This past week probably presented more different hunting opportunities for more kinds of game than any other week of the year. Three different deer seasons were under way with the continuation of the regular archery season, the early muzzleloader season and the special three-day antlerless deer season for junior and senior license holders, disabled hunting permit holders and active-duty military personnel.
For small-game hunters, the squirrel, grouse and woodcock seasons were also under way, followed by the opening Saturday of the pheasant, rabbit and second dove season. For waterfowl hunters, the duck season was open in parts of the state north of Interstate 80, and the regular Canada goose season opened Saturday for most of the state. The hunting season for foxes and raccoons also opened Saturday, and the trapping season for coyotes, foxes and raccoons starts today.
We are now well into the second season of using the new style of hunting licenses issued electronically. These slick new documents are a dramatic departure from the old handwritten paper ones, but overall, the change has been a good one that streamlined and made the entire licensing process more efficient for everyone involved. Last week, however, the Game Commission issued some information about a few quirks that have arisen with the new licenses that I felt were worth passing along.
First, there seems to be some confusion about whether or not hunting licenses still need to be displayed. They do. That requirement is also a matter of state law and changed only be by an act of the legislature. The Game Commission is supporting legislation that would eliminate the requirement to display a hunting license, but until such legislation is passed, hunters still need to display their licenses while hunting. Licenses do not need to be displayed in the middle of the back, however, and can simply be attached a hat or any outer garment to comply with the law.
Make sure all your licenses and tags have "10/11" printed in the upper right-hand corner. Because all licenses and tags are the same color as last year, it will be easy to mistake last year's stuff for this year's. Using an outdated tag, even if an honest mistake, is still technically a violation of the law and could result in fine.
Since I started hunting, one of the first things I did in preparing my gear for a new season was to tuck a stubby little pencil in my license holder to fill out my harvest tags. That tradition is now obsolete. Although the new harvest tags come preprinted with your name and address, information regarding the time and place the animal was taken must still be written on the tag, and a pencil simply won't write on the new license material. So be sure to carry a ballpoint pen to fill out your tag.
The new harvest tags also display a barcode along one edge. The Game Commission is requesting that hunters attach the tag so that this barcode is unobstructed and can be scanned if necessary.
Although the material on which the new licenses and tags are printed is quite tough and water-resistant, it literally cannot take the heat. If the material is subjected to any heat source for a time, it will turn black, making the document unreadable.
For that reason, do not any license in a dryer, on a dashboard or hang it near a heater.
Finally, if a license or harvest tag is lost or destroyed, a replacement can be obtained at any issuing agent by paying a replacement fee of $6.70. The exception to that is an antlerless deer license, which can only be replaced by a county treasurer.