Did you know there is an online plot to end hunting? It’s called Buy Hunting Licenses Online.
Gearing Up For A Fight to Buy Hunting Licenses Online
A few days ago I was supposed to hop on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) website and quickly buy a hunting license and deer tag. Uh oh. I immediately went downstairs and grabbed two sandwiches, a bag of chips, a pack of carrots, two bars of dark chocolate, and a gallon of water. I swallowed two Excedrin Migraine tablets and snatched a pillow from the bed. “Cancel all my calls,” I said to my secretary.
“I’m not your secretary,” my wife replied. “Cancel your own calls. And where are you going with all that food and that pillow?”
“Online to buy a deer tag.” I heard a strangled scream before the front door slammed. She fired up the car and threw gravel against the barn in her haste to escape. Covey chased her out of sight, howling all the way. My wife and bird dog have known me for awhile. At odd times I get frustrated online and, just to reduce blood pressure to survivable levels, I voice my frustration with the odd four-letter word or two…
The Opening Salvo
Anyway, fortified for the long haul, I crossed my fingers, girded my loins, opened the CDFW licensing website, and clicked on the Licensing link. This was easy! It informed me I could buy or renew a license, tag, report card, lands pass, warden stamp (warden stamp?) and MORE! Hmmm. That sounded complicated, so I opened a bag of chips and dived down the rabbit hole. Alice in Wonderland would have been right at home…
Correct me if I’m wrong, but under a heading Permits and Licenses one might expect to find deer tags, no? No. Under the CDFW Permits and Licenses heading you’ll find licenses and permits for Game Breeders, Aquaculture, Fur Dealers, Guides, Hunt Clubs, Scientific Collection, Trappers, and Restricted Species. (What? Nothing for collecting cannabis?)
To find hunting licenses and tags, you have to look under General License Information. Well how obvious. Only an idiot would look for licenses and tags under Permits and Licenses.
Second Attempt to Buy Hunting Licenses Online
I cast a few invectives to the winds and, appropriately chastised, clicked on a link titled Hunting Licenses, Validations, Tags Harvesting Reporting, expecting to find, duh, hunting licenses and tags. Silly me. On this page I scrolled down a cascading list of every hunting license CA offered plus links for everything from Visually Disabled Muzzleloader Scope Permit Applications form to Fund-raising Random Drawing Grizzly Island Elk Tag. But no non-resident hunting license or deer tag.
Discovering the Missing Link
So I turned the air blue again, ate a sandwich to regain some strength and launched a marathon link fest, clicking everything from General Hunting Information to Collectible Stamps. Then I fluffed my pillow and took a nap. When I woke, I was bleary eyed enough to notice a colorful photo of a hunter aiming a shotgun in the upper right corner of the page, the kind of place we’ve all been trained to ignore because it’s an advertisement, right? Well not in California, sister! This photo ad said Buy a Hunting License Online. And it wasn’t just advice. It was the secret link! Seriously?
One click, a generous sprinkle of fairy dust, and “poof!” I was magically transported to a page promising Online License Sales and Service in BOLD. But did it let me buy hunting licenses online? Not a chance. This page merely told me to “Register or login to your customer profile to… purchase licenses, permits, and passes.”
Aaaaargh! I unleashed enough expletives to melt the last glacier in California. The maple nearest the window wilted. San Francisco issued a foul air alert. But I was making progress.
Sucking It Up and Recommitting to the Fight
Now the real struggle began. Here was another link I had to click. Never mind that the first, second, and third links that were supposed to take me to CDFW’s Buy Hunting Licenses Online page. Ignore the half dozen others that led to blind alleys. Those were merely preliminary injunctions designed to winnow the field, to sort the seriously committed deer hunters from the merely kind-of-sort-of interested hunters who only half-heartedly wanted to hunt deer in California. CDFW’s cleverly disguised online license purchasing website was doing what it was designed to do! But I had plenty of water. I had chips, chocolate bars and a pillow. And one last sandwich! You have to build your web pages pretty early in the morning to get past an experienced tag hunter like, me, California!
With renewed resolve I pounded the Register or login link… and found myself on a page explaining in excruciating detail how I might (emphasis on might) purchase a hunting license online. But first I must provide proof of hunter education via fax (what, no Pony Express?) or request a secure document upload link from LRB@wildlife.ca.gov. This promised that “a link will be provided so you may upload the documents securely.” (Emphasis on may.)
Hoops, Whoops, the Garden Droops
Aaaaaaargh! Another hoop to jump through! This time my cursing was so bad I had to open the office window to clear the air. The first two rows of my wife’s flower garden wilted. A passing robin fell from the sky.
OK. Breathe. In for a seven count, out for a seven count. “Ooooommmmhh. Serenity now. Serenity now.” Another chocolate bar. I could do this. One lousy little upload, one puny email and the mandatory documents would zip through space to land in my email. Almost there…
I downed a half-quart of water, dampened my fevered brow, tightened my belt, rubbed some sport creme analgesic on my link-clicking finger, and clicked the fiftieth link of the journey (I was losing count.) It opened an email form on which I was to request yet another link! that would actually take me to a place where I could discreetly (psst, wanna see something you’re not supposed to see, kid?) show my Hunter Safety Card from 1965 and prove that I was eligible to buy a CA hunting license!
Another Link at the Speed of Light…
“Dear LRB,” I typed. “I respectfully and humbly request your advertised secure document upload link so that I may provide CDFW with a copy of my Hunter Education Certificate so that I can subsequently resume clicking links on your website in a vain attempt to buy hunting licenses online, fast and easy.”
And voila! Just like that, at the speed of light, all the power and promise of the digital online universe came together in one place! My mailbox. There sat an email from the CDFW’s License and Revenue Branch, the bureaucracy with the power to grant me a secure document upload link. What a quick and convenient way to buy a hunting license!
…Plus Five More Days to Buy Hunting Licenses Online — Maybe
Ignoring the pain in my finger, I clicked on the email. It opened. There was a long letter from the good and faithful CDFW servants of the citizenry of California. It read in part: “Please allow five (5) business days to receive a response.”
Gosh, just five days and I’ll have the link that allows me to apply for a GO ID that in turn allows me to use another link to buy my California non-resident hunting licenses online. Fast. And easy. Ain’t technology wonderful?
The author fondly recalls an era when you filled out a paper form, mailed it to Fish & Game, then waited just three months for the lottery drawing and your deer tag.