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After multiple meeting, letters and emails to and with the Idaho Fish and Game the commissioner has gone against the majority vote and made Unit 54 an Unlimited Draw. Numbers from their own survey show an overwhelming number of hunters asking that the hunt stay the same yet the IDFG went against the majority. Here are some highlights from IDFG meetings and surveys. The entire report can be found at http://us3.campaign-archive1.com/?u=3d97a4b2fcabcc0a7ce6eb199&id=30d1b7345d&e=6bf444cc30

Meeting attendees showed strong support for no-change to the Unit 54 deer archery season. Several hunters commented that they didn't like the idea of being limited to one unit and having only 1-month to hunt.

In all, 314 hunters weighed in on the Unit 54 archery season options via public meetings or the Fish and Game website; 162 (52%) supported no change and 152 (48%) supported a change to an unlimited controlled hunt. In the 2013 opinion survey, 13% of the respondents favored a change to an unlimited controlled hunt, 25% did not favor but would accept a change to an unlimited controlled hunt, and 62% would not accept an unlimited controlled hunt.

Here is the IDF&G Action: So what to do? The substantial increase in Unit 54 bowhunters is obvious and brings with it increasing concerns of hunting quality. Most of the Unit 54 hunters come from the Magic Valley and the valley population continues to grow. After lengthy discussions, the Department proposed and Fish and Game Commission approved changing the general deer archery season in Unit 54 to an unlimited controlled hunt for 2014.

Here is my response letter emailed to the IDFG:

Dear Sirs, 4/2/2014

I am truly disappointed with the IDFG's decision to make Unit 54 an unlimited draw archery hunt. I have a very difficult time understanding how IDF&G has taken survey data and comments from hundreds of sportsmen and ignored it in favor of greasing a couple of squeaky wheels.

Data presented during meetings at Advantage Archery and at the IDF&G regional office do not support this decision. Data showing that the issue is not over harvest from bowhunters. Data stating that the vast majority of hunters surveyed wanted the unit to remain 'as is' (no unlimited draw) have been completely ignored. The only item on the table appears to be complaints about the number of bowhunters.

According to IDF&G data from 2012 there were 855 archers in Unit 54. Of those 855 archers 85 killed bucks, of those 85 - 30 were 4 points and 6 were 5 points. In a unit with numbers like unit 54 that is a drop in the bucket reconfirming that harvest is not the issue. With harvest numbers not an issue that points us back to the number of archers. While the number 855 sound like a lot, I would like to point out that not all of those hunters are out at the same time. I would also like to bring to your attention that Unit 54 contains approximately 1,200 square miles. If we assume that every one of those 855 archers were out on the same day, each archer would have 1.4 miles to himself! In my experience 50%-60% of that 855 number are out opening weekend and after that the number is closer to 10% on weekends and less than that on week days. At 10% that leaves 14 square miles per archer! Still sound over crowded? We all understand that not all of this unit contains deer, but a very large portion does support animals. I have hunted Unit 54 (both rifle and archery) for over 30 years - the same was true then as it is now, there are popular areas that get pressured. But there are also areas that receive minimal pressure. All that has to be done to reach the minimal pressure areas is to get out of the car or off the 4 wheeler and walk a little. That is no reason to eliminate the opportunity.

The reason people gravitate to bowhunting, muzzleloading, etc. is to provide additional opportunity. Opportunity provides time afield with friends and family. Your decision to convert to Unlimited Draw hunts tremendously limit these opportunities. I find that truly unfortunate.

I, like many, put in for the rifle controlled hunt in unit 54. When I do not draw, I casually bowhunt. If that does not produce, I participate in general rifle hunts. Your decision to make this unit an Unlimited Draw has taken away the very opportunity that limited range weapons are supposed to provide. I seen now that the old timers were correct and attending IDF&G meetings is a waste of time. It has become obvious to me that IDF&G had the decision made long before any of these meetings took place and that IDF&G does not find value in opinions of the sportsmen they are supposed to represent.

I am not alone in this thought process. Unfortunately many are not willing to take the time to tell you what they really think.

IF this ticks you off like it did me - please get on the Idaho Fish and Game website and tell them what you think. This is just the beginning - the IDF&G is looking to make all of Southern Idaho archery hunts Unlimited draw units. The harvest statistics do not support this action.
 
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