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In this electronic era where everyone has a camera phone, outdoorsmen should assume they are being recorded at all times.

It has certainly made it easier for wildlife officers to write citations for hunting, fishing and boating violations.

Video evidence of boating violations is exceptionally helpful because it provides all of the elements necessary to write a citation. It provides a wildlife officer the boat model and description, including, usually, a registration number, plus live evidence of the actual violation.

One regulation that many boaters overlook regards wakes. Boaters commonly run full throttle past docks and piers on lakes and rivers, especially on narrow waterways like the White and Little Red rivers. Dock owners get irate when waves wrack their docks and toss boats around in their slips.

In Arkansas, it is unlawful to operate a boat "At greater than 'no wake speed' within 100 feet of a designated recreation area, dock, pier, raft, float, anchored vessel, dam, intake structure, or other obstruction unless a different speed limit has been established in the area."

It is also unlawful to operate a boat "At a rate of speed that creates a hazardous wash or wake on approaching or passing vessels." An example would be to create a wake that causes other vessels to take on water or a wake sufficient to toss the occupants of other vessels about in a manner that causes injury or the risk of injury.

If your wake causes someone to fall out of their boat and drown or cause injury, the offending boater is legally liable, said Ross Spurlock, Pulaski County wildlife officer for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.

People that own expensive houseboats and cruisers are especially sensitive to boat wakes, and they are highly likely to shoot video of wake violations.

Regulations on private waters

When fishing private lakes or ponds, boaters and anglers are still required to observe boating and fishing regulations.

Anglers must possess fishing licenses, and boats must be equipped with life jackets for every person on board. Children 12 years of age and younger must wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket while underway in any open area of any vessel.

If you operate a motor 25-horsepower and above, the motor operator is also required to attach the kill switch to his body at all times when the boat is underway on public or private waters.

This does not apply to anyone operating a flatbottom boat on a tailwater trout fishery. That includes the White, Little Red and North Fork rivers, but not the Spring River.

No culling

When trout are biting, it is unlawful to continue fishing once you possess a limit of trout.

Also, it is unlawful to cull trout. According to the Arkansas Wildlife Code, "Once an angler has kept a trout on a stringer, in a live well or in a fish basket, that trout may not be released."

If you intend to keep a limit of trout but you want to make the most of your day, keep four and leave the fifth slot open. That enables you to catch and release without being in violation. When you are ready to end your trip, keep the fifth trout pull in your lines.

New Quail Book

Mike Widner, who held many positions during his long career at the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, recently published an excellent book titled, "A Life With Gentleman Bob and a Few of His Kinfolk."

Essentially a compilation of Widner's extensive hunting journals, the 281-page book describes Widner's quail hunting adventures, mostly in Arkansas, from the 1960s to present. They are enlightening because they chronicle the year-by-year demise and even disappearance of bobwhite quail in areas where they were once plentiful, as in Widner's home territory in Boone and Carroll counties.

He also demonstrates that quail are also plentiful in parts of the state where they are not believed to be plentiful. In these places, which he did not divulge, he wrote that the hunting is as good as ever.

Widner included a lot of great stories, including the one about the gun-shy setter that Widner's dad kept tethered to his belt loop. The dog pointed beautifully until the covey flushed, and then she face-planted the elder Widner without a shot being fired.

An accomplished biologist, Widner also shares his theories from micro and macro perspectives about the quail's demise in Arkansas and how the trend can be corrected.

Good Arkansas-centric hunting books are rare, and this one is very good. Of course, I expect that from a fellow 16-gauge enthusiast.

Sports on 06/10/2018

Print Headline: Phones make it easy for wildlife officers to cite violators

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