Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

License restructuring alters buying patterns

As a result of the restructuring, which included several fee reductions, license sales were down in several categories through early fall, according to DEC figures.
Officials aren’t overly concerned with the sales declines at this point, since the license restructuring now allows sportsmen to wait to purchase some licenses, such as a fishing license, which is now valid for one year from the date of purchase as opposed to the previous Oct. 1-Sept. 30.
“Most (of the declines) are quite explainable,” DEC assistant director of fish, wildlife and marine resources Doug Stang told the Conservation Fund Advisory Board. “Whereas guys would buy a sportsman (hunting and fishing) license previously, they can buy their hunting license now and fishing in the springtime, or wait and see if they’re going to fish. We’re not too concerned with the numbers right now, except the short-term (1- and 7-day) fishing licenses.”
Short-term fishing license sales were down by more than 50 percent through the same period of 2013. Those drop-offs came even with resident fishing license sales also down by 24 percent.
Stang said the steep declines in 1- and 7-day license sales were likely “a reflection of poor Lake Ontario tributary fishing” due to low water conditions early during the popular salmon and trout upstream runs.
Nonresident short-term fishing licenses were also down by over 20 percent, while regular nonresident fishing licenses were down by 2 percent, DEC figures showed.
The altered license-buying, combined with some reduced fees, has resulted in about a $4.7 million decline in license revenues through early fall. Stang says that while the reduced fees could lead to an overall revenue dip, “I don’t know that we’ll see the number of licenses (sold) down.”
Other license sales reports through early fall showed:
• resident archery licenses were up by 10 percent from the 2013-14 license year. Nonresident archery license sales were up by a whopping 329 percent.
• resident muzzleloader sales were down by 5 percent while nonresident muzzleloader sales jumped by 460 percent through the same period of last year.
Stang said those numbers showed the different buying patterns of hunters as a result of the license restructuring.
“It (the muzzleloader license) was part of a package before, but now it makes no difference (when it’s purchased),” he said. “I expect after hunters fill their first (deer) tag with a bow they’ll go back for the muzzleloader license so they’ll have another tag (the bow-muzzleloader either sex deer tag). They may not even be a muzzleloader hunter but they want that extra tag.”
With the license fee restructuring, Stang said nonresident hunting, archery and muzzleloading licenses total $160, compared to the previous system whereby those licenses, plus a turkey permit and fishing privileges, would cost $280 through a Super Sportsman license.
“So this should be quite attractive to purchase all three licenses,” he said.
• resident turkey permits were down by 22 percent and nonresident turkey tag sales were also down 22 percent. Stang said that in the past many holders of Super Sportsman licenses – which includes a turkey permit – may not have actually hunted turkeys. “Based on the feedback we’ve received to date, the reduction in turkey permits is likely real,” he said. “We will now have a better handle on the actual number of turkey hunters and will be better able to direct our turkey hunter surveys to those who actually hunt turkeys.”
• Deer Management Permit applications remain largely unchanged. “The bottom line there is guys are going to get their DMPs,” Stang said.
DEC officials said it would likely be December to get an accurate picture of total license sales compared to last season.
“It’s really a buy-as-you-go scenario now,” Stang said. “It used to be cheaper to buy licenses as a package, but now it makes no difference.”

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