My letter to ODFW.


New Member
Nov 19, 2012
April 15, 2020

Curt Melcher
Director, ODFW

Director Melcher,

I was pleased to see that ODFW is reducing tags for some elk and deer hunts in Eastern Oregon. However, as I went through the list I was again disappointed to see that nothing is being done in regards to the deer and elk herds in the Minam unit. There are other herds that are clearly not meeting population and/or bull/cow ratio objectives. Starkey deer and Snake River elk are just a few examples I noticed.

I have written letters to ODFW, the Commission, attended meetings, etc. for years, trying to bring light to the issue with the herds in the Minam unit. I doubt you remember, but you even responded with a few questions to my concerns at a public meeting at the Clackamas office some years ago. To be clear, this is nothing personal with you, but you’re the leader of ODFW now, so these type of letters go with the job.

So, assuming you are not aware of the numbers occurring in the Minam unit since you have a lot of responsibilities, here they are. The population management objective for deer in the Minam is 7,000 deer. At last count in 2019 the population has now dropped to 1,700. The buck/doe objective is 25/100. That objective has not been achieved since 2003. That is 17 years. For 17 years ODFW has made no effort to meet that objective. No tag reductions, no temporary antler point restriction, shortened seasons, nothing.

The Minam unit elk herd has not achieved the bull/cow ratio objective of 20 bulls per 100 cows for at least five years according to ODFW data recently published. I did not bother looking into past years. The last two years have bull ratios of 9 and 10 bulls per 100 cows. That is half the objective. Again, there has been no management effort to achieve the objective through tag reductions, temporary antler point restrictions, etc.

I would appreciate a response to my simple question. Why? Why is nothing being done? Why are we spending state resources to count animals and gather data, when nothing is done with the data? Even more, I would appreciate that the Minam herds were managed to attempt to achieve the objectives the citizens of Oregon have established in the Management Plans for each species.

I really do not expect a response, nor do I have any hope that anything will be done. I recognize that I am likely in the minority of Oregon hunters who are concerned about these things. I used to have a small bit of hope that things could be improved despite my frustrations. This latest move, that once again ignores the publics wildlife in the Minam unit has honestly crushed any glimmer of hope I once had. After 17 years I give up.
For 22 years I have been hunting other states for deer and elk. The differences in management are stark. I will no longer compete for tags in Eastern Oregon with other Oregon hunters. I will use my limited time and funds to take trips to other states with my two children, both aspiring hunters.

Best of luck with the difficulty of managing Oregon’s wildlife. I believe the citizens of Oregon deserve a better effort. Perhaps something positive will come out of the ideas thrown about on the recent Big Game Forum.


Tony Pranger