Hunting season is upon us

It is deer season again, and I have finally turned into the sort of hunter I used to frown upon.


Scouting? Haven’t really done any. New camos? Nope.

I haven’t helped the guys clear roads or plant food plots, either.

In fact, until last week, my boots and hunting gear were right where I left them in January: in my basement.

I probably deserve the dreaded eye of shame from my hunting club friends who have been busy for weeks, if not months.

Their stands are deployed, shooting lanes are cleared and trail cam surveillance has been under way since June.

But even if I’m not prepared, this weekend is still a magical, inaugural opportunity – just to get outside.

Black powder season, which opened Saturday, is a pregame show of sorts for next weekend’s commencement of Georgia’s firearms season.

For me, the coming week offers a chance to conduct my preparations in the field while I’m “sort of” hunting.

I have an old Austin & Halleck .50 caliber. It’s a heavy, smoke belching thing, but it keeps me company for the first few sittings of autumn.

It might even put some venison in the freezer.

Georgia wildlife officials expect 300,000 deer hunters to comb our swamps and forests this fall.

Last season, there were 299,894 licensed hunters. They brought home an estimated 386,050 deer.

That’s more deer taken than hunters hunting them.

What does that mean?

Even if I’m not prepared, the odds are in my favor.

See you at the skinning shed.

WATER THIEVES?: Most people realize Thurmond Lake’s receding water levels are due to drought, but a group of lake-area activists are placing much of the blame on a more tangible villain: the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The group, called “Save Our Lakes Now,” is planning a rally from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 5 at two locations: Pollard’s Corner in Columbia County and the juncture of U.S. Hwy. 28 and U.S. Hwy. 221 in South Carolina.

In a news release announcing the event, spokesman Jerry Clontz contends the corps is at fault for releasing too much water into the Savannah River, at the expense of those who benefit from a fuller, more scenic reservoir.

“No one downstream needs all the water that the corps keeps releasing from the dam,” he said.

“They are literally throwing it away. It ends up in the ocean, does no one any good, and is then gone forever.”

There are, however, folks downstream who need Savannah’s flow.

Thirsty Augustans drink river water, and consumed 14,095,590,000 gallons in 2010 alone, according to city records.

Columbia County and North Augusta also use the river for drinking water, and dozens of industries – including Plant Vogtle and DSM Chemicals – could not operate without the river, which also plays a critical role as an assimilator treated sewage.

And while the group might be lacking in eloquence, its request is simple and to the point.

They want the corps to keep more water in the lake and release less of it into the river.

The current strategy is to release higher amounts of water when the lake is full, and reduce those releases only when lakes start to fall.

If the lakes were kept fuller earlier in the cycle, perhaps there would be more water available now, even during drought.

More details are on the group’s Web site

OGEECHEE FISH: A fish kill that devastated 70 miles of the Ogeechee River left one of the state’s most scenic wetlands nearly devoid of fish – and fishermen.

Last week, however, Georgia’s Wildlife Resources Division took a major step toward restoration by adding about 320,000 tiny redbreast and bluegill – and 500 largemouths – to the beleaguered waterway,

As part of its response to the May disaster, which yielded 38,634 dead fish, Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division executed a consent order with a Screven County industry – King America Finishing – that was found to be illegally dumping toxic waste into the river.

In the order, King America agreed to address and correct violations of the state Water Quality Control Act that included the discharge of ammonia, formaldehyde and other substances into the river – and to invest at least $1 million in “supplemental environmental projects” that will improve compliance and better protect the environment.



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