REDMOND, Ore. - (Update: comments from ODFW, Oregon Hunters Association)
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is looking to make some changes to the 2020 hunting seasons.
Corey Heath, a wildlife biologist with ODFW, said there are 38 pages worth of changes the agency wants to adopt, a few of which would impact hunters here in Central Oregon.
Right now, hunting districts just east of the Cascades require general tags. That means anyone can purchase a tag over the counter and go hunt.
Heath said ODFW wants to turn that into a limited tag area. He said there would be 1,550 tags offered for the Metolius, Upper Deschutes and West Fort Rock region combined.
"The main reason for that one is a bull ratio change," Heath said. "It's a biological change to allow us to grow more bulls in the unit, to have bulls escape the hunting season better because there will be fewer hunters out there hunting them."
Bob Dixon, president of the Bend chapter of the Oregon Hunters Association, said he is concerned about that proposed regulation.
"It does good for one area, and it could overload another area," Dixon said. "If they can't draw the tag, and they still want to hunt, they're going to look at where they can get an over-the-counter tag. It puts more people in the woods, and more impact on the game, and probably less success."
ODFW also wants to offer a new, general season antlerless elk damage tag.
"This damage hunt is an attempt to get more hunters in the field on these private lands, on these chronic damage situations, to try and alleviate some of the damage that landowners are suffering, and also to move the elk back onto public lands," Heath said.
The other major change would impact buck deer hunting in Western Oregon. As it stands, hunters can shoot anything with a forked antler or better in that area. ODFW wants to change that, so they'll be able to hunt spiked buck, or a buck with one visible antler. That would match the regulations in Eastern Oregon.
ODFW hosted a public meeting from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday night at Redmond High School to hear people's thoughts and concerns regarding the proposed changes. Heath said he expects there will be revisions and additions before the regulations are finalized.