After months of close collaboration, Oregon BHA, Oregon Outdoor Council, Oregon Hunters Association and Traditional Archers of Oregon have reached consensus and submitted a letter urging the ODFW Commission to adopt staff’s current proposal of maintaining a statewide general archery elk season for all units not moving to controlled and the creation of the Eagle Cap Zone which will combine five of the units moving to controlled into one area. In addition to supporting staff’s current proposal, our organizations are strongly urging the Commission to adopt a concept alternative that would create a youth controlled archery opportunity.
Here's a breakdown on why we have come to these stances:
Maintain a statewide general season opportunity for all units not moving to controlled hunts
- Maintains maximum hunter participation without jeopardizing elk populations or causing a reduction of tags for other user groups.
- Allows maximum portability in the event of wildfires and other natural factors.
- Simplifies the regulations for the hunter, ODFW and OSP by maintaining a general season where biological and management factors allow.
- Allows all hunters, including rifle hunters, to fall back on a general hunt opportunity if their controlled hunt choices are not selected.
- Directly aligns with and supports ODFW’s recruitment and retention goals by allowing opportunities for youth and families to hunt on an annual basis.
- Did not raise any objections by ODFW staff at the final sporting and conservation group meeting while consensus amongst the group was achieved.
Creation of the Eagle Cap Zone with Added Traditional Archery Opportunity
- The zone model meets the objectives of the archery review process as outlined by ODFW in that it allows for sound biological management and equity in harvest distribution.
- Recognizes the unique characteristics of the proposed units to include Oregon’s largest wilderness and roadless area.
- Incorporates and recognizes traditional archery as a management tool while maximizing opportunity.
- Given the low success rate of traditional archery, elk populations would not be jeopardized or cause a reduction of tags from other user groups.
- Over 200 hunter tags can be salvaged from the original zone concept.
- Hunter opportunity would be maximized to the extent biological factors and management practices allow.
- Maximizes tag portability in the event of an area closure due to fire or other natural factors.
- Allows an archer the flexibility to move between units in the event of potential hunter crowding.
- When compared to original staff proposal, would provide the quickest route to achieve tag increases for rifle hunts in the 5 WMU by reducing archery harvest and expediting bull MO increases.
- Provides a new data set for staff by establishing enhanced monitoring protocols to evaluate hunter distribution within the zone, assess unit level harvest, and ultimately provide an evaluation of tag allocation differential due to the zone management. Such data would prove useful while evaluating other zone opportunities.
Did not raise any objections by ODFW staff at the final sporting and conservation group meeting while consensus amongst the group was achieved.
Establish a statewide controlled archery youth hunt consistent with existing archery season structure. Note: This will allow youths to hunt in the newly proposed controlled unit(s) as well as general units during the existing archery season.
- Recognizes the value and nuances associated with youth archery. No other youth archery only elk hunts exist.
- Given that youth have limited time to hunt due to school and other activities, this will allow an opportunity for youths to participate in an eastern Oregon experience while still being able hunt near home when time allows.
- Archery requires many years in the field to successfully harvest an animal. This concept allows for continual participation and repetitive experiences that are necessary to gain the experience, confidence, and ethical behavior that are integral components of archery hunting.
- While the youth mentor program will be expressed as an option by ODFW, most youths between the ages of 12 and 15, especially young woman, do not have the strength to pull back the required 40-pound bow draw weight, thus significantly limiting participation. In addition, the mentor program does not allow for hunting in both a controlled unit and general unit and only goes to age 15.
- While controlled youth elk hunts exist, these hunts focus on rifle and it may take at least one to three years to get drawn. Worth noting is that youths as early as 12 and younger can harvest an elk first time out while shooting at long distances with a rifle. Archery on the other hand can take many years and hunter days to be successful as expressed in item ii.
- Enables youth to hunt every year with a tag allocation as determined by ODFW.
- Enables ODFW to manage hunters/resources through the controlled hunt structure.
- Directly aligns with and supports ODFW’s recruitment and retention goals.
- With low success rates for youth archery, elk populations would not be jeopardized or cause a reduction of tags from other user groups. If necessary, ODFW can restrict harvest to spike only or spike/calf in order to meet management objectives. Controlled hunt areas could also be established on a unit-by-unit basis as another management tool.
To amplify our collective voices, we are once again asking the sportsmen and women of Oregon to take action. Let your ODFW Commissioners know that you support this proposal and additional concept amendment by submitting a letter of support HERE and by testifying at the August 6th Commission meeting by signing up HERE.
Photo Credit: Ian Isaacson