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New program makes deer, elk tage available for active military leave

SALEM, Ore.—Active members of the U.S. Armed Forces may now be able to get a controlled deer or elk tag so they are able to hunt with family and friends while home in Oregon.
   ODFW yesterday filed a temporary rule that gives each of its wildlife districts the chance to authorize up to 20 controlled deer and 20 controlled elk tags. These tags would be available on a first-come, first-serve basis to Oregon residents who are active members of the Armed Forces currently stationed outside of Oregon, but home in the state on temporary leave during hunting season.
   Active members of the U.S. Armed Forces who are interested need to contact one of ODFW’s four regional offices in the district where they want to hunt: Northwest Region in Clackamas (971- 673-6000), Southwest Region in Roseburg (541-440-3353), Northeast Region in La Grande (541-963-2138), or High Desert Region in Bend (tel. 541-388-6363). To get a tag, they will need to show a copy of an active duty military ID, a copy of current leave papers to document they are currently stationed outside of Oregon and a valid Oregon resident hunting license.
   Only certain hunts are eligible for the program. For controlled deer or elk hunts with a bag limit of “antlerless,” “spike only” or “antlerless or spike,” the hunt needs to have had a minimum of 20 tags available for the 2012 controlled hunt draw. For hunts that allow an animal with two or more points on the antler, the hunt must have had a minimum of 60 tags available for the 2012 draw. (These hunts will have a bag limit of “one bull elk,” “one 3 pt+ elk,” “one elk,” “buck with visible antler,” “buck 2pt+,” “one deer,” and “one white-tailed deer.”) Information on tag numbers and bag limits for the 2012 draw is available at the following links: buck deer hunts, antlerless deer hunts, elk hunts.)
   Hunts in the Starkey Experimental Forest, Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge or Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge are not eligible for the program.
   Tag recipients will still need to pay the standard price of the tag ($24.50 for deer tags, $42.50 for elk tags) and provide harvest and effort information to the ODFW office where the tag was issued within five business days of the closing date of the hunt. Typical tag sale deadlines won’t apply under this program, meaning tags can still be purchased after the first day of the hunt season. (Rifle deer season opens this Saturday, Sept. 29.)
   “We wanted to give active military members the chance to hunt with their family and friends when they are home in Oregon,” said Tom Thornton, ODFW game program manager. “It’s one way we can recognize them for their service to our country.”
   The Fish and Wildlife Commission may adopt this program permanently next week when it sets the 2013 Oregon Big Game Regulations.
   Almost all rifle deer and elk hunting in eastern Oregon is limited entry and requires an advance “controlled” hunt application. It is sometimes difficult for active members of the military to plan ahead for a hunt due to the uncertainly of when they will be home.