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Thursday, March 7, 2013
The terse debate between hound hunters and animal-rights advocates over foxhound training enclosures grew heated during a board meeting of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries last fall. In January, the debate switched to the 2013 Virginia General Assembly, now it is headed back to the DGIF board.
The board has scheduled a meeting at 1 p.m. on March 20 at its headquarters in Richmond to give the public an opportunity to review and comment on regulation changes its staff has proposed for training preserves.
You get an idea of how terse this issue is by the fact that no other subject will be discussed during this meeting, a departure from normal DGIF procedures.
The animal-rights people, led by the Humane Society of the United States, sees the use of foxhound training preserves as a barbaric-blood sport while many hound hunters, led by the Virginia Hunting Dog Alliance, view the facilities as a place for families to train their hounds and participate in wholesome field trails.
The issue takes on broader importance in the minds of many sportsmen who see the efforts of animal-rights advocates to disband training enclosures as a first step in going after other hunting traditions.
A Senate bill that would have gutted fox-enclosure use was killed in the recent General Assembly, as it should have been in order to give the DGIF an opportunity to complete its study of the needs for new regulations.
Following the March DGIF board meeting, there will be an April 2-May 31 online comment period, www.dgif.virginia.gov. Final action on the recommendations is scheduled for June 13.
Here's where to get more knowledge of gobbler hunting
The Botetourt Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation can claim as its members some of the finest turkey hunters in the nation. Put a couple of the grey heads together and you have nearly 100 years of experience and a bunch of national achievements.
That knowledge will be shared during a spring gobbler hunting seminar the chapter has scheduled on March 20 beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Community Room in Fincastle (behind the old jail).
"We hope it will appeal to new turkey hunters and maybe those who want to pick up a tip or two," said Richard Pauley, the chapter president. Topics will include safety, calls and calling, tactics, decoys, hunting on public land and marksmanship.
Chapter officials are just back from winning a major award at the National Wild Turkey Federation Convention in Nashville. Pauley said members decided on the seminar as a way to introduce others to the joys of turkey hunting. It will be a laid-back affair with time for questions and hands-on instruction, he said. There is no charge. Youth are welcome.
"I would have given anything to have had something like this offered when I was trying to learn the basics of turkey hunting nearly 50 years ago," he said.
More tournaments for the Smith Mountain Striper Club
The Smith Mountain Striper Club has announced that it is beefing up its tournament schedule, by offering five member/guest events this year, the first on March 23.
A $30 fee will be charged for the series, plus $5 per event or $10 for nonmembers. The first-place cash prizes awarded in previous years will be dropped and this year's competition will be for trophies and bragging rights rather than big money, club officials said. There will be a big-fish pot.
A number of tournament divisions are being offered, including an artificial-only class and a children's class.
Dates for the tournaments are March 23, May 18, July 20, Sept. 14 and Nov. 2. Three events will be headquartered at Captain's Quarters, while the other two venues have yet to be announced.
Additional information is on the club Web site: www.smithmountianstriperclub.com/tournament-info.html and the club's Facebook page.
Flounder length limit lowered for the fourth straight year
The Virginia Marine Resources Commission has voted to lower the minimum-size limit on flounder from 16.5 inches to 16 inches during the 2013 season. One-half inch may not sound like much, but it can determine whether the flounder you caught is routed to the frying pan or back into the water.
The commission voted unanimously to lower the recreation-size limit for the fourth year in a row. The opportunity came because Virginia's flounder landings in 2012 were well below quota. The commission had the option to lower the limit to 15.5 inches, but backed off from that.
The catch limit remains four daily and there will be no closed season.
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