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ODFW Offers Hunting Tags For Military on Leave
Jon McFaul shot a 7 point bull the morning elk season opened – and that was just part of his streak of fortune.
Serving in the Marines for the past 17 years McFaul has had limited opportunity to come home to hunt. This year, a new program allowed him to elk hunt in the Chesnimnus Unit of northern Wallowa County.
For the first time, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife gave each of its wildlife districts the chance to authorize up to 20 controlled deer and 20 controlled elk tags to Oregon residents who are active members of the armed forces stationed outside the state, but able to come home on leave during hunting season.
The seed for the program was planted a little more than a year ago when James Nash of Enterprise, a lieutenant in the Marine Corps, wrote a letter to Fish and Wildlife requesting concessions be made for active military.
Nash, a sixth generation Wallowa County hunter said, “I grew up hunting with my dad and my friends. If it wasn't hunting season we were waiting to see which tags we drew for the next hunting season.”
Nash said he has only been able to come home to hunt once since joining the Marines.
“During a war, Marines don't often get leave and they cannot plan very far ahead since deployments and training events take priority,” said Nash.
He is now at a combat outpost in Shir Ghazi, Helmand Province of Southern Afghanistan, where he commands a platoon of M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks and 15 Marines until January.
McFaul, studying Defense System Analysis, found out about the hunting opportunity from his dad and called the Enterprise office to apply. He qualified for the program and got leave from his Defense System Analysis studies in California. Hunting alone opening day, he shot a trophy bull.
“I have hunted out here quite a few times, but I missed a number of elk seasons because of deployments,” said McFaul.
McFaul's parents live in rural Joseph and, after a four-year tour in Quantico, Virginia, he plans to retire in Wallowa County. He was the first to apply for a tag and hunt in Wallowa County under the new program.
Nash said he is pleased that the state is helping Oregon's active military to come home to hunt.
“A need was identified by citizens of a state and the government responded to accommodate that need. I am really proud of ODFW for getting this done,” said Nash.
Only certain hunts are eligible for the program. Active members of the U.S. armed forces who are interested need to contact ODFW’s Northeast Region in La Grande at 541-963-2138.