Article Contributed by E. Castillo.
As an avid upland bird hunter, there are two significant dates on my calendar that affect my heart. Sadness overcomes me on that dismal of days…January 31. It signifies the end of my upland bird season in Kansas. A sort of depression sets in, knowing I will have to wait several months in agony until my boots can hit the fields again. This upland black hole is only slightly interrupted by turkey season, which helps with the numbness until I’m reminded that it is only the start of spring and the end of summer is still a long way off.
The “other” date which is far dearer to my heart, is September 1. This date should scream to all feather chasers it is the start of bird season. This date begins our pilgrimage to chasing birds. Those little grey acrobatic jets that dip and dive, avoiding a barrage of gunfire…this signals that dove season is here!
What does the start of dove season has to do with hunting licenses? It tells us we need to buy our hunting licenses and all required permits needed to hunt birds. This accomplishes two very important things:
(1) Keeping it legal – the purpose behind hunting licenses is for the legal protection and regulation of our natural resources. Like many licenses, a hunting license is considered a privilege. So, it’s important that hunters, fishermen, and outdoorsmen obtain ALL the required and necessary licenses, permits, tags, and stamps before engaging in any outdoor activity in which, a license is required by law. This is especially true when hunting in a state other than your own. Make sure to research what is needed and required, including Hunter Safety Course requirements before pursuing outdoor activities. Purchasing a hunting license helps protect our environment, natural resources, and wildlife not only for us but our children and future generations. Regulations are set in the form of bag limits, legal game, shooting hours, etc. It ensures the outdoor activities we are passionate about and love, are there for others.
(2) Conservation – Hunters play an important role in managing wildlife. The tax dollars paid through the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in the Wildlife Restoration Act help pay for the majority of wildlife development, management, protection, restoration, enhancement, and access. The P-R Act also benefits a much larger number of people who never hunt but do enjoy such wildlife pastimes as bird-watching, nature photography, painting and sketching, and a wide variety of other outdoor pursuits and activities. Hunting helps maintain various wildlife populations. Almost all the lands purchased with P-R money are managed both for wildlife production and for other public uses.
One Stamp, Many Uses.
While waterfowl hunters 16 years of age or older are required to purchase them, and anyone can contribute to conservation by buying Duck Stamps. Since its introduction in 1934, sales have generated more than $800 million dollars. These funds have been used to purchase or lease over 6 million acres in wetland habitat in the United States. Waterfowl is not the only wildlife that have benefited from the stamp. Countless other bird, mammal, fish, reptile, and amphibian species that rely on the wetland ecosystem have been positively impacted as well.
The protection of waterfowl and wetlands have been the primary focus of the Duck Stamp, but people benefit as well. It provides a place for people to enjoy pastimes other than hunting and fishing. Activities such as camping, hiking, bird-watching, and photography are enjoyed by those people who travel and visit wetlands.
More importantly, the wetlands that are protected provide ecological benefits such as water purification, storage of flood water, reduction of soil erosion and sedimentation. Fish spawning areas that are within these wetlands play a vital role in sport and commercial fishing.
In addition to serving as a hunting license and conservation tool, a current Federal Duck Stamp is also a free pass into any national wildlife refuge that charges an entry fee. So the next time you’re purchasing your hunting and/or fishing license, think about the contribution you are making to protect the outdoors.
About the Author
Edgar Castillo is a twenty plus year veteran law enforcement officer for a large Kansas City metropolitan agency. Edgar also served in the United States Marine Corps for twelve years. Besides his faith and family, his passion lies in the uplands as he self-documents his travels across public lands throughout Kansas hunting open fields, walking treelines, & bustin’ through plum thickets.
Follow his upland adventures on Instagram @hunt_birdz and Facebook hunt birdz – Gear Reviews, Tips, & Info for the Uplands.