Febuary 1, 2014 – Wayne Endicott, Board Member
There is nothing like equipment issues to cause a firestorm. Recently, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) was pressing the commission to list crossbows as a legal weapon for the physically impaired. For the last 25 years, I have made a living in the retail archery market. I have watched the crossbow manufacturing progress into a highly efficient hunting tool. For the last five years, at the Archery Trade show (ATA), I have seen two to three new Crossbow manufacturers each year. The latest weapon can be effective to 100 plus yards with a rest and a steady trigger finger.
Whether you like the idea of crossbows as a weapon choice for archers in Oregon or not, we should take a hard look at the states which have open archery season to the use of crossbows.
If you’re getting a little heated at the thought I might be taking the side of ODFW staff and ATA on this issue – you need to hear me out. Other states, most of which have crossbows as a legal weapon, are suffering from a gross over population of whitetail deer. The industries are good at developing more user friendly weapons, which in turn are good at harvesting more game. Let’s take a look at game populations in a state like Wyoming where crossbows are a legal weapon. Most of the state meets and exceeds Management Objectives on deer and elk each year. In fact, most of the southeast elk units are sporting an overpopulation of elk, sometimes with counts of fifty bulls per 100 cows!! Even with the presence of CWD, most deer units are meeting the same kind of numbers.
Each year, I speak with many bow hunters at the trade shows that come from states like Alabama where you can shoot one deer a day for the entire season each year. When I share with them that Oregon has a hard time maintaining a hunt able population of deer, along with restrictions on things like broadheads and lighted nocks, they look at me like I am crazy. For hunters in other states, equipment restrictions on broad heads and crossbow bows would be silly.
So one has to ask – what if ODFW had the all the tools of apex predator management that they used in the 1960’s and 70s? Beatty’s Butte Antelope herd predation could be managed by aircraft. M44 was still in use by the public for livestock predation (not condoning its use). Fur prices were high and trappers made a good living (trapping has been part of Oregon’s heritage since its creation). Bear baiting, along with running bear and cougar with dogs were legal methods of hunting. Bounties were applied where problems occurred within management. Can you imagine this? Wow!! These were freedoms most of our fathers/grandfathers enjoyed – often referred to as “back in the day”!!
What occurred in discussions on equipment issues like crossbows is spot on of what the framers of Measure 18 intended. Remove all tools of management on predators from the public. Help elect law makers like animal rights activist Peter DeFazio and others, who now hold 52 seats in the US Congress. DeFazio stated in a letter dated March 4, 2013, address to the (USFW Director Dan Ashe), on the wolves delisting:
“The rebound of the gray wolves in the western Great Lakes and Northern Rocky Mountains has been a boon for local economies, wildlife enthusiasts, and the ecosystems of these areas that have benefited from the return of this keystone predator. Studies in Yellowstone National Park found that the presence of wolves benefited a myriad of species from pronghorn antelope to songbirds to beaver and fish.”
What planet is this guy from? Oregon has no room for wolves – we can’t deal with the cougar, bear, coyote, and avian problems we have now. In 2012, only Eric Rickerson reported at the OBH state convention meeting that only two units – TWO! – statewide met Management Objectives for deer and elk. Where is DeFazio going to find a unit in Oregon that is not so far down on management objectives to place his wolves in? Perhaps his plan to just feed them livestock, as they will soon deplete Oregon’s low wild game populations. As public servants, lawmakers should think and research before they shoot their mouth off about big game issues they know nothing about. Am I too hard on Mr. DeFazio? I think not. We should expect our lawmakers to be somewhat educated on state game issues if they are going to be our mouthpiece in Washington.
Fifty-two Congressmen signed this letter to block the delisting of wolves by Dan Ashe, Director of USFW. Fifty-two United States lawmakers that don’t care that it was the Oregon Sporting Dogs Association back in the day that lobbied for lions to be listed as big game, and units and tags draws to be established. Los Angeles Times reported Peter DeFazio demanded a full audit of Wildlife Services. DeFazio stated in a nut shell to cut Wildlife Services because only a few rich farmers, ranchers, and timber companies benefit from it and it is not working. Some in the Sporting Dog association are in agreement with DeFazio. They argue that if all government management tools are removed, the public outcry would return the right to hunt with dogs to the public. Good argument – however, the problem is the lawmaker. This is as far as the east is from the west for Mr. DeFazio.
Well of course this strategy is not working! Measure 18 has removed the freedoms of the public to use effective tools of predator management, then underfunded only a handful of government trappers statewide and expected them to deal with the bear and cougar population explosion that Oregon is dealing with!
What Can WE Do?
Okay the rant is over – back to the crossbow issues. Yes, the archery industry leaders have asked ODFW to consider crossbows a legal weapon for use in the archery season. Oregon Hunter’s Association, Oregon Bowhunters, and Traditional Archers of Oregon stood strong together and opposed the use of crossbows. The issue is tabled for now and may come up in the future again. Oregon hunters are all a big part of Oregon’s hunting culture and we are passionate about the health of our deer, elk herds and other wildlife, so the outcome is what we all had hoped for. But you see, its not use of the weapon that should be in question. The question should be: what are we going to do to bring back proper wildlife management to Oregon”
It was our lack of focus and unified voice that allowed this change in direction. This political correctness could be killing hunting and playing into the framers of the animal right court!
Go back to Wyoming for a moment. Do you think DeFazio would have made it as a lawmaker in that state? Would Measure 18 pass the vote of the public in 1994 in Wyoming? Bottom line – the hunting community has to play offense and start today. Without a push to make hunting, fishing, and trapping Oregon Constitutional rights and press hard to return to a county by county vote on the use of dogs for cougar, we will just continue to limit freedoms and end hunting opportunities in this great state by way of animal rights lawmakers and ballot box game management. Will you help us??
Life member OBH, OHA, OOC