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The Daily Record did not have Jim's column available on-line for me to post a link to so I wrote to Jim and he was nice enough to send me a copy to post here! Thank you very much Jim![up] You have a lot of fans here.

october 16, 2005 daily record

Even with the sun shining, what lies ahead for New Jersey's hunters and anglers doesn't look too bright.

At Wednesday night's Sussex County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs meeting we heard how the Division of Fish and Wildlife keeps heading downhill in services, solvency, staff morale and prospects for improving.

It went from an $11-million surplus in the dedicated Hunters and Anglers Fund four years ago to $4-million in the minus column when this fiscal year began July 1 until it got a $4.2-million General Fund appropriation--and where next July 1 it will need at least another $4-million. This has antihunters pushing harder to be on the Fish and Game Council because the Division ran out of money and got some General Fund money instead of being almost entirely sportsmen-funded.

It wasn't only a decrease in license, permit and stamp sales that put the Division in a financial hole, it also was dedicated money spent where the Department of Treasury and Department of Environmental Protection directed it. Morale is lower than I've seen it in 40-plus years of writing about the Division, which has vacant positions, not enough staff and older employes either having retired or planning to leave. Ask any retired Division director or former longtime employee and they'll tell you how bad it has become.

We heard at the Federation meeting that many hunters haven't applied for bear permits because they can do it only over the Internet, no bear seminars are scheduled in Sussex County, where the most bears live, and why should someone in South Jersey apply, attend the required two-hour seminar, schedule vacation time, then have the hunt cancelled at the last minute by the DEP commissioner as it was last year. There had been 3,300 applicants as of Thursday.

Keith Griffiths, Sussex Federation president, said eight requests he made under the Open Public Records Act(OPRA) were denied by DEP. A couple were noncontroversial--how many rifle permits were issued, how many people completed hunter education. A hunter asked why the annual Bear Status Report was so late(it was submitted to the Commissioner's Office in June), another asked why there had been no spring turkey survey report, a third said he had to resubmit a rifle permit application and another check after the Division said it didn't get his first. Others said not all "Bank a Doe" checking stations are available enough.

We heard the pheasant stocking of wildlife management areas may be reduced to two days a week, Wednesday and Saturday, the pheasant program is losing money and the state may go to buying birds from private suppliers.

Not this year, though, because the Rockport Game Farm raised 57,600 for stocking in season, minus the 1,000 for the Take a Kid Hunting Pheasant Hunt on Nov. 5 at wildlife management areas that include Black River In Chester Township, and Whittingham in Sussex. Details and applications are on page 22 of the Fish & Wildlife Digest and at the Division's website. Youngsters with a youth license must register by Oct. 22 and be accompanied by a parent or guardian on hunting day.

After the few bowhunters last week told me they saw bucks acting like they were in rut, I figured it was just some early ones, then I checked and by Thursday had a half-dozen hunters who said the same thing--bucks acting like hound dogs, nose to the ground. The rut peaks around Veteran's Day in our area, but some are early, some late. I thought maybe the drought could have affected the deer reproductive cycle, but found no data that said it would. The amount of daylight usually is a dominant factor.

Former Fish and Game Councilman George Howard said Jim Ackerman, who started as a game farm worker 42 years ago at the Rockport Game Farm, is retiring as its superintendent. "Sportsmen owe him a debt of gratitude," George said. "He lived with those birds 24 hours a day, seven days a week and he won't be able to be replaced."

The Division said Mount Hope Pond was stocked with 400 of the 3,070 trout allocated for the Rockaway River because of low water earlier this month. The popular pond got 410 trout during winter stocking last November, but we haven't learned whether this month's 400 means the pond won't be stocked in next month's winter stocking. Enjoy them while you can.

A reservoir without brooks feeding into it doesn't fill very fast, as Round Valley showed after the heavy rains. It went from being 88.1% full on Oct. 7 to 89.1 Oct. 14 after seven days of rain--a whopping 1% increase in capacity. Spruce Run Reservoir, meanwhile, fed by Spruce Run, Mulhockaway and Black creeks, went from 46% before to 64.7% after the deluge.

Fall-stocked trout not caught before the rivers rose should be spread fairly well, and hopefully not down to the Delaware River or saltwater. When last spring's floods sent tiger trout from the Musky Trout Hatchery into the Musconetcong River, these fish were caught in the Delaware and its tributaries for months.

It's nice to see the Morris County Park Commission expanding deer hunting in parks before more greenery is eaten, but listing Mount Paul Park as an added hunting site is puzzling. Connected gun and bow hunters have hunted there for as long as it's been a park. I hunted next to it for 30 years, heard the shots, saw the hunters, and a couple of bow seasons ran a photo of a 10-point buck killed there.
 

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good article. i enjoy reading his articles in the record!
Me too. A couple of guys thanked me for posting it here every week because they don't get the record where they are. The Record doesn't always make it available on-line and that drives my nuts! [down]
 

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After the few bowhunters last week told me they saw bucks acting like they were in rut, I figured it was just some early ones, then I checked and by Thursday had a half-dozen hunters who said the same thing--bucks acting like hound dogs, nose to the ground.
I noticed a lot of guy's here saying the same thing![confused] Maybe the ruts early this year?
 

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[up][up] for the record. I wish some of the central NJ anti papers would run articles about hunting.
 

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Good article. This is a good example of how the democrats have ruined our government. They take funds from different departments and hope no one notices. This state has been mismanaged for the past 4 years. If it happened to the Division of Fish and Game, can one deduct that the government has been taking from other departments/ divisions as well?
 

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I've been here since I was 3. No need to welcome me.
 
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