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Some advice to help improve hunting surveys

Within the next little while, anyone who has hunted wild turkey or bear in the spring is legally obligated to fill out an online survey so the biologists at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry can have better data to help manage our wildlife in a sustainable way.  In my opinion, this is a great step forward and we should all be incredibly happy to help out.

My only complaint is the survey itself. When I filled mine out, they basically asked me a few boring questions. It focused on the number of days I hunted, the number of target species animals I saw, the number I harvested and in what wildlife management unit I hunted in. All that’s fine but, if you want even more hunter participation, a few minor tweaks would probably be helpful.

First, after those basic questions, there should be a section that allows hunters to brag a little. In it, you should be able to post a photo of yourself posing with the bird or bear you tagged, plus the story that you plan to settle on – and information on where your next hunting seminar will be. Add to that a ‘share’ button so that you can alert all your friends about the success you have experienced.

If the hunter reported no harvest, he or she should immediately be able to check into the “Here’s the reason I got skunked” page. This would be the place where the disgruntled hunter could get all his or her frustrations out by typing in a litany of excuses as to why they did not get their bird. Not only would this be entertaining, it would also show wildlife biologists things they have never considered before when managing wildlife. For instance, it might make them aware that there are too many trees in your average turkey woods – and that these can prevent hunters from getting a bead on a bird. Knowing this, they might consider proposals to thin down our forests a bit so that you can see the #@z%$! birds. It might allow MNRF staff to revise the hunter education course so that they focus a little more on taking the gun off of safe before a turkey steps into that one #@$%! opening between the trees. Or maybe it might encourage them to do a bit of mosquito control so you are not swatting when a bird slips in.

When it comes to the bear surveys, there might be an additional question that would provide some insight as to how big the bear sighted was. The most helpful question I would suggest would be, “On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the driest), how dry were your shorts when you left the woods?” All it would take would be that and a few accompanying trail camera photos before biologists would be able to accurately predict the size of the bear based upon the number provided by the survey respondent.

The point here is that these additional questions would benefit everyone. The biologists would know a little more about the pain that some hunters go through – and maybe even provide a refund to the worst affected cases. And hunters would look forward to filling out the surveys either to brag or vent their frustrations.

And the MNRF might also be able to sell the data to make more money for wildlife management. For instance, I’m sure some underwear companies would be very interested…

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