Kids hunt early if parents will chaperone

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Got a kid? You might be able to start deer season early – as a chaperone.

Black-bellied whistling ducks, usually found from Mexico to South America, are showing up in Augusta.  SPECIAL
SPECIAL
Black-bellied whistling ducks, usually found from Mexico to South America, are showing up in Augusta.
Video: Augusta Outdoors
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Lots of parents have already taken advantage of Georgia’s rule – adopted in 2010 – allowing kids 15 and under to hunt with standard firearms during the state’s primitive weapons season usually restricted to black powder and archery gear.

That begins Saturday, Oct. 13, running concurrently with black powder week. The regular firearms season opens Oct. 20.

The law, aimed at giving youngsters more opportunitites afield, is still too new to generate hard participation numbers, said Wildlife Resources Division spokeswoman Melissa Cummings.

Anecdotally, however, lots of adults are using the week to give new hunters a jump on the season.

“This special firearms opportunity is a fantastic time to get a kid involved in hunting,” said John Bowers, Georgia’s assistant game management chief. “It is one of many unique opportunities we promote to encourage the next generation to experience the hunting tradition.”

During the 2011 primitive weapons season, more than 50,000 deer hunters harvested about 14,000 deer using a primitive weapon. Georgia has about 300,000 hunters who participate in the regular firearms season.

All hunters, including archers, must wear at least 500 square inches of daylight fluorescent orange above the waist during the primitive weapons and regular firearms seasons.

WHISTLING VISITORS: One of the continent’s most unusual waterfowl species has turned up in Augusta again.

The first confirmed sighting of a black-bellied whistling duck in this area occurred in 2007 at Phinizy Swamp Nature Park. At the time, it was presumed the small group had strayed from its traditional habitat from southern Mexico to Central and South America.

But they seem to be turning up – although in small numbers – each year.

In late September, three whistlers were photographed by Augusta outdoorsman Jeb Murray at the nature park near Augusta Regional Airport.

Other sightings have continued to emerge in the Florida peninsula, Georgia’s Altamaha River Basin and coastal South Carolina near Charleston.

The long-necked ducks are named for their wheezy whistling call – and are known to perch in trees and along fencetops. They sometimes lay eggs in nests of other birds, rather then building their own.

WHO SWIPED OUR WATER? Everyone has heard conspiracy theories about how the Corps of Engineers somehow empties our Savannah River reservoirs through mismanagement.

The Army will tell you it’s because of drought. But most people have questions that always seem to start with “how come …?”

You can quiz the top corps officials yourself if you like, during a workshop scheduled for the afternoon and evening of Oct. 24 at McCormick Middle School in McCormick, S.C.

“We will have displays set up for people to look at, and give people an opportunity to discuss issues and ask questions with subject matter experts,” said Billy Birdwell, the corps spokesman for the Savannah District. “The topics will include hydropower and water management and water safety, too.”

An additional workshop will be held Oct. 25 in Anderson, S.C., but the time and location have not been set.

Thurmond Lake is about 13 feet below full pool.


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