your waders.'”

Paul Quinnett

“Darwin’s Bass,” 1996

J.R. Absher is a freelance outdoor writer whose articles and columns appear in numerous national publications. He writes a weekly column for Visit his Web site, The Outdoor Pressroom ( to find the latest outdoor news of interest. You may contact him at

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