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Understanding nonresident tag terms and drawings

Applying for a nonresident tag in a state far from home can leave you with an overwhelming feeling. Game laws with regards to tags are complicated and at times very confusing. It seems like every state is different and even differ from one species to another within a state. With that in mind, my Glossary of Tag Terms which follows should help you navigate the clutter by understanding what the terms mean. OTC: Over the counter tags are those tags which can be bought upon arrival. You can buy these tags at any license vendor that sells fishing and hunting licenses. Limited Entry Tags: Limited entry tags are given out based on a drawing. You must apply for a license during an application period, then a drawing is held on a certain day. Limited entry tags are used when the number of applicants exceeds the number of available tags. This may take place in a state or in a unit within a state. Unlimited Draw tags: With these tags, you must apply for the tag but there is no limit to the number of tags. You are guaranteed a tag if you apply during the application period, or in some cases, in time to receive it during your hunt. Random Draw: Some states have drawings that are totally random. All names are thrown in, each with an equal chance of winning. No matter how many times you apply, even every year for many consecutive years, your chances of drawing are the same as the person who is applying their first time. Some states will offer more tags to residents than nonresidents, so you are competing against those in your category. Because random draws are not seen as a fair system by many people (including me), most states have implemented a system of bonus points or preference points. Bonus Points and Preference Points: Some states use bonus or preference points when applicants exceed the number of tags available. Some states use the terms differently, but in general, a bonus point works like this. Each time you are unsuccessful, you are give a point which increases your odds of drawing. For all practical purposes, it simply puts your name in the hat an additional time. If you have been unsuccessful ten times, your name is in the mix ten times, and if you are applying for your first tag, your name is only in one time. Your odds are ten times better than a person with only one. These are used when the drawing takes place among the names of all applicants. Some states allow you to buy more bonus points to increase your odds. You could get drawn with no bonus points, but having more bonus points increases your odds of getting drawn. This system allows all people to have a chance, but the drawbacks are that you never reach a point where you are guaranteed a tag like you would with a preference point system. Preference points are used in cases where are the names are not “thrown into the hat” together. If you are unsuccessful in the drawing, you are awarded a preference point. Drawing from the names with the most preference points takes place first, then if there are tags left, the pool of names with one fewer point takes place and so on. Iowa uses the preference point system for whitetails. For a hypothetical example, if you were applying for a whitetail tag in an Iowa zone, let’s say there are 600 tags available and 1500 applicants. Some of these applicants (100) have four or more preference points. They will draw a tag which leaves 500 more tags. There are 400 applicants with three points which are awarded a tag, which leaves 100 tags. From the pool of applicants with two points, a random drawing awards those 100 tags. All persons who did not draw a tag are given another preference point which moves them up one tier the following year. Some states allow you to purchase one preference point each year. This way you do not have to apply for a tag if you have no chance of drawing. Once again, using Iowa as an example, the best zones require at least two points to draw. If you apply for a tag, you must send in $551 and wait to hear if you drew. They draw interest on your money for a few months before sending it back, while keeping an application fee. You can avoid this process by just purchasing a $50 preference point until you have enough points that your odds of drawing are good enough to justify sending in the entire fee. Using whitetails as an example again, some states have significantly increased the number of nonresident deer tags available to the point that you can draw every year without any points. Illinois and Kansas are good examples. At the time of this writing, there are more tags available in Illinois than the number of applicants so you can draw every year. That’s also true in some zones in Kansas. In Kansas, you would most likely draw whenever you want to but it’s not 100% for sure. If you want to hunt in a year or two, you could buy one preference point to have so when you do apply you would be guaranteed a tag. Surplus or Leftover, and Landowner Tags: In some states there are other options to buying a tag. If all tags are not sold in a given zone, they may be put back up for sale on a certain date, and you can purchase them without going through the application process. Likewise, some states require you to go through a drawing, and only if you are successful do you have to buy the tag. Some hunters apply for tags and are drawn, but do not buy the tags, either they forget, have an emergency or whatever. These tags also go on sale on a specific date. Surplus or

