Sportsman launches state hunter survey

Oxford, N.Y. – As an avid sportsman, Billy Hoosock spends a lot
of time on hunting- and fishing-related Web sites, and peruses
their message boards often.

So he occasionally takes part in the often spirited debates that
are seen on those sites over issues like quality deer management
practices and antler restrictions.

Those frequent arguments caused Hoosock to want to find a way to
truly gauge opinions on issues like the Saturday opener for
Southern Zone rifle season, whether crossbows should be legalized
to hunt whitetails and his fellow hunters’ thoughts on food
plots.

So Hoosock found a Web site that would allow him to put together
a free online survey, came up with a list of 32 questions and has
been spreading the word to New York’s deer hunters ever since.

The result has been nearly 1,500 people logging on to take the
survey as of Christmas.

Hoosock said he decided to offer the survey to satisfy his own
curiosity about issues he sees hunters frequently squabbling
over.

“It’s pretty much everything I’ve seen people arguing about,” he
said. “It’s my own pet project.”

But he said he will share the data with whoever asks, and as of
late December said he had already gotten inquiries from one state
senator’s office and a number of sportsmen’s groups.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has also
taken notice.

“I’ll be interested to see what the results are, especially if
they’re different from our surveys,” said DEC wildlife biologist
Jeremy Hurst, whose focus is on the state’s whitetail herd.

The questionnaire includes basic inquiries such as where, when
and how whitetail hunters hunt.

It then gets into more specific queries, such as whether they
ask permission when hunting private land, do they think the
Southern Zone season should be longer or shorter and whether
“button bucks” should be tagged as bucks.

There is also a spot at the end of the survey for hunters to add
their comments about any issue they’d like to raise.

The survey allows one response per each Internet protocol (IP)
address, so that people can’t complete the survey more than
once.

That has some caused problems for people working at big
companies like National Grid, because each computer shares the same
IP address. So Hoosock recommended those wanting to respond do so
from their home computer.

Hoosock, a 33-year-old machinist from Oxford, Chenango County,
said he doesn’t have the ability to track the identities of who’s
taking the survey.

The survey also inquires about thoughts on the management
actions of the DEC, but Hoosock said he was not trying to be
critical of the agency.

“This is in no way a shot at the DEC,” he said. “I love what
they do.”

Hurst, though, said an e-mail Hoosock sent to some about the
survey incorrectly characterized how much surveying the agency
does. He said the DEC teams with Cornell University to survey
thousands of hunters annually on various hunting issues.

“I think we cover our bases pretty well,” Hurst said.

He added that some of the questions also seem to lead
respondents toward certain answers.

Hoosock said he planned to keep the survey active for 90 days,
which would run until late February, but he would leave it up
longer if there was sufficient demand. He said he may do follow-up
surveys based on the information he gets from the current one.

The survey can be found at www.tigersurvey.com/survey.php?survey=4271
.

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