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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 7335 times)

Offline Special T

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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'm just going by department numbers so time on the ground is up for debate, but that number is for both herds.

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Offline villajac29

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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?

I'm gonna have a zoom call with District 3 Biologist Scott McCorquodale on Tuesday and I will ask him that question. What I understand at this point is the 9500-10000 number is what biologist recognize is the number of elk needed to swamp predators during the calving season to retain calf recruitment numbers to sustain the elk herd. At its current point calf recruitment has been terrible to say the least the past few years. If it continues to stay low the herd will never grow to the point that cats will be overwhelmed by the calving season. I believe the carrying capacity is around that number due to the elk fence and limited wintering habitat, however I will ask that question on Tuesday. I also understand that District 3 Biologists are talking with the commission to work within the hound hunting ban law that says you can reinstate it in order to help at risk ungulate populations (this being the deer in the area since they are the primary target of cats). Biologists can only do so much however since the commission makes the final decision. Let's hope they allow it because it will hopefully relieve pressure on both the deer and elk in the are for a second at least.

I also don't know who supports what as I don't know what the most recent polls have shown. I would like to support what hunters want backed up by what biologists are saying. I offered the ideas because I ran them by those around me from all different age groups, demographics of hunter, weapon users and they all said something needs to change and thought it wasn't a bad idea. I understand you don't love it and there are people on here that are staunchly against it but the poll shows that most people who have voted in the chat have voted to remove that system. I'm not saying that is a representative sample and I understand data analytics enough to try and get that sample size to see correlative accuracy. Until I have the platform to find out we are only speculating as to what people want in the current conditions.

I have plan's to tackle this issue. Have I been arguing from the standpoint of my position on the issue, yes. However if I see a representative sample size of WA elk hunters saying they want to keep the system as is or have OTC opportunity every year I would say that's what the commission should do. The problem is then, that the commission doesn't always make decisions of of survey data or even what the biologists are recommending on the ground. But whatever the majority wants we should push the commission to implement.

Offline villajac29

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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.

Have you just been playing devils advocate then the whole time, I'm not saying you don't believe what your saying but it seemed like you had skin in the game :chuckle:

Offline Colville

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Not devils advocate.  I hunted before my kids made it a problem. I will again as they age out of my home (elk, i hunt deer every year) This isnt an elk specific argument.  Its a frequency vs age class of animal argument.  3pt whitetail in 49 degrees north a couple years back was essentially the same debate.  One that polled heavilly in favor of every year, rather than qdm.

Herds can be managed both ways.  They can manage #'s of animals with varying methodologies.  You can have a healthy herd and fewer hunters less frequently or more hunters all the time.

I get frustrated when the arguments rely on predictions you cant see in the math.  The yak herd, see the links, is not desired to exceed 10k. They want to keep the herd near that # for hunting, but if it grows to 12k, they put the smack down on cow permits.  You can't grow that herd under the accepted management #. If you can't, you have to advertise correctly that this plan means hunting every 5 years at best.

I just want the proposal to be honest without predicting a new supply of animals that arent there and without over promising hunting every 3 years.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2020, 11:23:47 AM by Colville »

Offline villajac29

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Not devils advocate.  I hunted before my kids made it a problem. I will again as they age out of my home.  This isnt an elk specific argument.  Its a frequency vs age class of animal argument.  3pt whitetail in 49 degrees north a couple years back was essentially the same debate.  One that polled heavilly in favor of every year, rather than qdm.

Herds can be managed both ways.  They can manage #'s of animals with varying methodologies.  You can have a healthy herd and fewer hunters less frequently or more hunters all the time.

I get frustrated when the arguments rely on predictions you cant see in the math.  The yak herd, see the links, is not desired to exceed 10k. They want to keep the herd near that # for hunting, but if it grows to 12k, they put the smack down on cow permits.  You can't grow that herd under the accepted management #. If you can't, you have to advertise correctly that this plan means hunting every 5 years at best.

I just want the proposal to be honest without predicting a new supply of animals that arent there and without over promising hunting every 3 years.

