November 10, 2011

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

I know I've publically professed to being a huge fan of the movie Christmas Vacation, and have quoted lines from the comedy on more than one occasion.

I had an opportunity to do so again this weekend, after my 12-year-old daughter dropped the second trophy deer of her young hunting career.

Abi made a perfect shot on the 11-pointer, so I wasn't even out of breath when we made it to his final resting spot (which means it was really close, as I regularly get winded climbing the flight of nine stairs from my basement.)

But what followed did cause me a bit more exasperation than the brief jaunt to claim her prize.

I've been told I'm not always the most observant man in the world. I guess I wasn't really paying attention when I purchased her tags at the gun shop. I saw that they were on the normal yellow colored paper. What I didn't realize was this wasn't the traditional adhesive backed yellow stationary of our permits of the past.

For some reason, the Missouri Department of Conservation has decided to eliminate the peel and stick transportation tags. Instead, you now have a tag, with two openings, which requires you to have some form of string, twine or twist ties in order to attach the tag to your harvest.

This reminded me of Christmas Vacation when Clark's corporate boss decided to do away with the Christmas bonuses without warning his employees.

As the movie continues, the boss gets called out for his bad decision, over and over again, highlighting his concern with the bottom line versus the well being and morale of his workers.

Despite the fact she is standing in the living room of the home where a disgruntled employee has taken her husband, the boss's wife sides with the boss-nappers when she learns what he did.

"Of all the cheap lousy ways to save a buck," she tells her husband.

The boss explains his decision, noting that an idea might look good on paper, and might save a buck or two, but that cannot be the deciding factor if it hurts the ones you depend on to make it all happen.

I'm hoping the MDC has this same type of reflection on the permit changes.

In its defense, the conservation department did inform people about the changes, as a matter of fact it was in the paper last week. (Another check mark on my inattentive grade card.)

I'm sure the argument for the change is the department's transition into the e-permit business. I applaud MDC for creating a convenient system that allows us to purchase permits from the ease of our own computer.

Of course this likely saves the MDC money in the long run, since they have fewer vendors to support with equipment, and materials not to mention the processing fees for each permit sold saved by eliminating the middle man.

Over the weekend I interacted with other hunters who were complaining about the MDC change, and heard more than once, "of all the cheap ways to save a buck..."

But already reminded of my discernment deficiency, I decided to review the MDC policy before I publically decried it as a bad way to save a buck.

Nowhere could I find any information on the cost of the old adhesive tags compared to the new.

The MDC does offer an informative tutorial on its website, recommending following an online permit purchase, that the permit be printed out and placed in a Ziploc plastic bag. The plain paper tag should be left in the bag, and attached to the deer with a piece of twine or a twist-tie, wire or tape. There was even a how-to video.

And for all of that convenience, the MDC charges you an extra dollar.

That still doesn't explain why the MDC did away with the old permits for those of us that still buy them from a registered permit vendor. The only rationale I can fathom is a cost-savings motive.

I'd pay a convenience fee of a dollar or two to go back to an all-in-one permit like we used to have. Sure beats trying to weave a hemp rope from foxtail for those of us that aren't good at reading directions - that are nowhere to be found on the permit itself - which must have saved a buck or two in ink.

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