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In North Dakota, the usual start of the camping season is the Memorial Day weekend, still a couple of months down the road.

But then nothing about this year, at least weather-wise, has been usual.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced the Downstream Campground will open for the season May 4 and East Totten and Wolf Creek camping areas will open a couple of days earlier, on May 1.

The wing walls at the Tailrace are now open for fishing. The West Tailrace access road will undergo some repairs later this year and is now gravel. It is an improvement, however, over the crater-sized potholes.

With the price of gas these days, campers will most likely be sticking closer to home.

It has been a trend in recent years that when gas prices get close to the $4-a-gallon mark, campers tend to stick closer to home, go less often and stay longer.

Another trend is a lot of campers take advantage of the seasonal sites at some of the campgrounds that are maintained by local park districts.

The bottom line for camping enthusiasts is planning will be important, so it will be a good idea to take advantage of reservation systems.

State parks offer reservations by phone or online. The toll-free number is 800-807-4723 or visit the state parks website at www.parkrec.nd.gov.

Many other camping areas are first-come, first-served, so that makes the planning process more important.

Silencers

In Texas, hunters will be able to use silencers for hunting alligators, game animals and game birds.

Apparently, silencers are legal for use in hunting exotic species and feral hogs.

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 Scott Vaca, Texas Parks and Wildlife Division assistant chief of wildlife enforcement, said there is “no resource or enforcement-related reason to prohibit these devices for hunting alligators, game animals or game birds.”

According to an article on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website, 38 other states allow the use of suppressed firearms during hunting seasons.

Those wanting to use silencers must go through an application process administered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that requires a federal tax payment of $200 and a thorough criminal background check.

South Dakota and Montana are among states that allow civilians to own silencers, but not North Dakota.

No real controversy here in my view, just interesting.

Biting back

Another interesting story comes out of a homeless camp in Mobile, Ala.

A story on http://al.com reported that a man, after watching a water moccasin slither into camp, chopped its head off.

Thinking the poisonous snake was dead, he stuck his finger in the snake’s decapitated mouth and much to his surprise, the mouth clamped shut and bit him.

He was taken to a local hospital for an antivenom treatment and recovered.

Again, just interesting..)

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Reach reporter Brian Gehring 250-8254 or brian.gehring@bismarcktribune.com.

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