Photo by Jason Hammers/Flickr

In the digital age of automated deer-checking and online tag registration, why pull off the highway to stop at a hunter check station?

For one thing, in some states, failing to stop is illegal. And because–as Dana Base, a wildlife biologist based in Colville, Wash., says–every bit of information about a hunt, including what other species hunters observe in the woods, is valuable to state agencies in managing wildlife. So, your stopping into a check station would be appreciated whether you tagged an animal or not.

In a story for The Spokesman-Review, longtime F&S contributor Rich Landers points out that check stations help officials monitor trends in the local herd and the data is used to make decisions on season length and habitat needs.

Check-ins also provide hands-on opportunities for local students of wildlife management to learn “skills such as measuring antlers, aging deer and taking tooth and tissue samples.” Meanwhile, biologists are available to answer sportsmen’s questions in person, so the opportunity to learn something goes both ways.