It’s no big secret we are smack dab in the middle of prime hunting time.

Big-game, small-game and migratory waterfowl and birds seasons are wide open and come right in the middle of our youngsters Christmas vacation. All of which means lots of young, inquisitive, keyed-up minds having lots of time on their hands.

It’s not guesswork to know there is some degree of probability in our state, but certain somewhere in our country, a child will be injured or killed by a loaded firearm left within their reach. It’s happened already this year.

And that’s why we older — and hopefully wiser — folks need to understand that leaving firearms around the house, or in vehicles, foreshadows big problems.

With Christmas, there’s even the worry associated with the gift of a rifle or shotgun.

In this case, prevention is worth much more than a pound of cure, and that’s why parents and gun owners need to take advantage of Project ChildSafe, the undertaking of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

The NSSF’s website, projectchildsafe.org, has guides for parents and gun owners, educators and law enforcement agencies, tips to prevent gun theft and a you can order a no-fee “Get a Safety Kit.”

In the interim, make sure all weapons are unloaded and stored in a safe place. Yes, we know this can be a home-defense problem, but there are ways, even in defense mode, to make sure children cannot get to a weapon. And there are cable gun locks at most outdoors shops.

State-sponsored Hunter Safety courses are offered to teach youngsters how to properly handle firearms of all shapes and sizes, but it’s the adult who needs to make this happen.

Moreover, if you want to make a donation, there’s a place on the NSSF’s Project ChildSafe website to do that.

Modern Fish Act

After the U.S. Senate passed it’s version of the Modern Fish Act earlier in the week, the House passed the Senate’s version Wednesday, and the bill’s supporters from across the recreational fishing spectrum were assured of the president’s signature.

“The Modern Fish Act is the most significant update to America’s saltwater fishing regulations in more than 40 years and the recreational fishing community couldn’t be more excited,” Bass Pro Shops founder and avid outdoorsman Johnny Morris said. “On behalf of America’s 11 million saltwater anglers, we’re grateful to (House) Speaker (Paul) Ryan, R-Wisconsin, the 115th Congress and all the elected leaders who came together to support and enhance recreational fishing across America.”

Backers of the bill said MFA gives the country’s 11 million saltwater anglers a voice in decision-making, acknowledges fishing’s $63 billion annual economic impact and the 440,000 jobs supported by fishing, and pays respect to $1.3 billion in taxes paid by anglers and boaters in the form of excise taxes and licensing fees, which are redistributed to the states for conservation projects, boating safety and infrastructure and habitat restoration.

“America’s anglers and members of the recreational fishing and boating industry are among the most responsible stewards of our marine resources because healthy fisheries and the future of recreational fishing go hand-in-hand,” Maverick Boat Group president Scott Deal said. “A huge thank you to our congressional leaders who answered the call of the recreational fishing community to improve the way our fisheries are managed.”

More closures

Wildlife and Fisheries announced late last week a closure of state outside waters between Calliou Boca and Freshwater Bayou Canal effective sunset Monday.

A map of the closed areas, including inside waters closed earlier in December, are available at the LDWF’s website: wlf.louisiana.gov. Find “fishing,” then “commercial fishing,” then “shrimp.”

The LDWF also advised Friday the closure of the skeet/trap range No. 2 in the Sherburne Wildlife Management Area from Dec. 27-29. All other ranges on Sherburne will be open.

Wishes

For the families who have lost loved ones this year, may peace find you during this holiday and may memories of the good they did for our outdoors linger for generations.

For the safety of our hunters and fishermen throughout the holidays, and to answer a prayer, older folks take time to add a Christmas gift of an outdoors adventure during this most precious time of the year.