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Hunting license change means less local business

Susan and Greg Knutson, owners of Andrus Outdoors, have said that the switch to online licensing has caused there to be less people enter their store. (Press Photo by Kalsey Stults)

Hunters now are able to use their smartphone to be able to buy their North Dakota license instead of heading down to the local gas station or hunting store.

Susan Knutson at Andrus Outdoors in Dickinson said the move to online has caused them to see less hunters in their store.

“In 13 years, this is the slowest year we have ever had,” she said. “Before we would see the same people, year after year, and well now there just not coming in here.”

The 2013 legislative session made it a requirement for county auditors to start selling licenses electronically by March 2015 and required vendors to make the transition to online by March 2016.

Soon after, it was decided that auditors would not be responsible for sales made by vendors in the county and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department would assume those responsibilities.

While county auditors are no longer the proverbial middleman between the vendors and Game and Fish, some have continued to sell licenses.

“We just decided to keep doing it as a service to our residents here,” said Mindy Schumacher, Bowman County deputy auditor. “A lot of our older ones that are not comfortable with computers still come to us. That’s just part of their routine every year. That’s just the way they like to do it.”

Kim Kary, the Game and Fish Department’s division chief for administrative services, said while every vendor has been given the option to continue license sales at their location, not everyone has decided to do so but the push to electronic has positives for everyone.

“It gave us data real-time and a lot quicker than what it has been,” she said. “One of the benefits to the customer is with the paper copy they would have to get a reprint of a license. They would have to send in a request to us for another copy of their license whereas now they can just go on the computer and reprint their license.”

Susan Knutson and her husband Greg, owners of Andrus Outdoors, said they have declined being a vendor through Game and Fish this year because they are reluctant of the way the department handles the financials of vendor license sales.

“Nobody is entitled to my bank account information but me,” Susan said. “I chose not to do it.”

Greg said they still have customers coming in, as many as 10 a day, asking to have their license printed there. She said while it doesn’t make them any money and usually ends up costing them a couple of dollars for a credit card charge, ink and paper, they will print off the license at their store on their own computer.

“We know several people around here that are farmers, ranchers, older people, that do not have computers,” he said.

Greg said at one time, they made the bulk of their money for the year through hunters and fisherman coming in to buy their licensing and also picking up a few odds and ends will in the establishment.

“We would sell 2,000 or 3,000 boxes of ammo and now we are lucky if we sell 200 or 300,” he said. “It took a lot of business away from a lot of people.”

Rosie Lantz, owner of Rosie’s Food and Gas in Dickinson, said she decided to switch over to become an electronic vendor because she has her regulars who show up every year.

“I sell the bait and the tackle and this is one more service that I provide for my customers,” she said. “Hunting-wise, I guess I’ve had my regular out-of-staters every year to get their license here. Since they are done online, I’ve noticed a lot more does theirs at homes. Hunting sales, I can say my sales are down but fishing is crazy.”

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