Chief's Brittanysģ All rights reserved

Public vs. Private

Donít you envy the folks who live in states that have tons of BLM land with plentiful bird populations?  Nevada and Texas are the black and white examples.

Donít quote my percentages, but it seems that Nevada has about 98 percent open public lands while Texas has about 2 percent.  Since most of the land in Texas is private, it restricts the amount of hunting the common man can afford.

When I was a kid, everyone we knew had bird dogs and hunted avidly.  In Kansas, we would hunt the public lands and other open access lands.  I remember hunting some land that belonged to the railroad as a kid.  There were no anti-hunting sentiments that kept us out; in fact, we were encouraged to hunt these lands Ė a kind of public relations deal.  It was also very easy to get permission from farmers too.

Mississippi didnít have as much public land then but it was easy to get permission.  The common man could go hunting and the hunt didnít include hunting and begging for permission or paying a high price to hunt.

While stationed in Maryland, I was surprised at the amount of state land that tiny state offers.  I was worried about hunting there but soon found that there was tons of state land with ample game including strong deer herds.  Their bird hunting isnít very good unless you go to the eastern shore for quail but, nonetheless, itís there.

Here in Texas, hunting is expensive and buying an annual lease is the way of life around here.  Because drought and other problems beleaguer the farmer/rancher, They look to get top dollar for hunting rights.  And there is hardly any loyalty involved.  I have been a victim, as have many others in this state to Ďcorporate buy outsí.

The corporate buy out goes like this:  You have a lease and itís good hunting.  Maybe you and several buddies are in on the hunting lease together.  Someone on your lease mistakenly tells a friend about the good hunting and they in turn tell some bigwig corporate boss that loves to hunt how great your lease is.  The corporate boss is convinced that he and his company should have this lease and wham, the company offers twice what you and your buddies can afford and so you lose the lease.  Itís frustrating.

Could this be why so many hunters now a days are reluctant to tell anyone how good the hunting is and where they hunt?  I would bet so.  

Texas is trying to improve hunting availability by buying more land for the common hunter but for now, the amount of public lands available to hunt amounts to a drop in the proverbial old bucket.  We Texans and those with a similar plight need to get busy encouraging our respective states to buy lands for outdoor recreation.  The common tax paying people are the ones who need help.  Heaven forbid we end up like the European countries where only the rich can afford to hunt.

As a bird-hunting guide I feel the pressure all the time.  Folks want to hunt and we want to guide them only the leases are so expensive that we have to pass that along to hunter.  So what happens is the common man that wants to hunt birds in Texas has to scrounge around to save up the money so that he can afford to hunt a few times a year.  Itís so typical and at the same time itís sad.

My friends and I grew up hunting every weekend and any day that we could break free.  We didnít pay anything so there were few or no restrictions.  Itís just not that way anymore. 

We need to provide places to hunt for the next generation of hunters.  Itís important not only for the hunt, but to preserve our heritage.

Thanks for your time,

P.S.  Next week, weíll be reporting on our youth hunt for quail!

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