Head-scratching rules and regsOne could be generous and call some game laws inexplicable; or one could be more accurate and say they are dim-witted. Take the age requirement for a person to hunt big game. With the myriad distractions available to youth today, including an endless procession of electronic gadgetry, it makes no sense to restrict young hunters with an age limit. By the time a youth is 14 that person most likely has interests other than hunting and never will become a hunter.
By: Bernie Kuntz, Outdoors, The Jamestown Sun
One could be generous and call some game laws inexplicable; or one could be more accurate and say they are dim-witted.
Take the age requirement for a person to hunt big game. With the myriad distractions available to youth today, including an endless procession of electronic gadgetry, it makes no sense to restrict young hunters with an age limit. By the time a youth is 14 that person most likely has interests other than hunting and never will become a hunter.
Yet, in North Dakota the age limit to hunt big game is 14, same as Wyoming. (North Dakota does allow 12 and 13-year-olds to shoot antlerless whitetails during its special youth season.) And Wyoming has a mentoring program that allows youngsters to hunt with a guardian before committing to a hunter education class.
In Montana the age limit has been 12 for as long as I can remember, and that is a long time, because I shot my first deer in that state a half century ago.
The State of Michigan, where according to the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, only 26 new hunters take the place of every 100 people who retire from hunting, the state has reduced the minimum age requirement for bowhunters from 12 to 10, and the firearms age from 14 to 12.
Ohio does not have a minimum age requirement. Pennsylvania recently abolished their age requirement and saw an increase of thousands of young hunters.
Interestingly, I just read an account in my Grand Slam newsletter where a nine-year-old boy shot a Dall ram in Alaska! Age restrictions on hunting make no sense!
Another law that inhibits hunting is the road rights-of-way restriction. In South Dakota old guys like me can drive around and shoot pheasants in the ditch, as long as we are not shooting across the roadway or near buildings.
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department released this a few weeks ago: “Do not hunt on road rights-of-way unless you are certain they are open to public use. Most road rights-of-way are under control of the adjacent landowner and are closed to hunting when the adjacent land is posted closed to hunting.”
So, by posting his own private land, the landowner can essentially keep the public right-of-way adjacent to his land off limits to hunting. Does that make sense?
For the record, in Montana the entire state is “posted.” You cannot shoot even a gopher anywhere without the landowner’s permission. And forget about shooting anything in the ditch or “barrow pit,” as they call it out here. Caught shooting a pheasant in the ditch you are likely to be drawn, quartered and your head displayed upon a pike!
Transport of game is another shady area. In Montana you need evidence of sex attached to the carcass — even if you have an either-sex permit. So you can’t legally quarter an antelope in warm weather and put it on ice.
In North Dakota there is a curious law that mandates the hunter accompany his deer carcass to the processor. So if four guys in a hunting party from Jamestown want one of their group to transport their deer to Mott for processing, forget it!
How about possession limits? In Montana the possession limit for pheasants is nine; in North Dakota it is 12. That means that you can hunt the entire season, but you had better not have more than the possession limit of pheasants in your freezer. A game warden with a search warrant could cite you.
Bag limits themselves are often questionable. In the late 1980s Montana had a bumper crop of Hungarian partridges, so the Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission increased the daily bag from six to eight birds. Partridge numbers never have been as high as those years, yet the bag limit has remained unchanged.
In a similar vein, in the 1990s a Montana FWP Commissioner was able to convince a majority of the Commission to reduce the bag limit on mountain grouse (blue, Franklin’s and ruffed) from four to three because he hadn’t seen many blue grouse on his ranch near Helena. This action reduced the bag limit for the mountainous regions of the entire state! The limit never has been increased.
Senseless regulations are legion yet they stay on the books and as hunters, we all have to dance to their tune.