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Should have made the turkey stamps pink

Should have made the turkey stamps pink

By: Ben Smith - May 9, 2024

  • Outdoor columnist Ben Smith says any resident of Mississippi that took issue with pumping out ten extra bucks to help preserve the future of turkey hunting shouldn’t be hunting anything in our state.

What in the heck are we doing? How in the world do we let a bill like the turkey stamp die? Maybe the word “stamp” still provokes anger in Americans who remember 1765. One thing is for certain, we can never say we care about wildlife conservation in this state ever again. Well, our current representatives in Jackson better not say it. 

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, let me give you the rundown. We had a bill that would have potentially generated millions of dollars toward turkey conservation for our state. This bill would have been a three to one match from the federal government. That means for every dollar our state brought in with the sale of the turkey stamp (ten measly dollars for residents and one hundred dollars for non-residents) the federal government would have given us three additional dollars. I guess that wasn’t particularly important to those sitting in the House and the Senate. It’s not like we have a turkey problem, right? I mean, we’ve got about half the amount of birds now than we had in the late eighties and early nineties.

The bill, though, wasn’t voted down. It friggin’ died on the calendar. According to what I’ve read, some politician wanted to make their own name instead of doing what was best for the state and essentially let the bill die so it could be revisited later. Later meaning next year. The new Mississippi Legislature slogan should be, “Don’t do today what you can put off till tomorrow.” Not only could this stamp provide much needed monies for conservation efforts for the Wild Turkey, it would have also given us much better data on just how many turkey hunters we have in Mississippi. Right now, it’s an uneducated guess because turkey hunting is included in our regular hunting license. Unless you kill a bird and actually check it in, the MDWFP couldn’t tell you how many hunters are in the woods in the Spring. And do you think all turkey hunters are actually checking in those birds? If you do, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

Now that we know this money and data was unimportant to our civil servants in Jackson, let’s talk about a bill that did get passed. Let me tell you what they are truly concerned about. House Bill 526. What is House Bill 526? Oh, it allows hunters to wear fluorescent pink as an alternative to fluorescent orange when hunting deer. How much money is this going to generate? None, unless you own a fabric business or if you’ve been given the contents of Richard Simmons’ closet. It sure as heck isn’t going to do anything toward the conservation of deer or turkeys, both of which should be our primary focus. 

What other bills were passed? House Bill 1208 passed revising penalties for trespassing and hunting/fishing on lands of others. The penalties for a first time offender come in at under one thousand dollars. If you’re stupid and do it again, the penalty is still less than fifteen hundred bucks. Your second offense would also cause you to lose your hunting license for a year. A year. Do these folks really think that poachers are buying a hunting license? It’s kind of like the idiotic gun laws the people in Washington keep trying to ram down our throats. Y’all think those punks on the streets are buying those guns legally? Let me tell you about this bridge I’ve got.

So yeah, fluorescent pink and fines for people that obviously aren’t worried about a fine. That’s what we’re doing these days to protect the future of hunting in Mississippi. Conservation and habitat improvement? Nah, we don’t need all that. One silver lining, at least they made my four year old happy! She’ll be ecstatic to know she can wear a pink vest and matching boots to hunt with Daddy this fall!

I know that I’m ranting and should probably be embarrassed for sounding like a three year old that just wet his pants. I’m disappointed. This bill had plenty of support behind it to pass with flying colors (obviously not pink). I haven’t come across a turkey hunter that opposed it. If I’m not mistaken, the author of the bill did a survey with the wildlife commission that had over 70% support. It’s hard to find any outdoor issue in Mississippi that garners that type of support. To me, it was a no-brainer. Any resident of Mississippi that took issue with pumping out ten extra bucks to help preserve the future of turkey hunting shouldn’t be hunting anything in our state. And any resident of Mississippi that thought it was more important to pass some junk about wearing pink instead of orange should move to Washington and run for President immediately. That’s the kind of nonsense we’ve become accustomed to from our national leaders. I expect better from Mississippians. Maybe I shouldn’t. I feel like we are just passing things for the sake of saying we’re working hard.

 A few weeks ago, we had an umpire blowing calls left and right. He was so overmatched by the speed of the game he just couldn’t get it right. It got so bad that he was even messing up the ball/strike count on the batter. When we questioned him, he replied that he was working hard. Let’s get something straight, nobody cares if you’re working hard if the results aren’t good. That is for umpires, politicians, bricklayers, and especially coaches. Right is right and wrong is wrong…and this entire ordeal is as wrong for Mississippi as it can get.

About the Author(s)
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Ben Smith

A native of Laurel, Mississippi, Ben played baseball at William Carey University before joining the coaching staff at WCU, where he’s spent the last 16 years. He also serves as a History Instructor in the WCU School of Arts and Letters. During the Covid shutdown in 2020, he began the outdoor blog “Pinstripes to Camo”. The blog quickly grew into a weekly column and was awarded as the #1 Sports Column in the state by the Mississippi Press Association. During that time, “Pinstripes to Camo” also became a weekly podcast, featuring various outdoor guests from around the country, and has grown into one of the top outdoor podcasts in the Southeast.
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