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EARLY RISERS: Bruce Eddy and Janet Stowell of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife sell a leftover tag to a hunter via the point-of-sale system between 4 and 5 a.m. Sunday. (The Observer/DICK MASON).
EARLY RISERS: Bruce Eddy and Janet Stowell of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife sell a leftover tag to a hunter via the point-of-sale system between 4 and 5 a.m. Sunday. (The Observer/DICK MASON).

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

A coffee and doughnut vendor would have earned a tidy sum between 2 and 4 a.m. Sunday outside the La Grande office of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

More than 70 hunters lined up at the ODFW office early Sunday to purchase leftover controlled hunt deer and elk tags. The office opened at 4 a.m. so that hunters could apply via the statewide computerized point-of-sale licensing system

Most hunters arrived between 3 and 4 a.m. but some came earlier much earlier.

Lou Barnett of La Grande could be counted among the early arrivals. Armed with a sleeping bag, Barnett got in line around 8 p.m. Saturday. He joined another man who came late Saturday afternoon.

Barnett got just 15 minutes of sleep during his eight-hour wait but he was not complaining.

It was a good night. It is one I wont forget for awhile. Everybody was in good humor. We had some interesting conversations, Barnett said around 4:15 a.m. after purchasing a tag.

Scott Hill, a Baker City hunter, joked that it was as if people were standing in line to get tickets for a rock concert.

Hunters were still in line when the sun came up at 5:07 a.m.

It was like the opening day of duck season, said Craig Ely, the supervisor of the ODFWs Northeast Region.

Ely was among those present to help with the sale. He enjoyed hearing the tales shared throughout the morning. That is what the hunting experience is all about the stories, Ely said.

The sale began at 4 a.m. because the states computerized point-of-sale licensing system is activated for venders selling fishing licenses on the Oregon coast. This meant that POS venders throughout the state could begin selling tags at that time.

Ely said that if POS venders had not opened in other parts of the state at 4 a.m. many hunters might have driven across the state to the Oregon coast to apply for leftover tags.

We wanted to give hunters here the same opportunity (as those on the coast), Ely said

Until this year the ODFW had sold its leftover tags through a second-chance drawing. The leftover tag sale conducted this year was more efficient and cost effective, said Janet Stowell of the ODFWs La Grande office.

Hunters across the state purchased more than 2,000 leftover tags for 12 deer and elk hunts. Most of the hunters who came to the La Grande ODFW office were able to purchase the tags they wanted.

Efforts were made to make the hunters wait more pleasant Sunday morning. Restrooms were opened and numbers were handed to people based on their place in line so people could leave and not lose their place in line.

La Grandes ODFW office was one of 14 in the state that opened at 4 a.m. The Ontario ODFW office was the only other one in Eastern Oregon that opened Sunday.

In Union and Wallowa counties nine POS vendors at businesses also opened Sunday morning to sell leftover tags. Wal-Mart in La Grande and Our Little Store in Enterprise were the only ones that opened at 4 a.m. Wal-Mart sold 27 tags and Our Little Store sold three.

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