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Nonprofit to sue Trump administration over historic hunting, fishing expansion across 2.3M acres


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6 hours ago, Dakota Slim said:

I totally agree about waterfowl refuges. I used to pass shoot ducks and geese which congregated every fall at the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. The water there stayed open after all the lakes in MN and WI froze up and huge flocks of Canadian geese and mallards would come off the refuge a couple times a day to feed in corn fields. There were a few places where they would fly up and over 400' bluffs at treetop level in huge V's. The lead duck or goose might be 100 yards away but as the rest of the flock came over the trees they got closer and closer until they were coming right over your head. I used to pick out the greenheads with a 12 ga with a 26" Improved Cylinder barrel and plain old 2 3/4" 4 shot. The ducks would start before sunup and the geese would come out at around 10 AM. I'd switch to 3" magnums for the geese. 

* There were tons of corn fed whitetails in that area as well. Other than a bow and arrow or a muzzle loader, a shotgun with a single slug was the only legal firearm for deer. I always bow hunted and if I didn't get a buck before the the 10 day bucks only gun season I would buy that license. 

Aww the good ol days. I do miss pass shooting the birds coming off the refuge. That was fun!

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4 hours ago, nugget108 said:

Aww the good ol days. I do miss pass shooting the birds coming off the refuge. That was fun!

The "Weaver River Bottoms" were an integral part of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife. It is a huge shallow marsh that was full of vegetation. Sometime in the mid 1980's the vegetation disappeared and the vast majority of the ducks and geese went elsewhere. Some said chemicals killed the vegetation while others blamed the Army Corps of Engineers for raising the water level while the vegetation was frozen in ice.  
I haven't been back there in many years so I have no idea if the vegetation or the birds ever came back.

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  • 6 months later...
Posted (edited)
On 10/28/2020 at 9:42 AM, Dakota Slim said:

As many know, Trump expanded public hunting and fishing rights to 2.3 million acres of public land. 
Now a nonprofit is suing to close them up again. 
Any thoughts? 

 

https://www.foxnews.com/great-outdoors/trump-administration-hunting-fishing-expansion-lawsuit

I guess this isn't really just about Trump.

Seems Biden and company are on a roll too. Today's announcement from the Department of Interior:

"Continuing the Department of the Interior’s efforts to increase recreational access on public lands, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today a proposal for new or expanded hunting and sport fishing opportunities for game species across 2.1 million acres at 90 national wildlife refuges and on the lands of one national fish hatchery.

This proposed rule would open or expand 939 opportunities for hunting or sport fishing (an opportunity is one species on one field station). The expansion proposed in this rule is the largest in recent history – including last year’s proposed rule which itself was larger than the previous five rules combined.

Today’s action proposes to bring the number of units in the Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System where the public may hunt to 434 and the number where fishing will be permitted to 378. The rule also proposes to formally bring the total number of National Fish Hatchery System units open to hunting or sport fishing to 22."

Here's an interactive map that shows all the new hunting locations.

https://www.fws.gov/refuges/hunting/map/

I see there are now 5 hunts on more than 42,000 acres scheduled for the Bosque del Apache alone. :4chsmu1:

And here are all the National Fish Hatcheries where they are keeping fish ready for you to catch:

https://www.fws.gov/fisheries/fishing-on-national-fish-hatcheries.html

I wonder if the greenies are going to sue over this addition too?

Edited by clay
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28 minutes ago, clay said:

I guess this isn't really just about Trump.

Seems Biden and company are on a roll too. Today's announcement from the Department of Interior:

"Continuing the Department of the Interior’s efforts to increase recreational access on public lands, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today a proposal for new or expanded hunting and sport fishing opportunities for game species across 2.1 million acres at 90 national wildlife refuges and on the lands of one national fish hatchery.

This proposed rule would open or expand 939 opportunities for hunting or sport fishing (an opportunity is one species on one field station). The expansion proposed in this rule is the largest in recent history – including last year’s proposed rule which itself was larger than the previous five rules combined.

Today’s action proposes to bring the number of units in the Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System where the public may hunt to 434 and the number where fishing will be permitted to 378. The rule also proposes to formally bring the total number of National Fish Hatchery System units open to hunting or sport fishing to 22."

