I really couldn't understand when DEC a couple years back decided to slap a $10 application fee – that's to apply, not necessarily receive – on Deer Management Permits.
And I still don't. After all, it's the antlerless deer harvest that generally dictates the size of the state's deer herd, and DEC doles out those tags in an effort to achieve the kill biologists are hoping for to manage the state's whitetails.
So why run the risk of pricing hunters out of the woods? Sure, that's not likely to happen and most of us grudgingly ate the $10 fee and took our shots at securing DMPs. But when the state wants and actually needs us out there, it seemed to me – and still seems – the DEC sometimes forgets we're the chief management tool when it comes to controlling the state's whitetail numbers.
Other times, I firmly believe the DEC "gets it." The department's continued move toward loosened restrictions designed to get hunters out there and keep them out there to achieve the deer harvest they desire shows that. But I'm still hung up on this DMP application fee. I would think the last thing the state wants to do is leave a sour taste in the mouth of a hunter who applies and doesn't receive the tag, but is still out the 10 bucks anyway. Thank you for playing.
But when you think about it, does much about deer management make sense? States essentially "hire" hunters to head afield and do their job in keep deer numbers in check, yet we pay them for the privilege. Go figure.
I don't have the answers to it all, but I still think the application fee could – and should – be dropped. It's like paying a cover charge and then having a bouncer tell you you still can't go inside, isn't it?