Slob Dove Hunters Need to be Cited for Their Violations
Dove hunting season opens in a few days on Tuesday, September 1, and each year there are fewer and fewer places to hunt.
The reason is simple. Dove season seems to attract the lowest element of the hunting community, and private farm and ranchlands where hunters were welcome in the past are now closed because of these few well, I'll just say it morons. They're inconsiderate idiots who apparently have no idea whatís at stake here.
They are the guys who arrive at a popular and crowded field five minutes before shooting time, and walk out in front of or set up too close to guys whoíve been in the spot for an hour, and then they give anyone crap who tries to mention to them their transgression.
They are ones who shoot too many birds and donít bother to retrieve the ones that sail out too far or crash into the brush behind them.
They are the guys who think it's OK to shoot a limit in the morning and another in the evening, and they apparently donít understand a possession limit either.
They leave their shotgun empties and trash strewn around where they shoot.
They shoot at low birds, peppering other hunters; and then have the audacity to yell at someone else who might do the same thing.
Are you any of those guys?
You certainly know one or two of them. Perhaps you even tolerate their behavior each year and hunt with them. They have a litany of offenses that offend farmers and other hunters, leave game wardens shaking their heads, and give this noble family tradition of hunting a black eye in the non-hunting community.
Robert Pierce, who manages Walterís Camp on the Colorado River south of Palo Verde in California, said he "hates to hunting opening day any more because of the people I have to share it with."
Pierce winces when he tells the story of how dove hunters lost the right to hunt a big chunk (over 10,000 acres of farmland) in the lower Palo Verde Valley about a dozen years ago. A local landowner was driving down a dirt road opening morning, actually enjoying all the sportsmen around his fields, when shot peppered his truck and he was struck by sizzling pellets coming in the open truck window. The shooter was just 100 yards away and had shot at a low bird. The landowner drove over to the hunter and offered the advice that he probably shouldnít shoot low birds, the blood running down his cheek graphically explaining why.
"Do you know what the stupid SOB hunter said? He told my friend that he shouldnít be riding around with his window down on opening day of dove season,î said Pierce. ìThat was the last year any of his lands were open to hunting, and they are still posted."
It just takes one jackass to ruin it for everyone else. The solution, like with so many problems, are best solved when you can address the offenderís pocketbook.
Ray Aspa, Sr., acting chief of the fish and game department for the Colorado River Indian Tribes huge reservation on the river between Blythe and Havasu, said when the tribal council agreed to increase the price of the CRIT hunting license from $45 to $75 there was an unexpected benefit.
"It got rid of the riff-raff. We have far fewer problems than we had in the past," said Aspa. There were fewer hunters driving in farm fields, less trash, and fewer other violations.
Are you getting where I'm going with this?
Rarely do the offending slobs get caught by law enforcement and have to pay for their violations, and they seem to shun friendly advice and education from other hunters.
Like a lot of my hunting friends, I frequently ask other hunters not to forget to pick up their empties and trash, and frequently have expletives hurled my way. Where to these people come from?
One buddy, after getting peppered three times by the same hunter shooting at low doves streaking into a field, yelled again at the guy to "knock off shooting at the low birds." He may have added a legitimate, descriptive, but not family newspaper-approved name for the shooter at the end of that sentence the third time. Proving that my friendís description was correct, the low-bird shooter threw up his gun and deliberately shot at my buddy, peppering him with shot and expletives. That was before we all carried cell phones and could dial 911. My buddy simply chose to leave.
To protect our hunting heritage, we all need to help enforcement officers: Give the hunters breaking the rules (including your hunting acquaintances) a chance to do the right thing. But if they don't respond to our verbal coaching, it's time to take photographs of the slobs, record their car license plates, perhaps even collect a couple of water bottles they leave that will carry fingerprints, and photograph all the trash they leave behind. Keep count on how many birds theyíre shooting. Don't put yourself in jeopardy or be confrontational, but get the evidence. Then find a game warden or sheriff and tell them you want the offenders cited.
Pierce likes to tell this story. He and an off-duty sheriff were working on a satellite dish during the dove season a couple of seasons ago. There were hunters nearby on private land, and Pierce and his friend were peppered when the hunters shot at a low bird. The sheriff walked over and asked the guys to be more careful and reminded they were on private land. Pierce said he could hear them tell the sheriff to F-off, with the kicker, "You're not a cop."
The sheriff didnít say another word, walked back to the satellite dish, told Pierce he had to go to work, and went inside his house. He came out dressed in his uniform and with his K-9 unit dog. On his drive around the field, he called the landowner and made sure the owner didnít mind him citing some jackass hunters for trespass. They were cited for a litany of violations and had their guns confiscated. The cost of those citations was substantial.
Rather than raising the cost of hunting for all of us (like the CRIT did), those are the kind of targeted "fee increases" that might help rid our ranks of the riff-raff. You and I can help.
Matthews is a syndicated outdoor columnist in Southern California, shockingly still writing for 11 daily newspapers in this gun-hating, liberal region. You can keep up with his writing on his business' web site at www.OutdoorNewsService.com. His column/news archives provide a wealth of insightful reading on the outdoor scene in California, including issues the rest of the nation will be facing in the coming years. As Matthews likes to say, " The poo rolls downhill from here."