Here's an interactive map that shows all the new hunting locations.

https://www.fws.gov/refuges/hunting/map/

I see there are now 5 hunts on more than 42,000 acres scheduled for the Bosque del Apache alone. :4chsmu1:

And here are all the National Fish Hatcheries where they are keeping fish ready for you to catch:

https://www.fws.gov/fisheries/fishing-on-national-fish-hatcheries.html

I wonder if the greenies are going to sue over this addition too?

Of course they'll sue. That's what they do. They can't stand the idea of people being able to go out and have a good time on public land whether it's the forest, the lakes & rivers or the desert.  

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I've never heard of a state that allows hunting of migratory birds during the breeding season. I know no state in the northwest allows that, refuge or not.

Jim

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Idaho Jim said:

I've never heard of a state that allows hunting of migratory birds during the breeding season. I know no state in the northwest allows that, refuge or not.

Jim

I don't think anyone has proposed hunting of migratory birds during the breeding season Jim? That would be counterproductive.

States do not control hunting of migratory birds. That's a federal prerogative due to the fact migratory birds are interstate. You can see the most recent regulations for hunting migratory birds within the United States at this link to the Federal Register.

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/08/28/2019-18354/migratory-bird-hunting-seasons-and-bag-and-possession-limits-for-certain-migratory-game-birds

Who can hunt, how they can hunt and when they can hunt is a State prerogative - you will need to obtain a State hunting license to legally hunt. The season and take limits for migratory birds are controlled by federal law.

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1 hour ago, clay said:

I don't think anyone has proposed hunting of migratory birds during the breeding season Jim? That would be counterproductive.

States do not control hunting of migratory birds. That's a federal prerogative due to the fact migratory birds are interstate. You can see the most recent regulations for hunting migratory birds within the United States at this link to the Federal Register.

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/08/28/2019-18354/migratory-bird-hunting-seasons-and-bag-and-possession-limits-for-certain-migratory-game-birds

Who can hunt, how they can hunt and when they can hunt is a State prerogative - you will need to obtain a State hunting license to legally hunt. The season and take limits for migratory birds are controlled by federal law.

Nah...you can't hunt in Idaho without a state hunting license...period. Can't even carry a hunting weapon in the field, during a hunting season, without a license. The Feds may control the seasons and limits, but the states control your hunting privilege. And the argument was made about hunting during breeding seasons on the refuges. Other than pest critters there are very few hunting seasons of birds during any of their breeding seasons.

Jim

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16 hours ago, clay said:

 

Here's an interactive map that shows all the new hunting locations.

https://www.fws.gov/refuges/hunting/map/

I see there are now 5 hunts on more than 42,000 acres scheduled for the Bosque del Apache alone. :4chsmu1:

You are misrepresenting again Clay. This map does not depict new hunting locations. It is simply a list of all refuges by State.

There are no new hunts on the Bosque Del Apache as a result of policy changes. The hunting situation there is the same as it has been for years. Certain species in certain areas at certain times. All the hunts are situated in limited areas and very limited in numbers.

The sum total of all the acreage open to any hunting at any time is less than half of the acreage in the refuge. During any season the number of acres open to hunting amount to less than 5% of the total area of the refuge.

There are very few access points to the hunting areas. Hunters are assigned an area to keep pressure low. And unless you can walk on water that 42,000 acres that are "open" to hunting actually amount to about 1000 acres.

It is a fantasy to believe that politicians have made any sweeping changes to the hunting possibilities on wildlife refuges. They have simply left it up to the individual refuge management to decide rather than prohibiting hunting all together in certain refuges.

For most refuges including the Bosque Del Apache it is business as usual. They have always allowed hunting in very limited areas for certain species by a very limited number of hunters. Recent policy changes by politicians have not affected that in any way.

 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Bedrock Bob said:

They have simply left it up to the individual refuge management to decide rather than prohibiting hunting all together in certain refuges.

 

HUGE improvement!
wtf does someone sitting at a desk in DC know -- about anything?

Edited by Dakota Slim
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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Bedrock Bob said:

They have simply left it up to the individual refuge management to decide rather than prohibiting hunting all together in certain refuges.

That's not how it works. Individual refuge management does not determine what can be hunted. Very specifically that is the duty assigned to the Secretary of the Interior by Congress. The Secretary proposes regulations, a comment period follows, the Secretary then makes a decision and publishes it in the Federal Register.

