June 22, 2013

Outdoors notebook: DNR offers 'loaner' program for anglers

Submitted by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources

— Whether you’re planning to visit a Georgia State Park or Georgia Historic Site or just happen to stop by one on a whim, be sure to come cast away your worries by fishing — whether or not you have the necessary equipment.

The Fishing Tackle Loaner Program, offered by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division and Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites, provides loaner fishing poles and stocked tackle boxes to visitors for free.

“This program provides budding anglers a way to try out fishing without having to purchase any equipment,” said John Biagi, fisheries chief of the Wildlife Resources Division. “It also encourages fishing activities at these nearby resource areas and helps remind visitors that Georgia has some great places to fish.”

Visitors should inquire about the program at park offices, where they can check out the equipment for the day. Children younger than age 16 do not need a fishing license, but all others will need a license. Where can you quickly get a license? Buy it at the park office, purchase it online at georgiawildlife.com/licenses-permits-passes or call (800) 366-2661.

Funding to provide the equipment is provided by the Sport Fish Restoration Program, which allows funds accumulated from a federal excise tax on fishing equipment and related items to be directed to activities that benefit recreational anglers. A portion of these funds is provided to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources based on several factors, including the number of paid sporting licenses.

There are 25 parks and sites active in the program. To learn more, go online to georgiawildlife.com/fishing/tackleloaner.

• Georgia sportsmen are invited to connect through the location-based social media network foursquare.com.

More than 30 million people are checking in to let their friends know where they are, what they’re doing and where they’ve been via their mobile device. Users can unlock specials and deals by checking in, and they can discover new locations through personalized recommendations based on check-in habits. Foursquare also allows users to post photos from their favorite spots and post tips and reviews for locations they visit.

“With fewer hunting opportunities, the summer is the perfect time for hunters and gun enthusiasts of all experience levels to enjoy the outdoors and get some target practice in at one of the DNR’s shooting ranges,” said DNR Hunter Development Program manager Walter Lane. “Foursquare provides range visitors with a mobile platform to connect with the DNR and each other while also taking advantage of some specials at select ranges.”

Visitors to Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center/Clybel WMA Shooting Range can receive a round of clays for use at the shotgun range on their fifth check-in, and visitors to the Wilson Shoals WMA Shooting Range will receive targets to use at the range when checking in and bringing a youth to the range. Be sure to visit foursquare.com/gapublicranges and twitter.com/gapublicranges to stay updated on additional specials and events at DNR ranges.

Remember, new hunter education graduates receive a three-month range pass, which allows free access to DNR shooting ranges upon completion of the course.

You can find a range near you and additional range information at georgiawildlife.com/hunting/archery-shooting-ranges and download Foursquare to your mobile device for free at the Apple App Store or Android Market.