Please Sign In

Please enter a valid username and password
  • Log in with Facebook
» Not a member? Take a moment to register
» Forgot Username or Password

Telecheck Deer: The Way of the Future or a Missed Opportunity?

February 03, 2014
Telecheck Deer: The Way of the Future or a Missed Opportunity? - 5


CC image from Flickr

EDITOR’S NOTE: There are few things as polarizing — or as important — in whitetail management than harvest reporting. Two Outdwoor Life editors take different perspectives on the topic. Who do you agree with? Let us know in the Comments section below.

Retain Mandatory Check Stations

by Gerry Bethge, Deputy Editor

The recent news that Wisconsin officials have voted unanimously to remove in-person deer check stations by 2015 comes with a fair amount of consternation.

For me, real, live hunter check stations are equal parts sentimentality and practicality.

I know the sentimentality part of the issue doesn’t stand up, but every time we lose a place where hunters can gather, we lose a little bit of the fabric that binds us as a community of people. So many of us grew up looking in the beds of pickups and admiring bucks taken by people we didn’t know. So many of us made a trip to the weigh-in pole at a local gas station or café a tradition after coming in from the field on opening morning. I hate to lose that tradition.

But here’s the other thing about mandatory check stations: they collect and reveal important biological information. Dead deer—every dead deer—has a tale to tell and that's takes on even more importance in this age of CWD, EHD, and point restrictions. Biologist-manned check stations give state DNRs a handle on its deer herd and without them that handle is in serious jeopardy.

Will we get fewer deer, and therefore less information, with a telecheck or internet-delivered check-in program? Undoubtedly yes, but it seems that states have a way to account for this “under reporting," seemingly the current-day PC term for poaching. Agencies have a mathematical formula to account for such annoyances. It's called the fudge factor. In New York’s voluntary system, for example, officials believe that 45% of harvested deer are reported. That is decidedly not a harvest report but rather a harvest estimate. Read: guess. As a hunter, I deserve better than a guess—and I’d be more than willing to pay more for that in license-fee increases. What I most definitely do not want is bad science. When a promising pre-season deer forecast turns into a horrible deer take and is then blamed on the weather, well, I’m just not buying it.

Word from Wisconsin is that the DNR is considering alternatives for collecting deer data as the check stations are eliminated. Such methods include instituting random in-person registration, sampling tissues from deer taken to meat processors, and requiring hunters to send in deer jaws.

Replace Check Stations with a Better Process

by Andrew McKean, Editor-in-Chief

Nobody wants to see change, especially if there’s no good reason for it. But when it comes to mandatory game-check stations, there are good reasons to change. For starters, these field stations are expensive, and you hardly need to be an economist to know that state game agencies are generally not rolling in dough right now. Money spent on check stations won’t be available for other critical programs, like game wardens, habitat enhancement, and recreational access.

Second, the information the stations collected was spotty, and can easily be replaced with a simple, cost-effective remote reporting system. Digital communication is what we do these days, and with some tweaks (see below), this could be a very useful and cost-effective system.

And third, don’t fool yourself. We didn’t get anywhere near full compliance with mandatory check stations. Will we get better compliance with electronic check? Probably.

Gerry is right on with his sentimentality argument. I grew up going with my dad to the MFA station in Unionville, Missouri and seeing my neighbors’ deer. But I saw only a fraction of the deer that I knew had been killed. Many landowners in my county simply hung their deer up in the shed and never reported the harvest.

What I’d like to see is a way to improve the instant check system. If states have a problem with reporting, then incentivize the system. Every 100th reporter gets a free deer tag for the following season. Every 10,000th reporter gets $1,000. I guarantee you that would improve participation.

And close the feedback loop. My problem with electronic checking is that users’ data goes into a system that doesn’t respond. I’d like to get a ping back that tells me that my buck was the 81st of the day from my county, and my 4x6 is the third biggest taken in the season so far. And after the season, have the system report the harvest, direct to my phone. We all want to feel like our participation makes a difference, and these would be easy ways to accomplish that.

Now it’s your turn. Does your state require reporting? If so, in person or electronically? Which do you prefer?

Comments (5)

Top Rated
All Comments
from wisc14 wrote 23 weeks 3 days ago

some misinformation here in regards to wisconsin anyway. compliance was thought to be EXTREMELY HIGH in wisconsin. i know a lot of hunters and EVERY SINGLE ONE had their deer registered. also i'm not buying the expensive excuse either. lots of volunteers and interns, who are already payed squat, manning the stations. also was VERY GOOD for the gas stations, sport shops, etc. where the check stations were. also losing tradition here.

this was brought about in wisconsin by a politically overrun DNR that has become useless. i feel bad for the biologists working for the DNR. science is not calling the shots in this state, politics and $ is.

not sure about your weather comment, but that was a pretty substantial factor in the wisconsin harvest this year. 20 below zero with high winds kept a lot of hunters out of the field or shortened their hunts greatly

