The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is imposing new limits on archery elk hunting in northeast Oregon.
People wishing to purchase a tag from the state agency to hunt elk with a bow will now be subject to a controlled system, based on a seasonal quota, similar to the limits placed on elk hunters who use guns. Previously, archers could be assured of getting a tag almost anywhere in Oregon during the elk hunting season that began August 27 and ended September 25 of this year.
Jeremy Thompson, district wildlife biologist for the department, says the change is needed to meet state wildlife management goals after many hunters switched from guns to bows.
“As we began to put in place controls for rifle hunters in the 1990s with the adoption of our first elk management plan, that’s when we saw this transition of many of our hunters to archery,” he said.
“So we kind of created the monster, if you will, by changing the regulations for rifle hunters.”
Thompson also noted that to maintain a successful breeding season, there should be a minimum of 10 elk bulls for every 100 elk cows.
Now, wildlife officials are hoping that placing limits for archer hunters in 13 units, or wildlife management limits, will allow more elk bulls to reach breeding maturity.
But Mike Slinkard, archery hunter and resident of John Day, disagrees with this strategy. He thinks wildlife officials should instead focus on placing limits on nonresident hunters who travel from places like California to hunt elk.
“All they really should have done was put in some kind of non-resident quota. And that would have completely solved the problems here,” Slinkard said.
Slinkard also attributes the motivation behind the new limits to the “jealousy” of rifle hunters who have been subject to quotas for decades, unlike their bow hunter counterparts.
“And I get that, I really do. But the fact is that archery is still a primitive weapon, and our success rate is a fraction of that of rifle hunters,” he said.
So far, the new restrictions don’t seem to dampen interest from northeast Oregon bowhunters. The 12,000 hunting tags the state has allocated for controlled archery hunting this season have already been purchased, according to Thompson.
Jeremy Thomspon and Mike Slinkard sat down with ‘Think Out Loud’ host Dave Miller. Click play to listen to the full conversation: