Plain Paper To Replace Synthetic Sporting License Tags

In the proposed carcass tag format coming into use for the 2024-25 outdoor hunting season, the old waterproof, tear-proof carcass tag shown here will be changed to regular paper. Photo courtesy of Forrest Fisher

Switching the New York state sporting licenses and carcass tags from a waterproof, tear-proof stock to plain paper could be a bad idea simply because regular paper is totally susceptible to damage from moisture, rain and other environmental factors. The current waterproof stock protected the carcass tags from the elements, ensuring the durability and longevity required of such a tag. The durable tags made good sense.

Last month, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced that by Aug. 1, the state sporting licenses and carcass tags will change from special stock synthetic paper to plain paper. DEC officials say that this change will modernize the license purchasing process by allowing easier, quicker access to licenses and tags and offering at-home license and tag printing options for the increasing number of hunters, trappers and anglers who purchase their licenses online.

That statement seems OK at first glance, but what about the effect of rain and snow on such things as deer carcass tags? Imagine that you down your deer, immediately tag it as the state law currently dictates, and then drag your deer through 2 feet of snow to your truck to discover that your once-properly tagged deer has no tag. It’s missing. Terrific. Here comes DEC Officer Friendly to issue you a citation for improper identification of your downed deer. Thank you, officer. Hmmm. “Excuse me officer, did you think Weekend at Bernie’s was a great movie?”

Sure, it’s a streamlined process to save NYS the money of providing a tag that could withstand the rigors of the weather and gruff outdoors. This change to paper tags is absolutely a cost-effective shift for NYS. They add this change will reduce the carbon footprint and ensure the NYS sporting license program is at the forefront of emerging technologies. That’s about 10 pounds of BS, all packaged up nice and neat to help make us all feel like we are helping to keep the planet in line with green footprint mission goals for the future. What has happened to common sense? Our next-in-line Gen-Z college recruits may need to establish that.

NYS claims that supply-chain issues in recent years have made it increasingly difficult and more expensive for fish and wildlife agencies to acquire synthetic paper. They say many states have successfully made the switch to a plain paper license, and NYS looks forward to joining our partner states in this transition to modernize the license issuing system. As mentioned earlier, what about the law that dictates that the harvester must immediately tag the harvested wildlife? Is this a new opportunity for cash in advance, from writing tickets to honest hunters who are following the rules?

In the proposed carcass tag format coming into use for the 2024-25 outdoor hunting season, the old waterproof, tear-proof carcass tag shown here will be changed to regular paper. Photo courtesy of Forrest Fisher

Most sportsmen who hunt would agree that the synthetic wildlife tags and the physical synthetic licenses themselves that the hunter back tag is made of were challenging to write on.

Ballpoint pens did not work well on that synthetic license stock; a fine-point magic marker was better. The law states you need to identify the sex of the wildlife, the township where it was harvested, the date and more, all written down on the carcass license tag at the harvest site. That means in the woods BEFORE moving the wildlife (deer, turkey, etc.).

This change is planned to be effective for the upcoming 2024-25 license year and will begin with sales starting Aug. 1. DEC says that lifetime license holders should expect to receive their 2024-25 licenses and tags on plain paper by US Mail by Sept. 1. The change to plain paper does not apply to the spring 2024 turkey season just around the corner, with opening day set for May 1.

Hunters and fishermen will still be able to purchase licenses in person at an issuing agent, online, or over the phone but will have more flexibility in license delivery, including printing at the point-of-sale or email and print-at-home. I suppose that if hunters think ahead, they could print up multiple carcass tags with the same license identification number and carry spares. Then use a small re-sealable plastic bag and zip-tie to prevent the paper from disintegrating. Oh, wait a minute, we’re doing away with plastic bags.

The next brainwave from Albany might require that when hunters and anglers are afield, their proof of license and harvest is shown electronically through the NYSDEC HuntFishNY mobile app. Sure, the mobile app is a fast and easy way for hunters to report their game harvests, but currently, the only option for reporting for many hunters involves a computer or a telephone. Imagine the number of age-old hunters that would stop hunting if the mobile app system was made part of the law. All things electronic. Maybe that’s the end game to reduce further the number of residents that hunt and own a firearm. These sorts of possible changes help to make folks think of such nonsense. Or is it nonsense?


Feb. 24: Ducks Unlimited, Northern Chautauqua Chapter — annual banquet and auction, Blessed Mary Angela Parish, 324 Townsend St., Dunkirk; $60/ticket or $90/couple; Info: 716-785-1409 716-410-2409.

Feb. 27: Children-In-The-Stream-Youth 4H Fly Fishing Program, free, SUNY Fredonia Rockefeller Art Center — Costello Room, 7-8:30 p.m., Info: Alberto Rey: 716-410-7003.

March 8-10: WNY Sport, Travel & Outdoor Expo; Hamburg; www.eriepromotions.com/wny-sport-show.

NOTE: Submit calendar items to forrestfisher35@yahoo.com.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $2.99/week.

Subscribe Today