OTC AZ Archery Units closed

FlatlanderAZ

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Do I think hunts would have been changed without our contract? Yes, I think the changes would have happened regardless. Given the extended drought that is negatively impacting doe-fawn ratios and the huge increase in archery success rates starting around 2014, the Arizona policy guidelines related to deer management would have resulted in these same, or similar, outcomes. Two factors game managers have no control over; factors which result in metrics that trigger more restrictive deer management. When the targeted archery harvest is to be kept at/below 20% and archery success rates double in less than ten years, the added consequences of a long-term drought would have likely triggered changes to OTC archery deer hunting, heavily focused on mule deer that are far more influenced by drought and more susceptible to hunting pressure.

Thanks for weighing in on this it’s nice to find personalities who are willing to have a dialogue. I have some questions that I hope you would consider:

Do you feel that your promotions have contributed to the 40% increase in NR otc archery deer tag sales since 2018?

And do you acknowledge any impact by your promotions in the availability of otc opportunity in the state of AZ?

And what would you say to the AZ resident who is watching their opportunity to hunt diminish every year? Do you feel that your efforts have helped improve the long term sustainability of hunting in our state?

Last question, why didn’t you disclose this relationship in the content that you produced? The way this was presented I really didn’t suspect that department dollars were funding the hunting personality soirée in our desert every year.
 

greaseywater

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Thanks for weighing in on this it’s nice to find personalities who are willing to have a dialogue. I have some questions that I hope you would consider:

Do you feel that your promotions have contributed to the 40% increase in NR otc archery deer tag sales since 2018?

And do you acknowledge any impact by your promotions in the availability of otc opportunity in the state of AZ?

And what would you say to the AZ resident who is watching their opportunity to hunt diminish every year? Do you feel that your efforts have helped improve the long term sustainability of hunting in our state?

Last question, why didn’t you disclose this relationship in the content that you produced? The way this was presented I really didn’t suspect that department dollars were funding the hunting personality soirée in our desert every year.
Your response seems less like a dialogue and more like an inquisition. I'll note you didn't acknowledge the points Big Fin made about drought and hunter success rates.

A point he didnt make is that most ( or half, see edit below) of the additional OTC tag sales since 2018 have gone to residents, not non residents. There were 20k total otc tags in 2017 and 30k in 2020. Of that 10k tag increase, ~2000 were non-resident. ~8000 were residents. The non resident percentage increase may be higher, but the actual, boots on the ground numbers are heavily in favor of residents.

(Edit: The total tags sold numbers come from the harvest reports on the AZGFD website. The 2020 figure matches the data reported in the March webcast. The 2017 number doesn't. The March webcast chart, shown below, indicates more like 26k tags sold in 2017. The total increase in otc tags from 2017 to 2020 is ~4000. Half of the increase to resident, half to non resident. But, residents still count for 90% of all tag sales. Apologies for the mixed up numbers.)

Constantly harping on NR hunters in these threads is just looking for someone to blame. There are more hunters (including many fellow AZ residents like me), hunters overall are more successful (not me), and there is a significant drought dampening populations. In order to conserve the resource, opportunity is restricted. That sucks, but it has to happen. And probably would have happened whether Big Fin came to Arizona or not.

Edit to add these charts from March webcast 1617153400454 (1).png
 
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FlatlanderAZ

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Your response seems less like a dialogue and more like an inquisition. I'll note you didn't acknowledge the points Big Fin made about drought and hunter success rates.

A point he didnt make is that most ( or half, see edit below) of the additional OTC tag sales since 2018 have gone to residents, not non residents. There were 20k total otc tags in 2017 and 30k in 2020. Of that 10k tag increase, ~2000 were non-resident. ~8000 were residents. The non resident percentage increase may be higher, but the actual, boots on the ground numbers are heavily in favor of residents.

