Fewer X Zone Tags
For California Hunters

By Jerry Springer
California hunters are greeted this year with the new Modified Preference Point System, giving them hope for a chance to draw those hard-to-get X Zone tags. But don't get your hopes up because you will also be faced with fewer X Zone tags to draw in 2003.

Why are there fewer tags this year? According to Jim Lidberg, DFG wildlife biologist, the drop in X Zone tags in Northeastern California is because, "Our population surveys indicate a decline in most of the X Zone deer herds. These herds are continuing to decline."

The DFG uses a Demand/Success Ratio to compute the number of tags available for the drawings. One of the figures used is the number of bucks available for harvest, based on the surveys. These declining numbers mean fewer tags next season for hunters.

Lidberg also warns hunters that for the future they should also be concerned about low fawn numbers. He speculates that the declining herds mean that every fawn is more important than it used to be when herds were in better shape.

X Zone rifle hunters will have 14% less X Zone tags in this year's drawing (1,435 fewer tags). While two zones, X-7b and X-9a, saw tags numbers increase, 25 and 45 respectively, 13 other zones had tag numbers reduced. Just two zones, X-9b and X-10 stayed the same as last year. X-7a, which had a 55% hunter success rate in 2001 and a 39% success rate in 2002, will drop from 290 tags to 165 tags.

Archery hunters will be faced with 7% fewer X Zone tags. While five zones will have increased tag numbers, nine zones will reduce tags and three will stay the same. Overall, California will send 140 fewer archers into the X Zones looking for a nice mule deer buck during the 2003 season.

Last year X Zone rifle hunters had the highest success rate bagging bucks in X-3a at 49%, followed by X-7a at 39% and X-7b at 36%. Archers were the most successful in X-7b at 40%, followed by X-3a at 38% and X-7a at 29%.

Don't forget, your application must be received by the Department of Fish and Game in Sacramento by June 2, 2003, in order for you to have a chance at this year's shinking number of X zone tags.

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