There is no legal process for a refuge manager to over rule or modify the Secretary's order. Only the Secretary can order an area closed to hunting except in "unusual or critical conditions". This is known as due notice and due process under the Administrative Procedures Act. This keeps local management from becoming tyrants and provides for public input at every step in the process and gives reliable advance notice of where and when you can hunt a refuge.

Read the actual law describing the process to open or close hunting on federal managed lands:

https://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?path=/prelim@title16/chapter98&edition=prelim

Notice that right up front Congress describes national policy as:

"Congress declares that it is the policy of the United States that Federal departments and agencies, in accordance with the missions of the departments and agencies, and applicable law, shall—

(1) facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting opportunities on Federal land, in consultation with the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council, the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council, State and Tribal fish and wildlife agencies, and the public;"

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3 hours ago, clay said:

That's not how it works. Individual refuge management does not determine what can be hunted. Very specifically that is the duty assigned to the Secretary of the Interior by Congress. The Secretary proposes regulations, a comment period follows, the Secretary then makes a decision and publishes it in the Federal Register.

There is no legal process for a refuge manager to over rule or modify the Secretary's order. Only the Secretary can order an area closed to hunting except in "unusual or critical conditions". This is known as due notice and due process under the Administrative Procedures Act. This keeps local management from becoming tyrants and provides for public input at every step in the process and gives reliable advance notice of where and when you can hunt a refuge.

Read the actual law describing the process to open or close hunting on federal managed lands:

https://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?path=/prelim@title16/chapter98&edition=prelim

Notice that right up front Congress describes national policy as:

"Congress declares that it is the policy of the United States that Federal departments and agencies, in accordance with the missions of the departments and agencies, and applicable law, shall—

(1) facilitate the expansion and enhancement of hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting opportunities on Federal land, in consultation with the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council, the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council, State and Tribal fish and wildlife agencies, and the public;"

Again you are misrepresenting. Each refuge coordinates hunts with the State. Each refuge has different requirements and animals to manage.

The Seccy of the Interior does not dictate what should be hunted nor when. Individual refuges determine specific areas that are open and closed as well as animals that should be hunted depending on their unique requirements.

The law does not "open 2.5 million acres to hunting". Nor does it force refuges to allow hunting. It simply allows areas that were closed by federal law before to be managed at the discretion of the refuge management.

 

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4 hours ago, Dakota Slim said:

HUGE improvement!
wtf does someone sitting at a desk in DC know -- about anything?

Exactly.

Now, instead of hunting in refuges being managed by politicians it is managed by biologists and refuge managers. A big step in the right direction. 

But then that point has been made already in this thread.

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Bedrock Bob said:

The Seccy of the Interior does not dictate what should be hunted nor when.

The law does not "open 2.5 million acres to hunting". Nor does it force refuges to allow hunting. It simply allows areas that were closed by federal law before to be managed at the discretion of the refuge management.

You have stated this opinion (belief?) before Bob. United States law says the opposite as I already demonstrated in the linked Federal Law USC 16 above. The Fish and Wildlife Service regulations that control the administration of National Wildlife Refuges also disagree with your belief.

50 CFR § 32.1 Opening of wildlife refuge areas to hunting.

The opening of a wildlife refuge area to hunting will be dependent upon the provisions of law applicable to the area and upon a determination by the Secretary that the opening of the area to the hunting of migratory game birds, upland game, or big game will be compatible with the principles of sound wildlife management and will other-wise be in the public interest. The opening or closing of wildlife refuge areas to hunting shall be in accordance with the rulemaking requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 553)

 

If the Secretary of Interior doesn't make a determination to be open to hunting/fishing (after notice and public comment periods) it's not going to happen.

If the Secretary of Interior doesn't make a determination to be closed to hunting/fishing (after notice and public comment periods) it's not going to happen.

That's the law and the regulation.

 

Of course each National Wildlife Reserve gets to add comments or requests just as the public and State/local governments do if they want during the required comment period before it becomes a regulation. In the end though it's the Secretary of Interior's determination that makes it happen no matter what comments or suggestions are received.

The whole purpose of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) is to create an open process with public input thus eliminating overreach and hidden agendas by local agency managers. Generally the whole notice/comment/determination process required by the Administrative Procedure Act (law) takes the better part of a year and often as long as several years.

