Miscellany

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Ask the Ombudsman

Q: My hunting party failed to get drawn for a managed deer hunt. There were six of us, and all but one had a preference point due to not being chosen last year. I understand a group uses the average, but do you round off the total or use the fraction? I’m disappointed a group with at least five preference points didn’t get a hunt.

A: I’m afraid you may have misunderstood how preference points are applied. This was the first season for preference points to be part of the drawing process. Individual hunters and group applications are treated the same way. Consequently, no individual or party could have more than one preference point this year. A group of six (maximum allowed) with a preference point for each hunter has a total of one preference point, as does an individual applicant with one preference point. In your case, with five of six having a point, your average would actually be less than one preference point, but our system would round up your average to the next whole number—one—the maximum available. Had only two of your party had a preference point, your average would have fallen below half of a point, and you would not have received any preference point consideration.

Next season, if your same group applies, you’ll have an average of 1.83 preference points, which will round up to two points. Some hunts have steep odds for selection. While not every hunt is held annually, you might be able to study the odds by looking at managed deer hunt statistics online.

Ombudsman Ken Drenon will respond to your questions, suggestions or complaints concerning Conservation Department programs. Write him at P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, call him at (573) 522-4115, ext. 3848, or e-mail him at <Ken.Drenon@mdc.mo.gov>.

Agent Notes

Regulations are vital to protecting and enhancing fish resources.

Conservation Agents sometimes have to face people who strongly second-guess the wisdom of certain regulations. I remember fierce opposition when the Conservation Department instituted a 9-inch length limit for crappie on Truman and Pomme de Terre lakes. Two years later, after people saw how the new regulation improved fishing, many of the same anglers who complained wanted to know if we could increase the length limit to 10 inches on these lakes.

In Missouri, channel catfish, flathead catfish and blue catfish are considered game fish. That means that angling pressure for these species is high enough that their harvest must be regulated to protect and enhance the fishery.

Some folks, however, believe they are justified in ignoring state catfish regulations because methods that are illegal in Missouri may be lawful in another state. Some people brag about catching fish illegally, which is like bragging about stealing.

Maybe a better understanding of fish biology might persuade people to stop breaking the law, or it might persuade someone who knows about illegal catfishing activity to report it. Our catfish regulations are the result of years of study of catfish behavior and reproduction. They also take into account numerous surveys of angler sentiment. They are designed to protect and improve catfishing in Missouri, but they are only effective if people abide by them.

Report wildlife violations by calling Operation Game Thief at (800) 392-1111. Include the number on your phone’s contacts list so it remains handy.

Robert P. Vader is the conservation agent for Hickory County, which is in the Southwest region. If you would like to contact the agent for your county, phone your regional Conservation office.

Time Capsule

October 1978

Let the Chips Fall was written by Joel M. Vance about wood burning stoves. The woodstove business was booming in ‘78 and provided a good alternative to manufactured gas, fuel oil or Reddy Kilowatt for home heating. Vance advised that the investment would pay off in a few years, but cautioned that, while in the beginning of fall people love to use their chainsaws to cut down trees, by the middle of cold winter they often no longer want to go out to cut wood for their stoves. Having a wood stove can be costly if you have to buy all of your wood. You will usually require “three to five cords of cut and split wood” to burn in your woodstove. —Contributed by the Circulation staff

Behind the Code

Authorization removes barrier to recruiting new hunters.

People become hunters in stages or steps, and in the beginning, those steps can loom large. They need a gun, some woodsmanship, and, of course, a permit, just to start hunting. And before they could purchase that permit, they had to successfully complete a Hunter Education Course. All this just to try a sport to see if they might like it.

An Apprentice Hunter Authorization, which became effective March 1, allows many people a less demanding entry into the sport of hunting. The authorization makes it possible for people at least 16 years old to purchase firearms hunting permits without having earned a hunter education certificate. The authorization, which costs $10, may only be purchased for two permit years. A permit year extends from March 1 through the end of February.

Apprentice hunters must hunt in the immediate presence of a licensed hunter at least 21 years old, and that hunter must have in his or her possession a valid hunter education certificate card.

The requirement to hunt with a hunter education certified adult helps ensure a safer hunt. It also encourages the kind of mentoring or teaching that new hunters need to properly participate in the sport.

Youth seasons for deer and turkey have encouraged many youngsters to become avid hunters. Now the Apprentice Hunter Authorization makes it possible for dedicated hunters to introduce adult friends or family to the thrills of hunting.

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