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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 7275 times)

Offline villajac29

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For me, I say leave it the way it is. Every elk I've killed in Washington was on a special permit.  If the consensus is opportunity for all, tribal and rest, I say put it back to any bull.  When I moved here and started elk hunting in the Naches drainage, I thought it was crazy busy elk season, people all over, but people were killing bulls.  Granted, I would go to the feed lots in the winter and see only a couple of mature bulls and find maybe a couple sheds in the spring.  Still, I think there were more people elk hunting in Washington then now.  Having grown up in Montana and then moving to Washington in my late twenties, comparing the elk hunting in the two states, it is kind of similar hunting conditions.  Montana has a longer season, but most elk are killed in the first days.  Washington the same, except shorter season.  Ask any Montana resident what their biggest concern is and they'll likely say private land.  All the elk run to private holdings where hunting by the public is not allowed.

The reason they went to a spike only management is because their is biological studies that show that bull to cow ratios that low and diminished age class reduces breeding effectiveness which in the long run has diminishing returns on opportunity and sustainability. And the problem about you killing elk on special permits is that their availability will continue to decrease to where many people will support this management with tag and application sales but never get rewarded for those applications. People put in for special permits because it represents something special and exciting. Why not increase that special and exciting experience rather than offer up ideas like more crowded woods and less elk. Nevada and Arizona have some of the most envied elk hunting in the western states and not only for antler size but for success rates as well. They do this with smaller elk herds and draw only systems. We are lucky enough to have ~30-40,000 roosevelts to pull from let along a fairly strong rocky mountain herd but no one bats an eye at Washington. 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.
Actually, the reason it's spike only is because they are the most likely to die from causes other than hunting. So by killing them you are actually less likely  to effect the herd since a lot of the spikes killed by hunters were going to die anyway.

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Where did you get this statement... If that was the case then all of the OTC units in Washington would have any bull to harvest from??? Yes 65% of them get killed a spike only general season and whats left behind escapes. But when they aren't targeted they don't randomly get killed. Most cougars would have a hell of a time taking down a spike and they spend most of the time with the herd anyway which does even more to protect them from predators. What else is left to kill them... Let me guess natives... They don't just keel over after there year of spikehood because they are dumb. Please provide the source of where this is being stated. I am very interested!

Offline HUNT JR

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If we were to mainly change eastside elk to draw only, people who wanted a tag every year could still buy a westside elk tag. It is just excruciating to have such poor draw odds in order to have a decent hunt.
That would be a good way to destroy elk hunting on the westside...

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I think some people would switch but I think a good amount would stay East side for the draws as odds increase substantially.

Offline Skyvalhunter

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It all depends on the elk population. Who wants to draw an east side elk tag in an area with poor elk population.

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For me, I say leave it the way it is. Every elk I've killed in Washington was on a special permit.  If the consensus is opportunity for all, tribal and rest, I say put it back to any bull.  When I moved here and started elk hunting in the Naches drainage, I thought it was crazy busy elk season, people all over, but people were killing bulls.  Granted, I would go to the feed lots in the winter and see only a couple of mature bulls and find maybe a couple sheds in the spring.  Still, I think there were more people elk hunting in Washington then now.  Having grown up in Montana and then moving to Washington in my late twenties, comparing the elk hunting in the two states, it is kind of similar hunting conditions.  Montana has a longer season, but most elk are killed in the first days.  Washington the same, except shorter season.  Ask any Montana resident what their biggest concern is and they'll likely say private land.  All the elk run to private holdings where hunting by the public is not allowed.

The reason they went to a spike only management is because their is biological studies that show that bull to cow ratios that low and diminished age class reduces breeding effectiveness which in the long run has diminishing returns on opportunity and sustainability. And the problem about you killing elk on special permits is that their availability will continue to decrease to where many people will support this management with tag and application sales but never get rewarded for those applications. People put in for special permits because it represents something special and exciting. Why not increase that special and exciting experience rather than offer up ideas like more crowded woods and less elk. Nevada and Arizona have some of the most envied elk hunting in the western states and not only for antler size but for success rates as well. They do this with smaller elk herds and draw only systems. We are lucky enough to have ~30-40,000 roosevelts to pull from let along a fairly strong rocky mountain herd but no one bats an eye at Washington. 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.
Actually, the reason it's spike only is because they are the most likely to die from causes other than hunting. So by killing them you are actually less likely  to effect the herd since a lot of the spikes killed by hunters were going to die anyway.

