Scouting Around
California —New Guide To Hunting Deer in California Available

California's deer hunters have a new resource to help them plan for the upcoming deer season. The California Department of Fish and Game's new "Guide To Hunting Deer in California" is now available free of charge. With chapters called, "Where the Deer Are," "Hunting Strategies," and "Safety and Ethics," the new publication will be a valuable piece of hunting equipment for all skill levels. The colorful 88-page guide describes the six subspecies of mule deer found in California as well as techniques for pursuing them.

The guide is available at DFG offices statewide; by e-mailing; or by writing: Deer Hunting Guide, DFG, 1416 Ninth Street #1240, Sacramento, CA, 95814.

Colorado — Cow Elk Licenses Maybe Additional Tags

During its meeting July 13-14 in Montrose, the Colorado Wildlife Commission will discuss allowing cow elk licenses to be considered "additional tags" in some game management units where the elk herd is above population objectives.

The meeting begins at 10 a.m. at the Holiday Inn Express, 1391 S. Townsend in Montrose. The consideration of "additional" cow elk licenses is set for 1 p.m. on July 13.

A citizen petition requesting the Commission make antlerless elk licenses "additional" licenses in game management units 66 and 67 will also be considered.

Also, the Commission is set to make a final decision on annual changes to seasons and bag limits for most upland game birds, including the opening and closing of individual sage grouse units.

Preliminary consideration will be given to changes in fishing regulations for 2001-2005.

The issues include efforts to simplify regulations, changes in daily bag and possession limits for trout and other species, changes in the manner of take for lake trout, kokanee salmon and northern pike and new regulations to protect aquatic resources and recreational opportunities.

Arizona — A Law Change Could Affect Off-Highway Users

Attention off-highway vehicle owners: There has been a change in the Arizona law you need to know. On July 18, many new laws take effect including some that will affect operators of off-road recreational motor vehicles including all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and dirt bikes. The new state law, enacted through House Bill 2256, exempts all-terrain vehicles and off-road recreational motor vehicles from vehicle registration and insurance when operated on some dirt roads in Arizona. The new law defines a dirt road is defined as an unpaved or ungraveled road that is not maintained by the State of Arizona or a city, town or county of this state. "This will permit unregistered ATV's and off-road recreational motor vehicles, such as dirt bikes, to operate on many of the dirt roads on National Forests, National Wildlife Refuges, Bureau of Land Management, and State Trust Lands," said Leo Drumm, OHV Coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

These roads are commonly marked on the National Forests with vertically numbered signposts. "The new law only applies to unpaved or ungraveled roads in unincorporated areas that are not maintained by the state, or a county. You will still be required to be 'street legal' to operate on any county maintained dirt road. Roads marked with the yellow signs that say 'Primitive Road' are county maintained roads," Drumm explained.

Montana — Seeks Comment on Big Game License System

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is seeking public comment on a draft rule that would guide a new big game license preference system for hunters who apply for licenses and permits through the state's annual special drawings.

According to FWP's Dave Mott, preference systems are typically used to improve the odds of drawing hunting licenses or permits that are in high demand. In Montana, for example, the odds of drawing some big horn sheep and elk permits are as high as 1 in 100, Mott said.

The proposed preference system, which hunters would enter voluntarily to gain bonus points, would affect hunters who apply for any hunting license issued through the big game special drawings, including moose, big horn sheep, mountain goat, elk, antelope, deer B, and deer permits. The system would begin recording bonus points for moose, big horn sheep and mountain goat applicants in 2001. The remainder of the drawings would be under the preference system some time after 2001, Mott said.

In 1998, the FWP Commission appointed the Preference 2001 Advisory Committee to study preference systems. The committee's subsequent recommendations were considered by Montana's 1999 Legislature, which passed Senate Bill 59. The legislation paved the way for FWP to adopt a new license preference system based on the Preference 2001 Advisory Committee's recommendations.

Under the proposed preference system:

• Applicants would accumulate one bonus point for each unsuccessful year. Each bonus point essentially becomes an extra chance in future drawings. For example, applicants would have one chance to be drawn the first year they apply. If unsuccessful, they would have two chances to be drawn the following year, three chances the next year, and so on until they received the license. Once successful, the applicant would lose all bonus points for that species.

• An applicant would lose all bonus points if he or she failed to apply for a permit or license for more than two consecutive years for a particular species. There would be an exemption for Montana residents with full-time active military status.

• Bonus points would be accumulated independently for each species and considered by the random drawings in the first district choice only.

• Landowners would be eligible for the same bonus-point program in the landowner drawings. Those interested in a complete copy of the rule should contact FWP, Administration and Finance Division, Attn: Preference 2001, PO Box 200701, Helena MT 59620-0701. Comments should be sent to the same address. Mott said comments would be accepted through July 28. A public hearing will be held at FWP Headquarters in Helena on August 3. The Commission is expected to take final action at its meeting in September 2000. For information, call (406) 444-3792.

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