(Edit: The total tags sold numbers come from the harvest reports on the AZGFD website. The 2020 figure matches the data reported in the March webcast. The 2017 number doesn't. The March webcast chart, shown below, indicates more like 26k tags sold in 2017. The total increase in otc tags from 2017 to 2020 is ~4000. Half of the increase to resident, half to non resident. But, residents still count for 90% of all tag sales. Apologies for the mixed up numbers.)

Constantly harping on NR hunters in these threads is just looking for someone to blame. There are more hunters (including many fellow AZ residents like me), hunters overall are more successful (not me), and there is a significant drought dampening populations. In order to conserve the resource, opportunity is restricted. That sucks, but it has to happen. And probably would have happened whether Big Fin came to Arizona or not.

Edit to add these charts from March webcast View attachment 189072
Well I apologize if my questions feel intrusive, if you have read this entire thread you will see that I have posted several times and posed a number of observations, thoughts and questions which have not been acknowledged by @Big Fin. I know that there have been a number of posts and reading this from a phone may make it challenging to isolate these points, so I have elected to make these questions more direct.

I am not sure what you want me to say about drought and hunter success. I don't disagree with either of these being factors in changes to hunt structure. However, both of @Big Fin's responses give me the impression that this is a convenient way of side stepping the fact that his promotion of these opportunities has had a significant impact on hunter opportunity. If we are being asked to acknowledge drought and hunter success I would ask that Mr. Newberg also recognize that his efforts have also had an impact. Knowing this certainly has had an impact I am asking him to also consider what this means for our state and our demographics, my hope is that I raise a point that he may not have considered and that he and AZGFD would be thoughtful about whether or not it is prudent to continue this promotion in the long-term.

When it comes to the numbers, I see you made some much needed corrections, thanks for taking the time to look up the facts. Prior to the webcast I reached out Kent Komadina for a three year history on tag sale numbers. Here is what I found:


201820192020
Resident22,62122,07823,716
Non Resident5,1205,5155,873

Unfortunately your reference to the increased number of hunters being overwhelmingly resident is not accurate. You will see that between 2018 and 2019 the number of resident permits actually went down, followed by an increase in 2020 (not surprisingly) for a total increase in hunters of 1,095 residents from 2018 - 2020. During the same time frame the number of nonresidents increased by 753. Given the difference in hunting habits of the R and NR demographics this is significant. Residents in AZ overwhelmingly utilize the otc archery season as an opportunity to supplement other hunts, primarily focusing on weekends and holidays. Very few residents are having a 5 day committed archery hunt. On the other hand, nonresidents are traveling significant distances and committing a dedicated several day window to filling this tag. I think that's a great thing to do and I harbor no ill-will for them doing that, but the impact on the resource is significantly different between the two groups. So an increase in tag sales between those groups will translate into very different hunter success numbers.

So hopefully this provokes some thought by all parties which guide the practices of AZGFD going forward. Coincidentally the window is now open for proposing new hunt guidelines for 2023-2028. Input can be provided to the following email address [email protected] by September 1 to have your suggestions considered.
 

YoungGun

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Given the difference in hunting habits of the R and NR demographics this is significant. Residents in AZ overwhelmingly utilize the otc archery season as an opportunity to supplement other hunts, primarily focusing on weekends and holidays. Very few residents are having a 5 day committed archery hunt. On the other hand, nonresidents are traveling significant distances and committing a dedicated several day window to filling this tag. I think that's a great thing to do and I harbor no ill-will for them doing that, but the impact on the resource is significantly different between the two groups. So an increase in tag sales between those groups will translate into very different hunter success numbers.
I can understand the frustration, as I too have experience that as I see more non-resident hunters come to Montana and partake in the Unlimited Sheep hunts each year. Yes, they're setting aside large amounts of time to hunt, but I've had to shift my perspective to acknowledge that I, as a resident, maintain the advantage of being here to scout throughout the year. Same goes for any species or hunt. Residents will more often then not have better odds of accessing private grounds, knowing of public land access that isn't well marked, and have the ability to spread their seasons out where one weather event doesn't "ruin" their entire hunt, unlike a non-resident there for 7 days. I think you'd find that resident success rate for those that actually get out and hunt (versus buy the tag in case they want to go for one day during the season) far exceeds non-resident success rate, even if the non-residents are visiting for a longer period.
I've also come to the realization that it is the non-resident $$$ that will most likely keep this hunting opportunity in existence for as long as I hope it to be, as each one of them is worth 10 resident hunters.

