Just re-reading all of this again makes me realize why I so-appreciate small game hunting, especially for birds. Even with all of the challenges being put in place by the various regulatory agencies, it is still way-simpler, cheaper, and argueably... way more fun. My hunting partners and I have always had to approach our elk hunts with the seriousness of planning a military campaign, and I have always seen an elk as a significant component of my larder and have worked hard to maintain that protein stream. Maybe too hard?
When I'm afield with a scattergun, it's always pure pleasure. Just me and the day. A good gun, a vest, a few shells, and maybe a trail lunch of an apple and a few nuts. Nothing is very heavy, nothing is very serious. It can become a numbers game at times, but it usually doesn't, and as long as you can cover a fair-amount ground on foot, you'll have a reasonable chance of enjoying yourself and even actually succeeding at bagging something. Very few barriers and very few risks by comparison. I'm fairly certain I'll be doing birds a lot longer than the other.
I'm feeling your pain and came to the same conclusion about bird hunting verses big game a long time ago.
I've been playing the Colorado big game draw system for way longer than I care to think about. I get more frustrated by the process every year, especially with the draws that have weighted points in the mix. This will be the 18th year that I've been applying for a Moose tag in the same area. When I read the language about how weighted points work. I realize that I may never draw a moose tag in this crazy ass system. Then I think about a mutual friend we have that has way more points than I have who still hasn't drawn his goat or sheep tag, let alone he has 20+ elk points & still hasn't drawn for the area he has dreamed of hunting. This is really frustrating when you start applying when you're in your 40's and then realize your now in your mid 60's "Our friend in his mid-70's" & still have little chance of drawing the tag you've been chasing. By the way; We've tongue in cheek named our friend with the 20+ Elk points "The Point Hunter" not for the points on the rack, but for his draw points:)
You're also right about the Parks & Wildlife money game. I just received an email last night announcing they are extending the draw application deadline to April 9th so more people have a chance to get their applications in!! WTF???
I look back to the day's when I starting hunting as kid when all big licenses were over the counter & you could buy two buck tags if you wanted them. I also have one of my grandfathers Colorado sportsman tag's that included two deer, elk, bear, a cat, small game & fishing all in the same license. They were still selling similar tag's into the early 70's. AHHH those were the day's!!!!!