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Where did you get this statement... If that was the case then all of the OTC units in Washington would have any bull to harvest from??? Yes 65% of them get killed a spike only general season and whats left behind escapes. But when they aren't targeted they don't randomly get killed. Most cougars would have a hell of a time taking down a spike and they spend most of the time with the herd anyway which does even more to protect them from predators. What else is left to kill them... Let me guess natives... They don't just keel over after there year of spikehood because they are dumb. Please provide the source of where this is being stated. I am very interested!

A biologist talked about it on a podcast. I don't think most of the deaths would be from predation. I think they are more susceptible to winter kill and other forms of attrition. The young of any species have a lower survival rate than mature adults.

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Offline villajac29

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For me, I say leave it the way it is. Every elk I've killed in Washington was on a special permit.  If the consensus is opportunity for all, tribal and rest, I say put it back to any bull.  When I moved here and started elk hunting in the Naches drainage, I thought it was crazy busy elk season, people all over, but people were killing bulls.  Granted, I would go to the feed lots in the winter and see only a couple of mature bulls and find maybe a couple sheds in the spring.  Still, I think there were more people elk hunting in Washington then now.  Having grown up in Montana and then moving to Washington in my late twenties, comparing the elk hunting in the two states, it is kind of similar hunting conditions.  Montana has a longer season, but most elk are killed in the first days.  Washington the same, except shorter season.  Ask any Montana resident what their biggest concern is and they'll likely say private land.  All the elk run to private holdings where hunting by the public is not allowed.

The reason they went to a spike only management is because their is biological studies that show that bull to cow ratios that low and diminished age class reduces breeding effectiveness which in the long run has diminishing returns on opportunity and sustainability. And the problem about you killing elk on special permits is that their availability will continue to decrease to where many people will support this management with tag and application sales but never get rewarded for those applications. People put in for special permits because it represents something special and exciting. Why not increase that special and exciting experience rather than offer up ideas like more crowded woods and less elk. Nevada and Arizona have some of the most envied elk hunting in the western states and not only for antler size but for success rates as well. They do this with smaller elk herds and draw only systems. We are lucky enough to have ~30-40,000 roosevelts to pull from let along a fairly strong rocky mountain herd but no one bats an eye at Washington. 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.
Actually, the reason it's spike only is because they are the most likely to die from causes other than hunting. So by killing them you are actually less likely  to effect the herd since a lot of the spikes killed by hunters were going to die anyway.

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Where did you get this statement... If that was the case then all of the OTC units in Washington would have any bull to harvest from??? Yes 65% of them get killed a spike only general season and whats left behind escapes. But when they aren't targeted they don't randomly get killed. Most cougars would have a hell of a time taking down a spike and they spend most of the time with the herd anyway which does even more to protect them from predators. What else is left to kill them... Let me guess natives... They don't just keel over after there year of spikehood because they are dumb. Please provide the source of where this is being stated. I am very interested!

A biologist talked about it on a podcast. I don't think most of the deaths would be from predation. I think they are more susceptible to winter kill and other forms of attrition. The young of any species have a lower survival rate than mature adults.

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I would talk to the biologists in this state regarding winter kill susceptibility of spike bulls compared to older age class bulls. I would imagine they are slightly more susceptible in harder winters but I don’t think they are dying off in high enough numbers every year to support one harvest system over another. I could be wrong but I think after a year of escapement as calves they are very resilient to winter unless nutrition is subpar in the area.

Offline grundy53

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For me, I say leave it the way it is. Every elk I've killed in Washington was on a special permit.  If the consensus is opportunity for all, tribal and rest, I say put it back to any bull.  When I moved here and started elk hunting in the Naches drainage, I thought it was crazy busy elk season, people all over, but people were killing bulls.  Granted, I would go to the feed lots in the winter and see only a couple of mature bulls and find maybe a couple sheds in the spring.  Still, I think there were more people elk hunting in Washington then now.  Having grown up in Montana and then moving to Washington in my late twenties, comparing the elk hunting in the two states, it is kind of similar hunting conditions.  Montana has a longer season, but most elk are killed in the first days.  Washington the same, except shorter season.  Ask any Montana resident what their biggest concern is and they'll likely say private land.  All the elk run to private holdings where hunting by the public is not allowed.

The reason they went to a spike only management is because their is biological studies that show that bull to cow ratios that low and diminished age class reduces breeding effectiveness which in the long run has diminishing returns on opportunity and sustainability. And the problem about you killing elk on special permits is that their availability will continue to decrease to where many people will support this management with tag and application sales but never get rewarded for those applications. People put in for special permits because it represents something special and exciting. Why not increase that special and exciting experience rather than offer up ideas like more crowded woods and less elk. Nevada and Arizona have some of the most envied elk hunting in the western states and not only for antler size but for success rates as well. They do this with smaller elk herds and draw only systems. We are lucky enough to have ~30-40,000 roosevelts to pull from let along a fairly strong rocky mountain herd but no one bats an eye at Washington. 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.
Actually, the reason it's spike only is because they are the most likely to die from causes other than hunting. So by killing them you are actually less likely  to effect the herd since a lot of the spikes killed by hunters were going to die anyway.

