Shut Down/ Melt Down
The recent government shut down has created quite a buzz in the sporting communities. Across the country many hunter, and anglers are wondering if they'll be shut out of their favorite spots just because it happens to be federal public land. And in case you're wondering, many of the closures seem to be happening just because it is federal public land. It seems that in the infinite wisdom of our leaders that federal lands should be closed whether those lands have been manned by a federal employee or not. Yes, you are reading this correctly; The feds have closed areas where we've never seen a fed before, areas where we've never needed the assistance of a fed before. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that the effort they went through to chain up, hang signs, and erect gates cost more than what it would have cost to just keep the areas opened, and operating at the same level as the pre-shut down melt down. Hence, I am declaring this not a shut down, an operation which when done orderly usually makes sense to those around it, but rather a melt down. A melt down, as in when a child or an unstable person reaches their upper most stress level, and start doing things that make no sense in an effort to reduce said stress.
Fortunately, The nature of those most prone to spend a lot of time in nature is independence. Many sportsmen, without meaning to making them sound radical, really have no need for government assistance in their sporting endeavors. We've all landed nice fish, hiked scenic vistas, tracked deer, and stargazed without the government holding our hand. This is where the government needs to pay attention. Sure, we appreciate the laws, and the efforts to keep lands public, clean, and healthy, but the longer this goes on, the more the sporting public, who are the real stewards of the land, will realize we don't need you. It is evident everywhere a sportsman has ignored a closed sign, barrier, or gate, and entered into the Public land their tax dollars paid for regardless of the senseless closure. Just yesterday I drove past one of the public boat launches that access a federal wildlife preserve. There I saw business as usual, as the chain stretched across the parking lot entrance had been cut, and the closed signs piled in a corner. Boaters and anglers who've never seen, or needed federal assistance at the ramp were discovering that they still don't need any federal assistance. So, while I hesitate to endorse, or encourage any kind of protest or anti-social/anti-governement behavior, I whole heartedly hope that sportsmen refuse to let the melt down keep them from enjoying what is their's. While I hunt and fish quite a bit on public land, I only skirt the edges of some federal land. I doubt very much I'll encounter any "closed" signs, but I can assure you that I won't be kept out should I stumble upon one.
The world of the die hard Ruffed Grouse hunter is filled with as many secrets as the CIA man. Among those secrets, the most valuable is the locations of one's coverts. I, too, hold my covert cards close to my chest, and hope that never will come the day when I stumble upon another's spent shell in one of them. Truth is, it happens quite frequently, and I know full well that others hunt many of the same spots I revere as my own. Even my honey hole. And amazingly there are always birds there.
Sometimes, however, it seems like elements are conspiring against me, and I don't like it. Several times I have opened an outdoors magazine to find an article detailing the wonderful grouse hunting in the exact town I hunt. Once I read an article that listed three towns in different states, two of which I travel to frequently. I've always found this to be distasteful, and a little hard to swallow. The truth is, however, other than a few more pickups on the road, and a bit of a longer wait for a beer at the pub, it's never impacted my hunting any more than just the cyclical nature of grouse populations. The birds were still there. In fact, I have been surprised on several occassions, when my hunting party has been doing quite well, to talk with another hunter, who'd travelled from afar, that wasn't doing well, and wasn't impressed with the area. Pondering this, I've come to the conclussion that magazine articles do little more than bring those who are interested in grouse hunting. Those who grouse hunt,...they know where to go, and how to find the birds. So in the future I'll be trying not to have a terrible knee jerk reaction to the articles. Still, somethings will remain a secret.