- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 21, 2006

An Associated Press item that was inserted into the June 7 outdoors column provided news of the World Hunting Association (WHA) and how it would begin global competitive events involving shooters using tranquilizer guns. I didn’t like it from the start and judging by calls and e-mails, neither did a fair number of Washington area hunters. Now add a national hunter advocate group that also is washing its hands of the WHA.

It all began when the WHA promised to take “hunting to a new level by creating a competitive hunting tour, showcasing the sport’s finest hunters competing for hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money.”

David Farbman, a Michigan real estate executive and avid hunter, founded the WHA. He believes he can make tranquilizer gun hunting an exciting, but “non-fatal” competition.

The shooters would actually take aim at live deer and other game animals, usually on private ranches and club properties. But a Maryland DNR official, who asked to remain anonymous until the Secretary of Natural Resources makes a statement, says the use of tranquilizer guns on wild game for the sake of winning prize purses might be against state game laws.

Farbman, meanwhile, thinks he’s filling a void by providing a platform that “benefits the entire international hunting industry today and for generations to come.”

It boggles the mind why hunting industry members such as G-5 Outdoors, Eastman Outdoors, Inc. (Carbon Express arrows), Gorilla, Inc. (treestands) and Xtreme Scents would want to sponsor events that in my mind go against the very grain of hunting. Isn’t hunting meant to take place between a wild animal and a human? No galleries, no prize purses, no nothing — just the hunter and the wild game.

The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance says it’s deeply concerned by the potential misuse of dangerous drugs by lay people, the potential for their misuse in the case of unrecovered animals, their impact on non-target species who might feed on carcasses, the scattering in the field of syringes that could be found by children, and last, but not least, a competition that treats wildlife solely as a commercial commodity.

“There appear to be a number of legal issues to be overcome — i.e., the distribution to participants of drugs tightly controlled by the Food and Drug Administration,” says the USSA.

The Sportsmen’s Alliance says it “will have no part of the organization.”

Burke Lake ranks tops for bass — After Virginia’s Department of Game and Inland Fisheries sampled major reservoirs in the northern portion of the state, fisheries biologist John Odenkirk has good news for Fairfax County residents.

He wants local anglers to know that Burke Lake, a public fishing lake owned and managed by the department, continues to have a phenomenal bass population. Once again it ranks Number 1. However, Odenkirk says a new reservoir, Hunting Run, almost pushed Burke into second place this year. Hunting Run is in Spotsylvania County and will not be open to the public until spring 2007.

Using various testing methods, including the CPE-P (catch per effort of preferred fish), in the chosen waters, the state was constantly aware that anglers prefer well-proportioned largemouth bass over little cigar-sized fish. So when names of reservoirs are listed, remember that these are the ones that give you the best chance of hooking a good bass.

With the exception of lakes Anna and Occoquan, all of the impoundments are considered small. Lake Anna, at 9,600 acres, is the largest by far. Thus, it is not completely fair to compare them “head-to-head,” because large reservoirs often cannot immediately match the numbers of “keeper” bass like a small impoundment can. That makes the nearby Occoquan Reservoir a super choice because in the CPE-P category it ranked third.

The top-rated Northern Virginia impoundments are Burke, Hunting Run, Mountain Run, Occoquan, Motts, Orange, Anna, Pelham, Brittle, Abel, Curtis, Germantown, Breckinridge, Ni, Lunga, Beaverdam and Smith.

For more information, contact the Fisheries Division in Fredericksburg, 540/899-4169.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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