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Gone Hunting 4-19-10

Jim Vanek
Greeley, Colo.

It seems like everyone is getting caught up with numbers these days. It is a numbers game – the stock market has bounced back during this recession. Productivity is measured and is better than it was a year ago. Unemployment is better but not fully recovered. The housing market is on an upswing.

We measure the snowpack to determine if it is above or below average. I’ve thought about that one a lot recently. Is average good? Do we have plenty of water if the snowpack is 15 percent below average?

Then we can always stir up a hornet’s nest with the Colorado Student Assessment Program. We get caught up with numbers that show how well our teachers are teaching. Students have no accountability – let’s just take this test for fun. That is supposed to be fixed in 2012 when CSAP becomes an “exit exam.”

“Avatar” strikes a nerve for sure. One word can describe the animated movie – overrated. The people who vote on the Academy Awards thought so too. However, for several weeks all we heard about were the attendance numbers that “Avatar” was putting up as opposed to “Titanic.”

Here’s a number that I’m particularly interested in – 140. There are less than 140 days left until the hunting seasons get under way.

If you are reading this and thinking to yourself that you have plenty of time to apply for your limited draw big game tags, you’re wrong. The application deadline for drawing a license was April 6.

I’ve got three applications in for Colorado and one in Wyoming. Surely I can draw one out of four.

That is a huge numbers game, too. The Colorado Division of Wildlife publishes last year’s numbers: how many applications there were in each big game unit for each species versus how many tags were available in that unit. This will give you an idea about how much competition you will have to draw that tag. If you’re into the numbers game, it is a good publication to study.

How does the number 30,030 sound to you? Big, I’ll bet. Well, that is how much it cost a poacher to whack two mule deer in Wyoming – $22,000 in fines, $8,000 restitution and $30 court costs. That should help the economy somewhere. The poacher also lost his Winchester caliber .270 rifle and his hunting and trapping privileges for the next 10 years.

There are 31 states that are members of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact. In other words, if you lose your hunting privileges in any one of the participating states, you lose them in all 31. Those are big numbers.

Poaching is “mutiny on everyone’s bounty. People that poach deprive legitimate hunters from harvesting many big game animals each year and we will continue to do what we can to catch them.” That comes from Tom DeSomber, Wyoming Game and Fish department’s investigation officer.

You can cure your cabin fever and share in Colorado’s bountiful outdoor opportunities by heading to the woods in search of a Colorado turkey. That’s right, the regular spring turkey season opened April 10, and for a mere $21 you can get out of the house and avoid that spring yard work for a little while longer.

Hunters with a limited spring license can take two bearded turkeys. One must be harvested on the limited license in the limited area. The second must be harvested with an unlimited license in an unlimited area. If you take two turkeys in spring, you cannot take a turkey in fall.

It doesn’t take an Ivy League attorney to figure out that those numbers sound pretty good.

Speaking of good numbers again, our neighbor to the east, Nebraska, reintroduced turkeys into several parts of the state. The population has increased 400 percent.

Archery hunters have been stalking gobblers there since April 1.

Kansas also allowed archers an opportunity at a gobbler on April 1, with the regular shotgun season opening on April 7.

On a recent trek out east to visit friends in Kansas, my wife and I counted more than 200 turkeys feeding in a quarter section of corn stubble. If you’re not into those numbers, you should be.


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