The Department of Game, Fish and Parks unveiled their new website on Tuesday. It was long overdue and the changes I saw are mostly good and things and I'm glad they did it.

I'm going to speak from the view of a hunter about the site as I don't use the rest of the site at all.

The terminology and location of things you want to find are all the same, mostly. It is simplified as well. On the old site it seemed like if you were looking for information on deer hunting it was scattered all over the place. It is more streamlined now. If you go to the home page, click on Hunt, then Big Game, then Deer, you've got pretty much everything there.

For licenses you click on Licenses and then click the link to open the licensing system site, which looks the same but is hosted separately. Licensing looks mostly the same. Your login will still work and it looks cosmetically different but is mostly all the same. Showing your preference points is still weird because points I bought this year aren't showing up and points I "spent" are still there. I wish that would update in real time.

Within licenses is the past draw statistics, which is a great tool to figure out what types of tags you want to apply for. However I wish there was a simple list of what all of the unit codes and tag codes all stand for. You get that with the pdf applications, but it's a lot to sift through. Now I have the tag codes memorized but I don't have all the units memorized.

I just found for the first time, I don't know if it's new, the ESRI maps for hunting units and harvest statistics. I love them! My only gripe is the hunting unit map doesn't show borders of the units, or even the counties. The harvest maps show all the numbers, success rate, and a pie chart of the percentage of public land that there is to hunt, which may influence my tag apps for next year.

I really don't want to complain about the hunting parts of the site too much because I've started researching other states that I would like to hunt and their websites are impossible to find out hunting information. There is completely different terminology and methodology you have to learn before you can even think about applying. Compared to other states' fish and game websites we have a pretty good one in South Dakota.

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