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Poll

Should Washington Move to Draw Only for Yakima, Colockum, and Blue Mountain Elk Herds

No, I cherish my OTC Spike hunt too much
No, I don't care about OTC Spike hunt really, but don't want WDFW to have more control than they already do
Yes, but that should be the only change
Yes, they should institute that along with other changes to focus applicants and clear out pools to improve odds

Author Topic: Should Washington Move to a Draw Only Management for Yakima, Colockum, and Blues  (Read 7148 times)

Offline jstone

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Offline rtspring

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I didn’t invest well over 50,000 bucks to MAYBE go hunting!

Hell no to draw only!
I kill elk and eat elk, when I'm not, I'm thinking about killing elk and eating elk.

It doesn't matter what you think...

The Whiners suck!!

Offline Backstraps

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This will never be fixed
Bingo!!! You nailed it!  Sad but absolutely true!!  It will go up and down like the stock market.  Some years a little better than others but over the long haul it will go downward if nothing is done.  Being that WDFW has no control over native hunting and predators, and that their desire for funds is more than their desire for management, it will as you said, "This will never be fixed"!

In other states like Montana and Wyoming, natives that hunt off of the reservations have to follow the same rules as the rest of the people.  In those states they are letting people hunt and trap wolves along with using dogs to hunt cougars and bears to keep the predators under control.  Don't blame WDFW for this, it is the liberal agenda, tree-hugger's, and Liberal judges that will never let this happen in our state.  If they weren't making a mint off of our revenue for the general fund and their social programs, hunting would probably already be outlawed in our state.  King County makes all the rules in this state and it is full of fruits and nuts.
  :yeah:
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Offline donsk16

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The public prospective will have to change, everyone is used to hunting being a right but if we were less competitive about our piece of the pie then we would likely have better experiences out in the woods.

Look, I appreciate your time and effort in this, but you keep making the same claim about better experiences in the woods.  You are looking at it only through your perspective of fewer hunters+more branched bulls=quality experience, and assuming everybody else does too. 

But they don't. What you're offering up is fewer hunters+more branched bulls=less hunting opportunity, to many folks.

I've come to believe the vast majority of Washington elk hunters just want to be in the woods every year with their friends and family, have a chance to hang a tag on an elk. Whatever that chance may be.  Yes, they may frequently complain about the pumpkin patch, but they still go, year after year. It's not "quality" as you may see it, but it's still a hunt they can look forward to every year with friends and family. That's some of the highest quality time there is for a lot of folks.  What you're offering in exchange for that doesn't level the scale.

 :twocents:

Skillet - you are spot on about this.  Hunting is about the experience!

Not everyone who hunts is only about killing the biggest animal they can - for a large percentage of hunters the experience of the hunt outweighs the size of the animal they kill.  If you change to a draw only system, you will permanently lose hunters.  Most of us grew up as kids going to hunting camp every year carrying around a bb gun - imagine trying to get our youth into hunting only getting to go to hunting camp every few years when you draw?

My oldest is probably a couple years away from starting to join me and my hunting partner in the woods and I can tell you that for me, I am going to value years of time and traditions that I will have with my children more than I will killing a big bull one year.

Offline NOCK NOCK

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 :yeah: Is the true meaning of a "quality" hunt.  :brew:
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Offline buckfvr

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I wont support anything that keeps me out of the woods.  How ever, the hunt means many different things to many folks.  "Quality", "the experience", "tradition", all diminishing as we move forward.

Many of us older guys can remember the proverbial "good ol' days", that are long gone and wont be coming back.    :twocents:

Offline villajac29

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The math does not work out.

District 8 is the heart of E-WA elk.  Hunt stats are a bit awkward because they don't contain all the info you might want to see.  However, ALL of the 2019 special permit, Modern/Archery/Muzzle for District 8 contained 272 tags (not including the special private lands elk areas).  The success on those tags 115 Antlered bulls.  Now they've been cooking books for a long time and know that the take is a fraction of what's offered in permits.  The permits offered aren't the # available to be killed, those are the amount of hunters you can allow, knowing you'll get a smallish percentage who are successful.

