The day I bought a lifetime Oklahoma hunting and fishing license, my life got exponentially simpler. No longer would I have to keep track of a yearly hunting license, a yearly fishing license, a state duck stamp and separate tags for deer gun, muzzleloader and archery seasons.

No more thick wad of paper in my wallet, no more worrying that I was carrying the wrong license. Just one simple plastic card, sort of a redneck “One Ring to Rule Them All.” It’s a wonderful thing, but the state of Louisiana just did it one better.

From this story on
Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed into law a bill to allow those who frequent the outdoors to show they have the necessary permits for hunting and fishing on their drivers’ licenses. Senate Bill 224 by Sen. Neil Riser, R-Columbia, will give drivers who hunt, fish and boat a chance to carry fewer documents.

The law, which goes into effect Aug. 1, directs the state Office of Motor Vehicles, starting July 1, 2013, to allow drivers to have special designations — known as “endorsements” — on their licenses indicating they have “lifetime hunting or fishing licenses,” a certificate of completion of firearms and hunter education courses or a certificate of completion of boating safety classes.

That’s a brilliant idea, and now I’m wondering how many other states have a similar setup for their lifetime license holders? Does yours? It’s convenient, no doubt about it, but I’ll play Devil’s Advocate here and point out that there is something of a downside to convenience, and that’s nostalgia.

Those old yearly licenses, with their state and federal duck stamps signed across the face, those frayed, grimy, blood-stained deer tags, with the exact date of each deer I ever shot punched out, are important artifacts, physical touchstones to our individual pasts. I’ve still got every license, tag, duck stamp and permit I’ve ever purchased, dating back to my teens. Maybe someday I’ll make a collage or something out of it, but those physical memories, so satisfyingly chronological, abruptly stopped the year I got my lifetime license.

Is the convenience worth the loss of cherished mementos? Sometimes I wonder. What say you? If your state offered a program like Louisiana’s, would you do it?