I would also say that @Big Fin has not sidestepped the fact his promotions played a part in increasing hunter interest in AZ. That's was exactly what he was hired to do, and from what I've seen, it appears he was successful. To quote him- "I'm proud of the work we have done. We accomplished what the ad agency asked us to do." He's simply pointing out that the changes were more than likely bound to happen due to drought and archery success rate increases.
 

Pedropistola

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Doing this from my phone while on the road, so I hope spellcheck doesn't mess me up.

I declines other states for many reasons. Mostly, I think Arizona has the best long-term value proposition for a non-resident investing in a hunting license and building points. It would be hard to promote the aspects of other states when I feel Arizona has the best value, from birds to small game to javelina to big game, especially measured against the amount of public land to hunt and the lower non-resident cost when compared againstother states. I've been hunting Arizona as a non-resident since long before I started these platforms and I think it has a lot to offer the traveling non-resident.

From a pure business perspective, I'm not interested in building a business that is reliant on agency contracts, something that would get more reliant if we took on other state agency work. Too low of profit margins and can be a very unreliable income stream. If this contract is not around, it has almost no impact on pur business operations. That is how I intend to keep it.

Would I do it again, given the same situation? Yes, absolutely. Like I said, I'm proud of the work we have done. We accomplished what the ad agency asked us to do. We have done good stuff that hasn't shown up on footage or in podcasts that has raised money for access and conservation. We have helped increase awareness of small game and helped dispell the perception that javelina are a "throw away" species.

Do I think hunts would have been changed without our contract? Yes, I think the changes would have happened regardless. Given the extended drought that is negatively impacting doe-fawn ratios and the huge increase in archery success rates starting around 2014, the Arizona policy guidelines related to deer management would have resulted in these same, or similar, outcomes. Two factors game managers have no control over; factors which result in metrics that trigger more restrictive deer management. When the targeted archery harvest is to be kept at/below 20% and archery success rates double in less than ten years, the added consequences of a long-term drought would have likely triggered changes to OTC archery deer hunting, heavily focused on mule deer that are far more influenced by drought and more susceptible to hunting pressure.

Thanks again for your reply and answers to my questions @Big Fin I appreciate being able to hear information from the horses mouth. Between your replies and the email I got from AZGFD right after starting this thread, I think I got the answers I was after.

It wasn't my intention to drag anyone through the mud or lay the blame on any sole person or entity. I was made aware of a situation without given much detail and was curious to find out more. I learned about something I wasn't totally familiar with, state agencies paying social media influencers and ad companies contracted to promote specific hunts. I know they've been advertising since they were allowed to probably, I just was not familiar with the format. A very effective method of promoting hunts no doubt. It makes sense to me why you'd only want to seriously promote for one state only, shows you believe in the opportunity you are promoting.

It's my understanding the changes made to the OTC archery deer hunts were made due to a combination of reasons, those being: hunter success percentages increasing, ongoing drought conditions, and an overall increased interest in OTC deer, at least two of which you weren't involved with directly. However, I do believe your business played a part in the increased interest in the hunt(s), as was intended by the contract.

I respect the work you've done. I know there is tons I'm not aware of, I skim the surface of conservation and issues facing hunters and you have been in up to your eyeballs in it for the majority of my life. I also enjoy a lot of the content you've put out over the years going back to OYOA.

I'd be stoked to meet you and look forward to it one day, but I hope you can understand why I won't be advocating for any agency to be using social media influencers to promote specific hunts. It seems like a very slippery slope to me, some may take advantage of the opportunity to make money "living the dream" and supporting themselves on these contracts by promoting specific hunts in specific areas, and in turn unintentionally blowing up spots then packing up and leaving, with the residents and others to deal with the fallout. I am not saying this is the case in this situation. The data shows otherwise as does business information you provided. But I do believe there is a risk for over-explotation of the opportunity and resource and that's why I won't support it.
 
