Had the opportunity to meet with Scott today for a short time and we spoke about my recent trip to Key West to work the World Sailfish tournament and the level of Sportsmanship that now exists in many tournaments. Scott is an avid Turkey hunter as well as Whitetail Deer sportsman and the level of ethical management within these sports are very impressive. Scott informed me of the progress made by organizations such as the Wild Turkey Federation and efforts to manage Whitetail deer populations for the benefit of the animals and their habitats.
I was surprised when Scott told me that both the wild Turkey as well as the Whitetail deer populations had in the past become dangerously threatened as the result of poor management and abuse. Sportsman became involved in the sense that they learned and understood that the species could\would not survive if they were not managed properly. Scott also told me of his efforts with other local sportsmen to manage and improve the habitats in the valley to allow these species to grow in numbers but yet not overpopulate to a point where the animals suffer from lack of food, range, and disease.
We spoke of the “ethics” involved in managing an organized hunt to protect both the animals and the sportsmen involved in the harvest. The ethics of taking only that which is needed as compared to a purely “trophy” or “numbers” hunt which does not respect the animal or the sport itself…
In speaking with Scott I told him of an incident which happened in the Sailfish tournament that I just returned from. Unlike in the past where Sailfish tournaments were judged by the number of dead Sailfish that each team could bring back to the dock, the World Sailfish tournament is a “Catch & Release” tournament. All Sailfish must be released alive and in good condition and no injuries to the fish are allowed. Circle hooks are now required for they are very less harmful to the fish and each boat is required to submit digital video of each fish caught to prove how many fish caught as well as to prove the fish was released in good condition. These improved “Sportsman Ethics” involve much more effort, care, and increased procedures to win a tournament but this format has been overwhelmingly accepted by the Sportfishing community and has improved\protected the Sailfish population.
During this past tournament I worked the “Committee boat” which monitored the radio reports of fish caught and tournament procedures. On the third and final day of fishing we received a call from a boat which was in the running for the $100,000 first prize that had a Sailfish which was “Bill-wrapped” with the leader. The “leader” is the first 12ft piece of fishing line which must be submitted for inspection after each fish is caught. Failing to submit the leader with the paperwork for each fish results in that fish being disqualified. In this incident the leader had become wrapped around the Sailfish bill and could not be removed without breaking it and being disqualified. The Captain called explaining the situation and that there were numerous other Sailfish around the boat that could not be caught and recorded until this fish was released. The fishing mate was ready to go into the water to swim with the 6ft Sailfish and attempt to retrieve the leader without hurting the fish but this is in violation of IGFA tournament rules. The team also did not want to harm the Sailfish in anyway in forcing a release. The Rules committee quickly met and determined that if a clear shot of the leader wrapped around the bill could be recorded with the digital video the leader could then be cut and the fish would be released unharmed and counted as a caught fish.
A few years back during the Democratic Governor Mark Warner’s term in office he, along with then Democratic Lt. Governor Tim Kaine, raided the fund that was made up by licensing fees paid by Virginia Sportsman. I believe millions of dollars were transferred into the general fund by Warner and Kaine when they claimed Virginia was in danger of not maintaining “essential” services. Like the “Scare” tax pushed thru by Warner and Kaine with the help of some State Senators after 9\11, this transfer of Sportsmen fees was proved not needed and we now have a surplus of funds along with these higher tax rates.
I have not heard if the millions removed from the “Sportsmen fee” fund has ever been returned or if that money has disappeared like I fear the surplus will disappear when we are not looking. Just like if the tax rate will ever be lowered since it has been proven that this increased tax load on the Virginia Citizens was not really needed as claimed by Warner, Kaine, and some of our State Senators…
Sportsmen “Ethics” would not allow the abuse of a population by a higher and not warranted demand placed on that species.
Unfortunately Government “Ethics” do not seem to follow the same higher level by reducing the tax rate and allowing the Citizens of Virginia to keep more of what they earn. By allowing the people of Virginia to invest their earned money as they see fit and to their benefit.
I believe we need a State Senator like Scott Sayre who understands both “Sportsmen” and “Government” ethics and applies them to the benefit of the hard working Citizens of Virginia…