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Where did you get this statement... If that was the case then all of the OTC units in Washington would have any bull to harvest from??? Yes 65% of them get killed a spike only general season and whats left behind escapes. But when they aren't targeted they don't randomly get killed. Most cougars would have a hell of a time taking down a spike and they spend most of the time with the herd anyway which does even more to protect them from predators. What else is left to kill them... Let me guess natives... They don't just keel over after there year of spikehood because they are dumb. Please provide the source of where this is being stated. I am very interested!

A biologist talked about it on a podcast. I don't think most of the deaths would be from predation. I think they are more susceptible to winter kill and other forms of attrition. The young of any species have a lower survival rate than mature adults.

Sent from my SM-G950U using Tapatalk

I would talk to the biologists in this state regarding winter kill susceptibility of spike bulls compared to older age class bulls. I would imagine they are slightly more susceptible in harder winters but I don’t think they are dying off in high enough numbers every year to support one harvest system over another. I could be wrong but I think after a year of escapement as calves they are very resilient to winter unless nutrition is subpar in the area.
I was just going off what a biologist said. It  made sense to me. But I'm no expert.

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Offline Colville

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No matter how you slice it.  The herd can only give about 900 combined bulls, including spikes in a year.  The habitat and predator situation isn't going to allow the herd to kick out 2000 a year.  At 1000 a year in district 8 you just can't have more than 5000 hunters, probably 4000. 

We used to have 22k hunters in 2013. If we are going to posit that the "old" higher kill rates were typical, so were the hunters licensed.  Still looking at 4 years to draw. 

Not to mention the existing point system fiasco.  People who have paid in forever, you are going to have to accommodate them with at least half of the tags at first so that they aren't being raped.  That'll mean newer hunters will draw in a decade or longer.

There is NO way to take 1000 bulls and make them more huntable, EXCEPT ONE WAY.

Reduce hunters.  That's it.  Only a continued plummet of hunters will get the ratio down to a frequent hunt.  A growing hunter pool is completely incompatible with improved frequency of hunting.

You can't' simply decide to push off youth recruitment by saying small game, bear and turkey will do.  It won't.  That's not what people hunt.  The numbers of tag holders for those species are a tiny fraction of deer/elk and you won't triple the hunting of those species by taking away deer/elk opportunity. Like it or not, people want to hunt deer and elk.  Without frequency in those hunts, you are going to lose recruitment.  Traditional wall camp hunting with 10 of your family and friends isn't going to shift to fall turkey.

Just to be clear, I am not upset with people who are trying to figure out if there's a better way.  But I insist on the numbers.  The plan can't be, let's steal every year hunting on a basis of we'll see if it works.  I simply can't see how the math supports it.  Now if someone has a biologist that has a plan to get the harvestable herd doubled... I'm all ears.  But show me the 2000 bulls FIRST.

I would support a bonus point system for any person who checks in a bear or cougar from the unit in question.  Kind of hard to regulate because people can shoot a bear anywhere.  But they could have a scheduled couple weekends and put check stations on the main routes in and out, have people check in and check out their dead predator.  Of course, this will just lead to some BS decision by WDFW to reduce bear take in the region.  As though that's not being back filled with wolves anyway.  I digress.  You can't defeat the WDFW, it's a political organization not a pure biological one.  We don't elect the WDFW director.  And of course, that wouldn't help in this state if we did.

Offline buckfvr

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Everyone and anyone should know well that wdfw could care less about youth/new hunter recruitment other than the potential revenue.  Anything they come up with will come with a price tag. 

If I was to start over with my grown sons as kids again, I would go with abundant targets and excitement and focus on yotes.  Coyote are smart and hard to hunt but at the same time, success and opportunity is greater than hunting deer/elk.

Offline villajac29

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No matter how you slice it.  The herd can only give about 900 combined bulls, including spikes in a year.  The habitat and predator situation isn't going to allow the herd to kick out 2000 a year.  At 1000 a year in district 8 you just can't have more than 5000 hunters, probably 4000. 

We used to have 22k hunters in 2013. If we are going to posit that the "old" higher kill rates were typical, so were the hunters licensed.  Still looking at 4 years to draw. 

Not to mention the existing point system fiasco.  People who have paid in forever, you are going to have to accommodate them with at least half of the tags at first so that they aren't being raped.  That'll mean newer hunters will draw in a decade or longer.

