Elk hunt's, fires and sleepless nights....

Joe Hulburt

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Well, any of you that post on fish out here in Oregon are probably tired of hearing about this but I am in a heck of a dilemma this week.

I drew the best archery elk tag in Oregon (Wenaha) this year and the unit is getting hammered by a fire. The ODFW are graciously offering to exchange my tag for a general season tag for no fee and reinstate points if I choose to turn the tag in by 5:00 Pm tomorrow.

All the wilderness is currently closed as well as the roads that access the wilderness. The fire is burning in the heart of the wilderness so they won't fight it there and nature will have to put it out. Most of my scouting was in the wilderness or along the edge. I'm from the coast and don't have a good handle on when that might be but I'm guessing it may not be until some time in Oct?? That would pretty much screw up my hunt!

Any of you ever dealt with a similar issue? What did you do and how did it go? Anybody know anyone who has died in a fire well trying to kill an elk? If so was it worth it to them? Just things I am running thru my head....

If I punt I can be hunting Roosevelts within a short drive of the house Saturday morning and probably redraw this tag in the next couple years. What would you do????
 

quarterhorse

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If your points ensure drawing again in the near future I would give it back. The fire may improve the hunting in the coming years.
 

jwh525

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That's a tough one, if ODFW is willing to work with you I'd take that route. The area that I'm headed to in Idaho has a few wild fires as well. If it get's to the point like you're facing I can only hope IDFG does the same considering I'm coming from Georgia.
 

twsnow18

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That's a tough one, if ODFW is willing to work with you I'd take that route. The area that I'm headed to in Idaho has a few wild fires as well. If it get's to the point like you're facing I can only hope IDFG does the same considering I'm coming from Georgia.

I'd punt, my opinion.

No points in Idaho. And after the back lash from some decisions IDF&G has made the last 2 years (a certain sheep hunter, 10 year olds and the draw, leftover tags and the draw and rain checks in 2012) they are probably gonna go the conservative route for a while. They put out an article the other day saying no rain checks this year.

But luckily for guys like you there are 50 other OTC units to hunt with plenty of game.
 

havgunwilltravel

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I agree if your confident of redrawing that tag, roll it back to the fish and game, hunt locally and enjoy that once in a lifetime hunt in that unit when everything levels out. As I'm sure you are aware, the hunting and antler growth could be off the charts for the next handful of years post fire.
 

earlybird

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That's a tough one. I guess I think Id Punt too. if you can get your points back its seems like the making a good memory chasing a Roosevelt elk is a better idea than making a bad memory trying out run a fire.
 

treedagain

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I would hunt it. The fire moved animals....where did they go?
BUT hunting after the fire could be awesome.
 

Stone_Ice_1

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Helena, MT
Hunt

I'd hunt it. We had a 100,000 acre fire several years ago in an area I grew up. After it was out and things were back to normal the animals, and some truly huge ones got killed that year because the hunters could actually see them in this area that was usually so thick and hard to find animals in. Guess for that to be an advantage it depends on the area you are hunting
 

bmack

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Joe - what a tough decision.

I think I'd turn the tag back in and hunt it next year (assuming you did not draw in the 25% random pool). If you can pull the tag next season I'd do that. The fire should help certain parts of that area assuming it doesn't get completely toasted.

I would just hate to roll the dice on a tag that took 15 ish years to draw and not have it be what you hoped.

Tough call for sure. No doubt there will be elk in the unit and good ones killed. Has ODFW said how many of the limited archery tags have been turned in so far?

Whatever you decision, best of luck.
 

jryoung

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I would turn it in and have a chance in the future. It is very likely that area will improve in the coming years with early succession. I'm assuming you are ahead of the curve for a future draw, so I'd leverage your future chances.

I have a moose tag in Idaho and there is a fire just on the other side of the river of my unit. Its unlikely to jump the river, but it is a possibility. It's seriously messing with my head right now.
 

TRS_Montana

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Yeah, I would turn it in, too. I agree with Stone_Ice that it could make for some outstanding hunting, but I think you are in the 11th hour for this season and I wouldn't feel comfortable gambling with such a great tag if you have more than a 25% chance of drawing in the next few years.

Man, definitely feel sorry for you either way, though. I am really empathetic when something like this happens to someone who loves to hunt and is passionate about it. It is frustrating when people who really couldn't care less draw amazing tags. My neighbor drew the Missouri River Breaks rifle permit for either sex elk last year (~2% odds) and went out hunting for one weekend. I haven't talked to him since.

No matter what you decide to do, good luck!
 

ccc23454

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Wyoming
points back= punt! that place in a few years will be thick with new growth and full of elk

C
 

hank4elk

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If you have the time to wait and get points back ,do it. Tough call for sure,but it could be closed til winter to do rehab alone......
 

Joe Hulburt

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I appreciate the opinions all! Couldn't bring myself to turn it in. Praying for rain and access to the wilderness by September 14th. That is all I need.....

I have a moose tag in Idaho and there is a fire just on the other side of the river of my unit. Its unlikely to jump the river, but it is a possibility. It's seriously messing with my head right now.

Best of luck on that! I can see why you would be worried. Raining here on the Oregon Coast last night and a little today. Lot more coming.....

Hunt today. Tomorrow may never happen.

In the end that is what I decided. I'm 49 and in good health but after spending a week in the hospital last winter with a staph infection I will never take another season for granted. Going to make the most of this tag THIS year. My son and I are planning on cashing in our Wyoming pronghorn and deer points next year and I don't want to mess that up either.
 

ashersdad

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I think you made a good choice. Tough decision. Good luck having a great hunt. So much of hunting is mental and I think with your positive attitude, you'll do great.
 

elkrchr

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Three Forks, MT
Joe, I feel for you. I just finished antelope hunting in the Lookout Mtn. unit. We had the big Baker City fire burning to the south and the Bennett Peak wilderness fire burning to the north. ODFW keep the hunt open, but for a period of time there were parts of the unit that were no accessible.

Knowing the quality of bulls that are in that unit, it is a difficult decision. I believe I would have turned the tag back in based on the fact that all road access to wilderness boundary is closed. I'll pray for rain and hope you can at least access the wilderness portion by the 14th.

Good luck and I'm sure we'll all be waiting to read your hunt report.
 

mtmander

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Philipsburg, MT or NC
Good luck, I would have kept the tag , you are never sure what next year will bring. My long time (we have hunted together for 50 years) hunting partner passed away so you never know. Go hunting while you can.
 

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