Ask me no questions ... please
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is encouraging hunters to complete the department’s online survey in order to “gather hunters’ opinions that will guide the department’s comprehensive deer management evaluation.”
For those interested, the survey is linked from the front page of Fish & Wildlife’s Web site (www.vtfishandwildlife.com).
Meanwhile, Fish & Wildlife asked a gathering of about 50 hunters at a deer meeting back in late January to fill out the four-page, anonymous survey.
I was at that meeting. Now, I’ve been in the business long enough to know that it would be downright unethical if I were to take part in the survey. I’m here at the deer meeting as a representative of my newspaper and my role is to report what takes place, not to participate in the discussion.
But hey, it’s an anonymous survey and who the hell would know, right? It’s not like I’m going to tell someone that I did, in fact, fill in the blanks.
So, pencil in hand, I dove into the survey like a spiked buck in October chasing his first hot doe.
The first question: “Have you hunted deer in the past five years?” There was a “yes” and a “no” response under the question and I was to circle one of those. What I was really looking for was a third option, one that said, “Unfortunately, yes.”
No. 2: “How many years have you hunted deer in Vermont?” I was asked to circle one answer. And they were: “Less than 5 years,” “6-20 years,” or “21-plus years.” The answer I was looking to circle would have read “For far too many years.”
6. Did you harvest a deer in Vermont during 2012?
We all know the answer to that one.
So, I went to No. 7, expecting something like “Did you harvest a deer in Vermont in the last 10 years?”
And maybe even a No. 8 that asked: “Have you ever harvested a deer in Vermont, during your long lifetime, you pathetic excuse for a deer hunter?”
Instead, question No. 7 asked, “During which season(s) did you hunt deer in Vermont in 2012?”
No. 11: “Have you hunted in a state other than Vermont during the last 5 years?”
I answered yes, of course, and was directed to the next question, which asked the survey-taker to list any of those states. I did so, listing New York, Maine and New Hampshire, then was prompted to list one other state, to wit: “While hunting in the Green Mountain State, I hunted in a state of extreme depression.”
Does that count as a legitimate state?
No. 14: “Is your participation in Vermont’s muzzleloader season influenced by whether or not you possess an antlerless deer permit?”
As usual, there was a “yes” and “no” answer to circle, but Fish & Wildlife again dropped the ball, neglecting to give me a third, more realistic option. It would be: “Does it really matter?”
Part II of the survey really gets down to the nitty-gritty, that is, the question of “deer hunting satisfaction.”
In my case, I’m thinking Rolling Stones here, a version of “I can’t get no …. satisfaction (when it comes to hunting deer in Vermont).”
A series of questions is asked, such as your “overall deer hunting experience,” down to (and I am not making this up) “the number of large antlered bucks seen.” The responds go from a scale of “very satisfied” to “very dis-satisfied.”
The number of “large antlered bucks seen?” Wow, was I dis-satisfied to find that I could not answer that one with “Too many to mention.”
The survey went on and on and I found myself even more depressed as I answered every question, questions about crossbows and antler restrictions and how many spike horns are shot illegally each year.
As you have probably guessed by now, I was not one of the very fortunate 6,237 hunters to tag a buck during the 16-day firearms season, nor one of the successful 2,462 hunters to bag a deer during the muzzleloader season.
So, I didn’t offer up a “yes” question to the survey. I could have, though, if Fish & Wildlife had the foresight to ask this simple question: “Are you bitter about the status of deer and deer hunting in Vermont?”
You bet I am.