1. The Department's mandate is that when the archery harvest in a hunt unit exceeds 20% of the total deer harvest (all weapons) in that unit, they either close archery hunting seasons or move the entire archery hunt for that unit to a drawing. This is flawed because the 20% is just an arbitrary non-changing number. No matter how much of the population leaves rifle hunting and moves to bowhunting, this would never change to match the new dynamic.
2. As they continue to close more and more units to bowhunting, they do nothing to limit the number of OTC permits that can be sold, and that number is increasing each year. Those increasing numbers of bowhunters have fewer and fewer units to hunt each year, which causes them to exceed the 20% harvest limit, which in turn closes them to OTC bowhunting. It's a self-fulfilling prphecy. The only possible outcome of that continued management trend is that virtually all OTC hunts will be closed within a very few years.
3. The Game & Fish's mandate states that the 20% bowhunter quota for each unit will be calculated based upon three years of harvest data, but by their own admission they are only using the last two years (2019-2020) for this year's proposal since the few years prior to that had very low survey response from hunters, and therefore the data was useless. 2020 was an anomaly, in that a much higher than normal amount of people took to the field to hunt (and many more OTC permits were sold) due to the pandemic. So, the dozens of recommended hunt closures are a result of a spike in the harvest in 2020 which will very likely not be repeated in 2021.
4. And as a more controversial point, but one I think is highly relevant, it has become a ridiculously easy point of abuse for people to obtain handicapped crossbow permits and use them during archery-only seasons. While the G&F Department has not responded to requests for this data, I have seen reports that hunters obtaining handicapped crossbow permits have increased from 100 to 2,000 over the past five years. I doubt that there has truly been a sudden spike of handicapped bowhunters by 20 fold in the past five years. It would also not be surprising if the hunting success of hunters using scoped crossbows is higher than those using hand-held bows, but the Department does not track this so they just allow the increased harvest to be counted against bowhunters, and seasons are closed as a result. While this last issue is not addressed by the alternate proposal, I think it is important that the Department should amend the survey to ask the question about whether a crossbow was used and further look at this issue in the very near future.
In my opinion, the alternative proposal would allow the Department to continue to sell as many OTC permits as they wish (supporting their revenue stream) while limiting the take in each unit and protecting the deer populations as desired. It would be instantly responsive throughout the year to any anomalies that temporarily increase harvest, rather than only revisiting them every few years (or ignoring them completely), and would protect the populations even better than the proposal by the Department.
Because some units need a break. This alternative proposal would still allow hunters to hunt in units that are teetering on the brink. When combined with rifle, many mule deer units have pressure from August through January. Arizona’s total population is pushing 7.5 million and growing every day.
Long ago, I was visiting with an old rancher friend and I asked him why I haven’t seen any cows in the field lately. He said that he rotates the pastures and that the pastures just need to recover without ANY activity.
What’s wrong with just closing some units for a period of time to allow the mule deer a chance? It’s not guaranteed to work, but why not try? As a hunter and conservationist, what’s wrong with doing something to help the deer herds? We need to look beyond our own selfish needs and understand and accept the fact Arizona cannot sustain this current hunt structure anymore. It just can’t. Consistent drought and ever increasing population growth dictates that everyone involved needs to step back and make some sacrifices. Soon we won’t have a chance and won’t matter. OTC hunts coming to end soon is clear. The only question then will be which weapon will you choose?
For now, let’s just give the mule deer a break.
On the main page discussion, the theme there is how the money and revenue stream will continue with the alternative proposal. Funny how no one is concerned about the deer numbers.
Is it possible for an anti-hunter or someone who doesn't like bow hunting to falsely report killing a deer? If enough people did this it has the potential to close a unit prematurely or at least raise our success percentages. I believe bear hunters have to submit a tooth but what should successful deer hunter submit?