‘Happy (Hunting) Days Are Here Again’ – thank goodness | TheFencePost.com

‘Happy (Hunting) Days Are Here Again’ – thank goodness

Jim Vanek
Greeley, Colo.

The song “Happy Days Are Here Again” was copyrighted in 1929. The song celebrates the imminent repeal of Prohibition – thank goodness.

Today, the song is probably best remembered as the campaign song for Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s successful 1932 presidential campaign. Since Roosevelt’s use of the song, it has come to be recognized as the unofficial theme of the Democratic Party. The lyrics suggest optimism.

Happy days are truly here again, and optimism is the word of the moment for those of us who plan to spend the next five months hunting. I saw an ad recently in my Pheasants Forever magazine that read “Dirty Trucks, Happy Dogs and Lonely Spouses.” Truer words have never been spoken or printed, although I must admit my spouse accompanies me on several hunts.

My happy dogs (German shorthaired pointers), Penny and Autie, are ready for the North Dakota and Montana openers in October.

The “dirty truck” is spotless today and will remain so as long as we keep it out of Nebraska’s muddy ditches. They seemed to have a magnetic appeal last hunting season.

The middle of this month signals the start of five months of happy days. Archery and black powder hunters will be the first to take the field. Most of those big game tags needed to be applied for several months ago.

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Bird hunters will need to wait until September 1, to dust off the old smooth bore. Mourning dove, white-winged dove, chukar partridge, band-tailed pigeons and some grouse will open up that day. You will need to check regulations for species and areas open in the Colorado small game brochure.

A few other species – the white-tailed ptarmigan, for example – do not open until almost mid-September.

Colorado’s pheasant season is scheduled to open in mid-November as usual. Preliminary reports have been “guardedly optimistic” for eastern Colorado and western Kansas.

Obviously hunting big game or upland birds requires the appropriate licensing. Along with your license or tag, anyone born after Jan. 1, 1949, must show they have completed a “hunters safety program.” Upon completion of a certified program, you will be given a card with your hunter’s safety number on it.

Once you have purchased your license, you must activate it either online or by telephone and you will be given a HIP number. HIP is the “Harvest Information Program.” The Harvest Information Program is designed to improve small game migratory bird harvest estimates. State biologists were concerned that federal harvest estimates were not providing adequate harvest information using the traditional survey methodology.

Colorado requires all small game hunters to sign up with HIP. You may sign up by going to the Colorado HIP website and make phone registrations by calling (866) COLOHIP (265-6447).

Everything from boating to bird-watching is better because of the efforts of the state.

However, there is one area the state can improve on. To put a wrap on this idea of licensing, hunter’s safety cards and HIP numbers, consider this my soapbox or editorial if you will.

Big game licensing needs to take into account a hunter’s age. As an example, applying for a moose tag may take several years. Hunters who are not successful in the drawing for a tag are given a “preference point” to use next year when they apply to help improve their odds in the drawing.

The preference point system is not perfect, but it works – unless you are running out of years or the physical ability to hike around our Rocky Mountains.

After visiting with several hunters and registered guides, most agree the only fix would be to give an unsuccessful draw two points after that hunter reaches the age of 60. This would help them improve their odds of drawing a tag while they remain capable of enjoying the hunting experience.

Just a small tweak of a good system could bring on happier days.