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greaseywater

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Thanks @FlatlanderAZ. Your response has given me something to think about. Primarily, why can't AZGD give consistent numbers for OTC tag sales? You have precise numbers from Mr Komadina. My numbers are not as precise, because I read them from the chart I posted, which comes from Ms Amber Munig. In Ms Munig's chart, NR OTC tags have never exceeded 5000 (the NR blue line never comes close to the 5000 mark). I estimated, from the chart, about 3200 NR OTC tags sold in 2020.

Compare that to Mr. Komadina's data, which has the last three years, 2018 to 2020, all being greater than 5000. Clearly both can't be right.

This might seem nitpicky, but the point of this thread, and all of your questions and responses, is that influencers and social media have increased the number of NR hunters, who you state have a disproportionate effect on the deer populations. But we can't even get consistent numbers from AZGFD. And if we can't even agree on the numbers, how can we come to any conclusion about causes and impacts?
 

JT13

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If NRs are the problem isn't going from OTC to draw a good thing for you AZ folks?

90% of tags for residents and 10% for non-residents which limits NR participation, pressure, and success.
 

Pedropistola

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I think no matter what the real numbers are, they are both going up. Both resident and non-resident interest and tag sales seem to have increased, likely the result of the intended promotions by AZGFD and the influencer. There's no reason residents can't be influenced as much or more than non-residents by promotions. The population increases in the state over the last 10 years surely plays a part in the numbers as well. In the chart, I can see a notable increase in NR tag sales after 2016 (the year the promotions started). That being said that's my simple interpretation and I'm not positive that chart is 100% accurate, but it was the one provided by AZGFD to me directly.
 

Wildabeast

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Well I apologize if my questions feel intrusive, if you have read this entire thread you will see that I have posted several times and posed a number of observations, thoughts and questions which have not been acknowledged by @Big Fin. I know that there have been a number of posts and reading this from a phone may make it challenging to isolate these points, so I have elected to make these questions more direct.

I am not sure what you want me to say about drought and hunter success. I don't disagree with either of these being factors in changes to hunt structure. However, both of @Big Fin's responses give me the impression that this is a convenient way of side stepping the fact that his promotion of these opportunities has had a significant impact on hunter opportunity. If we are being asked to acknowledge drought and hunter success I would ask that Mr. Newberg also recognize that his efforts have also had an impact. Knowing this certainly has had an impact I am asking him to also consider what this means for our state and our demographics, my hope is that I raise a point that he may not have considered and that he and AZGFD would be thoughtful about whether or not it is prudent to continue this promotion in the long-term.

When it comes to the numbers, I see you made some much needed corrections, thanks for taking the time to look up the facts. Prior to the webcast I reached out Kent Komadina for a three year history on tag sale numbers. Here is what I found:


201820192020
Resident22,62122,07823,716
Non Resident5,1205,5155,873

Unfortunately your reference to the increased number of hunters being overwhelmingly resident is not accurate. You will see that between 2018 and 2019 the number of resident permits actually went down, followed by an increase in 2020 (not surprisingly) for a total increase in hunters of 1,095 residents from 2018 - 2020. During the same time frame the number of nonresidents increased by 753. Given the difference in hunting habits of the R and NR demographics this is significant. Residents in AZ overwhelmingly utilize the otc archery season as an opportunity to supplement other hunts, primarily focusing on weekends and holidays. Very few residents are having a 5 day committed archery hunt. On the other hand, nonresidents are traveling significant distances and committing a dedicated several day window to filling this tag. I think that's a great thing to do and I harbor no ill-will for them doing that, but the impact on the resource is significantly different between the two groups. So an increase in tag sales between those groups will translate into very different hunter success numbers.

