Arkansas Sportsman

AGFC chairman committed to quail restoration

In his opening statement last Wednesday as the new chairman of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Fred Brown of Corning committed to restoring bobwhite quail in Arkansas.

Brown said he has just two priorities in his final year on the commission, and quail restoration is premier. To that end he and director Jeff Crow will assemble a quail task force, appointing commissioners Ken Reeves and Ford Overton as co-chairmen. Reeves, of Harrison, is a lifelong quail hunter who has been vocal and active about directing the commission's attention to restoring native upland grassland habitat.

"We've talked about quail a great deal, but we haven't done anything, really," Brown said. "I don't know if we can bring them back, but we won't know unless we try."

Brown cited two other restoration success stories as precedents.

"Elk were exterminated, and we brought them back," Brown said. "The bear population was wiped out, and now it's a huntable population."

Brown said the two most junior commissioners, Joe Morgan of Little Rock and Bobby Martin of Rogers, will be the most important players.

"They have six and seven years left, so they have the most time to work on it," Brown said.

Brown acknowledged that chronic wasting disease has absorbed much of the commission's attention this year, but he said the agency is capable of handling multiple projects simultaneously.

"I know CWD hit the agency, and I commend Wildlife [management division] and other people that came in and helped them," Brown said. "At the same time we've got other things going on, and we can do more than one thing at a time. We're going to get on this quail habitat thing."

Overton said that Morgan will be a crucial contributor to quail restoration.

"Probably nobody knows more about quail hunting than Joe Morgan," Overton said. "That's what he grew up doing."

Code pink

To make deer hunting more attractive to girls and women, Louisiana, Wisconsin and New York have made it legal to wear fluorescent pink during gun deer seasons.

In Louisiana, hunters on private land must wear at least a blaze orange or blaze pink cap during gun deer season. They must wear at least 400 inches of either color on their heads, back and chest on public land.

Louisiana representative Malinda White (D-Bogalusa), who describes herself as a "huntress," said the inclusion of blaze pink into the legal hunting palette will encourage more women to enjoy deer hunting. Blaze pink is highly visible, so it promotes hunter safety, White added.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law last week a similar bill in New York, where hunters age 14-15 and their accompanying adults must wear at least 250 inches of fluorescent orange or pink above the waist.

An Associated Press article on this subject said in the lead paragraph that the measure is meant to appeal to girls that don't like blaze orange.

Traditionalists won't like this, but they'll be OK with it in time. Arkansas hunters in the early 1970s complained about the "new" regulation requiring hunters to wear blaze orange. One of my father's friends insisted that hunter orange at dusk "looks just like a deer," and that it would result in more people being shot.

In Arkansas, you can also wear fluorescent green, but not pink, but I won't be surprised if pink doesn't become part of our safety ensemble soon.

Hunting and fishing license sales directly account for about 33 percent of the Game and Fish Commission's annual revenue, but it contributes to a much higher percentage given the fact that the AGFC's federal aid apportionments are based on license sales.

After five years of steady growth, big game hunting, as reflected by the $25 sportsman's license, has flatlined this year. Overall, hunting license sales are slightly decreasing in Arkansas despite a growing population, and the AGFC is eager to find ways to recruit new hunters and recruit lapsed hunters.

Girls buy a lot of pink rifles and shotguns. If pink clothing makes more people feel welcome and safe, what could it hurt?

Sports on 07/24/2016