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Here in the Sportsman's Paradise, we take our hunting and fishing seriously, so last month when I wrote to remind you that all 2019-20 hunting and fishing licenses would expire on June 30, I'm sure boat loads of people just like yours truly, immediately headed to local retailers to pick up their new licenses for the 2020-21 seasons. Of course, I'm sure that a lot of people also took advantage of the opportunity to make those purchases online which has certainly made things easier, though there is a slight "convenience" charge.

I'm not in that group. I always go ahead in June of each year and renew both my hunting and fishing license. And not long ago, I discovered that, even though the online option is convenient, it's not practical for an active deer hunter. And the problem with that, is the actual deer tags. Or really, the preservation of those tags.

What I discovered was that when it comes to those tags, they really are only as good as the paper they're printed on. When you go to a retailer, they're provided with a plastic-like water proof type of paper and perforated for easy removal. Print them at home and they'll be on plain copy paper which completely disintegrates when wet and requires a pair of scissors or a really sharp knife for removal. One season with those and I knew that wasn't the way to go.

That brings us to this year. I went to my retailer to get my new license, and was informed that I wouldn't be able to get my Harvest Information Program or HIP certification, required to hunt any migratory game birds, at the location. I was told I'd have to do this online or travel to the LDWF Headquarters in Baton Rouge. At first I thought I'd just heard a whopper. That this person was lazy and just didn't want to take the time to do it. But, it's true. In a notice from the LDWF on May 11, 2020, Louisiana migratory bird hunters, including waterfowl hunters, were informed:

Beginning June 1, Louisiana migratory bird hunters, including waterfowl hunters, will be required to complete the Harvest Information Program (HIP) certification process either online or in person at Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) headquarters in Baton Rouge.

HIP certification along with an appropriate hunting license is required to hunt waterfowl, doves, woodcock and other migratory birds in Louisiana. A $2 fee will be assessed by the LDWF license vendor for online HIP certification.

Okay, that little $2 fee is what chapped my behind. This little certification is simply a survey of sorts. It's not a license, but it's required to hunt migratory game birds. There's no fee associated with it, but now, I have to pay an additional $2 (or make a trip to Baton Rouge) in order to get it. Was this COVID related? Was it too much work to include on licenses? There isn't some type of kickback to the online sales provider is there? I have no idea. There's no explanation provided by LDWF, but if I want to dove hunt or duck hunt, it's mandatory that I spend that $2.

Just thought you'd want to know before you renew your hunting license, so if you're one of those people that "don't do stuff online," this is one time you'll have to, or you'll have to bird hunt illegally.