The government’s got a lot to say about hunting and fishing. I have what’s called a sporting license, a Massachusetts license that covers both hunting and freshwater fishing. I also have a federally issued saltwater fishing permit, a state lobster license, and a shellfishing permit from the town of Barnstable. Oh, and a Massachusetts license to carry, which allows me to use a gun.
That’s not enough, though, for some kinds of animals. Surprisingly (at least to me), one of them is tuna.
When I first heard that you needed a special twenty-dollar permit to take a tuna, I mentally filed it under “nice to know, but irrelevant.” We have neither the boat nor the gear to go for tuna. But then Amy, who owns our favorite bait and tackle store, Sports Port, told us that schoolie bluefins sometimes come in with the false albacore.
We are planning to fish for false albacore, a tuna-like fish that shows up off the Cape around this time of year, and it would be a tragic heartbreak if we pulled in a little bluefin and didn’t have the permit. What are the odds? Something like one in a zillion, but we bit the bullet and shelled out the twenty bucks for tuna insurance.
There are even more regulations on the ground than in the water. If you’re planning to hunt turkey, for example, you need a special turkey tag, for which you pay $5.00. Because turkey hunting is difficult, dangerous, and requires special equipment, we’re forgoing that this year and raising our own instead. (Sure, you have to feed them for five months, but they’re way easier to catch.)
We are planning to hunt deer, though. Each sporting license comes with two deer tags, each of which allows you to shoot a buck. If you want to shoot a doe – and antlerless deer – you need yet another special permit.
This makes sense. The bottleneck in the growth of the deer population is obviously the does, who can produce only one batch of fawns a year (a batch being one, two, or three), and the way to control the total number of deer is to figure out how many you think the environment can support, and allow hunters to cull the extra does.
This year, Massachusetts is issuing 36,950 doe tags, distributed across fourteen zones. On Cape Cod, there were 550, and 1,079 hunters applied for them. I was lucky enough to be one of the 51% whose applications were successful.
So I have a doe tag and I have a tuna permit. Now all I need is a doe and a tuna.