You\'ve heard about grade inflation at some of the nation\'s most prestigious colleges and universities. How about rank inflation?

The top law enforcement officer in the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department was a major. I said was because Robert Rooks, who replaced Major Whitcomb when he retired, is now Lt. Colonel Rooks.

New Hampshire also had a major as the top-ranking conservation officer. But soon after Ron Allie took over, he became Colonel Allie.

Keep in mind that Allie supervises 42 officers and Rooks 33. A captain in the Vermont State Police has about the same number of troopers under his command.

Lt. Colonel Tom Powlovich, director of the Vermont State Police, is responsible for 315 officers and 90 civilians.

Colonel Gary Sloper, director of the New Hampshire State Police, oversees 310 officers and over 100 civilians.

Have you ever noticed how the smaller the police department the more stars the chief often wears? Some county sheriffs have more stars on their collars than full-time deputies.

How long will it be before we have generals heading the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department and the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department?

New Hampshire Has First Hunting Fatality Since 1992

Officials from the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department are investigating the death of a Winchester man who was shot while hunting Dec. 9, the last day of firearms season for deer in New Hampshire.

David M. Stephens, 46, was apparently shot by a member of his party, while hunting in Winchester. The shooting was reported to police just after 8 a.m.

Stephens was in a small group of hunters, none of whom were wearing bright orange clothing, according to Fish and Game Capt. Tim Acerno.

The Winchester death was the first shooting-related hunting fatality in New Hampshire since 1992. Each year since 1994 there have been fewer than eight shooting injuries involving hunting. Last year, there were four shooting-related hunting incidents, none of which were fatal. About 84,000 people hunt in New Hampshire each year, including 65,000 deer hunters.

Vermont Goes West To Hire Director of Marketing and Outreach

No one in Vermont was deemed qualified, although some felt they were. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department had to go all the way to Colorado to find someone to fill the vacant position of Director of Marketing and Outreach.

Lisa Helme of Fort Collins, Colo. will join the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department beginning Jan. 2. She currently works for Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Fort Collins, a money management consulting service, where she supervises marketing and educational programs.

Previously, she worked for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in its Management Assistance Team at Fort Collins, which provided business management and communication consulting services to fish and wildlife professionals throughout the country. Helme was an Outreach Specialist for Fish & Wildlife, designing publications and exhibits for national use. She also designed and wrote educational posters, direct mail pieces, brochures and other publications. In addition, she was the editor for the MAT newsletter.

She previously had her own public relations consulting business, providing clients with comprehensive public relations plans, publications, radio and TV special pieces, writing new releases, and planning and executing special events. She worked for nine years with Colorado State University in media relations, including serving as the university\'s supervisor of media relations. She also was a TV news reporter for three years.

Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Ron Regan is looking forward to welcoming Ms. Helme to the department. According to Regan, \"She has a great professional background and a high level of enthusiasm for joining the department. There are certainly many outreach and marketing challenges on the horizon, and I am sure we will benefit from her leadership in addressing them.\"

I wish Ms. Helme well and hope she learns about Vermont and Vermonters fast. With the status of the deer herd being a burning issue this winter, she will have her work cut out for her. The deer hearings are certain to be heated and ugly and marketing deer hunting will be no easy task.

Bits and Pieces

The kill for the Vermont deer season has inched up to 6,938. The total for the muzzleloader season stands at 1,634.

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The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Board will meet Wednesday at the Capitol Plaza in Montpelier at 7 p.m.

The agenda includes: a second vote on a snow goose season, a second vote on a spring turkey season for WMU A, a discussion of the Lake Carmi test waters regulation on walleye, and a discussion about hunting captive animals.

As always, the public is welcome to attend.

Parting Shots

Sunday was a beautiful winter-like day, best enjoyed outdoors. I say winter-like because we have to wait until Friday for winter to arrive.

With snow on the ground and clinging to the trees, it certainly looked and felt like winter. The temperature was in the 20s, but the sun shone brightly and made the snow crystals sparkle.

I worked in the office until 11, when I could take it no more, and headed for camp. Birch and I went up to burn a pile of brush and soak up some rays. I built a fire in the fireplace so that when Linda arrived we had hot coals over which we cooked hotdogs. The plebeian hot dogs tasted as good as filet mignon. There is something about food cooked over an open fire outside on a winter day.

Late in the afternoon we drove to Newbury to cut one of Mike Dannehy\'s nicely groomed Christmas trees.

Now it is dark and I am back at work in the office. I don\'t mind half as much as I did this morning when I could look out and see how much I was missing.

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