There is NO way to take 1000 bulls and make them more huntable, EXCEPT ONE WAY.

Reduce hunters.  That's it.  Only a continued plummet of hunters will get the ratio down to a frequent hunt.  A growing hunter pool is completely incompatible with improved frequency of hunting.

You can't' simply decide to push off youth recruitment by saying small game, bear and turkey will do.  It won't.  That's not what people hunt.  The numbers of tag holders for those species are a tiny fraction of deer/elk and you won't triple the hunting of those species by taking away deer/elk opportunity. Like it or not, people want to hunt deer and elk.  Without frequency in those hunts, you are going to lose recruitment.  Traditional wall camp hunting with 10 of your family and friends isn't going to shift to fall turkey.

Just to be clear, I am not upset with people who are trying to figure out if there's a better way.  But I insist on the numbers.  The plan can't be, let's steal every year hunting on a basis of we'll see if it works.  I simply can't see how the math supports it.  Now if someone has a biologist that has a plan to get the harvestable herd doubled... I'm all ears.  But show me the 2000 bulls FIRST.

I would support a bonus point system for any person who checks in a bear or cougar from the unit in question.  Kind of hard to regulate because people can shoot a bear anywhere.  But they could have a scheduled couple weekends and put check stations on the main routes in and out, have people check in and check out their dead predator.  Of course, this will just lead to some BS decision by WDFW to reduce bear take in the region.  As though that's not being back filled with wolves anyway.  I digress.  You can't defeat the WDFW, it's a political organization not a pure biological one.  We don't elect the WDFW director.  And of course, that wouldn't help in this state if we did.

I don't if I ever said we could guarantee everyone to hunt every 3-4 years that is probably impossible when moving to an OTC hunt. You keep trying to figure out what the herd can support to maximum effect but what we need to focus on is how can we maximize opportunity and recover elk herds to get back to self sustaining numbers that result in high calf and fawn recruitment. Once we do that opportunity will increase and maybe its not every 4 years but you could have a good idea that you would draw a tag in 10 years rather than shooting one spike in 15 years and drawing a bull tag once every 50 years. Point is that our numbers when compared to other states and populations more align with a draw only system where probably only 1/6th to 1/8th of the hunting population has a bull tag every year. But that means that in 8-15 years (high end for early rifle tags) depending on what tag you really want we will cycle through our entire application pool. And that's not counting antlerless tags if we can get our herds back up to that 20,000+ number and increase calf recruitment to sustain the population.

Also when talking about recruitment deer isn't likely going draw only across the state any time soon so I'm not advocating taking away that option. Between DEER, BEAR, and small game youth will still have a chance to get out and if we work into the system better opportunity for youth to draw bull or cow tags then they will get a quality elk hunt on the regular as well. I'm not spelling the end of days of OTC elk opportunity just saying it might not be sustainable to be every year that is all.

In order to boost the herds, the best thing we can do as hunters is stop pushing for antlerless opportunity. I'm thankful they took away OTC archery antlerless this year but with that being said lets stop issuing so many antlerless draw tags as well. The biologists are telling the commission to but hunters push and push since they are to selfish to forgo a chance at an elk for a couple years the commission bends and doesn't listen to the bios. Patience is something we need to learn as Washington hunters.

Offline Colville

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villajac29,

It's been a while since I learned the #.  But, I believe the WDFW thinks 10K Elk in the E-WA herd is the carrying capacity.  That's part of the problem with the full analysis. The department has a top end # for the herd and when we approach it, they are going to add antlerless. Someplace just barely north of 1000 bulls a year based on the "determined" carrying capacity of this herd is what we might get on the good years without a bad winter.

The other problem is simply that you can't use the words "maximize opportunity" and have it mean anything.  They've polled people tons on this.  The vast majority of hunters prefer they have the opportunity to hunt, to the opportunity to hunt with better success and age class every 4 years.  You are in the minority about what constitutes "opportunity".  Don't take my word. Talk to WDFW about how their polling stands on hunt every year vs every several I think it's better than 75% prefer every year.

Some additional facts on the  herd. The state doesn't want more in the Yakima herd:
Page 28 for the objective herd size (9500 elk):
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwju-8L0vOvpAhVCKH0KHSVzBLoQFjAAegQIBBAB&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwdfw.wa.gov%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Fpublications%2F00777%2Fwdfw00777.pdf&usg=AOvVaw2EJdubDzC1jbpIQUVWK0IJ

Read the depredation/agriculture issues before thinking well, just decide to carry more elk.  Not happening.

