Dave Workman, a longtime Washington hook-and-bullet world observer and journalist, and current Northwest Sportsman columnist and senior editor at Gun Week, has fired off his thoughts on how to prevent a merger of WDFW and State Parks, as proposed by Gov. Gregoire last month.
Reacting to word of agency Director Phil Anderson’s meeting this week with Spokane sportsmen, he says it starts with making WDFW “better able to sustain itself,” and in part that means “rolling back” the hunting regulations several decades to when the agency had far more customers than it currently does.
With a drop from 360,000 licensed hunters in 1980 to 209,000 in 2010, Workman throws out 10 ideas on how the agency could raise more revenue, re-establish itself as a game-providing department, and increase herd numbers and buck and bull harvest.
Workman calls on WDFW to “lobby hard” for a restoration of hound hunting for cougars and bears — kiboshed in the 1990s by voter initiative — and he would negate the license requirement for hunting coyotes and open their season year-round, in an effort to reduce predation on game herds.
He suggests increasing the length of deer and elk seasons and shifting them later in the season, which is when herds are more actively migrating and bucks are rutting.
“If the state wants to seriously encourage hunters to purchase licenses and tags, it must provide them serious opportunities to fill those tags. Hunting seasons that merely translate to ‘camping with guns’ drive our hunters – and their money – to other states. Money talks loudest at home,” Workman writes on Examiner.com.
He would do away with most buck and bull antler restrictions and allow hunters who don’t bag an animal during the rifle season to be able to buy muzzleloader and archery licenses for, say $10 or $15 apiece, to attempt fill their tag during later hunts.
“More opportunity to score, more time enjoyed afield, more reason to buy a license and more income for the agency,” he says.
Workman says to shed all non-game-related species management and jobs to the Department of Natural Resources, including wolves.
“And perhaps this is most important. Drop this attitude that ‘These are the good old days.’ That’s a defeatist philosophy. Compare Washington with Ohio, where hunters take more than 100,000 deer during their seven-day general season, and in Washington we take between 40,000 and 45,000 in all of their seasons combined. Ohio is about 20,000 square miles smaller than Washington, it has a fraction of our public land, it has one species of deer (we have three huntable species). Ohio has more than 11 million residents, and Washington has about 6.5 million. Let’s swap Ohio two non-game biologists for one of their game biologists,” he writes.