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E-Permits Off to a Running Start

Apr 04, 2011

I have been wondering how Missourians would take to the new, online e-Permits system that went into effect March 1. I got my answer today. Apparently, people like it.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has offered hunting, fishing and trapping permits for sale online for several years, but e-Permits offers some significant advantages. For one thing, you now can print permits--including deer and turkey permits--and have them in hand immediately. No waiting for permits and tags to arrive in the mail. And, of course, there’s the fact that you can buy and print permits at home the night before turkey season. No need to drive to a big-box store and stand in line. Finally, MDC has dropped the convenience fee from $2 to $1.

You might think those advantages would persuade nearly everyone to buy permits online. However, habits change slowly. If you are accustomed to buying your turkey-hunting permit while shopping for ammo, seat cushions, diaphragm calls and other turkey hunting necessities, there’s little incentive to use the e-Permits system. Furthermore, you save the $1 convenience fee by buying from a vendor.

On the other hand, using e-Permits means that you can save the document to your computer. If you lose your permit, or if it gets damaged, you can print another for free. Replacing point-of-sale permits costs $2 each.

All things considered, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but a report from MDC’s Permits Section summarizing the first month of e-Permits transactions dispelled my doubts. It shows sales of 9,989 permits from March 1-31. That is nearly triple last year’s sales for the same period.

Early adopters--people who like to be the first in their circle of friends to try new things--probably account for most of the early e-Permits sales. Everyone else can still buy permits from vendors using the old point-of-sale system through June 2012. Most of us probably will, if for no reason other than habit. Even after that, we will still be able to buy permits from vendors, who will switch over from point-of-sale to the e-Permits system.

By then, I probably will be buying my permits online. I’m not an early adopter, but I don’t like to be the last one to try new things, either.

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