I'm still confused where you got this 3 years number. The 3 year waiting period I suggested was the period of time it would be mandated for hunters to wait after drawing in order to start reapplying again... If everyone got to hunt every 5 years that would be incredible but that also isn't likely.

I think that's where our misunderstanding is stemming from. In our current system 5% success is high for spike hunts. At that rate hunters shoot 1 spike every 20 years. I understand that's not how success is distributed and some will shoot 5 in that period and some will shoot zero. I'm mainly asking the question would hunters rather have 1-4 bull tags in that period of time (dependent on quality of tag being applied for) with less competition in the woods, or would they continue to want to buy a tag every year and continue to have to compete with crowds and have low success rates. I understand you would rather have the every year opportunity but draw only wouldn't have to be managed for "quality" bulls. If allocation was liberal in comparison with bull calf recruitment numbers age class would likely decrease. The more conservative you get with allocation the less likely people are to draw tags but age class distribution increases. Either way it doesn't necessarily mean it has to be managed for "trophy potential".

The problem with 3 and 4 point minimums you see is in a system where deer only typically grow no more than 5 points on each side you are focusing hunter harvest on a narrower age class especially in a highly populated OTC system. This can also diminish older age class where yes bucks are escaping to 2.5 and 3.5 years old but few are making it past that age. That's a different discussion though.

Whatever hunters want can be achieved in a draw only system but how I understand it is - If you have 10000 elk in a herd and you are recruiting 3-4000 calves every year that will sustain the herd. Out of those 3000 calves close to 50% will be bulls. So if 1500 bulls are being deposited into the "bank of elk" then you can withdraw 1500 bulls and see no change to the bull population. If you desire increased bull population (bull to cow ratio) you harvest less than the recruited number adjusted for all other harvest including non-native and predators. The opposite is true, if the bull to cow ratios are higher than objective you withdraw more than the deposited number of calves into the population. This is dependent on what hunters want and can have depending on other factors. In the past we harvest 1234 bulls a year on average between all three major herds. I don't know what percentage this is of calf recruitment across the board but together along with native harvest and predatory impact that is likely around 100% of recruitment in normal years. The problem in the past few years has been that calf recruitment has been really low.

Again 30:100 is the benchmark for Calf:Cow ratios which will support stability above that you see herd growth. Here are the past 3 years numbers for each herd.

Blues Mountains:  2017   2018   2019
                                 18       25      24

Colockum:           2017   2018   2019
                                 19       30     25

Yakima:               2017   2018   2019   2020
                                 22       30       26      19
*I was told the yakima number by the biologist for this year.

I would also like to say that calf ratios and spike recruitment are much easier to count since they distribute themselves more similarly with feed site elk than do bulls. So what I misunderstood when I recorded the podcast was that Bull to Cow ratios don't really mean much when it comes to allocating tags. Its mostly reliant on calf recruitment which is much easier number to study and accurately gather.

That's about as much as I can respond to this particular issue in text but I hope that answers some question. I got his info directly from Biologists in District 3 and it was the same management style of Biologists in Nevada and how they determine allocation (only difference is the percentage of 50"+ main beams is a stat they also look at to determine trophy potential as that is another part of their model).


Offline GameHunter1959

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I'd bet wolves have nothing to do with the reduction in special permits. Pffffttt!  :chuckle: :dunno:

Offline ghosthunter

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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:

Spot On

I have headed up a hunting camp of friends since the 80s. Some years we do well other nothing. We have not killed a muzzy elk in the last five. With no permits.
Every year I expect some not to want to go. But every year around permit time my phone starts ringing with my guys and gals wanting to firm up plans to hunt deer and elk. They look foreword to it every year.
Draw only will destroy the camps and reduce hunters. There was a poll many years ago that reflected hunters would rather have the group or camp hunting than limited access.

Many families have a limited time to hunt together. Five ,six years before the kids are off making there own lives and building careers. Draw only means you got what? One or no chance to hunt with your kid.

It was stated a lot of guys who draw do t harvest or only hunt a few days. Many of the guys have limited time away from work. Having permits with shorter duration might be better since a week off is about all the average guy can do if that.