Komo news on herd in 2017:
https://hunting-washington.com/smf/index.php?action=post;topic=249904.90;last_msg=3374809

"In 2012, the Yakima elk herd, which occupies the portion of Kittitas County south of Interstate 90 and extends south into Yakima County, included an estimated 11,500 animals. It had an estimated 16 bulls for every 100 animals in the herd. WDFW aims to maintain 9,500 animals in that herd and 12 to 20 bulls for every 100 animals. Moore said WDFW will issue plenty of bull tags in the Yakima herd's range, as it has in the past, and probably more cow tags."

To summarize.  We can't get more bulls because carrying capacity is 9500 Elk.
We can't therefore hunt them but every 4 to 5 years on draw only best case.
People don't think every 4 years constitutes opportunity.
No one believes they can get WDFW to move capacity to 20,000 elk.

Now what?


Offline Special T

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No matter how you slice it.  The herd can only give about 900 combined bulls, including spikes in a year.  The habitat and predator situation isn't going to allow the herd to kick out 2000 a year.  At 1000 a year in district 8 you just can't have more than 5000 hunters, probably 4000. 

We used to have 22k hunters in 2013. If we are going to posit that the "old" higher kill rates were typical, so were the hunters licensed.  Still looking at 4 years to draw. 

Not to mention the existing point system fiasco.  People who have paid in forever, you are going to have to accommodate them with at least half of the tags at first so that they aren't being raped.  That'll mean newer hunters will draw in a decade or longer.

There is NO way to take 1000 bulls and make them more huntable, EXCEPT ONE WAY.

Reduce hunters.  That's it.  Only a continued plummet of hunters will get the ratio down to a frequent hunt.  A growing hunter pool is completely incompatible with improved frequency of hunting.

You can't' simply decide to push off youth recruitment by saying small game, bear and turkey will do.  It won't.  That's not what people hunt.  The numbers of tag holders for those species are a tiny fraction of deer/elk and you won't triple the hunting of those species by taking away deer/elk opportunity. Like it or not, people want to hunt deer and elk.  Without frequency in those hunts, you are going to lose recruitment.  Traditional wall camp hunting with 10 of your family and friends isn't going to shift to fall turkey.

Just to be clear, I am not upset with people who are trying to figure out if there's a better way.  But I insist on the numbers.  The plan can't be, let's steal every year hunting on a basis of we'll see if it works.  I simply can't see how the math supports it.  Now if someone has a biologist that has a plan to get the harvestable herd doubled... I'm all ears.  But show me the 2000 bulls FIRST.

I would support a bonus point system for any person who checks in a bear or cougar from the unit in question.  Kind of hard to regulate because people can shoot a bear anywhere.  But they could have a scheduled couple weekends and put check stations on the main routes in and out, have people check in and check out their dead predator.  Of course, this will just lead to some BS decision by WDFW to reduce bear take in the region.  As though that's not being back filled with wolves anyway.  I digress.  You can't defeat the WDFW, it's a political organization not a pure biological one.  We don't elect the WDFW director.  And of course, that wouldn't help in this state if we did.

We had almost 5K archery hunters last year.
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Offline Stein

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5k people that archery hunted or 5k people that bought tags?  Up until last year, I would buy a tag to participate in the draw but had no intention of hunting the general season.  I'm in the minority, but I would guess I'm not the only one.

Offline Colville

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Special T,

Won't have that many this year with the reduction in cow opportunity.  I think between the economy and reduction in general and special antlerless/bull opportunity and we'll seen sub 16k hunters.  They'll bounce back some with increased permits in the future.  I suspect last year you got some rifle hunters to fling sticks hoping for a shot at a cow, cow permits were zilch last year, and this.

At the long range rate of attrition, in 20 years people will get to hunt bulls every six or seven years. Hunters are dropping like flies. Deer and Elk hunters are down 20% since 2013.

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Stein,

The other phenomenon going on, rifle guys draw a permit for "Bull".  They then do the math and figure out that you can draw your next "bull" permit on half the points, if you are an archer.  There's more than a few that put in that way and bag hunting if they don't draw. I'm with you though, I have kid sports conflicts for the last decade. I'm a "hunter" but I never hunted elk, just bought points and put in for tags that I didn't draw.  Never did pursue spikes, but I'm one of the "hunters" on paper.

Offline High Climber

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5k people that archery hunted or 5k people that bought tags?  Up until last year, I would buy a tag to participate in the draw but had no intention of hunting the general season.  I'm in the minority, but I would guess I'm not the only one.
I buy a tag in WA  for the draw opportunity as well, haven’t hunted elk in this state for a few years. I think there is a fair amount of people that do this

 


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