Over 70 years ago, Aldo Leopold, the father of modern conservation, told us we could not improve hunting technology without improving the environment. Are his worst fears coming true? Let’s take a look.
When I was a child, I was not allowed to shoot a crossbow past 30 yards, a shotgun past 50 yards, and a rifle past 100 yards. Today modern-day compound bows have improved to a point where they can kill a deer or elk out 70 yards, far more effective than my slug gun 20 years ago. That is not all that changed crossbows now shoot 200 plus yards, and rifles can shoot over a mile. These improvements to technology have made it easier to hunt and kill big game animals.
While we have taken considerable strides in improving the environment over the last 120 years, technology seems to be developing at a faster rate. Hunters are more successful while using these new guns and bows and healthy animal populations are lagging behind. This has prompted new changes in archery laws in Oregon.
According to The Lagrande Observer, Oregon has recently proposed changes their archery season. If enacted, starting in 2021 the system will switch from an “over the counter” tag to a draw system. This will limit the number of people able to go hunting in certain areas. The reason stated is a combination of more bowhunters, and bows that are more efficient at killing elk.
ODFW officials already reduce the number of rifle hunting tags when, for instance, harsh winters or other factors cull herds. So far Archery hunting has remained unlimited over counter and allow for unlimited hunter participation.
Nick Myatt, the project leader for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said. “Improvement in bow technology during this period also have been significant, making it easier for a hunter to achieve lethal shots at longer distances than they did in the late 1970s and early 1980s.”
Technology will continue to improve, bows shoot more like shotguns, shotguns more like rifles, and the ranges rifles shoot will be farther than ever before. With these improvements, it seems very likely that more hunting regulations will be drafted that limit our ability to hunt.
Michelle Dennehy, a spokesperson for the ODFW, is looking for feedback and wants hunters to share their opinions on the proposal. They can visit myodfw.com/articles/big-game-review to review the considerations, and a link on the page, odfw.wufoo.com/forms/zth5lfy09ws6hm/, allows people to weigh in.
Dennehy said what the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission is discussing “aren’t even formal proposals. These are some concepts,” and added ODFW is seeking feedback.
“We’re still at a time where we want to hear from hunters,” she said. “Your best bet is to go to the page and look at that information.”