After the notice, comment and final Secretary determination is all finished the whole shebang is printed under 50 CFR regulations to inform the public that certain types of game/methods of hunting/fishing will be allowed at certain times and in certain places. You can see the individual rules/regs/times/game/places determined by the Secretary printed there.

For example here is the current published determination of the Secretary regarding big game hunting regulations for the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. From the Fish and Wildlife Code of Federal Regulations 50 CFR § 32.50. As you can see it covers what can be hunted, where it can be hunted, how it can be hunted and when it can be hunted.

We allow hunting of mule deer, javelina, oryx, and bearded Rio Grande turkey on designated areas of the refuge in accordance with State regulations subject to the following conditions:

1. Refer to the refuge map for designated areas. (linked to in my previous post)

2. Hunting hours are from 1/2 hour before legal sunrise to 1/2 after legal sunset.

3. We allow the use of dogs when hunting.

4. Hunting on the eastside of the Rio Grande is by foot or horseback only.

5. We allow oryx hunting from the east bank of the Rio Grande and east to the refuge boundary. We will allow hunters possessing a valid State special off-range permit to hunt oryx on the refuge during the concurrent State deer season.

6. We allow incidental take of feral hog by those legally licensed for, and participating in, other big game hunting activities. You may take feral hog only with a method allowed within each refuge hunt unit. We prohibit the use of dogs for this activity.

(mmmmm Oryx are good eating!  As I'm sure you know Bob the Bosque has been fighting an Oryx infestation for many years and in the past has opened up the entire Reserve to off-season Oryx hunting permits to try to eradicate the herds.)

If there is to be a material change in the published Fish and Wildlife 50 CFR regulations the entire notice, comment and determination process has to take place all over again. That process has already been completed for the Trump administration opening of refuges for hunting but it's still just beginning the process for the Biden Administration opening of more refuges to hunting.

I hope that clears things up for those who may be confused.

Edited by clay
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You sure can dance around and wave your arms Clay. You may fool someone into thinking you are right and I am wrong but it won't change a thing on the game preserves.

The individual refuges manage within the broader overarching laws. We both know that and so does anyone else who has a lick of sense. 

Yes it is subject to the Seccys approval and a public review process. That does not mean the individual refuges do not design the plan for their situation. It just means the Seccy signs off on it after a public input period.

You are desperate to appear an expert by making points that just don't exist. 

Each refuge manages its own unique situation by coordinating hunts with the State. The Seccy of the Interior does not. They work within the broader laws to those ends and the Seccy approves their individual plans.

We both know this. For some reason you feel the need to strut and posture about it. That is just groovy with me. But it does not change the fact that under the new directive more refuges are able to manage hunts and hunting as needed.

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12 hours ago, clay said:

...As I'm sure you know Bob the Bosque has been fighting an Oryx infestation for many years and in the past has opened up the entire Reserve to off-season Oryx hunting permits to try to eradicate the herds.)

More misrepresentation. 

The "entire Reserve" has never been open to Oryx hunting at any time. Only a narrow strip east of the river adjacent to the missile range and only with a valid tag. There has never been oryx hunting west of the Rio Grande on the Bosque Del Apache. Nor has there ever been an "off season" hunt.

There is no such thing as an "off season" oryx permit. There never has been. There are only tags for hunts on WSMR and tags for public/private land. Each is tag is only valid for a specific season.

A holder of an off range Oryx permit can hunt any public land open to hunting and any private land with permission during their allocated season. There are a limited amount of tags each month good for the entire state. There never have been tags issued specifically for the bosque for an eradication project. Tags are valid anywhere outside the boundaries of WSMR. Very few choose to hunt the Bosque due to the limited area to hunt and lack of animals.

The number of tags issued changes from year to year. Twenty years ago there were lots of oryx off WSMR property. Five years ago there were almost none. Now they are showing up again. No doubt as things get dryer they will migrate from the missile range into the valleys.

The Bosque Del Apache refuge has allowed hunting in a narrow strip east of the river adjacent to the missile range for many years. At no time has oryx hunting been allowed in other areas of the refuge other than possibly a rare depredation opportunity. 

Oryx stick to the high grassland and are not well adapted to swamp. They are on the boundary of the wetlands but so far have not been a problem.

That could certainly change with the water situation. What used to be swamp is now grassland. Oryx may become a problem in a dry bosque as grass disappears in the high desert plains and water recedes.

