Roosevelt wildlife refuge

Published 5:21 pm Tuesday, August 29, 2006

If you are like me and trying to send in your application for some of the limited draw only hunts for the National Wildlife Refuges in the delta, you probably have run into the Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge and Complex.

The Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge Complex is the largest refuge complex in the state of Mississippi and includes both the youngest (Holt Collier and Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuges) and the oldest refuges (Yazoo National Wildlife Refuge) in the state.

As you notice the Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge is listed but the refuge has not been opened for public use. Although the acquisition boundary for Theodore Roosevelt National Wildlife Refuge has been proposed near Onward, Mississippi, the land exchanges that are prerequisite have not yet been completed. Don’t get the two mixed up, the complex encompasses all seven refuges and the refuge stands alone but as a member of the complex.

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Over 100,000 acres of refuge lands on seven refuges, including 13,000 acres of refuge-managed Farmers Home Administration lands make up the complex and provide vital habitat for fish and wildlife in the Delta region. The NWR’s that make up the complex are Hillside, Holt Collier, Mathews Brake, Morgan Brake, Panther Swamp, Theodore Roosevelt, and Yazoo National Wildlife Refuges.

I hope you get a chance to make it up north and do some hunting on these great areas. If you plan on putting in for some of the limited hunts, the dates for entry are August 15th -September 30th. You can get all the information on the hunts by pulling up U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services on the web.

As of 9/30/05 there were 545 national wildlife refuges in all 50 states. Glacial Ridge NWR, MN was the 545th national wildlife refuge. There were 37 Wetland Management Districts in the Prairie Pothole region. Not all of the refuges and Wetland Management Districts are represented with a Web Profile page. Refuges that have boundaries in multiple states are listed only in the state where the main visitor entrance is located.

These are great place to start young hunters and the pressure is getting lower with license sales decreasing and hunters leasing more land and purchasing hunts with outfitters. Great small game hunting is also available as well as duck hunting on many of the refuges.

Speaking of duck hunting, I have had many of you ask me questions about what you need to hunt ducks legally and about HIP. With son many folks not understanding HIP I want to take a little room and explain what it is and why it is.

The Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP) is a method by which our state wildlife agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are developing more reliable estimates of the number of all migratory birds harvested throughout the country. These estimates give biologists the information they need to make sound decisions concerning hunting seasons, bag limits, and population management.

HIP is based on a voluntary survey of selected migratory bird hunters in the United States. In simplest terms, the state wildlife agencies collect the name, address, and some additional information from each migratory bird hunter in their state, and send that information to the Service. The Service then randomly selects a sample of those hunters and asks them to provide information on the kind and number of migratory birds they harvest during the hunting season. Those hunters’ reports are then used to develop reliable estimates of the total harvest of all migratory birds throughout the country.

To comply with HIP, first you must identify yourself as a migratory bird hunter and provide your name, address, and date of birth at the time you purchase your license–something most hunters do already. You must do this in every state in which you hunt migratory game birds.

Second, you must have proof of your participation in HIP with you whenever you hunt migratory birds in that state. The state wildlife agency will provide you with a card, stamp, or other proof of participation when you sign up.

In addition, when you sign up for HIP, you will be asked to voluntarily answer several questions about your hunting experience during last year’s season. Your answers to these questions are not used to compile harvest estimates, but are simply used to identify what types of birds you usually hunt. This allows the Service to mail its surveys to the appropriate hunters. For example, most surveys about dove harvest are sent to hunters who usually hunt doves, while most waterfowl harvest surveys are sent to hunters who usually hunt ducks and/or geese.

If your name is one of the few selected for the national harvest survey, you’ll be asked to voluntarily complete a detailed survey about your harvest during this year’s hunting season. You will receive a hunting record form and will be asked to keep a record of the number of migratory birds you harvest during the season. You will also be given an addressed, postage-paid envelope to return your hunting form at the end of the season. Responses from hunters who choose to participate will be kept strictly confidential and will not be used for any other purpose. As soon as the survey is completed, the Service will destroy all hunter names and address records. This survey provides the information used to develop nationwide harvest estimates. Basically, that’s all that HIP requires.

Most of the HIP sign-up methods rely on the state hunting license vendors to ask hunters the appropriate HIP questions. If you plan to hunt migratory game birds, please make sure that the license vendor gets you signed up for HIP when you purchase your hunting license.

I hope that you are getting all your affairs in order for this season. Remember, a little work and preparation now will go a long way during the season and allow you to hunt more and work less.

Plan your traveling hunts and get reservations now, apply for any limited hunts, make sure all your gear including your weapons of choice are sighted in and working properly. If you know where you will be hunting go ahead and cut shooting lanes, set up stands so the new object in the tree will be old news and plant food plots.

hese are things that many hunters think of but rarely do, but really wished they had when season is under way. Pray that we make it to the end of hurricane season without any storms and as always, get outdoors and enjoy what god has given us.