I speak with Brian Rimsza the Chairman of Bowhunting in Arizona and a board member of the Arizona Bowhunters Association about the possible changes to the OTC deer hunts here in AZ. It's very important for you to voice your opinion to the commission so that we don't lose our hunting privileges and we do what's necessary to maintain and healthy deer herd . Please share this episode and please take the time to reach out to the decision makers 

 

Hello,

 

As the Chairman of Bowhunting in Arizona and a board member of the Arizona Bowhunters Association I have been working with the Department and the Commission for the past six months to develop a better alternative to the drastic closure of over 30 OTC archery deer hunts that was made in the spring of 2020 . I commend the Department and Commission for their willingness to bring me into this process and listen to my ideas. Based on these conversations the AZGFD is going to present their Hunt Guidelines proposal to the Commission on December 10, 2021. The Commission will choose one of these recommendations to utilize in the management of OTC archery deer for the next 5 years so, it is very important! The hunt guidelines establish the parameters in which the Department and Commission can make hunt recommendations.

The Department's three recommendations for OTC archery deer management are:

  1. Maintain the status quo. Basically, keep doing it the same way we have been doing it. This will lead to more and more OTC hunts being moved to a draw and the eventual closure of all OTC hunts once they exceed 20% harvest and a great loss of revenue.
  2. Utilize a harvest threshold system. This is the managment strategy I have been fighting for.
  3. Move everything to a draw. (estimated loss of 1 million dollars in tag sales revenue)

You can watch the webcast using this link:AZGFD

AZGFD

Public Forum Webcast. The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) will conduct the second of two webcasts from 6-7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28, to provide an update and gather public input on the review of the five-year game management hunt guidelines.

www.azgfd.com

 

I have included an additional breakdown of the potential for the threshold model that I propose below.

 

Threshold Model

  

Continue to issue OTC permits in the same manner we do now. Establish harvest objectives for each unit. These objectives will include an individual season objective along with an annual harvest objective. Utilizing a mandatory harvest reporting system similar to bears/lions requiring successful hunters to report their harvest via telephone, internet, or etag within 48 hours of harvest. Once the season harvest objective has been met in a unit close the season the following Wednesday at sundown. In addition to the harvest reporting, also utilize MANDATORY REPORTING to collect harvest data from unsuccessful hunters as well. This option would allow the department to reopen the units that were closed during the 2021 hunt recommendations process and return them to the OTC format.

 

Pro's

  1. Reopen hunts that were closed last year
  2. Accurate Harvest data
  3. No loss of revenue
  4. Active management during season, eliminating overharvest
  5. Ability to evaluate non-resident harvest vs. resident harvest
  6. Does not restrict non-resident participation

 

Con's

  1. No restriction to non-resident tag sales
  2. Currently there is a perception that non-resident participation/harvest should be restricted in the OTC deer hunts. At this time there is no data to support this claim although it is a strong perception from many. In 2020 non-residents accounted for 10.5% of the total OTC tags purchased, but we do not know what percentage of harvest occurred by non-residents v​s residents.
  3. After utilizing this system for a few years, we would have data to show if non-resident participation/harvest needs to be regulated.
  4. Requires an Article 3 rule change for mandatory reporting

 

 

Mandatory Reporting

 

The department has fought the idea of mandatory reporting for years. To put things in perspective, the Department’s hunter questionnaires from the 2020 OTC archery deer hunt showed 814 deer were killed, yet their estimate for total OTC archery deer killed in 2020 was 3,654. This estimate was made with only 24% of hunters actually completing a hunter questionnaire. Additionally, I have included an attachment containing a study completed by AZGFD in 2019 on moving to mandatory reporting. When you read the report, you will see "All states indicated that mandatory reporting has worked well for them." 

 

My suggested way to implement mandatory reporting would be to utilize the e-tag for those successful in the field as well as a paper tag. When you go to apply for elk and antelope in January the portal will prompt you to complete your mandatory hunter questionnaires. If you do not complete the questionnaire then you would not be allowed to apply for the draw. There would be no fine or penalty you simply could not apply for the draw without completing the mandatory report. 

 

Take Action!!!!!!

 

It is more important more than ever that we present a unified position to the Commission. I realize there are many great ideas and ways to manage our wildlife, but these are the only recommendations that are currently being considered at the December 10 Commissioner’s meeting. These recommendation are what will be presented to the Commissioners on December 10th. I encourage everyone to send an email to the Hunt Guidelines email showing their support for two items.:

 

  1. HARVEST THRESHOLD MODEL FOR MANAGING OTC DEER
  2. MANDATORY REPORTING OF BOTH SUCCESSFUL AND NON-SUCCESSFUL HUNTERS

 

Please send your email before December 1st.

 

AZhuntguidelines@azgfd.gov

 

If you have additional questions, please call me or email me.

 

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