I sold my ginseng yesterday. While I was at my buyer's shop, I saw a couple of interesting things. The first thing I saw was a dried root in a jar he had. I have never seen a root this big in person or in a picture. It's had to describe because of it's shape, but it was so big and thick, it wouldn't have fit inside a softball. It had multiple necks on it too. The dealer said it had seven plants growing off this one root. I asked him if it was tame, and he told me it was 100% wild. He also said one of his Chinese buyers estimated that root to be around 90 years old. He just wished the guy that dug it brought it to him green instead of dried. I would have taken a picture if I would have had my phone on me. The one thing that encourages me is that he said it was found in Lawrence County. I do a lot of hunting there, so there is hope for me!
The second thing that got me thinking was what I saw when I was walking out. As soon as I opened the door, there sat a conservation officer's SUV. I turned to the right and saw the officer walking into the warehouse portion of the dealers shop. I was just wondering if their visits are somewhat common, or this was a surprise inspection. Seeing him kind of got my wheels turning. Duncan told me that it wouldn't surprise him if Indiana required licenses to hunt next year. Between that information and seeing that officer, it actually makes me feel good. Indiana seems to be getting serious about taking care of it's resources and making sure they're around for future generations.
A note on Conservation Officers, Fish and Game or Dept of Natural Resources Officers. In some states they are responsible for wildlife and natural resources like ginseng. I know in Wis. the DNR is responsible for both. In my past experience in doing Taxidermy, these wardens Never call to set up an appointment for inspection. It is always a surprise inspection. As long as you are doing everything right according to the law, you have nothing to worry about. But they can really eat up your time, while they inspect things, checking records and log books. And in my job, they show up at my door and want to inpect my freezers, when I'm in the middle of mounting an animal, it just ruins my day. Fortunatley I have built a good relationship with the Warden in my area and he respects me as be an honest person. So when he shows up, he takes a quick look at things(usually 5-10 min.) and then leaves.
I believe for these wardens, the element of surprise is what will catch a person off guard and find some major violation or some minor thing you failed to enter in the logbook because you were too busy at the time. Wardens tend to show up when you least expect them.
I remember one day in Wis. when I was selling some hides at Buckhorn Fur and Ginseng. I was standing out side talking to the owner and the DNR warden pulled up. The owner said, \"that's all I need right now! He's wants to dig through my Ginseng! A surprise inspection!
I believe Warden inpections are common during the season, but always a surprise.
I'm like a lot of folks and gripe about some of the things the government does, but when I see officers checking in like that, I feel good that the state takes its resources seriously. I've talked to several people over the past year that don't hunt ginseng, and they don't have a clue about how fragile this plants existence is.
I will mention that Indiana had a big crack down on dealers at the beginning of the season. I'm not sure of the exact details, but I think there were some questions raised about certain dealers buying dry ginseng on Sept. 1, which is opening day for us.
Game wardens and DNR type field officers seem to be the most laid back version of law enforcement I've ever come across. People will get away with what they can unless you tell 'em otherwise, so they're an unfortunate but necessary entity as far as I'm concerned.
When it comes to sang, I'd rather have the surprise inspections, at least the sang industry gets some kind of recognition or distinction. Then again I'm basing all this on conversations I've had with Maryland dealers and the state of Maryland's Ginseng point of contact.