Tribal Hunters and Ceded Lands: What’s the Impact?

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The following is a guest article by an OOC member and does not reflect an official position by the organization. 

I headed up into mountains the weekend before the bull elk season opener to set up camp.  An oncoming vehicle forced me to pull over on a single lane logging road.  It was an old friend out doing the same thing.

“You won’t believe what I had seen yesterday.  One of the biggest mule deer bucks I have ever seen.  It was in the back of a truck headed down the mountain,” he said.

I was confused because there was no deer season open.  Maybe it was a governor tag? No, he stated that they were tribal hunters… I was shocked.

After speaking to a fish and wildlife trooper, I learned that they have rights to hunt an area called “ceded lands.”

I was even further surprised when he told me that they each are allowed to have two deer in their possession, and once they fill those two tags, they can be issued two more.

I had a lot of questions, such as:

  • Is this true I wondered?
  • How do I find out what their hunting regulations are?
  • Why haven’t I heard of this?

I started asking my hunting friends and family if they had heard about this. Most of them looked at me cross-eyed like I was crazy. Only a few had heard stories about tribal hunters.

The stories, or potentially rumors, just didn’t seem right. For example, one friend said he had seen “eight huge blacktail buck stacked like firewood in the back of a truck.”

“We packed into an area to scout for an upcoming tag and found a tribal hunting camp with ‘tons’ of bull elk hanging,” said another friend.

I wanted answers.

So far, they haven’t been easy to find.

With my discussions with Oregon Department and Fish and Wildlife as well as the Tribes, it seems as though this is all a big secret. However, I have continued to press ODFW and finally got some information.

The treaty of 1855 allows certain rights to the tribes. The treaty allows tribal hunters to hunt big game species and upland bird species on lands that the tribe historically hunted. All said, this is about half the state of Oregon for the Warm Springs Tribe.

Each species has a bit different rules, but they can hunt most of the fall, with a weapon of choice.

I have just scratched the surface on this issue. There are still many questions that I want answered, and you probably do too.

I am not against tribal hunting and not advocating against tribal hunting, but every Oregonian that buys a hunting license in the state of Oregon should be aware of the harvests that could impact their opportunity.

If ODFW is to manage Oregon’s wildlife soundly based on scientific data then tribal hunter harvest is part of the equation, correct?After all, if we don’t report our results from the prior hunting season we are fined $25.

Sportsmen and women are entitled to know the facts about wildlife regulations within our state.

Ceded Lands Regulations (Does not include all Oregon tribes)

Native American Hunter Harvest 2015 (Does not include all Oregon tribes)

Monitoring and Activity Report for 2016 Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde

Zach Russell

Zach Russell
About the Author: Zach is a native Oregonian that loves to hunt, fish and be outside!  He shares this passion with his wonderful wife and kids.