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Let's don't sweat changes in hunting laws
Sunday, May 30, 2004
Aweek after the most astonishing Conservation Advisory Board meeting ever, Alabama's conservative hunters appear to be at least breathing again. The board unquestionably cut a swath through Alabama hunting as most hunters have always known it.
Some people this past week said the dramatic changes reflect the board finally forcing Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries out of the dark ages. Others were angered by the changes and were convinced they came as a result of board members benefiting financially.

I have now had a week to digest what I watched with a dropped jaw in Gulf Shores last Saturday. My attitude on those decisions has changed somewhat after I did a little soul-searching of why those changes so offended me.


Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries has two major problems on its hands. One of those is that there are way too many deer in Alabama. The other is that the continuing decline in hunting and fishing license sales makes it tough for the department to keep running on all cylinders. Much of that second problem is caused by a lack of young hunters waiting in the wings to replace aging hunters.

Several insiders have told me that the changes were welcomed by higher-ups in the department to address those two problems. That makes an awful lot of sense.

No matter if you believe a crossbow is Satan's weapon, as one bow hunter whispered to me last Saturday, you've got to believe crossbows may entice younger hunters into hunting when traditional bows will not. Would I rather a young hunter become a proficient archer with a compound bow? Of course, but having two children of my own, I know that they would more likely get drawn into bow hunting by a crossbow.

Want proof? Show a youth a crossbow and a compound bow and ask which is the coolest.

Will the resource suffer because of crossbows? I cannot possibly see how.

On another hot-button issue from Saturday, I may be called old fashioned, but the battle between man and turkey is close to being sacred to me. Will turkey decoys cheapen that? I know they would for me. Should everyone be forced to believe as I do and hunt as I do? Of course not.

Will the resource suffer because of turkey decoys? I fear it might, but I have nothing to base that on other than I believe I would have killed a lot more turkeys in my lifetime had I used decoys. If turkey decoys were damaging to the resource, though, I've got to believe the National Wild Turkey Federation would be doing everything in its power to have them abolished.

Putting a scope on a muzzleloader, to me, is like putting a satellite radio in a 1955 Chevy. Sure it's better, but how do you enjoy the vintage experience with modern technology? I couldn't, but others apparently can. Should they be forced to conform to my beliefs? Once again the answer is no.

Will scopes on muzzleloaders harm the resource? There's no danger of that. We need a lot of does taken out in Alabama. Scopes on muzzleloaders will only help.

I will hunt turkeys without decoys next year. My smoke pole will not have a scope.

I'm going to enjoy it all as much as I ever have. If the changes entice other people to come outdoors to share in that enjoyment, I'm going to grin and bear it.

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