September 3, 2014 – by Duane Bernard, Board Member
As far as I’m concerned, if we as Oregon hunters look ahead it is not a cheerful situation. If you want a rosy picture you’ll have to look in the rear view mirror. Go back 30-40 years and it wasn’t too bad. Go back 50-60 years and it was great. Our worst days in the field back then were far better than our best days in the field now. I realize that if you’re not of my generation you’ll find this hard to believe, but it is true. I’m afraid, unless we (Oregon Outdoor Council) succeed, you younger people will be saying the same thing when you are my age, as will the generation after you. We all need to do all we can to prevent this from happening, but many want to see us fail.
The “Good Old Days” vs Today
I killed a B&C record book blacktail buck in 1952 when I was 13 years old, alone and without any help. Could I do it today? No. Could the average 13 year old boy or girl of today do it? NO! No, I didn’t do it again for the next few years, but I saw bucks in that class. That is not the case today! Yet, we have better bullets, better scopes, (I didn’t have one in ’52), range finders, far, far better archery equipment, way better clothing and boots, better binoculars, ATVs, 4wheel drive, GPS, 2-way radios and now Goretex (or better). What we did have then that we don’t have now was a lot stronger deer and elk populations. So much better that if you are under 40 years old you probably cannot imagine what it was like to go out and actually expect to see deer. We did! And, personally, I think there was far more poaching then. Partially because there was no such thing as food stamps then! People took care of themselves.
I personally think a lot of the problem (because I live in N.W. Oregon) is the wall-to-wall re-prod here now. I know Oregon has a huge predator problem, but I don’t think that has as big of an impact here (N.W. Oregon) as it does in E. Oregon and S.W. Oregon.
When I killed that B&C buck there were hundreds of acres of brush, brush left from the early days of logging. No such thing then as replanting trees! That brush was, and still is, when and if it exists, ideal habitat folks. Today, very little brush and hundreds, no, make that thousands of acres of re-prod. Don’t mistake me, the edge habitat that timber companies create is excellent habitat for our big game for several years, but it used to be much better.
Charging For Access Has Consequences
Now timber companies want to lock up their land and charge us to enter it. This is here to stay folks. I’m not against SOME fee hunting, but I’m opposed to too much of it. The amount of it that I see coming will tend to over-crowd the rest of the areas and soon many hunters will have to make a decision:
Because of this and our other problems, over population of predators, lack of timber harvest on federal land, etc, many will quit hunting, at least in Oregon, and this will continue to compound ODFW’s budget issues. I understand that ALL of Weyerhaeuser’s land in both Oregon and Washington will be fee hunting only in 2016.
Like I said earlier, if you want a “rosy” picture, look in the rear view mirror. While I paint a bleak, and real picture of the status of hunting in Oregon, there is reason to remain optimistic… the Oregon Outdoor Council has and continues to make enormous strides to turn things around through our legislative process, join us today for only $25. (http://oregonoutdoorcouncil.org/annual-membership/)