Bull elk

This bull elk in Northeastern Oregon was captured by a photographer rather than a hunter. The elk hunting season for archers could change from a general season to a controlled season starting in 2022 in many parts of the region.

SALEM — The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has released the final proposal for commission consideration regarding changes to how archery elk season is managed for portions of Eastern Oregon within the Blue Mountain region, according to a press release.

This final proposal includes two major modifications from the original draft proposal released in March: Five units would be combined into a single Eagle Cap Zone hunt, and there would be a single general season hunt for any part of the state not proposed for controlled hunting.

A map on the big game review page has more information. (The original proposal was for a general Western Oregon and general Eastern Oregon tag for any units not managed as controlled hunts.)

The changes are needed to help wildlife managers meet elk plan objectives in areas with low bull ratios and in areas with a high percentage of branch-antlered bull harvest occurring within the general archery season. Current management strategy allows managers to alter harvest only during the controlled any-legal-weapon hunts, resulting in significant changes to the season structure and tag numbers for rifle hunting over the last 30 years.

This proposal will be presented at the Aug. 6 commission meeting for potential adoption.

Additional information about the big game review process can be found at https://myodfw.com/articles/big-game-hunting-season-review.

The remainder of the 2022 hunting regulations will be presented at the September commission meeting.

Under the proposal, 13 wildlife management units and three sub-unit hunts would move to controlled archery seasons. These hunts would be added to the current seven WMUs within the Blue Mountains already managed for regulated archery seasons. These controlled hunts would be the only opportunity for archers who draw and purchase those tags.

Within the units proposed for regulatory change, ODFW is proposing a mix of single WMU and a zone hunt to obtain the reduction in harvest that is the goal of moving to controlled archery. Both alternatives provide the control necessary for wildlife managers to regulate take to achieve the overall bull harvest reduction needed to meet agency objectives.

WMUs not proposed for controlled hunts would remain under the current statewide general season framework, allowing archers to continue to move in response to conditions throughout the state during the archery season.

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