Advancements in High-Tech Scouting Cameras

New technology and cost effective cell phone cameras are taking scouting camera strategies to the next level. We have come a long way since the days of rushing to a one-hour photo developer to look at the photos taken by our trail cameras. A long, long ways. Digital cameras completely changed the game camera game; you just plug an SD card into your computer and view. Well the changes and improvements are moving ahead at a breakneck pace. The first scouting cameras that used a cell phone signal to send you a photo were introduced several years ago, but they were so expensive that the cost was prohibitive. Not only was the camera expensive, but each camera had to have an individual phone number, which meant you had to add another line to your monthly bill and each of the photos the camera sent you would eat up your expensive data at an alarming rate. That’s all changed. Several companies, including HCO, Covert and Stealthcam now offer cell phone cameras in which you can buy a monthly data plan so you only pay for the data you use while your camera is in the woods. Covert offers this in both ATT and Verizon editions. Plans run as low as $14.99 per month which will allow the camera to email or text up to 1000 photos depending on the camera’s settings. (Higher megapixel photos use up data faster). You can sit in your treestand or your living room and receive texts or emails of photos as they are taken by your camera. Place a camera down the trail from your stand and it will text you a photo when a deer is coming up the trail. Plan where you will hunt by analyzing the photos you received before you even leave home. Of course there are applications for these cameras beyond hunting. There are cases where a landowner was texted a photo of a trespasser, who called law enforcement. The suspects were apprehended before they even got off the property. Someone stealing your camera? You have their photo. To add even more to the cell phone camera revolution, some camera companies now offer an app for your smartphone or tablet that allows you to keep track of the camera’s status. The HCO app allows you to monitor the camera’s status. Haven’t received a pic in a while, with the Covert app, you can ping the camera, tell it to take a photo and check the battery level by viewing the photo. Photo viewers for tablets have been around for a while, but they have improved as well. Now there are several SD card readers that allow you to look at the photos in the field by connecting the SD card from the camera right into your cell phone or tablet. An app for the phone or tablet allows you to view and sort the photos on the go. Grab the SD card from your camera on your way to the stand and then scroll through the photos while you wait for a buck to walk by. Another twist is the WIFI camera by Kodiak. This camera wakes up and starts a WIFI signal when it detects your cell phone from up to 150 feet away. You can then use the WIFI to download all the photos from the camera to your cell phone or tablet, no cell phone or data fees at all. Just as with the cell phone cameras, this is perfect for sensitive areas where you do not want to leave your scent while checking the SD card. In addition to all this mobile technology, cameras are just plain better. The cost of quality sensors and lenses are coming down. In the past, camera manufacturers were adding megapixels to deal with the issue of poor quality photos. The problem with that is this: a 3 MP photo is not going to offer clear resolution, it will always be blurry. But a photo that offers 12 MP with a poor lens and sensor is basically just a blurry picture that’s four times as big. Covert introduced their Phantom for 2016, which offers a high quality lens and sensor comparable to the high end cameras for only $249. The Phantom offers full 1080p video, something Browning introduced last year, and other camera companies are sure to follow. Faster trigger speeds are features of the newer cameras. While .4-second triggers used to be considered fast, today they are more common. Black flash cameras were made by simply adding a filter over the infrared LED lights, which significantly reduced their range and the photo quality. Newly introduced cameras are using the black LEDs at an affordable price so the quality of nighttime pictures is much better. Some gimmicky things are sure to find a niche as well. Wildgame innovations offers a camera with six lenses in a circle, which take a 360-degree photo, something that would be interesting to place in the middle of a food plot. Plotwatcher cameras take a photo every five seconds and when you run the photos through the software, they look like near-video as you watch the activity in your food plot ‘round the clock. Scouting cameras are offering excellent features that make our lives easier and offer scouting advantages. I don’t expect the innovation to end any time soon. It will be interesting to see what they come up with next. Check out this video about the Covert Blackhawk, a Verizon camera.

What’s Happening to Minnesota’s Moose?

Although the state’s moose range once covered about a third of the state, Minnesota’s moose population has been confined to the northeast corner of the state for more than 50 years. Hunters were allowed to apply for a once-in-a-lifetime tag and moose hunting has been very limited. However, the moose population has been falling for about a decade and in 2013, the DNR suspended the moose hunt. Now there’s a move to put the moose on the endangered species list. Their population dropped from an estimated 9,000 ten years ago to a low of 3,450 in 2015, but experienced a slight uptick to an estimated 4,000 in 2016. The endangered species act (ESA) has been very successful in restoring threatened populations of wild animals. The bald eagle and the wolf are good examples. However, animal rights activists have begun to use the ESA as a weapon against wildlife conservation more and more these days. The timber wolf population, for example, has been restored far above goals for several years. The Minnesota DNR opened a wolf season for two years to help control the large population of these predators before anti-hunting groups such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) sued to end wolf hunting and won a court battle to end wolf hunting. Wolf populations are dangerously high in Minnesota and hundreds are killed each year by government trappers when they prey on livestock. GPS collared moose have helped the Minnesota DNR learn more about the moose and what is causing their decline. They have found that about 1/3 of the calves in their study were killed by wolves. It’s also clear that many adult moose are being killed by wolves. A series of warmer than average winters, according to researchers, causes stress on the moose, which makes them more vulnerable to predation by wolves. Warmer weather in the north country also creates a fertile environment where brainworms and other parasites can thrive, causing further mortality. The stress caused by collaring and handling of these moose by researchers has contributed to mortality and in fact Governor Dayton put an end to the research in 2015. Animal activists have seized the moment to try to put moose on the endangered species act where they know they have the huge bankroll to fund court battles against any hunting of moose when and if the population does recover. Once they get the moose on the ESA, it’s hard to get them off, and they know it. Leading this charge is the Center for Biological Diversity, which has consistently shown strong leanings against common sense wildlife conservation through regulated hunting. Collette Adkins, an attorney for the group, stated that a federal protection of moose would highlight the harm caused by a warming climate and failed effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Minnesota, like many states, has large rural areas where people are a part of the natural process, the life and death of wildlife. But much of the decision-making within the state takes place in the large urban centers where people are out of touch with wildlife and believe any fallacy put forth that tugs at their heart. Animal rights activists can have their cake and eat it too. They use the emotional case of the wolf to raise funds, then use those funds to fight against the reduction of an overpopulation of wolves which take a huge toll on the moose populations. Then in turn they can raise funds with emotional appeals about the plight of the moose. Money controls wildlife more than ever and the HSUS and PeTA groups of the world control the money. Minnesota needs to control what we can with regard to our struggling moose population. We cannot control the weather but we should control the burgeoning wolf population. A reduction of predators would increase young-of-the-year calf survival numbers and reduce predation on stressed adults. The revenues raised by sales of wolf permits would benefit the moose in many ways. And once this iconic northern animal recovers, moose hunting permits further provide funding for research and habitat development. However, getting that common sense logic through to a population of people out of touch with nature is easier said than done.