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VOTES: Voice of the Educated Sportsman

Hunters and anglers fund conservation in this state. You should have a significant voice on issues related to hunting and fishing in Georgia.

Daryl Kirby | January 2, 2016

Each January, GON offers sportsmen the chance to voice opinions on issues that affect hunting and fishing in Georgia.

An important question asked each year is the annual Rate Your Season Survey. This simple survey provides a consistent yearly look into how deer hunters feel about the quality of something they are passionate about. More important than the annual rating, the survey provides a look at trends in hunter sentiment. Please take a few minutes and rate your deer season, which can be done by a simple e-mail (details below).

In addition to the annual Rate Your Season survey, we’re asking three other questions. For these other three questions, the cover of the magazine is your ballot. Each reader gets one vote, which is controlled by your subscription mailing label for subscribers or by the cover ballot number for newsstand copies.

You don’t have to cut off the bottom of your GON January issue cover to participate. You can photo-copy it, or you can take a digital photo with your phone and e-mail the picture of your ballot to [email protected] Taking a digital photo and e-mailing the image and your comment is the easiest way to participate.

To determine our survey questions this year, we queried our GON Hunt Advisors, a group of more than 40 dedicated sportsmen spread across the state. These are the folks who write monthly hunting reports. They keep tabs on what’s going on in their areas. We asked these Hunt Advisors for topics they felt would be good for this year’s VOTES questions. The three questions recommended the most by our Hunt Advisors are the ones included in this year’s VOTES survey.

Here are the 2016 GON ballot questions:

Question 1: Rate your 2015-2016 deer season, and tell us why it was either Excellent, Good, Fair or Poor.

The Rate Your Deer Season survey gives hunters a chance to voice opinions on the quality of this year’s deer hunting, and more importantly, what they think needs to be done to improve the deer hunting in Georgia. We need to hear your comments. Please include comments in a note along with your ballot or in an e-mail to [email protected]

Important note: If you only want to respond to Rate Your Deer Season, you can do so with a quick e-mail. Simply send your rating, the primary county you hunted and your comments on why you rated it that way to [email protected] with the subject “Rate Your Season.”

Question 2: How significant of a negative impact are coyotes having on the deer herd in the area where you hunt?

In the almost 30 years since GON started publishing magazines, we’ve witnessed an amazing evolution of the coyote situation in Georgia. First, there simply weren’t any coyotes. Then, when coyotes showed up, hunters were assured coyotes didn’t have a negative impact on wildlife. Then university research showed that coyotes were significant predators of fawns. Lately there’s been a resurgence in trapping and predator control. What’s the current situation on your land?

Question 3: What do you feel the antlerless deer bag limit should be (currently 10)?

Deer management in Georgia has taken a step back from the days of it being legal to shoot a doe from opening day to the end of the season. The either-sex and buck-only days have returned in more than half of Georgia’s counties.

Meanwhile, the season limit of 10 antlerless deer per hunter hasn’t changed. Because most hunters only shoot a few deer each season anyway, limiting when you can shoot a doe has a far greater impact in lowering the deer harvest than a lower limit would. However, the very liberal deer limit—in the face of predation by coyotes and restrictions on either-sex days for hunters—makes the deer limit a primary issue for many hunters.

What’s your opinion? Is it time to take a look at the 10-doe limit?

Question 4: Would you support a proposed increase for the costs of state hunting and fishing licenses?

DNR has made a strong case for raising the costs of your hunting and fishing licenses (see www.georgiawildlife.com/aimforsuccess).

We haven’t had a fee increase since 2000. That’s when hunters and fishermen funded the Preservation 2000 land-acquisition program. Those land buys are now paid for, but even with that 15-year-old fee increase now going to DNR’s budget, the fees for Georgia hunting and fishing licenses is well below average for southeastern states.

Would you be willing to pay more for your hunting and fishing licenses to better fund our Wildlife Resources Division (WRD)?

More important than the question of whether you support paying more is the question of how your money is spent. Sportsmen should have the primary voice in how the Wildlife Resources Division (WRD) spends your tax money. If WRD had significantly more money each year, where should it go?

Your license fees—and the federal tax you pay on every bullet and fishing lure you buy—pays for salaries and expenses for WRD staff that ranges from biologists to game wardens; it pays for WMAs and PFAs; it pays for research. What would you like your money to be spent on? Where is it being spent that’s not on your priority list as a hunter or fisherman? Let us know in your comments.

Send your ballot to:

Please e-mail a digital photo or scan of your ballot, and include comments in your e-mail, to [email protected] To mail, cut out or photocopy your cover ballot and send to:

GON VOTES, 4331 Seven Islands Road, Madison, GA 30650, or FAX to (706) 342-2022. Deadline is Jan. 18.

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