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 4everAutumn wrote 23 weeks 4 days ago

As huntfishtrap stated, we have mandatory electronic reporting in Iowa. I prefer doing it this way, after my deer is home safe, hung and cooling down. We can still also report over the phone or by visiting a licensing agent if a person doesn't have computer access. It's very quick and easy and I look at it as a necessary aspect of the hunt.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntfishtrap wrote 23 weeks 4 days ago

Iowa has an mandatory electronic reporting system, and I greatly prefer it over a check station. Just about everybody has the internet these days, but not everybody would live close to a check station, so I think electronic reporting might actually produce less non-reported deer than stations. I totally agree with Andrew McKean's take on the issue.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from sangcoacc wrote 23 weeks 4 days ago

"Where have all the whitetails gone?" To think that a 45% reporting rate is assumed and considered normal blows my mind. I have always assumed there was a certain amount of under reporting. I would like to believe that we are better than that. I like the idea of feedback and incentives but are we beyond the point where that will change a culture of non-reporting habits? It seems we're closing the barn door after the horse is long gone. Check stations at least give an impression that science and management are in action. Unfortunately, our electronic culture will solidify the fact that check stations are a thing of the past.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from vette wrote 23 weeks 4 days ago

New York is not voluntary - it is a mandatory check in - by phone or email. You can get a ticket if a DEC officer finds that you DID NOT report the deer. Quote from their website: "All successful hunters are required by law to report their take of deer, bear, and turkey within 7 days of kill."
They still get a poor reporting rate and make a calculated guess at harvest - meaning 60% are paper deer!
A solution could be a mandatory report, with photo and if no deer is taken by the end of the season you must still report - anyone not reporting is charged an extra $25 on their next license which is easy as all tags are issued thru the DECALS system. Penalty for not reporting a deer, in addition to the ticket - no tags for 2 years. Hunting without tags - you lose the gun and vehicle you were using when stopped and ticketed!
New Mexico enters you for a draw tag when you comply with their mandatory reporting - required even if unsuccessful - don't report and you are not eligible for any draw!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)

from vette wrote 23 weeks 4 days ago

New York is not voluntary - it is a mandatory check in - by phone or email. You can get a ticket if a DEC officer finds that you DID NOT report the deer. Quote from their website: "All successful hunters are required by law to report their take of deer, bear, and turkey within 7 days of kill."
They still get a poor reporting rate and make a calculated guess at harvest - meaning 60% are paper deer!
A solution could be a mandatory report, with photo and if no deer is taken by the end of the season you must still report - anyone not reporting is charged an extra $25 on their next license which is easy as all tags are issued thru the DECALS system. Penalty for not reporting a deer, in addition to the ticket - no tags for 2 years. Hunting without tags - you lose the gun and vehicle you were using when stopped and ticketed!
New Mexico enters you for a draw tag when you comply with their mandatory reporting - required even if unsuccessful - don't report and you are not eligible for any draw!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from sangcoacc wrote 23 weeks 4 days ago

"Where have all the whitetails gone?" To think that a 45% reporting rate is assumed and considered normal blows my mind. I have always assumed there was a certain amount of under reporting. I would like to believe that we are better than that. I like the idea of feedback and incentives but are we beyond the point where that will change a culture of non-reporting habits? It seems we're closing the barn door after the horse is long gone. Check stations at least give an impression that science and management are in action. Unfortunately, our electronic culture will solidify the fact that check stations are a thing of the past.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from huntfishtrap wrote 23 weeks 4 days ago

Iowa has an mandatory electronic reporting system, and I greatly prefer it over a check station. Just about everybody has the internet these days, but not everybody would live close to a check station, so I think electronic reporting might actually produce less non-reported deer than stations. I totally agree with Andrew McKean's take on the issue.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 4everAutumn wrote 23 weeks 4 days ago

As huntfishtrap stated, we have mandatory electronic reporting in Iowa. I prefer doing it this way, after my deer is home safe, hung and cooling down. We can still also report over the phone or by visiting a licensing agent if a person doesn't have computer access. It's very quick and easy and I look at it as a necessary aspect of the hunt.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from wisc14 wrote 23 weeks 3 days ago

some misinformation here in regards to wisconsin anyway. compliance was thought to be EXTREMELY HIGH in wisconsin. i know a lot of hunters and EVERY SINGLE ONE had their deer registered. also i'm not buying the expensive excuse either. lots of volunteers and interns, who are already payed squat, manning the stations. also was VERY GOOD for the gas stations, sport shops, etc. where the check stations were. also losing tradition here.

this was brought about in wisconsin by a politically overrun DNR that has become useless. i feel bad for the biologists working for the DNR. science is not calling the shots in this state, politics and $ is.

not sure about your weather comment, but that was a pretty substantial factor in the wisconsin harvest this year. 20 below zero with high winds kept a lot of hunters out of the field or shortened their hunts greatly

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment (200 characters or less)