Days GON By April 2018

Dale Earnhardt drive Bass Pro Shops car.

Brad Gill | April 12, 2018

Each month we turn back the clock to see what was being reported in the pages of GON, 30, 20 and 10 years ago. Here’s a look back at what appeared in GON.

30 Years Ago: April 1988

Game & Fish Announces Proposed Hunting Regs: After a series of public hearings regarding upcoming hunting seasons and regulations, Game & Fish announced their proposed regs. Some of those proposals included:

• An 83 percent increase in doe days. In 1987, there were 1,255 county doe days. The proposed increase would bump the number of doe days to 2,304. It proposed that a number of counties would likely have as high as 28 doe days, with some of those counties starting as early as October.

• A new regulation allowing for the harvest of nuisance alligators. It was thought that this would be the forerunner of what may one day lead to some form of sport hunting for these big reptiles.

• The following is verbage on a proposed change in the bag limit: “The bag limit for deer shall be no more than five, of which three must be antlerless: however, no more than three can be harvested with a firearm. The additional two deer must be taken during archery season only.”

WMA Deer Hunt Changes: WMA deer hunters seemed happy with some newly proposed changes. Instead of the seemingly random hunting dates of past years, each WMA would be put into one of four categories: A, B, C or D.

WMAs that were labeled as Category A would host open deer hunting that matched the state seasons. WMAs categorized with B, C or D would have two different deer seasons, and would run from Wednesday-Saturday. Specific dates were different for the B-D categories.

Each WMA’s four-day deer hunt would be separated by about a month, creating a split season.

The driving force behind the move was to increase the number of hunting days in an effort to improve the quality of the hunts. Complaints had poured in to Game & Fish that the deer hunts had become too crowded.

The proposal would increase the bag limit on any one managed hunt from one to two deer.

April 1998: (From left) NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt, Bass Pro Shops founder John Morris and NASCAR team owner Richard Childress pose with the Bass Pro Shops car Earnhardt would run in a future race. “I’m always asked if I wasn’t driving a car, what would I do? My answer would be something involved with the outdoors. When I get away from the track, I usually head straight to the woods or nearest lake,” Dale said at the event.

20 Years Ago: April 1998

WRD Makes Some Fourth Quarter Deer Season Changes: WRD’s hunting regulations package that went to the Board of Natural Resources did not include several changes that they had introduced to hunters during their public hearings.

One proposal, a one-week muzzleloader season during the fifth and final week of archery hunting, was not included in the final WRD regulations package. The idea sunk when adamant bowhunters felt they were losing a week of their hunting time.

The other idea that was floated by WRD at the public hearings was a uniform deer season, which meant eliminating the December Break in the Northern Zone and having a statewide closing date of the second weekend of January.

Small-game hunters argued against  this idea, so WRD said they would comprise by eliminating the December Break but end the Northern Zone deer season on Jan. 1. The comprise meant deer hunters would gain 19 additional days of deer hunting versus 28 days. Small-game hunters scratched their heads about the comprise after essentially losing 19 days of hunting.

“The original proposal was met with a classic case of hunters supporting changes as long as the changes didn’t affect their preferred hunting season,” said Todd Holbrook, WRD’s former chief of Game Management at the time. “There is no way to make everyone happy when you are dealing with something as important to hunters as changes to the hunting seasons.”

Dead Sea Becoming Dead-er?: The results of a 4-year Kennesaw State University study of Lake Allatoona pointed to a dark future: In the next 10 years, Lake Allatoona may really be dead.

“You would be able to fish, but there would not be many fish in there, and it would be catch-and-release only,” said Dr. Harry McGinnis of the A.L. Burruss Institute of Public Service at KSU.

According to his research, the cause of the rapid decline in the lake was heavy siltation from development combined with a non-point source of pollutants, like urban runoff, including leaky sewage treatment plants and septic tanks and lawn chemicals.

“Little River is in terrible shape,” said McGinnis. “The whole embayment area is just filling in, and in the summertime there are some areas where the fecal counts are just too high.”

Corrective steps were being planned as the human population in the Lake Allatoona area was expected to expand 20 percent by 2014. Despite the dire prediction, the Dead Sea is alive an well (see page 26).

10 Years Ago: April 2008

Georgia License Sales Outsourced To Missouri: It’s been 10 years since DNR made the decision to outsource license sales to a company named Central Bank in Missouri.

Chief complaints from sportsmen about the new licensing system were the removal of many over-the-counter license sales locations; difficulty for consumers without Internet or credit cards; and personal information becoming public record so marketers could contact sportsmen.

Todd Holbrook with WRD said the current license sales system was outdated. When those computers broke, there was no way to replace them. Another option was for DNR to purchase an all-new inhouse system with new computers, and those need to be replaced about every five years. After weighing both options, DNR believed the better deal in the big picture was to outsource license sales.

DNR Law Enforcement Seeks Higher Pay: GON was there as 75 DNR LE officers met at the state Capitol to ask legislators for help with increasing their salaries to mirror what other law-enforcement agencies were paying. The most alarming issue to sportsmen was that DNR LE salaries were low enough that many of them had to seek additional jobs to make ends meet. As a result, DNR had dropped from 252 rangers to only 202 in just a few short years. This left 22 percent of Georgia counties without a ranger.

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