Outdoors: Closed gates raise danger level for hunters

As most of you know, the Cascade rifle season is open for deer hunting and elk season’s arrival means that a lot of hunters will be in the woods, which means a lot of lead will be coming and going.

With me taking my kids into the woods, safety has been a very keen point for me this year, It’s not that it wasn’t before, but now it’s just in my face and teaching has a lot of the basics of that.

I spend enough time in the woods to see the garbage that the local timber companies are complaining about and the vandalism that happens. But one thing I don’t get is why they punish the good people or “noble outdoorsman,” we’ll say.

As a hunter, I get upset when an area that you had access to during the summer is closed during hunting season. Why am I being punished? You wonder if there is less trash or vandalism because of locked gates, because there sure are less people being caught.

I would have to think that this would be obvious but apparently it isn’t. The simple reality is that law enforcement in the woods should spend more time dealing with the guy who breaks the law every day from sunup to sundown, instead of the otherwise law-abiding citizen who accidentally breaks a rule.

The animals flee from public land onto private timber lands. This is common knowledge, so leaving today’s hunters less area to access and less animals in that area, you bottleneck everybody together and there’s a much higher chance for a nasty accident.

So keep it safe and do your best to obey all the regulations and rules of both the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the private timber companies.

From the stories I hear in the shop, it doesn’t always seem fair what’s happening out there . Most companies, corporations or state agencies can’t see the difference between illegal and unethical because their cubicle is in the way.

Hope all of you who haven’t filled your tags yet will get that opportunity. Just remember: Keep it safe and trouble-free.

* * * * *

The Fish and Wildlife Commission today adopted 2008 big game regulations.

Among the changes hunters will see next year are:

– Successful bear hunters will be required to check-in skulls within 10 days of harvest at an ODFW office during regular business hours (8 a.m.-5 p.m.). Participation in this currently voluntary program is not high enough, triggering the mandatory check-in requirement under the state’s bear management plan.

– Hunters will get controlled late season buck hunting opportunities in 2008 (a total of 90 tags, in six hunts—three archery hunts and three firearms hunts). Bow hunters that obtain these controlled tags will not be able to hunt during the general archery season.

– Due to the ability of ODFW’s new point-of-sale system to better track licenses, hunters will no longer forfeit preference points if they do not apply for a controlled hunt for two consecutive years.

– Future hunters may begin applying for preference points at age 9 rather than age 11. The new rule will enable young hunters and their families to invest in future hunting opportunities and more quickly have the opportunity to hunt. Young hunters applying for preference points will be required to have a social security number, a hunter/angler identification number, and to purchase an adult hunting license.

Shane Ullrich writes twice a month on the outdoors for The New Era. Contact him at 367-8086.

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