My son when in high school went every year.  Now managing a business , family of four ,seldom makes it to camp. Just to busy making a living and racing a family.


I would do away with multi season tags too.

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Offline buckfvr

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Not devils advocate.  I hunted before my kids made it a problem. I will again as they age out of my home (elk, i hunt deer every year) This isnt an elk specific argument.  Its a frequency vs age class of animal argument.  3pt whitetail in 49 degrees north a couple years back was essentially the same debate.  One that polled heavilly in favor of every year, rather than qdm. 


It was a 4pt apr in both 117 and 121, not a 3pt in 49.  It had nothing to do with any kind of "frequency vs. age class.  I live here and never saw a poll that had anything to do with "every year, rather than qdm".  It was a straight up 4pt apr with no change otherwise to the status quo hunt. What many of us who actually live here did see is a rapid improvement in harvest and hunting after the first year.  What wdfw saw and felt was a loss of revenue from those who wont come over here unless they can kill anything with horns.

I know this post isn't about deer, so sorry for jacking, but I couldn't let misinformation flow about an on going fight with wdfw to restore the 4pt apr here, and if you say it doesn't work, then ask why there is a 3pt apr in place for years and years for south east whitetails.

Offline stickslinger

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Another point that is being over looked is forest management.  Colockum herd numbers were purposely reduced because they claimed the colockum area was beyond carrying capacity..... I call bs! If the forest floor wasn't completely littered with down fall and so much slash that only thistle will grow the area would easily hold way more game
RELAX,PICK A SPOT,SHOOT STRAIGHT

Offline Bango skank

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Its a frequency vs age class of animal argument.  3pt 4pt whitetail in 49 degrees north and huckleberry a couple six years back was essentially the same debate.  One that polled heavilly in favor of every year, rather than qdm. it was every year, what are you saying?



Offline Colville

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Bango and Buckfvr, I was too quick in my post.    I appreciate that the 117/121 wasn't a draw only situation and mistated 3pt because that's what's a regular mule deer standard.  My point was that the principle of the two debates is the same.

The debate is over what constitutes opportunity, or quality opportunity.  In the APR restriction, 500 to 700 fewer deer were available each year from the harvest durring the APR project. People who were content, even excited, to kill those deer did not think improving the number of 4 pts killed constituted an opportunity, they didn't feel quality was achieved with reduced success rates.  Their opinion was no more valid than those that wanted more adult deer. They just happened to be in the vast majority of hunters.  Don't have to believe me, ask the WDFW, they did polling on that APR project.

Same thing with Elk.  The two sides do not agree on what constitutes opportunity or quality.  The two views of opportunity are polar opposite.

Often, those for the draw only elk or those who were APR try to argue that if you give it a try, they'll grow the herds, change everything and their'll be more deer or elk and or short time lags between hunting.  But they can't show it in the numbers.

We had a very long thread on APR back in the day.  I tracked the before APR and after APR #'s.  In the 8 years preceding the APR restriction, 117/121 were responsible for an average 56% of district 1's buck output.  Durring APR: 2012 43%, 2013 45%, 2014 46%.  The % of deer 121/117 provide from 2015 to 2019?  2015 57%.    2016  56%.   2017 56%.   2018 55%.

What's the point?  between 500 and 700 fewer hunters took bucks per year during APR.  Go back to the debate here in hutwa.  As long as those preferring APR or Draw only elk make their argument saying, there will be vast years without hunting or there will be 700 fewer bucks available to hunt, I have no problem with their argument. I just disagree with it.  In the APR days, they were saying, the herd "needs" it, and once you give it a go for a few years, the bucks taken will climb to comparable to before you went APR, they'll just be better bucks!  It wasn't true, it isn't true.   Draw only means no hunting for years. APR means far fewer bucks available to harvest.  A reasonable position to hold as long as you embed the real consequences when one argues their point.

Offline Bango skank

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Bango and Buckfvr, I was too quick in my post.    I appreciate that the 117/121 wasn't a draw only situation and mistated 3pt because that's what's a regular mule deer standard.  My point was that the principle of the two debates is the same.

