My son drew a second season 2018 bull elk tag for the Ochoco Unit. In order to draw a tag like this, you must have roughly eight preference points. In other words, you have to spend your money to apply for seven years knowing that you are not going to draw and you are not going to get to hunt in your home unit. You do, however, have to spend your money and apply so that you can get your preference point for that year. Most all hunters around here understand this system and that is a discussion for another day.
My son's elk season was ruined by the overwhelming presence that bordered on harassment from the Oregon State Police Wildlife Troopers and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife officials.
I personally encountered six different troopers and several ODF&W officials. I was stopped twice and had another run up onto my rear bumper as I was traveling in such a way that I pulled over only to find out it was a trooper in an unmarked pickup who pulled right up to my driver's window and began questioning me.
Another time, I met two troopers. As I passed them, the last one yelled at me to stop. He said that he stopped me because I was not wearing my seat belt. Really!!, on a dirt two-track road. I hardly think that they are most interested in me wearing a seatbelt there.
Still another time, I came upon a trooper parked sideways in a narrow road so that no one could get by him without a probable confrontation.
In frustration, I began trying to count the number of wildlife officials I was running into, including aircraft as well. Even if you are perfectly legal and in no violation of any law at the time, it is nerve-wracking, stressful, intimidating and very uncomfortable. It does not make a very enjoyable recreational time with your family. This just ruined the whole season for me, not to mention my son, who will now have to wait another eight or more years.
Once the season was over, I was still fuming about the amount of law enforcement concentrated in the area, and for what? I decided to request the citation information from the OSP during the first and second Ochoco rifle elk seasons. When I received the results I was not surprised.
My information came in the form of an email with one letter stating that the reason for the increase in enforcement was due to the complaints that people were driving on closed roads and other violations. Total number of actual citations were 12 given. Two were people in possession of an elk illegally, two were for lending or borrowing a tag (most likely same related incident), one citation for hunting from a vehicle, five citations for parking or driving in violation of a travel management area, and two for counseling, aiding or sharing in violation. Thirteen warnings were given for miscellaneous possible infractions.
So, for that kind of presence and that few of citations, I seriously doubt that this operation could come anywhere near justifying the costs. I am not opposed to game law enforcement protecting the recreations that we have grown up with and loving all of our lives. But, this garbage about having the OSP saturating the hunting area to provide deterrence and ensure compliance with listed game regulations is just that, a bunch of garbage. Only thing that came out of this pile of taxpayer money spent is most hunters in that area are abiding by the laws as evidenced by the few number of citations.
If the ODF&W really wanted to make a positive difference, there is a huge problem right under their noses that they choose to ignore and deflect when confronted with. Our local Native America Indians are allowed to hunt for themselves and others without regard to season, weapon, tags, much less preference points.
When I called the ODF&W, they say something like, "Oh, we will have to check into this." They know darn good and well this is going on unchecked. Why is it that they can play by their own rules (none) on non-reservation ground while we have to adhere to a very strict set of regulations that are being strongly enforced?
Other things include predation (now wolves, too). There were 2,585 buck deer tags given in 2018. Has anyone seen 2,600 bucks in the Ochoco? I think not. I believe that there is a reasonable local hunting population that can offer up some excellent ideas, tactics and solutions.
Until someone in these government positions has the courage to implement solutions to the real problems in the Ochoco, you can kiss your local public lands hunting good-bye.
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