So hopefully this provokes some thought by all parties which guide the practices of AZGFD going forward. Coincidentally the window is now open for proposing new hunt guidelines for 2023-2028. Input can be provided to the following email address [email protected] by September 1 to have your suggestions considered.
It seems you should be taking these questions and issues up with AZ G&F, not Randy. He’s not the one deciding to do these things, the department is. He is a service provider. Granted, his business has a “why” and he has been vocal that he wants the work they do to align to that “why”. So if this is not aligned with that then questions regarding that are valid. But to insinuate that he is the problem here is misguided.
 
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ShootsManyBullets

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AZ is going to advertise their product. Would you rather have them hire Randy or hire someone like Muley Freak or Hush to promote it?

Personally I thought Randy did an awesome job on promoting underutilized opportunities in AZ and they looked like things a lot of us could go do someday. Go try and kill a coues deer with a bow and go post your success. Not exactly an easy hunt.

Drought has way more impact than any social promotions and YouTurd videos.
 

Pedropistola

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AZ is going to advertise their product. Would you rather have them hire Randy or hire someone like Muley Freak or Hush to promote it?

Personally I thought Randy did an awesome job on promoting underutilized opportunities in AZ and they looked like things a lot of us could go do someday. Go try and kill a coues deer with a bow and go post your success. Not exactly an easy hunt.

Drought has way more impact than any social promotions and YouTurd videos.

I'd rather not have any social media influencer promote specific hunts. There are other ways to advertise. It seems like they've already achieved their goal anyway. Hard to promote a hunt that isn't available.

There's no question they did a good job promoting, that's why we are having this discussion.

I think drought is one thing that should be considered if the agency is going to be promoting a hunt in a sensitive area of a sensitive resource. That being said, drought may have played the biggest role, but not the only one as shown above.
 

FlatlanderAZ

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It seems you should be taking these questions and issues up with AZ G&F, not Randy. He’s not the one deciding to do these things, the department is. He is a service provider. Granted, his business has a “why” and he has been vocal that he wants the work they do to align to that “why”, so if this is not aligned with that then questions regarding that are valid. But to insinuate that he is the problem here is misguided.
I think my post demonstrates that I have engaged AZGFD directly on this matter. I requested the data and also provided the means by which all hunters can provide input on the guidelines for this and other management topics. I certainly am not only approaching this only from one angle.

However, I have also attempted to engage @Big Fin directly to invoke consideration about whether this particular portion of his business aligns with his stated mission and the long term viability of big game hunting in our state.

I have no axe to grind. I do not blame him solely for the loss of significant opportunity in AZ. But I do believe his efforts have played a role, potentially an unforeseen role, in those opportunity losses. So far, Mr Newberg hasn’t acknowledged that his promotions have in anyway contributed to the changes in hunt structure, something I challenge and hope he will respond directly to. All in the spirit of having more thought diversity and a better dialogue yielding better results for wild places and wild things.
 
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FlatlanderAZ

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If NRs are the problem isn't going from OTC to draw a good thing for you AZ folks?

90% of tags for residents and 10% for non-residents which limits NR participation, pressure, and success.
My opinion isn’t that fewer NR’s = better opportunity. My opinion is that AZ needs residents who are able to engage in hunting. Currently the only form of non-predator big game hunting we can count on every year is archery deer. The loss of that opportunity will result in a significant reduction in hunter engagement in a state that needs every supporter of hunting it can get. Unlimited OTC opportunity for Non Residents has contributed to a significant reduction in opportunity for all hunters and we should consider whether continuing to promote that specific hunt makes sense.
 

FlatlanderAZ

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Thanks @FlatlanderAZ. Your response has given me something to think about. Primarily, why can't AZGD give consistent numbers for OTC tag sales? You have precise numbers from Mr Komadina. My numbers are not as precise, because I read them from the chart I posted, which comes from Ms Amber Munig. In Ms Munig's chart, NR OTC tags have never exceeded 5000 (the NR blue line never comes close to the 5000 mark). I estimated, from the chart, about 3200 NR OTC tags sold in 2020.

Compare that to Mr. Komadina's data, which has the last three years, 2018 to 2020, all being greater than 5000. Clearly both can't be right.

