Re: INCREASE IN DUCK STAMP FEE
Had to put down my first lab, Hank, last summer (2013) at age 7. Lyme disease he got at 4 destroyed his kidneys. His natural ability and drive sure made it easy to make him a serviceable retriever for the type of water I normally hunted. He was free.
Bought another one a few months after he died, but in hindsight I shouldn't have done it so quickly. I knew life was changing with our kids' activities and sports, and he came from a breeder who focuses on family pets and not from a hunting line. He's got below average drive and and natural hunting instincts (he doesn't even chase rabbits or birds in the yard) - somebody with more time and skill than I have could probably make him a serviceable retriever/hunter. For now, he's a wonderful family pet - probably the friendliest, most loving dog I've ever been around - but I don't know that he'll ever be much of a hunter unless I would send him off to a trainer or give him up to somebody who knows training well.
At any rate, I feel ya. It's just not the same without Hank. The personal drive to do it just isn't there for me anymore. Maybe in a few years it will be.