Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife staff are preparing to brief the Commission at their June 18 meeting and seek input on how to best proceed with potential changes to current general season archery elk hunts.
Changes are being considered for archery hunts in select Blue Mountains units where there are ongoing concerns with low post-season bull ratios, high archery harvest and hunter density, according to a press release. In proposing controlled hunts for these units, ODFW aims to reduce harvest for all users in areas where it’s necessary (currently, all tag reductions in these areas go to rifle hunters) and decrease the likelihood of additional controlled units in the near future.
Archery elk changes were first proposed last year, but ODFW delayed taking them to the Commission for the 2021 season to better address public input and to better communicate the concerns that led to the proposal. In March 2021, ODFW released a draft for 2022 archery elk regulations that focused on addressing two primary public concerns: the lack of a remaining general season in Eastern Oregon and a more thorough biological explanation of the need for the change.
This initial proposal was to move several Blue Mountains hunts to controlled hunts and split remaining units into a General Western or General Eastern hunt. Under this concept, controlled unit tags would not be portable to general season hunts, so archery elk hunters would need to choose either Eastern Oregon General, Western Oregon General or the controlled hunt tag they drew.
ODFW has been accepting public comments and ideas on this proposal since March. Based on input from hunters, ODFW will present additional concepts for discussion at the June Commission meeting including:
• Several different options for the General Western/General Eastern season boundary — one breaking the boundary at the crest of the Cascades and another that would include Cascade units in the General Eastern Oregon season.
• Another concept would retain a single general season in units not either currently within or proposed for a controlled hunt.
• A youth-only general season archery tag valid in most units statewide, to allow youth to hunt with family who may have a controlled tag.
• Grouping several units (Catherine Creek, Minam, Imnaha, Pine Creek and Keating) into one controlled hunt zone encompassing the Eagle Cap Wilderness area, in effort to maintain existing wilderness hunt characteristics.
These potential elk archery changes are part of a multi-year regulation review meant to improve regulations and align them with current biological objectives for wildlife with consideration of preferences among hunters.
Based on public input received and direction from the Commission in June, ODFW will prepare a final archery regulation proposal for consideration at the Aug. 6 Commission meeting.
Additional information about the big game review can be found at https://myodfw.com/articles/big-game-hunting-season-review.
Public testimony will be taking during the June 18 virtual meeting and comments can also be submitted to ODFW.Wildlifeinfo@state.or.us.