Cumberland Times-News

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September 9, 2007

Is hunting going down the tubes?

This isn’t the Eastern Shore and it sure isn’t central Kansas, but the mourning dove population in and near Western Maryland seems to be in pretty good shape this September.

As of this writing I’ve been out twice and with a little more accuracy could have stored a couple limits in the garage icebox. That’s the old refrigerator that chills things such as deer quarters and whole wild turkeys until I can get to them to do the fine-tuned cutting work.

I clean it as often as I think about it or feel up to it and I think the proof that it is an appropriate place for such wild foods is that none of us has ever gotten ill from this home-processed venison. The word venison, by the way, is a term used for all wild game, though most folks mean deer meat when they verbalize it.

Anyway, in spite of the refrigerator’s occasional cleanliness, it apparently has a force field that keeps my wife from approaching it. Either that or she is concerned about what she might see should she open the door.

The opening day of mourning dove season is like a holy day to me. The kind of day on which you are required to hunt. To not hunt would be to commit a mortal sin with all of the accompanying spiritual problems.

Speaking of hunting, or not hunting as the case may be, the story making the rounds now is that the number of hunters continues to dwindle. We ran the Associated Press version of the piece Sept. 2 at the top of page one with the headline “Hunter decline worrying state wildlife agencies.”

The article went on to say that the number of hunters 16 and older declined by 10 percent between 1996 and 2006, from 14 million to about 12.5 million.

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