In the same unit another 16,200 people hunted the general season, killing an additional 535 bulls (mostly spikes and one by 2's etc).  There may be some branch bulls considered here from other special classes, disabled etc. These bulls weren't taken on a special permit.  That puts bulls for harvest at about 650 between general and permit. 

272 people killed 115 Branch Bulls on permit.
16,200 killed 535 spikes mostly, and kill the vast majority that exist.

If everyone that's allowed to hunt is allowed to kill a branch bull, how many can hunt?  I direct you to that 272/115 ratio above.  The only reason 16200 hunters didn't kill vastly more, like the special permit folks, is because they essentially kill almost all the spikes that are in the crop each year.   I can't believe spikes are harder to hunt that branch bulls and so it looks like something like 3 or 4 to one is the ratio of hunters you can allow to pursue bulls and keep this kind of survival population.  Say that's off, and you can afford 5 hunters per killed bull (including spikes and ignoring the fact that vastly more branch bulls will be killed).

5 x 650 = 3250 hunters.   If we have 16,200 hunters, that's hunting bulls every 5 years.

If the herds were declining, this years # of permits would make it closer to 6+ years.  We are not going to be able to hunt every other year, or every 3 years if draw only is instituted.  not to mention that you will have to buy a license and permit EVERY YEAR you don't hunt to enter.  Revenue has to be kept static, otherwise the cost to hunt when you do get the chance has to increase 500%.

Bulls are Finite.  There's no way to get enough of them with our habitat to change the system and increase hunting opportunity.  Opportunity being defined as being allowed to hunt, not only being allowed to hunt bulls.  I suspect WDFW would opine that this kind of draw system would be able to let far fewer hunters than I suggest as they all target branch bulls and the negative effects on breeding that result. 

Anyhow, these suggestions are never accompanied by any kill data.  There's no way to have your bulls and kill them too.

I believe you misunderstood much of my data. I first took the harvest for both district 3 and 8 and averaged it over 10 years. Between OTC and Special tags harvest on avg. 1234 bulls a year. Last year it was much lower. I also took the average success of special permit holders over the past 7 years which worked out to be 28.5%. This is likely slightly off due to non-reporting but I doubt by much because non reporters aren't all killing elk and they aren't all being unsuccessful. For the most part the reporting is close enough that this number isn't far off.

Last year was strange because it was such low tag allocation. The average special tag allocation is 1255 tags across these districts but last year was 508. What happens when you give out less tags... you're success rates increase. In fact it went up to 38.4% compared to 28.5%. Also the harvest was ~800 across the two districts much lower than the average of 1234. Got to look at averages not a very out of the normal 2019. It's not gonna stay there forever.

If you did in fact give a period for spikes to escape in a draw only system and didn't give out a huge amount of tags right off the bat to stratify age class, 4 years down the road you have MORE BULLS. Its not impossible to get more elk or more bulls, I don't know where you gathered that, but then after you're bull age class is stratified you can begin to harvest 20-25% of bulls without killing every mature one out there. Harvest distributed from age classes 2.5-11 isn't gonna kill every mature elk out there.

Spikes get slaughtered because so many hunters are in the field at time when weather is pushing elk into lower countries and the spikes are following the cow herds to winter range. It's a lot easier to kill spikes during a late rifle than it is to kill 2+ year old bulls bachelored up in some nasty hidy hole.

Offline villajac29

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I prefer the Arizona model of management.  Its been the only place ive been where there was a balance of predators and prey.  Saw wolves, bear and  cougar and couldnt sleep at night because of all the bugling bulls all around camp in the distance.  The state truly knows how to manage there wildlife resource.  I can just imagine what this state could be like  if the same officials took over.  Especially with just sound management as the only agenda.  I guarantee the spike only hunts would be the first gone and the hound hunting would immediately be  put back in place.

I think you're on the right track for sure!! I imagine the culture in Arizona fish and game is different but in the end biologist's get into wildlife management for similar reasons. Washington for whatever reason has been difficult for the WDFW to get a grasp on and manage for animal health and making everyone happy. But making an area draw only has huge effects on management. You see it in every state that has these systems. OTC is wild and erratic and only states with huge amounts of habitat and animals can prevent OTC from being destructive. Washington is right on the fence between these two types of states and hunters don't want to give up privileges they've had for a while.

