By Greg Price and Trevor Busch
A successful hunting season will be showcased Jan. 5-6 at the Taber Community Centre Auditorium with the Taber Fish and Game Association Measuring Day.
“We are hoping the entries are the same or better than last year,” said Dave Chontosh, secretary treasurer of the Taber Fish and Game Association. “We have a theme this year, so we’d like to ask members and the general public to please bring in mule deer trophies — past and present — for display, and all displays will be eligible for a chance to win a Badlands Diablo backpack donated by Big Dog Outdoors.”
Large game populations, especially white tail deer, have seen a resurgence in numbers in the area in recent years.
“There was a good harvest of large mule deer taken in southern Alberta this year, and we hope to see those antlers at our annual Measuring Day,” said Chontosh. “The white tail population in southern Alberta has rebounded from the past, where there’s now more white tails in southern Alberta. The antelope numbers are holding steady.”
The pheasant population and hunters alike were aided once again by the hugely successful Taber Pheasant Festival which saw approximately 750 hunters descend on the Municipal District of Taber, all to bag some of the thousands of pheasants released in more than 40 plus locations by the Alberta Conservation Association.
“This year, we had some of our members help out with the youth hunts which was very well attended by new hunters,” said Chontosh. “There are now more pheasants being spotted around the M.D. thanks to the pheasant festival.”
The M.D. of Taber continues its coyote reduction incentive program. In recent years, the M.D. averaged between 1,000 and 1,200 coyotes a year that were removed.
According to Alberta Agriculture, there is a running population between 7,500-8,000 in the municipality. Coyotes are your higher-profile predators affecting game birds, deer and livestock.
There is an incentive program in place within the M.D. of Taber and the Taber Fish and Game Association for coyote reduction up to a certain number of coyotes.
“The purpose is to put less pressure on ranchers during their calving season. In turn it also increases the bird populations,” said Chontosh. “It’s turned out to be very successful over the years.”
Hunters will be asked to bring in their antlers on Friday, Jan. 5 starting at 6 p.m. as volunteers set up the Taber Community Centre Auditorium.
“We want members to bring in their horns Friday so we have less to do on the Saturday,” said Chontosh. “We will be giving out the awards the same day (Saturday). We also want people to bring in their hunting and scenic pictures for the photography contest, we seem to struggle for entries for that even though people take pictures all the time.”
Measuring Day goes on Saturday, Jan. 6 starting at 8 a.m. and going until 6 p.m. in the auditorium of the Taber Community Centre.
“We will have lunch available and there will be vendors coming along with some activities for the kids,” said Chontosh. “Volunteers are still needed and everyone is welcome. Taber Shooting Foundation memberships will be available there.”
Other upcoming activities for the Taber Fish and Game Association include a Family Fun Fishing Day in February with an exact date still to be announced.
“We will have awards for that for various age groups,” said Chontosh, adding the date will be advertised in The Taber Times and the organization’s Facebook page. “New for this year is fish entries. They’re all based on length not weight to encourage catch and release. Taber Fish and Game in conjunction with Alberta Fish and Game has gone to length only for fish to determine the largest in each fish category.”
Taber Fish and Game’s current membership numbers are largely status quo, and Chontosh outlined some of the many benefits available, including a one year subscription to Outdoor Canada West magazine, a $5,000 Accidental Death and Dismemberment benefit while participating in hunting, fishing, trapping or authorized Club activities, $5,000,000 personal excess liability insurance, participation in the annual Wildlife Awards competition, and access to over 40,000 acres of prime habitat without having to ask for permission.
“The membership is holding steady. We encourage anyone who hunts or fishes to become a member of Taber Fish and Game, which is in partnership with Alberta Fish and Game which is in partnership with other clubs across the province. Alberta Fish and Game has many programs available to assist the hunter and fisherman, such as ladies’ educational hunting camps and youth educational camps. I think anybody that fishes or hunts should be a member of their local club — there’s strength in numbers to lobby the government. They also — Alberta Fish and Game, with other partners — participate in the preservation and conservation of land and wildlife in Alberta. They purchase land, and assist in wildlife studies across the province. It’s amazing what they do, and they’ve been around for 100 years.”
Taber Fish and Game’s upcoming AGM and Awards are scheduled for Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. at Luigi’s Pizza.