The debate is over what constitutes opportunity, or quality opportunity.  In the APR restriction, 500 to 700 fewer deer were available each year from the harvest durring the APR project. People who were content, even excited, to kill those deer did not think improving the number of 4 pts killed constituted an opportunity, they didn't feel quality was achieved with reduced success rates.  Their opinion was no more valid than those that wanted more adult deer. They just happened to be in the vast majority of hunters.  Don't have to believe me, ask the WDFW, they did polling on that APR project.

Same thing with Elk.  The two sides do not agree on what constitutes opportunity or quality.  The two views of opportunity are polar opposite.

Often, those for the draw only elk or those who were APR try to argue that if you give it a try, they'll grow the herds, change everything and their'll be more deer or elk and or short time lags between hunting.  But they can't show it in the numbers.

We had a very long thread on APR back in the day.  I tracked the before APR and after APR #'s.  In the 8 years preceding the APR restriction, 117/121 were responsible for an average 56% of district 1's buck output.  Durring APR: 2012 43%, 2013 45%, 2014 46%.  The % of deer 121/117 provide from 2015 to 2019?  2015 57%.    2016  56%.   2017 56%.   2018 55%.

What's the point?  between 500 and 700 fewer hunters took bucks per year during APR.  Go back to the debate here in hutwa.  As long as those preferring APR or Draw only elk make their argument saying, there will be vast years without hunting or there will be 700 fewer bucks available to hunt, I have no problem with their argument. I just disagree with it.  In the APR days, they were saying, the herd "needs" it, and once you give it a go for a few years, the bucks taken will climb to comparable to before you went APR, they'll just be better bucks!  It wasn't true, it isn't true.   Draw only means no hunting for years. APR means far fewer bucks available to harvest.  A reasonable position to hold as long as you embed the real consequences when one argues their point.

Success rates did not go down, they went up, and after repealing the 4pt rule sucvess rates began a steady decline again.  If less total deer were taken during the apr its not because success rstes went down, they didnt.  Its because number of hunters went down.

Offline Colville

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Bango... Yes, success as a ratio of hunters in those units didn't slip, because so many hunters fled.  Your point is true, but doesn't address the issue. There were a ton fewer kills than could have occurred. The argument many made that the units could be as productive under APR was not true.  It's fine with me if people want Draw only Elk or APR. Just be straight up about the cost, it always gets fuzzy wait and see type sales jobs that aren't possible in the #'s.


Offline Bango skank

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Bango... Yes, success as a ratio of hunters in those units didn't slip, because so many hunters fled.  Your point is true, but doesn't address the issue. There were a ton fewer kills than could have occurred. The argument many made that the units could be as productive under APR was not true.  It's fine with me if people want Draw only Elk or APR. Just be straight up about the cost, it always gets fuzzy wait and see type sales jobs that aren't possible in the #'s.

Fewer bucks were killed than could have been, because a lot of people chose not to hunt there.  That doesnt mean apr is bad, that means a lit of people want to kill spikes.  And since the apr was lifted, harvest has gone steadily down.  So far youve been wrong about how many pts the apr was, when it was, where it was, and how it affected success rates.  You should probably just stop giving your opinion on it since you clearly know nothing about it.

Offline buckfvr

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Bango... Yes, success as a ratio of hunters in those units didn't slip, because so many hunters fled.  Your point is true, but doesn't address the issue. There were a ton fewer kills than could have occurred. The argument many made that the units could be as productive under APR was not true.  It's fine with me if people want Draw only Elk or APR. Just be straight up about the cost, it always gets fuzzy wait and see type sales jobs that aren't possible in the #'s.

True numbers/stats are available through northeast wa. wildlife group.  Being familiar with their efforts will clearly show you the reality of the past apr we had so briefly.  Instead of confusing yourself by trying to compare apples to oranges, get the data, accept it without twisting it, and then maybe you can talk sensibly about it.  Youre sounding all smoke and mirrors.... :dunno:

 


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