Avoid meeting with wildlife officer, get new fishing licence

In case you haven’t looked recently at your fishing license, it expired April 1.

Starting last year, fishing and small-game licenses are valid April 1 through March 31, instead of the calendar year familiar to most of us.

With many low- and mid-elevation lakes already open and fishing improving almost daily, it’s a great time to buy that new license.

Besides, it’s easier to get a new license before you go out instead of having a friendly wildlife officer remind you to get one.

Spring turkey hunters should also remember to register with the Harvest Information Program (HIP). Register at 866-COLOHIP (265-6447) or by going to the Colorado HIP Web site, http://www.colohip.com.

You can get licenses at local outlets, the DOW office at 711 Independent Ave., online at wildlife.state.co.us. or by calling 800-244-5613.

Spring turkey season now open: There is something special about spring turkey hunting, if for no other reason than it’s a great time to be in the woods.

Thanks to efforts by the Division of Wildlife and the National Wild Turkey Federation, hunters and wildlife watchers can find wild turkeys across much of western Colorado, from the open parks above Parachute to the canyons of the Dolores River.

The season runs through May 23 statewide except in closed units and some limited-license units. Check the division’s 2010 turkey brochure for complete information.

New this year, Horsethief Canyon State Wildlife Area is open to limited youth permit-based hunting. Contact the division’s Grand Junction office for information.

In spite of its many attractions, turkey hunting is the second-leading category for hunting accidents because the sport involves camouflage clothing, realistic calls and short-range shots.

The wild turkey federation says there are about 3 million turkey hunters in the U.S. and each year about 100 hunting-related injuries are reported, the overwhelming majority of which are hunters shooting other hunters.

Renowned turkey hunter and call innovator Wayne Carlton always warns hunters not to stalk turkeys and to be careful when calling and using decoys.

Carlton made this observation during an outing several years ago while talking about using turkey decoys, some of which are made with real turkey feathers.

“You can’t be too safety conscious,” he said. “When you’re in the woods with other hunters wearing full camouflage, you’re bound to fool one of them sometime and he might come in on you.”

“If that happens, yell at him, don’t wave at him.”

Carlton said more than one turkey hunter has been shot when another hunters sees some movement and pulls the trigger.

Jim Bulger, hunter outreach coordinator for the Division of Wildlife, said turkey hunting accidents in Colorado are rare, thanks to the state’s active hunter education programs.

Right-to-float bill sunk in Senate: State Rep. Kathleen Curry’s “right-to-float” bill was sunk last week in the state Senate after an earlier version had made it through the House.

The “River Outfitters Viability Act” would have set a precedence by establishing in law the right for a commercial rafter to float through private land and, if situations needed, to get out and portage about obstacles in the river.

Curry’s bill would also have exempted landowners from liability.

The bill had been described as an attempt to break the long-standing deadlock between boaters seeking to retain historical access to the state’s rivers flowing through private property and property owners citing their legal right to prevent trespass.

Colorado law says adjacent landowners own the land beneath a river or stream.

After saying Senate members had been deluged with phone and e-mail messages in opposition, the Senate opted to send the issue to the Colorado Water Congress.

The CWC report is expected next October.

“That tells me (the Senate) really didn’t want to take a stand,” Curry told the Gunnison Country News.

The proposed legislation came after a developer wrote to local rafting companies, telling them they no longer would be allowed to float through a private development on the Taylor River.

The issue might end up being decided by the state’s voters. Several right-to-float groups are said to be planning citizen referenda for the election this fall.


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