Sharks dig Southern food

Wednesday, July 25, 2001 at 1:00am

Lately, I've been reading and seeing a lot of news concerning a shark attack that happened in Florida.

The news I'm speaking of is that about the 8-year-old boy who was attacked while wading in shallow water.

One writer says it seems Southern cuisine is a favorite of North American sharks: They simply love the taste of Southerners.

The year 2000 is showing Southern states leading in the number of U.S. shark attack victims. In fact, researchers are saying Southern states have set the all-time mark for the number of shark attacks worldwide in a single year.

The International Shark Attack File, which is compiled by researchers at the University of Florida, reported 79 unprovoked shark attacks on humans last year, well above the yearly average of 54 during the 1990s.

The jump in numbers was primed by an increase in the number of U.S. attacks, from 37 in 1999 to 51 in 2000. Forty-five of these attacks happened in Southern states: Florida, with 34, tops the nation; North Carolina, five; Alabama, two; Louisiana, one; and South Carolina, one.

In all, 10 people perished in the attacks worldwide, including one in the United States, a resident of St. Petersburg, Fla., who died after jumping off his dock in Boga Ciega Bay and landing near a feeding shark.

Southern anglers surfcasting are in constant concern of shark attacks. Traditional safeguards include wearing dark-colored long pants to alert sharks of your presence, keeping your fish inside a closed plastic basket rather than dangling them on a stringer, and simply getting out of the water when sharks arrive.

The ISAF study has shown that swimmers and waders (which must include anglers) are the most frequent victims (46 percent), followed by surfers and windsurfers, divers and snorkelers, body surfers, and people merely entering the water.

It is believed that Florida was an obvious leader because it is a peninsula in a warm climate; it has people venturing into shark habitat year round.

It seems the shark attacks have had little influence on anglers. The number of Southern coastal fishermen has steadily increased.

I prefer freshwater fishing!

Duck Blind drawings

My goodness, the months are rolling by too fast these days. Waterfowl hunters are already talking about duck and goose blind drawings.

August 4, that's the date set for waterfowl hunters to gather from across the state with hopes of drawing a waterfowl blind on one of four Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency wildlife management areas.

Hunters will arrive early Saturday, Aug. 4 for the drawings to determine blind distributions on Old Hickory, Cheatham, Haynes Bottom, and Woods Reservoir WMAs.

Registration will begin at 7 a.m. and the drawing will get underway immediately following the 10 a.m. deadline.

Old Hickory waterfowlers will gather at the Ward Agriculture Center in Lebanon for the Old Hickory lake draw; the Cheatham and Haynes Bottom drawings are set for River Bluff Park (across from Riverview Restaurant on the Cumberland River) in Ashland City; and the Woods Reservoir draw will be held for the first time at the AEDC (Arnold Engineering and Development Center) Recreation Area.

To draw for a waterfowl blind, hunters must be at least 16 years of age, possess an adult license and be present.

To draw for blinds on Old Hickory Unit l, Cheatham Reservoir, Haynes Bottom, and Woods Reservoir, hunters must posses an adult Sportsman license, or have instead the annual hunting and fishing license (type 01) along with the annual small game and waterfowl permit (type 91).

To draw for blinds on Old Hickory Unit ll, hunters must possess the Sportsman license, or an annual hunting and fishing license (type 01) along with the annual waterfowl license (type 05).

Fancy plates

I know while you have sat in a traffic jam you've seen those fancy, colorful Tennessee license tags that have bears, wild turkeys and fish on them. These particular tags are offered by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) to hunters, fishermen and other folks who support the TWRA.

According to Larry Marcum, chief of the Wildlife Division for TWRA, monies from the sale of the black bear and wild turkey tags go to fund wildlife habitat protection and enhancement programs, provide public hunting and fishing access, support law enforcement efforts and improve youth education projects.

Now available at the county clerk offices is the wild turkey plate; the black bear plate should be available by Sept. 5.

The original wildlife plate, the eastern bluebird, is also available. It is the most popular Tennessee specialty plate.

Jimmy Holt hosts Tennessee Outdoorsman which airs Thursday nights at 8:00 pm on Channel 5+ (Comcast cable 50).

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