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Outdoors notebook
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Meetings to be held regarding dove season

SOCIAL CIRCLE — The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) will hold eight public meetings across the state in January to provide the public an opportunity to comment specifically on the current dove season structure as it relates to late-season opportunity and opening day shooting hours.

Any changes in hunting regulations will be considered by the Department of Natural Resources Board of Natural Resources for approval in May 2008.

Those interested are encouraged to bring these meetings to the attention of others that also may be interested in participating.

All of the meetings will begin at 7 p.m. and will take place on the following dates and at the following locations:

  • January 7, 2008, University of West Georgia Food Services Building, Carrollton
  • January 7, 2008, Jefferson Civic Center, 65 Kissam Street,
  • January 7, 2008, Altamaha Technical College, 1777 W. Cherry Street, Jesup
  • January 8, 2008, State Farmer’s Market, 16 Forest Parkwa
    Forest Park
  • January 8, 2008, Earl M. Varner 4-H Center, 220 South Circle, Swainsboro
  • January 9, 2008, Wilkes County Superior Courtroom, 23 East Court Street, Washington
  • January 9, 2008, Roquemore Conference Center, Georgia National Fairgrounds, 401 Larry Walker Parkway, Perry
  • January 10, 2008, Leesburg Public Library, 245 Walnut Avenue, Leesburg

Any participant at a meeting may present data, make a statement or comment, or offer a viewpoint or argument, either orally or in writing.

Statements should be concise to permit everyone an opportunity to speak.

Participants must register on arrival and notify the registering official of their intent to give a statement.

Those unable to attend a meeting may submit written statements (deadline Jan. 18, 2008). Such statements should be mailed to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division Game Management Section, Attn: John Bowers, 2070 U.S. Highway 278, SE, Social Circle, Georgia 30025.

These meeting sites are accessible to people with physical disabilities.

Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Brandon Anderson at the WRD Headquarters Game Management Office at (770) 761-3044 no later than Jan. 4, 2008.

Classified as migratory birds by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), doves are regulated under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Under this authority, states must adhere to the USFWS framework, which provides for an opening date no earlier than Sept. 1, a closing date no later than Jan. 15, no more than three seasons and a total of no more than 70 days.

Georgia’s current season conforms to this framework.

However, considering the recent feedback regarding the desire for more late-season hunting opportunity (i.e. additional days in January), WRD is assessing the possibility of adjusting the current season structure to accommodate the public input.

For more information on the scheduled public meetings, visit the WRD Web site at or contact the WRD Hunter Services Office at (770) 761-3044.

Shad season to open Jan. 1

SOCIAL CIRCLE — Commercial shad season runs from 6 a.m. on Tues., Jan. 1, 2008 through midnight on Mon., Mar. 31, 2008, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division (WRD).

Commercial shad fishing regulations for the

2008 season are the same as those during the 2007 season.

The Altamaha River (including the Oconee and Ocmulgee rivers), the Satilla River and the St. Marys River downstream from the Seaboard Coastline Railroad bridge will be open for commercial shad fishing Monday through Friday each week.

Waters upstream from this bridge will be open Tuesday through Saturday each week. The Ogeechee River will be open for commercial shad fishing on Fridays and Saturdays of each week during the shad season.

The Savannah River will be open for commercial shad fishing downstream from the I-95 bridge Tuesday through Friday and upstream from the I-95 bridge Wednesday through Saturday each week. Only drift nets may be used downstream of a line between the mouth of Knoxboro Creek and McCoys Cut at Deadman’s Point.

Individuals fishing commercially for shad must have a valid Georgia commercial fishing license. Boats used below the saltwater demarcation line for commercial fishing also must be licensed, with the cost of the license depending on the size of the boat.

Set netters are reminded that set nets must be placed at least 600 feet apart and should be limited to 100 feet in length.

Set nets must clearly display the owners name and commercial fishing license number.

Drift nets shall not be fished closer that 300 feet apart and are limited to a maximum of 1,000 feet in length in saltwater.

Set nets and drift nets must be situated so as to allow one-half the stream width to be open and free for the passage of fish.

All set nets must have one end secured to the stream bank and must be buoyed at the outer (seaward) end so they will be clearly visible to other boaters.

This regulation is designed to prevent anglers from setting nets in the mid-channel of the stream.

Sturgeon, game fish other than American shad or hickory shad and all species of catfish taken in set or drift nets must be released unharmed into the waters where they were taken.

Beagles, owners converge for trial

MEBANE, N.C. — Beagles and their owners and handlers from 10 states came to Quail Farm Beagle Club between Carrboro and Graham last month for a field trial, where dogs would run in packs and by process of elimination champions would be chosen.

The two-day event featured the female dogs running on a Friday, and males competed on Saturday. In all, 181 beagles ran the grounds, and about 200 people attended each day. The fenced rabbit pens were the playing fields. The beagles came in two sizes: 13 inches and under and 13 to 15 inches, measured at the top of the shoulder. Some of the dogs double as pets, but they’re bred for hunting ability. Most of them live in kennels outside.

In one rabbit pen, a pack of beagles was set to "cast." Five beagles were in the pack, followed by four handlers, two judges and several spectators. The dogs, each sporting a different colored collar for quick identification, were unleashed and set out into the thick brush. The handlers then started their chorus of encouragement:

"Hunt ‘em up!"

"Find ‘im, find ‘im!"

"Hyuh, hyuh, hyuh, hyuh!"

To an unaccustomed ear, the chorus seemed more like babble — beagle babble — than cheerleading.

Jeremy Cecil, 36, a banker from Winston-Salem, and Mike Scarce, 58, a contractor from Centreville, Va., were paired to judge one cast of beagles. As he stopped to tie his weathered Danner boots, Cecil explained what he was looking for as a judge.

"All I’m looking for is a dog to be busy and search for game," Cecil said. "You don’t want a follower; you want a leader. They’re hunting as a pack, but you judge them individually."

As if on cue, one beagle, unseen, cut loose a bawl and the rest of the dogs followed. Someone yelled "Tallyho!" to signal game, and the chase was on. Handlers and judges ran through the woods, trying to keep track of the pack. At one point, Cecil reversed direction, past three handlers. They snapped to attention with hands over their hearts in mock seriousness. Cecil stifled a laugh.

"Green!" Cecil soon called out, and a beagle was eliminated. The canine’s sin? Barking too much before the chase—"cold trailing" in the parlance of the trialers.

The dogs kept running after the unseen rabbit — the dogs almost never see what they’re trailing — while Brett Shepherd stood and listened. Shepherd, 45, had driven from his home in Kokomo, Ind., for the trial.

When the last pack had run in the morning, the houndsmen—and houndswomen—gathered at the clubhouse for a lunch of Brunswick stew.

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