In 44 years of column writing, I don't recall that I've ever touched on alligators. Today, that's about to change.
As mentioned in the past, I'm in the process of writing a book I've called A Dakota Rod and Nimrod. As the title reveals, it is primarily a collection of hunting- and fishing-related stories. The book is comprised of three sections: The Dakota Scene, Beyond Dakota Borders, and People and Places. I've written my outdoor column for about 44 years and it all began with The Burke Gazette. Compiling the most interesting efforts into a single volume has been a challenging task. It already has me thinking about a second book.
Ben Franklin said sometime to the effect that if we don't stand together, we'll fall separately. He might have been talking about hunters. We hunters have a tendency to think that our way is the best way. This narrow line of thought could divide us. The enemy is anti-hunters, not one another.
After we get through all of today's facts and figures, we'll talk about sage grouse, but I want to tell you this right now. If you head out to Harding County next fall to hunt sage grouse, you'll be allowed one bird. You will have to take him or her to a checkpoint station. After you get through that, you will discover that he or she doesn't taste very good ... at least in my opinion. Is it worth the effort? Definitely!
I am not a political analyst, and it is not my job to discuss politics. I will do my best to write about the outdoors, not politics, in this new year. Having said this, I want to deviate for a moment as there is a point I want to touch.
Just before the Thanksgiving weekend Christmas shopping got underway, there was a story in the paper about how much the average adult spends on Christmas gifts. I was shocked. People are far more generous than I imagined. Then it went on to talk about how much people spent on themselves for Christmas. It was in the $400 range. I've never spent money on myself for Christmas, but if I did, it wouldn't be on clothes. I'm thinking more in the line of something firearms-related.
Deer season is important to me, and we are currently in the midst of our South Dakota deer hunting season. West River Rifle ended Nov. 20, but East River Rifle runs through Sunday, and then resumes with antlerless tags on Dec. 31 through the Jan. 8. Archery, as well as Muzzleloader, runs through Dec. 31, and then continues from New Year's Day through Jan. 15 with antlerless tags.
It recently occurred to me that all of us have made or are making decisions about how dependent on technology we want to be. This is especially true of deer hunters. The technology we use is a choice. When it comes to computers and the internet, I don't believe young people have much choice in technology, as education seems to revolve about it. We elderly people may choose to turn our backs to it. The same is true of modes of entertainment and communication. I don't carry a cell phone. I don't own an iPod. Personally, I hate what these things are doing to us.
Maybe you know about the banana thing, maybe you don't. It goes way back to a ship whose entire crew was killed by a weird bacteria that supposedly came aboard on some bananas. Since that time, bananas are taboo on fishing boats. If a fishing excursion begins badly, say poor fishing, engine problems, bad weather, etc., the captain is likely to question passengers about bananas or anything banana related being on board. If there are, the related items are likely to go overboard. We're not just talking bananas.
If I were to list my reasons for being a South Dakotan, I'll admit that our deer hunting is one of them. It doesn't rank as high as friends, a low crime rate, a conservative atmosphere or a more relaxed pace of life, but the deer are right up there. Because of archery and muzzleloader tags, we are guaranteed at least two hunts annually, and these can be in the counties of our choice. While my last statement cannot be disputed, not everyone feels as I do. A recent article in the NRA's American Hunter magazine discussed how many of our 320 million American citizens were hunters.