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Bad Regulations: The Kansas Mule Deer Stamp

May 28, 2009.

Part of an ongoing discussion of overly-complicated or otherwise misguided hunting regulations in the western states.

Starting with the 2008 season, Kansas made sweeping changes in the management of deer tags.

A particularly frustrating and arbitrary change that was introduced in 2008 had to do with the distribution of mule deer licenses to nonresident hunters. Under the new regulations, it's basically impossible to confidently plan a mule deer hunt in Kansas.

For a non-resident to hunt mule deer in Kansas, you first have to apply for a whitetail-only tag. When you apply, you can optionally submit another $102 to be entered in to a separate drawing for a "Mule Deer Stamp" that will convert your whitetail license to an either-species deer tag.

The problem is that if you draw your whitetail tag but do not draw the Mule Deer Stamp, you are stuck with the whitetail-only license — which you (as a prospective mule deer hunter) may or may not want.

Draw odds for a whitetail tag are close to 100%, and if you participate in the Preference Point system you can be very confident about whether you'll draw a whitetail tag.

Draw odds for a Mule Deer Stamp are only about 33%, and Preference Points do not count towards the Mule Deer Stamp.

This means that up to two-thirds of the non-resident hunters who are trying to draw a mule deer tag in Kansas may be stuck with a $322 whitetail tag that they don't want.

Clearly, this odd system is going to put an unnecessary burden on would-be nonresident mule deer hunters.

While I fully respect the right of Kansas to manage its deer herd and the related tag allocations, and while I appreciate the opportunity to hunt in Kansas (as I'm sure Kansans appreciate the opportunity to hunt in other states), I do not see the discernable benefit in arbitrarily forcing mule deer hunters to apply for whitetail tags.

An extremely obvious solution would be to eliminate the Mule Deer Stamps and offer the exact same number of Either-Species Licenses at a cost of $424.

From the point of view of Kansas, this should produce the exact same results. From the nonresident mule deer hunter's point of view, this would offer the tremendous benefit of being able to apply for the tag you actually want.

Allowing Preference Points to be applied to the Either-Species License application process would provide the further tremendous benefit of allowing hunters to work towards a goal and plan their hunts with some degree of predictability.

The current Mule Deer Stamp approach does not make sense and has been extremely unpopular with nonresident hunters. It has been widely criticized by outfitters who do not appreciate this unnecessary complication in their efforts to run their businesses and contribute to the Kansas economy in these already challenging times.

I just sent in my Kansas whitetail application, along with the $102 for the Mule Deer Stamp lottery. I have a place lined up to hunt Kansas mulies, and I'm hoping I beat the odds and draw the Mule Deer Stamp. If not, I'm going to be scrambling to figure out what to do with a whitetail tag that I don't really want and don't have a place to use.

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