Unread postby Kraftd » Thu Dec 05, 2019 4:04 am
In my opinion, this is an incredibly complex discussion. There are so many factors at play, and the real story is different depedning upon where in the state you are and whether hunting public or private. Just a smattering of the issues, many have already noted.
1. Many more people waiting on big bucks and passing young bucks.
2. Less and less people reliant on game meat as a primary source of food, so less people filling tags no mater what it takes
3. Locking up private land in leases or to smaller groups for better hunting and hordeing deer herds, for lack of a better way to put it.
4. Tagging system. Its not the only issue, but I think it is an issue. It does make it easier to violate, and the easier it is, the more likely the margins are to do it. Violators will violate no matter what, when its this easy, folks who may not have been willing to risk it, may now.
5. Less and less driving going on.
6. Season generally post-rut (late as it can be)
7. Generally pleasant weather for opening weekend. Deer and people didn't have to move.
8. General loss of hunters and overall laziness of the populations
9. etc. etc. etc.
I have no doubt there are areas of the state (North of Hwy 8 for certain) that the numbers are WAY down. Generally I think numbers on public have been trending down across the state for 20 years. That said, the overall harvest continuing to decline for that and many of the reasons above is not the least bit surprising to me.
I think the step to County based management and some distinction in tags between public and private were good steps. I also think we as hunters need to understand that we are part of the deer management discussion, but not the only voice. There are many other voices in this conversation, and many of them have different goals than we do. A resources management agencies goals aren't necessarily lots of deer and big bucks, and that's probably ok in many cases.