Offline villajac29

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5400 elk killed in Washington by 54,400 non tribal licensed hunters in 2019.  Not sure how you increase harvest rates without either reducing hunter numbers(draw only or maybe alternating years) or increasing the number of elk to harvest(reduce predators, poaching and tribal hunting). If you went to any bull or 3 point or better seasons sure the harvest rates would probably go up for a year or two but then they would just fall back to where they are now.  I personally would like to see the state get rid of the multiple choice permit draws, you should have to put in for one unit and one species( maybe withe the exception of OIL's).

I like where your head is at, but so many people think that changing the harvest will decimate older age classes. Yes if it was an OTC harvest of 3 point minimum on the east side this would happen in a heartbeat but if its draw only (the only way you could make this the regulation) the department sets the harvest. If you don't over harvest bulls you don't destroy age class and stratification. Just something to think about. I understand the west side harvest is dominated by 2 & 3 year old bulls but that's not how draw only systems work...
s

Offline MR5x5

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I voted with my big game wallet some years ago, so I don't have a right to vote (but I did anyway :chuckle:)

I get the intention is to "do something positive" by why reward incompetence?

My basic question is why would anybody want to give what would effectively be unlimited power to the very people who mismanaged this and many other situations across the state into their current sad states of affair?  Mindboggling??

There are any number of other successful state models to work from that ensure opportunity for all, but that is not WDFWs way.  WDFW prefers to mess things up their own special way!

Offline villajac29

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The public prospective will have to change, everyone is used to hunting being a right but if we were less competitive about our piece of the pie then we would likely have better experiences out in the woods.

Look, I appreciate your time and effort in this, but you keep making the same claim about better experiences in the woods.  You are looking at it only through your perspective of fewer hunters+more branched bulls=quality experience, and assuming everybody else does too. 

But they don't. What you're offering up is fewer hunters+more branched bulls=less hunting opportunity, to many folks.

I've come to believe the vast majority of Washington elk hunters just want to be in the woods every year with their friends and family, have a chance to hang a tag on an elk. Whatever that chance may be.  Yes, they may frequently complain about the pumpkin patch, but they still go, year after year. It's not "quality" as you may see it, but it's still a hunt they can look forward to every year with friends and family. That's some of the highest quality time there is for a lot of folks.  What you're offering in exchange for that doesn't level the scale.

 :twocents:

Skillet - you are spot on about this.  Hunting is about the experience!

Not everyone who hunts is only about killing the biggest animal they can - for a large percentage of hunters the experience of the hunt outweighs the size of the animal they kill.  If you change to a draw only system, you will permanently lose hunters.  Most of us grew up as kids going to hunting camp every year carrying around a bb gun - imagine trying to get our youth into hunting only getting to go to hunting camp every few years when you draw?

My oldest is probably a couple years away from starting to join me and my hunting partner in the woods and I can tell you that for me, I am going to value years of time and traditions that I will have with my children more than I will killing a big bull one year.

I understand your concern and even though it may be hard for you to believe it's a main motivation for doing this. Someone mentioned earlier that if it went to OTC opportunities for youth hunters. There is some potential issues with this as it may not have the capacity to support such a harvest and many hunters would exploit this and hunt through their children. However if it is sustainable I would support it. Alternative options would be to allocate a higher percentage of antlerless and bull harvest to youth hunters and maybe into a category where hunters who have never purchased a hunting license (in any state) can compete in. The problem I see with the system as it currently sits is that going out and competing with the pumpkin army and minimal success may do more to hurt hunter initiation and keep the younger generations from continuing to hunt. Maybe we can't give them a tag every year but once every three years on a hunt where they have way more chance in harvesting an animal may do more keep youth hunters interested. I don't expect everyone to be out there for the same reason, and to be honest the experience and meat are the most important to me. However, from the beginning I have done everything in my power to get away from crowds and seeing more people than animals. This is a tall order in this state. I was lucky to be taken along on an elk hunt 6 years ago but all I saw was a band of cows running 4 ridges down, other than that it was people on every road and in every drainage. It was only when I went to a spot on my own the following week that I was able to see a bull bugle and push cows up the ridge at daybreak. That experience hooked me to the point of my obsession. The past few years I have mentored 4 people who had either never hunted or had been initiated and never returned for multiple reasons. I think mentoring new hunters is one of the most important issues out there, so I understand your concern. However I don't think removing an OTC bow and rifle hike is gonna spell the end for mentoring hunters. It may actually give a chance to these new hunters to draw a tag and have an experience that will stand out among all the unsuccessful trips. There might be the minority that have areas figured out and can guide their children to success, but if your protecting your own little resource that you have figured out while everyone else struggles, in the end that is not beneficial. Success reinforces hunting, of course there is some struggle involved to get to success but if its all struggle and no reward it may never stick...


