The 24th of May is a very significant day, not just for anglers and campers, but for hunters as well. Queen Victoria’s birthday is also the deadline to submit your big game licence applications online, or have sent them snail mail, via pen, paper and postage stamp.
The old school Canada Post method still gets the job done, although you’d better lick the stamp a few days before May 24; the 2013-14 Hunting and Trapping Guide says that applications must be received by close of business, Friday, May 24. If I were sending my application in by mail I’d get it done no later than the preceding Monday.
I browsed the new hunting guide recently over a steaming java. It was raining outside, not much of a morning for tackling the yard work that needs tending to. I’d be chasing silver sea trout if the tide weren’t pushing in.
So I’m killing time until the tide turns and taking the opportunity to write next week’s column. In a few hours I’ll be decked out in rain gear with a fly rod in hand, trying to catch the trout that others caught in Salmon Cove during the week while I was working.
I’m really looking forward to retirement. Too bad you have to be up in years to pull the plug on the old 9-to-5 routine. I just got a text from Paul Drover, a life-long friend of mine. He just made the decision yesterday to give up teaching after 30 years in the classroom.
Years ago we were avid trouting partners, but haven’t wet a line together in way too long. He never did take to fly-fishing, so we drifted apart, not as friends but fishing buddies. Paul is deep into music and guitar playing, and there’s been no room in his brain for learning the art of the long rod. He should have a few neurons freed up now. I promised him free fly-fishing lessons.
Back to the hunting guide: I really don’t like the cover much. It would have been a lovely photo without the white rabbit photoshopped in. Unless the bunny was actually there in the original snap, in which case it is an amazing capture on film or sensor. But it looks digitally manipulated to me. Please correct me if I’m wrong. Maybe I’m just preconditioned into thinking that hares don’t relax with their eyes half closed alongside alert looking ptarmigan. But I could be mistaken.
What’s between the covers, of significance? There’s a detailed account of progress to date on the $15-million Newfoundland Caribou Strategy. This is the last year of the five-year program that hopes to figure out why our woodland caribou declined from 96,000 to 33,000 animals. This is critically important stuff and I’ll devote a full column to it later.
What’s new? There’s a brand new opportunity to hunt black bears on the island. Area 38, Burin Peninsula Foot, is now open for bear hunting due to requests from local hunting folks and issues with problem bears.
There are significant changes to the bag limits for duck hunters. It appears the daily bag limit for black ducks will increase, but there’s no specific numbers given. The guide refers to a liberalization of the bag limit for early season hunting. I’m not sure of the rationale, but I assume it’s due to there being plenty of ducks.
There will also be an increase in the procession limit for ducks from twice to three times the daily limit. There are exceptions for some waterfowl species, so read the regulations carefully.
They have also reduced licence fees for seniors. That’s a nice gesture. I’ll save money in my retirement years. And there’s now an outdoor prize draw for those of us who choose to submit our big game application by computer. Good luck to you all.
Now for the bad news: there’s a further decrease of 1,505 moose licences available to us big game hunters. That’s after a decrease of 630 licences last season. If you also consider the recent drastic cuts to caribou hunting opportunity, there’s much less big game to share amongst those so inclined to harvest their own meat.
Please understand before I go any further that I am unequivocally in favour of reducing the number of licences if it’s based on the premise of conservation. I believe these cuts were needed in both moose and caribou, and fully support the decision by the wildlife department to do so. I’m just saddened by less opportunity to hunt.
In fact, I think the decision to cut moose licences on the Northern Peninsula was overdue. I’ve been in the area salmon fishing each and every summer for the past 20 years and I’ve observed moose go from overwhelmingly plentiful to scarce in many areas.
In response to what’s been obvious for quite a while, the quotas on the Northern Peninsula have been slashed. St. Anthony area is down to 700 from 1,045, while Portland Creek has been reduced by 250. The adjacent areas of Ten Mile Brook and Conche have been cut by 300 and 350, respectively. Cloud River, areas 39 and 39A, remains at last year’s quota of 650 licences. Overall this is a huge decrease in hunting opportunity and it’s is on top of reductions made last year.
Back in my neck of the woods, Avalon Peninsula quotas remain the same, but there were big cuts last year. Placentia saw 300 licences disappear, Bay de Verde lost 150, and the Cape Shore was reduced by 50. These were drastic cuts to small areas.
Overall there are 2,185 less moose licences than two seasons ago. Many rifles will lay idle in gun lockers. I was hoping to hunt even more after retirement, but such are the plans of mice and men.
Good luck in the big game lottery.
Paul Smith, a native of Spaniard’s Bay, fishes and
wanders the outdoors at every opportunity. He can
be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.