There has never been an attempt to "eradicate" them from the refuge. There has never been a special hunt in the Bosque for them and few depredation hunts have taken place there. The preserve has never had an "off season" hunt.

The hunts are all coordinated with the State through an MOA with the refuge.  Yes they have Seccy of Interior's approval but the refuge managers and the State Game Commission actually propose and agree on the hunts and then send it up the line for approval. Just as any other agency in a departmental structure would do.

Maybe those imaginary off season hunts occurred on some other oryx infested preserve? Because at the Bosque they only hunt oryx in that narrow strip east of the river with a valid in season tag. At least that is how it has been for the last several decades 

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I have done a lot of exploring along the rio grande north of elephant butte between there and Albuquerque. I have never once seen an oryx in there.  The only place I’ve ever seen oryx, is east of the Fra cristobals, or east the caballos, on the armendaris ranch, or in the jornada del muerto. With that being said, I’ve never seen an elk in there either, but I guess they are there. I do find it hard to believe there’s an oryx infestation in the bosque. But seeing is believing, so I guess the day I see a herd of oryx down in there is the day Ill have no trouble believing it. No hard facts or statistics here just one guys opinion 

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Thanks again for sharing your opinion Bob.

 

I guess you missed the "unusual or critical conditions" refuge wide Oryx depredation hunts in 2011 - 2012?

From the September 2011 FWS bulletin.

Changes to African Gemsbok (Oryx) Management Program at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge
Previously at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge oryx were managed by allowing access to hunters with an off-range oryx tag on the east side of the refuge during deer season. This control method has been found ineffective as oryx continue to spread across the refuge and was therefore discontinued. The Refuge will now control oryx through managed public depredation hunts in cooperation with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF).

Based on observation of oryx by refuge staff and a network of game cameras, the Refuge will request a variable number of depredation tags from NMDGF on a monthly basis. Hunters on the NMDGF list for oryx depredation permits will be contacted by the state if their name is drawn for these tags. The tags will be valid for 9 days of hunting, although this time period may be adjusted in future years. The depredation hunts are planned to begin during the fall of 2011.

I had two friends take Oryx on those hunts. Good eating those "swamp" Oryx are. :)

There are off season and off range hunting permits Bob although it's not surprising most people don't know about them. The New Mexico Special Permit Off Season Oryx Hunt is granted to 10 selected injured military service members each year. It's not a common permit but the Bosque extends special off season Oryx hunting privileges to those 10 annual winners each year - just as it says in the regulations I posted. Arizona has a similar off range and off season program for Elk.

http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/special-oryx-hunts-available-for-injured-service-members/

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41 minutes ago, Caliche Chris said:

I have done a lot of exploring along the rio grande north of elephant butte between there and Albuquerque. I have never once seen an oryx in there.  The only place I’ve ever seen oryx, is east of the Fra cristobals, or east the caballos, on the armendaris ranch, or in the jornada del muerto. With that being said, I’ve never seen an elk in there either, but I guess they are there. I do find it hard to believe there’s an oryx infestation in the bosque. But seeing is believing, so I guess the day I see a herd of oryx down in there is the day Ill have no trouble believing it. No hard facts or statistics here just one guys opinion 

Probably 90% of all oryx taken off WSMR are taken on the Jornada del Muerto plain from the Fra Christobal range south to Las Cruces. Right where your experience tells you they are.

The rest are taken around Carrizoso and a few north of WSMR up to about Mountainair.

No doubt a few have been shot east of the river near the Bosque. That is an extremely tiny area to hunt an animal that runs 20-30 miles a day. If you saw one in there within range you could certainly shoot him. But you just don't have room in there to locate a herd and hunt it. 

I saw one in the Dona Ana's when we were hunting javelina a couple months ago. A nice young bull with awesome perfect horns. And several have been spotted hanging around the college just south of town. They are getting pretty thick on the flats east of the highway between here and El Paso.

I saw one south of Silver City a few years back. One of those loners. Lots of them reject the herd and go wandering alone. You rarely see herds outside the Tularosa and Jornada basins. But you will see the outcasts hundreds of miles away from there.

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51 minutes ago, clay said:

Thanks again for sharing your opinion Bob.

 

I guess you missed the "unusual or critical conditions" refuge wide Oryx depredation hunts in 2011 - 2012?

From the September 2011 FWS bulletin.

