DFW retail license sales down for nearly a week

By JIM MATTHEWS www.OutdoorNewsService.com The Department of Fish and Wildlife’s hunting and fishing license sales terminals at retailers all over the state crashed on Saturday, July 26, when the terminals “security certificates” all expired. The DFW’s main server then prevented all of these terminals from connecting and transferring data. Once access was denied, it also prevented the main system from being able to restore the terminals with an updated certificate. I don’t pretend to understand the technical aspects of this, but I know that somewhere, somehow, someone screwed up by not anticipating the potential problem and sending out the updated security certificates in advance. The result was three to five days of retail outlets not being able to sell fishing or hunting licenses. Oh, the licenses were still available on-line from home and office computers, and some retailers were creatively helping customers using in-store PCs so they could get their customers a license – especially if those folks were planning on going that day. But mostly it was frustrating to the public, reinforcing the poor impression many of increasingly us have about the agency. This was just one more thing. To the DFW’s credit, they defined the problem quickly and were working on fixes Monday and Tuesday and most retailers had “patches” that allowed the terminals to be rebooted with a new certificate by mid-week. Everyone I contact Friday and Saturday were back on-line for the weekend. Dove limit to be set this week by Fish and Game Commission The Fish and Game Commission is supposed to adopt this coming fall’s upland bird, dove, and waterfowl hunting regulations at its Wednesday meeting in San Diego. On the agenda is one big change for dove hunters: a new 15-bird daily bag limit, up from the 10-bird limit of the past few seasons. For the past 10 years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in conjunction with the state wildlife agencies, has been developing a new model to track the population and production trends of mourning doves across the nation, and this is the first year the federal hunting season framework has been set based on this new model. This model, similar to the one used for waterfowl, shows with much greater accuracy than the old system the actual population of mourning doves. It also has conclusively shown the dove population has been little impacted by annual hunter harvest and that the 10-bird limit was overly restrictive. This is especially in the Western Management Unit, which includes California. Arizona has already adopted its dove regulations for 2014, and hunters in that state will have a 15-bird dove limit for the first time in many years. (Only 10 of the Arizona limit may be whitewinged dove.) California is poised to also adopt the same regulations. Just a few tidbits from the federal data: The population of doves nationwide is estimated to be 350 million birds with hunters bagging 14 million (about four percent of the population) doves annually. In the West, the mourning dove population is about 70 million and the harvest is 1.9 million. In California, 63,600 dove hunters shot just over 800,000 doves last year, which works out to just about 13 birds per hunter for the entire season. Most of those hunters were in the field just under three days. I’m not a wizard with math, but if the average guy or gal hunts three days (with a 10 bird daily limit last year), there would not have been a difference in the overall harvest if the limit was 10, 15 to 50. Most of us didn’t shoot a limit for each day we were in the field. It will be interesting to see how this year’s harvest – if the Fish and Game Commission here and in other states indeed adopt a 15-bird limit – will change from the averages from the past few years. Drawings held for wild hog hunts on the Tejon Ranch The California Deer Association, working with the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Tejon Ranch Company, is have a drawing for 20, two-person guided hunts on the Tejon Ranch in southern Kern County. The hunt will be free thanks to a grant from the DFW. Applications must be for a party of two hunters (no single hunter applications will be accepted). The hunts will be two hunters per guide. The ranch's normal hunt or access fees will not be charged. Lodging and meals on the ranch are also included for the two-day hunts. Hunters will have an option to shoot a second pig but they must pay $250 for this additional opportunity. Tips must also be paid by the hunters. Entry deadline for the drawing, to be conducted by the CDA, is Sept. 22, and hunters can apply on line at caldeer.org/deerhabitatpighunt. New turkey hunting book: My old friend John Higley has authored a new book called “Successful Turkey Hunting.” Higley has probably shot as many turkeys in California as anyone and more than most over the last 42 years of hunting the big birds. Higley has also hunted turkeys all across the country and in Mexico. He tells me the book has everything he knows on the subject. The hardcover, full-color book is available directly from Higley for $28.95, which includes Higley’s autograph and shipping. You can write to Higley at PO Box 120, Palo Cedro, CA 96073, drop an e-mail to johnhigley@shasta.com, or simply call at 530-547-4175. Shameless seminar self-promotion: Annually, I conduct a series of public land bird hunting seminars across Southern California from Oxnard to San Diego. The two-hour sessions cover public land maps, shooting ordinances, and some basics on dove, quail, and chukar hunting, but mostly I discuss legal and productive places to hunt in this region. The seminar also includes a trial two-issue subscription to my bird hunting newsletter, Western Birds. There are 22 seminars this year, and the first pair of seminars will be held next weekend. For more information, costs, and registration forms, click on “seminars” at the Outdoor News Service website (www.OutdoorNewsService.com). END

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