This might seem nitpicky, but the point of this thread, and all of your questions and responses, is that influencers and social media have increased the number of NR hunters, who you state have a disproportionate effect on the deer populations. But we can't even get consistent numbers from AZGFD. And if we can't even agree on the numbers, how can we come to any conclusion about causes and impacts?
Also, AZ only averages about 20% return rate of hunter surveys. In my opinion mandatory reporting would be a significant improvement in the data set. The dept has been resistant to this idea.
 

Wildabeast

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Also, AZ only averages about 20% return rate of hunter surveys. In my opinion mandatory reporting would be a significant improvement in the data set. The dept has been resistant to this idea.
This I agree with. For every state. I still believe that the polices of your state are where you should focus your energy. Note that there is more to those policy decisions than just resident hunter opportunity. There’s an economic aspect as well, from both a direct license sales and tourism revenue standpoint. The only way anything will change is if the state leadership decides to change it.
 
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Big Fin

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I think my post demonstrates that I have engaged AZGFD directly on this matter. I requested the data and also provided the means by which all hunters can provide input on the guidelines for this and other management topics. I certainly am not only approaching this only from one angle.

However, I have also attempted to engage @Big Fin directly to invoke consideration about whether this particular portion of his business aligns with his stated mission and the long term viability of big game hunting in our state.

I have no axe to grind. I do not blame him solely for the loss of significant opportunity in AZ. But I do believe his efforts have played a role, potentially an unforeseen role, in those opportunity losses. So far, Mr Newberg hasn’t acknowledged that his promotions have in anyway contributed to the changes in hunt structure, something I challenge and hope he will respond directly to. All in the spirit of having more thought diversity and a better dialogue yielding better results for wild places and wild things.
@FlatlanderAZ I'm not trying to avoid your questions. I am on the road, up late last night doing podcasts, up early this morning doing meetings, and now emcee for the RMEF Elk Calling content in Park City. I am slammed for the next ten days, but I want to get to one of your questions above.

Do I think our work contributed to the increase in OTC deer tag sales for residents and non-residents? Yes, I do. That was one of the many goals of these projects, albeit not the primary goal.

From numbers I was provided, here are the changes in OTC license sales, by residency. I am not sure how much of the recent resident increase was due to our work, but I suspect some of it, based on the anecdotal comments I have received from resident who have told me they decided to go do OTC hunts.

Screen Shot 2021-07-22 at 1.57.12 PM.png

It is also interesting to see the increase in OTC archery success rates. From the March webcast screenshots, here is the increase in success rates, which when applied to more OTC archery hunters, is going to get to the 20% archery harvest limit rather quickly. The blue line below shows over 1,000 more deer taken via OTC archery in 2020, compared to 2019, and more than 2,500 deer harvested on OTC tags since 2012. I have no explanation for that increase in harvest percentatges, but it does play a part in how the AZ policy guidelines work when you have a 20% target threshold for archery harvest.

Picture1.png


I'm happy to engage in all of this when I get off the road. No intentional deflection, just a function of the time available when I have these two-week road stretches.

Like I said, I am proud of the work we have done. If our work has resulted in more hunters, that is part of what we were asked to do. I have no explanation of the large increases in archery success rates, as I've never been able to tag an OTC Coues buck.

If the blame is going to be placed on us/me for these factors that trigger the changes as required under the Arizona deer management policy guidelines, then I guess that comes with the territory I operate in.

I've gotta run for the afternoon session. I appreciate all who are asking and interested. I think this is a worthwhile discussion.
 

Greenhorn

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The fact is social media is the "boot on the throat" of public hunting, and that in the not so distant future, it will be all about money for hunting, and we're "loving it to death". Facts.

The hypothesis is that you're fun at parties, kind of like pin the tail on the donkey.
 

338win

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Hopefully we have reached critical mass of the youtubers and saturation will cause the business model to implode.

Don't want to fully hijack a thread but are there any states actively managing to put more game on the landscape or is it mostly just managing people across the agencies?
 
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