Changes to African Gemsbok (Oryx) Management Program at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge
Previously at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge oryx were managed by allowing access to hunters with an off-range oryx tag on the east side of the refuge during deer season. This control method has been found ineffective as oryx continue to spread across the refuge and was therefore discontinued. The Refuge will now control oryx through managed public depredation hunts in cooperation with the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF).

Based on observation of oryx by refuge staff and a network of game cameras, the Refuge will request a variable number of depredation tags from NMDGF on a monthly basis. Hunters on the NMDGF list for oryx depredation permits will be contacted by the state if their name is drawn for these tags. The tags will be valid for 9 days of hunting, although this time period may be adjusted in future years. The depredation hunts are planned to begin during the fall of 2011.

I had two friends take Oryx on those hunts. Good eating those "swamp" Oryx are. :)

There are off season and off range hunting permits Bob although it's not surprising most people don't know about them. The New Mexico Special Permit Off Season Oryx Hunt is granted to 10 selected injured military service members each year. It's not a common permit but the Bosque extends special off season Oryx hunting privileges to those 10 annual winners each year - just as it says in the regulations I posted. Arizona has a similar off range and off season program for Elk.

http://www.wildlife.state.nm.us/special-oryx-hunts-available-for-injured-service-members/

Exactly what I told you only rephrased. On the east side of the preserve. The area between the river and the WSMR boundary. 

You are talking about the rare depredation opportunities and the area that is open every year. Yes they allowed a special hunt for a couple of years during regular deer season in that narrow strip on the far East side. That was a decade ago man. You aren't going to get one of those opportunities today.

But this is all a point you retreated to when you couldn't prevail in your previous efforts trying to prove me wrong about this change giving refuges more leeway to use hunting as a management tool.

The ability for each reserve to be able to use hunting as a management tool is good. And the directive that game preserves be utilized for other recreational purposes is a great idea.

No matter who is in office. No matter if they had an oryx hunt on the Bosque in 2011. Even if they give away 10 free tags to veterans. Even if the Seccy of the Interior must approve of each refuges plan. It still is a good idea.

 

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Based on where I see them, I assumed they were animals that stuck to wide open spaces and plains. Again just another guess or assumption but I think they do that because they originally come from a place with lots of big predators so they would tend to hang out in the open where they can see things better. Based on where I’ve seen them and how well they get around, it doesn’t seem like it would be any trouble for them to head right down to the river if that’s where they wanted to be. I’ve never seen a single one near the river or near any vegetation bigger than what grows in the typical chaparral stuff around here. 

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1 hour ago, Caliche Chris said:

Based on where I see them, I assumed they were animals that stuck to wide open spaces and plains. Again just another guess or assumption but I think they do that because they originally come from a place with lots of big predators so they would tend to hang out in the open where they can see things better. Based on where I’ve seen them and how well they get around, it doesn’t seem like it would be any trouble for them to head right down to the river if that’s where they wanted to be. I’ve never seen a single one near the river or near any vegetation bigger than what grows in the typical chaparral stuff around here. 

They will hang in a grove of trees if it is surrounded by open range.  They like it knee high or shorter. 

The herds start moving about the time you can see them in 6x binoculars. The loners will let you get a lot closer. Still a 200 yard shot is probably the average.

You could hunt them in the Bosque if it was dry. But no fool is going to hunt an animal like that in woods and standing water. You might sneak up on a swamp Oryx in your kayak and land that rascal using a Carolina rig!

I have been over on the other side of the river on that road several times. There is opal over there and pet wood. The WSMR border is right there only a few hundred yards to the east and the river is closer than that. The mesa breaks off into the valley quick. There are lots of petroglyphs on red rock. And the railroad spur they built to haul the atomic bomb to Trinity Site is right there. 

There are two graveyards and a couple good bottle dumps right off the road. I think you can go about 7-8 miles down through that strip to the end of the road. 

It is right on the edge of oryx heaven. Stallion range control and Trinity Site is just over the ridge 20 miles. After Abel shot his Oryx near Stallion I went there figuring it is the closest spot to the big herds. I never saw an animal nor a track. I did get some broken glass and a pile of devil claws though.

There are lots of Oryx on the USDA ranch on the Jornada. You must get permission to hunt but the ranch manager has that discretion. It does not need the approval of the cabinet secretary.  Abel and I drew an off site tag and hunted out there a few years back. No luck. Saw a few at distance and mounted a couple hunts. Didn't get a shot.

