Don’t ignore your hunt surveys

The big game hunting seasons are mostly over now, and you’ve probably gotten a hunter survey in the mail or by email. It’s important to fill that thing out and send it back.

Statistics are only as good as the data used to put them together. And a very important set of statistics in Wyoming is our annual big game harvest information.

That information comes from the hunter surveys you probably get in the mail every year. They say the surveys are sent to a random selection of a fraction of the licensed hunters, but I get one for each license I buy every year. I have yet to hold a license and NOT get a survey for that species. Maybe I’m just lucky.

The good news is that those surveys aren’t hard to fill out, and they don’t take much time. And the information you send back is used to put together the annual harvest report.

That may not seem very important to you if you’ve never used those reports. But when you’re deciding on a place to go hunting next year, especially if you’re going to venture into new territory, those reports can be a great help in figuring out where to go. If you think you want to go to, say, either area 164 or area 124 for deer, you can look at the harvest report to see how successful other hunters were the previous year. In 2018, 45 percent of hunters were successful in area 124, but in area 164, almost 65 percent came home with meat.

The harvest reports also help our economy in a roundabout way. Think about it. If our harvest percentages are fairly high, when nonresident hunters look at them, they might decide to come here to hunt instead of going to Colorado or Montana. When they come, they bring along their money. They stay in hotels, they eat at our restaurants, they buy fuel from our filling stations, and they shop at our sporting goods stores. Some might even drop off their animals at our taxidermy studios.

And from a completely selfish standpoint, I ran into a couple of harvest reports that caused me no end of grief when I was compiling information for a hunting guide book I wrote a few years ago. I wanted to include harvest statistics, but there were a number of areas that didn’t have a very good return rate on the harvest surveys, so the data for those areas was useless. But I’ll quit whining now.

Please fill out your surveys and send ‘em in.