Offline villajac29

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More mentored hunters

Offline villajac29

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#3

Offline villajac29

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And before anyone accuses me of posting these for bragging rights, I'm not. Just showing you guys I practice what I preach...

Also every one of these hunts was a grind, besides the whitetail taken out of a tree stand every hunt was multiple thousands of feet of elevation gain and loss, sleeping in the back country and grinding to be successful. None were shot from the side of the road... They may have been successful but trust me they suffered first.

Offline Colville

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Numbers for District 8, all the productive name brand units on the cascacde eastside.

 year    Permit   Spike    Hunters            Statewide Elk Hunters
2013     226   665        19,752      68,572
2014    289   622        21,730
2015    280   800        22,582
2016    295   722        20,803
2017    276   382        19,187
2018    188   462        17,844   
2019    115   535        16,445      54,474

Permit is bulls killed on permit, Spike is spikes and the other non special permit branch bulls killed general seasons(this is almost all spikes). 

Permit hunters score someplace around 30% success rate.  One has to believe that spikes aren't harder to hunt, so overall success on bulls would remain comparable.    The low water point, about 650 combined bulls taken.  High water 1080.  Let's call 900 the average bulls available to harvest (declining with wolves?).

at a 4 to one ratio 25% success,  you can let 3600 hunters go after them.  Even on the lowest tag year ever, that's 4.5 years to hunt bulls.    The math does not support the likelihood that you'll be hunting elk ever other year or every 3.  If Branch bulls take the brunt as everyone looks at their one opportunity to get a "real" bull, then breeding will be harmed.  Even if you let a year go by without spike hunting, they will just be taken out the next season.  I do not see any reason to believe going to draw only can also mean hunting frequently.

As far as recruitment and opportunity?  who's going to buy full cost licenses and permit apps every  year... to not hunt?  The revenue has to be neutral. They already keep moving the needle on licenses because we keep losing hunters.  Otherwise you are going to have to charge $700 for the license on the year you do finally draw.

My fatherly experience is that if my son was not able to come to be in camp, cary a rifle, feel the anticipation and hunt.... that he'd have not continued to show up to just wait and see if 2 out of 10 guys with a tag show back up bloody tonight.  My son didn't need to kill deer when he started... he needed to hunt them, with his dad.  There's no legit way to set aside a big pool of the bulls just for youth "to recruit them".  Hunters have been paying and investing for 20  years without hunting bulls and they aren't going to sit back and see 30% of the tags handed over to new hunters.  AND, if you do.... the years to draw just went to 6 for an adult.  My kids miss a lot of school time for sports, no way their mom would send them to miss school for a camp where they aren't getting to hunt anyway.

There's not enough habitat.  Not enough wintering ground. Too many hunters in relative comparison. WHILE adding wolves to the mix.  It's a pipe dream to think hunters can hunt bulls every three years, any bull, and keep 16,500 hunters paying for licenses and keep dads taking sons and daughters to a camp, during the school year... just to camp.

The only way this plan works, is that it in fact drives down hunter numbers.  Fewer kids come in, many camps call it a day, many hunters say they won't pay $200 a year to not hunt elk.  Then you can get down to every 3 years.  There's just no way to keep the same hunter numbers 16K+, or even increase hunters, and hunt frequently.  I do not believe you can maintain hunters, let alone recruit them, with every 3 to 4 years hunting.  Right now about 13,000 hunters are willing to pay for the lotto ticket of a spike.  What do you think that drops down to if they can't even buy lotto tickets?

 


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