Why is there no cow season in unit 4? This past rifle season I saw over 70 cows before I saw a bull?
First, a very good and timely question. As you know, the either-sex portion of the general elk season was eliminated several years ago in the Panhandle, primarily due to low calf:cow ratios that were observed during our winter helicopter surveys. This was especially true in Units 4, 6, and 7. In areas with good elk numbers and good calf ratios we started controlled hunts for either-sex or antlerless permits. During last year’s helicopter surveys (January 2015) we saw an increase in calf:cow ratios, especially in Unit 6. In previous years they were around 13 calves per hundred cows (13:100). During last year’s surveys they averaged 32:100 in the St Joe drainage. That was encouraging. Unfortunately we were not able to fly Unit 4 because of weather and snow conditions. During this year’s check stations we heard a lot of what you are saying – hunters reporting lots of cows and lots of calves in both the St Joe and N Fk C’da River units. This was the first year that we saw really encouraging data and I didn’t feel it was enough to change seasons yet. Remember that we are trying to rebuild the herd after several years of low calf survival. If we see good calf:cow ratios during this winter’s helicopter surveys it will be time to look at adding some cow harvest to those units where it was eliminated. We are now in a 2-year season setting cycle so seasons won’t be changed until the 2017 hunting season. But if things continue to look good I think it will be time to have some antlerless harvest in those units, probably initially in the form of controlled hunt permits.
Friday, November 6, 2015 - 2:35 PM MST