I guess this is my conundrum - do we continue to show the evil side of the ODNR and how they have decimated the deer herd, which certainly will not help to increase hunter recruitment or can we find a middle ground to work together?
Would we agree that although the deer population was down from its peak, that it is showing an upward trend?
Do we know if there has been an increase or decrease in quality buck harvested, relative to the number of total bucks harvested? - I know this is difficult to discern.
Do we as hunters believe that we can achieve both higher numbers of deer, maintain the quality of bucks, and not allow degradation of habitat at a state level?
WV has a high deer population - yet I don't see a lot of guys going there to hunt deer or lease ground, compared to Ohio. So clearly high deer numbers are not a driver for many hunters.
All in all, I just find it scary that hunter numbers are declining and the lack of trust between DNR's and hunters, will continue to be detrimental to hunting in the long term.
The head of our deer management program told me right to my face with about 10 other guys standing right there that he did not believe that the ODNR would accomplish the reduction level they wanted because too many hunters would quit hunting before they reach target levels. He then went on to say that the population would rebound some due to lack of hunting and hunters and then the ODNR would have to try to reduce the heard again. Talk about an eye-opening statement. They're not only willing to sacrifice recruitment but also the existing number of hunters to reduce the population. Farm Bureau and big insurance owns the DNR, hunters are nothing but a tool to accomplish an objective. Add in a nice hefty tag and license fee increase to offset the losses due to the reduction.
Looking at the data that is exactly what we're seeing today. They reduced the herd, a lot of people quit hunting, the numbers have rebounded slightly, they made up some lost revenue with a fee increase, so they're pushing to reduce it further again.