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Some dealers to stop selling hunting & fishing licenses

By Mike Mogler

12-15:  After considering the new licensing process developed by the state of California DFG, I talked with Ted Koch, owner of Koch Brothers Sporting Goods in Shingletown about what was involved for a business owner. Ted explained the burden was just too high and he has decided not to sell hunting or fishing licenses.

While the state provides the computer, touch screen and printer, Ted said the new licensing process requires a DSL phone line something he has not had and a $50 per month additional cost. “The dealer also has to open a separate bank account for the deposit of license monies and share the account with the state, which would have the ability to withdraw funds automatically each week,” Ted told me. What’s more, according to Ted, late deposits are subject to penalty. He says business owners who sell hunting and fishing licenses as well as salmon/steelhead restoration cards, and various other punch cards do not make a profit on this endeavor and is more of a convenience for the customer.

Dealers may few and far between

Bill Velasquez, owner of Trinity Outdoors in Weaverville, agrees. He, too, has also opted out. “We will wait and see if there is a big drop-off in business. If that happens we may have to offer the service.” He added that Liam Gogan, who has a guide business in Douglas City has decided to use the system. I’ve heard that Patrick McCalmont of the Del Loma RV Park has also decided to give it a try, Velasquez said. Bottom line: Those who fail to buy their license before leaving home may be greatly inconvenienced.

Vaughn’s Sporting Goods in Burney has decided to make the plunge. “We already had the DSL line and they gave us everything we needed, however we fried the first box because the instructions about hooking it up were vague,” said Janet Vaughn. “If everything works out perfectly we may make a profit after a few years. Both Velasquez and Vaughn are of the belief that offering the service provides very little additional income from sales of tackle or bait. The three percent handling fee barely handles the administrative costs involved. Of course, the State of California is hoping more people will buy online from their home or office computers, which will speed up cash flow for them. We’ll have to see if the general public buys that idea.

Nevada’s system is also controversial

I also spoke with Liz Weirauch, co-owner of The Anglers Edge in Gardnerville regarding selling licenses so residents of either state can fish California waters. They have decided to use the automated licensing system for California but not Nevada’s.

The state of California supplied the computer and printer for the licensing and they already had broadband DSL for uploading the data. They are able to scan a California driver’s license for the necessary information easily but some additional data has to be entered manually on the touch screen. Once that data is entered and on file with the state, buying a license in future years should be quicker. Non-resident licenses must be entered manually and this takes much more time.

The Nevada license is another matter altogether. The State of Nevada is requiring the dealers to buy a $1,500 system and a DSL connection. Liz and her co-owner husband Don have decided to put a hold on that as it would take “10 years to get a payback,” according to Don.

The Fly Shop and Phil’s Propellers are online

I was also able to discuss the new licensing process with Tim Fox, retail manager of The Fly Shop in Redding, www.theflyshop.com. He was pleased with the new process but noted the touch screen approach is actually more time-consuming the first time an angler uses it. Automation may eventually speed up the process once basic information is on file with the state. Earlier this month, my associate Gary Heffley spoke with the folks at Phil’s Propellers in Shasta Lake City. Gary’s story is also posted on MyOutdoorBuddy.com and is worth a read if you want to be informed.

A call to the California Department of Fish and Game could not be returned at post time. A call was made to Katie Winn in the communications department for the purpose of asking how well the new system was being received across the state. That information will be added to this story when we hear from Ms. Winn.

All fishing licenses expire on Dec. 31 so I will be able to draw my own conclusions about the new process.

Keep fishing and keep you line tight.


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