By BRENT WIDENER, Fort Benning Wildlife Conservation BranchJune 26, 2013
FORT BENNING, Ga., (June 26, 2013) -- It's hot, it's been raining and the air is thick with mosquitoes and humidity. Just to make everyone feel better, summer officially started last Friday so we've got a full three months of this in front of us. For those who may not have experienced it, welcome to the South in June, July and August.
The weather and mosquitoes can make hunting and fishing less than pleasant this time of year, and that's putting it nicely. Don't let that stop you though. The fact that we have been getting rain this year, compared to the droughts of the past four, is a good thing for wildlife and, in turn, the sportsmen of Fort Benning.
Hunting seasons are closed for all of our native wildlife, so the only species left are feral swine and coyotes. Hunting feral swine this time of year can be quite frustrating since much of their activity is nocturnal. However, rainfall tends to boost activity, which can lead to increased success during legal hunting hours.
Many of the soft mast food sources which pigs may target should have bumper crops, starting with the blackberries that are in full swing now. Keep your eyes peeled for soft and hard mast producing shrubs and trees while hunting so you can return to those areas as the fruits and seeds mature and drop throughout the summer and into deer season. When the agricultural grains planted in the dove fields on post begin to go to seed, the pigs will be closely associated with those areas as well.
The fishing on post has slowed with the warmer weather, though fishermen are still catching some nice bluegill and shellcracker in Kings and Hedley's Ponds. Twilight Pond has been completely drained, and it was determined that the 16-inch drain pipe on the pond was broken. Post engineers are currently working out the details for repair.
Once repairs have been made and the pond begins to fill back up with water, we will restock Twilight with bluegill and shellcracker. Hopefully, this will occur before the end of summer. If we can get bream stocked in 2013, we will follow up with a stocking of largemouth bass in 2014 and the pond will be opened back up for fishing in the spring of 2015.
It is important that fishermen do not attempt to "assist us" with restocking the pond. Undesirable species that compete for resources can significantly impact the productivity of ponds. In small, man-made ponds such as the ones on Fort Benning, the best way to manage them is as bass and bream fisheries. Any other species of fish can dramatically reduce the quality of those fisheries without proper planning and management.
Don't forget that your 2012-2013 post hunting and fishing permit expired on June 15. Make sure you go by Outdoor Recreation or Uchee Creek Country Store to get your new permit, if you haven't already, before going to the field.