Out there on the Jornada north of Grapevine canyon and behind the Spaceport is thick with them. They stay close to that range fence and will run over on WSMR if you get within a mile. 

Same with down by Upham. Their tracks and poop are thick. The arroyos under the fence are deep ruts from their hooves. As soon as you see a herd out there they are already moving toward that fence. 

You can drive 75 miles a day out there trying to locate a herd and get a hunter between them and WSMR property. Then a hunter can do 3-4 miles just trying to position themselves for a shot.

Most guys that hunt them shoot a loner close to the road. That kind of hunting does little to control numbers because I don't think those animals are breeders. The herd animals are DIFFICULT. You really have to have some hunting skills, some good legs and a thick pair of kneepads. And when you get that done you need to make a 200 yard shot in knee high grass at a target a couple hundred yards away. It's a pretty tall order. 

On the WSMR hunts there are a couple hundred hunters that all check in at the same time each morning and go charging down roads on the missile range. Lots of hunter pressure and animals are running around everywhere. There is a 99% kill rate. If you can't get a herd animal in the first couple days of the hunt you shoot a loner standing there staring at you from 50 yards.

The off site hunts are much different. There are just a few tags issued each month and the hunt area is so big you hardly ever see another hunter. The animals are under zero pressure and are surrounded by safe zones. They are super smart in those herds. Lots of eyes and ears.

I haven't seen any herds outside of the Jornada and Tularosa basins ever. I saw five in the Dona Ana's one day. Three another. But that is still in the Jornada basin. Other than that they have been solitary animals.

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That’s wild that are that good at avoiding men with big rifles when those instincts were probably honed by originally avoiding lions with big teeth. Must be insanely hard for a lion to do it with no rifle! There’s a road that runs between the armendaris ranch and wsmr, I stumbled across it one day, it runs all the way up to San Antonio, saw lots of oryx out there, they are so cool and exotic looking. Somewhere on that road , at an intersection was a big bomb next to the road. One of the guys who work on the ranch told me that oryx have a bad habit of trying to get in front of trucks on the road. Instead of running straight in front of you and just crossing like a deer would, or turning around and jumping back over the fence away from the road, they would run next to you like they were trying to race and then suddenly dart out in front trying to cut you off and get around you. I don’t know if that is a common occurrence or if that guy just had bad luck. 

Edited by Caliche Chris
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I think an oryx would be way down on the list for a lion. I bet they don't have success very often. 

Our mountain lions probably only get a calf once in a blue moon. I have seen a photo of a dead lion impaled on an oryx horns. They say they have no predators here at all.

They have a history of being ornery. I saw a guy get attacked by one trying to take a photo from the roadside over by Carrizozo. The guy got caught crossing the fence and that oryx batted him around like a rag doll. 

The one Abel shot stopped a 175 gr. Nosler coming out of a 30-06 at 70 yards. It knocked him to the ground and completely shattered his front shoulder. It didn't make it across his chest to the other side. It actually stopped in his chest cavity along with about five pounds of shattered bone.

That rascal stood back up and tried to charge us. He only took one step before he went down on the leg but you could tell he would have stomped our azzes if he had been hit a little differently. It took another shot to his funny looking head to finish him. He was a long way from dead.

Lots of hunters have close calls with them. They are really big and really tough. If you get a bad shot you might have to wrestle the monster.

Getting a bad shot is easy. All their vitals are way up front in their chest. They have funky anatomy all shifted forward. They have evolved that way so a lion can eat the back half and the front half can still turn around and impale him and stomp on his lifeless corpse before they collapse.

They are hard to kill. It takes a minute even with a big rifle and a well placed shot.

We put in for an off range tag this year. We will know within the next few days if we drew. They don't issue many tags now days so getting a hunt is tough.

We will probably hunt the Jornada basin again unless a horde of swamp oryx invade the Bosque Del Apache and start terrorizing the place.

With the drought I would not be surprised if more oryx are spotted down in the river valley. The elk from the Black Range are crossing 30 miles of desert and eating the chile crop in Arrey. So it would not surprise me if we started seeing oryx in the valley more often. They are already in far northeast El Paso and all the way to the Mexican border by Hueco. 

Mexico may need to build a wall to keep the oryx out.

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