Stillwater News Press


February 11, 2014

Online hunter check stations available with additional costs

STILLWATER, Okla. — Online hunter check stations have taken the place of traditional venues, but what cost has been incurred?

It would seem that a tremendous amount of data is being lost due to the recent change. We no longer have experts age deer, inspect for health concerns or even get the weight of the animals at check in.

When I started hunting, a deer had to be taken to a check station, weighed and all proper license materials were inspected. A human being issues the carcass tag, not a computer. It was a nuisance to some but to me it was exciting.

My first memories of successful hunts with my dad included a stop at the fire station on Main Street. That was followed by a victorious drive through downtown with all the seasonal decorations and lights signifying what a special time of year it was.  

Part of hunting dreams used to be being the person in line on opening morning with the biggest buck. If the deer was mature, hunters would be asked if the jaw could be removed and inspected to determine age.

The information was recoded in a ledger and passed on to the state to be tabulated. As a hunter, I could look through and see who had success and what kind of success they had.

Of course some hunters will not bother to check animals in online. But they are probably hunters that would have skipped that step anyway. There is no control to at least say they used the right weapon to harvest an animal during a specific season. All contact with the animals has been eliminated.

Right from the start important information is lost that state officials use to influence future hunting regulations. It is no longer known if bucks harvested showed a good representation of age structure. The change also reduced the ability to track average body weight from year to year.

All that is required is to indicate the gender of a deer and if the animal is mature or not. If antlers are present then the number of points on each side must also be entered.

You cannot discern much of anything from that information. That alone would make it more difficult for the state to determine that changing the combine buck total from two to one is a good decision.

As with many issues, the change most likely came from a shortage of volunteers or the inability to pay people to man check stations. But it could cost more in the long run to have to have hunters check in their harvest online.

Jon Kocan is an outdoor columnist for the Stillwater News Press. Kocan is a long-time local hunter.

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