◆ Members are united in proposing a change to hunt season dates and general licensing regulations.
Outfitters and resident hunters gathered to formally elect board members for the Wyoming Range Mule Deer Association on Monday, March 7 at the Thayne Community Center. Resident hunters have four representatives on the board with McKay Erickson, Irby Hayden, Logan Hedges and Zach Key. Tre Heiner is serving as the representative for outfitting members. Brad Carter will serve as administrator over the association’s website and social media pages.
“This board will represent the constituents of the association,” shared Tre Heiner in an interview with SVI News yesterday. “We will go to all the commission meetings and the legislative meetings and push and advocate for the organization members. We ask that members come out and go with us to these commission meetings and make our voice heard.”
The next order of business for the association is voicing a strong proposal at season setting meetings scheduled for March 17 at the WGFD Jackson Regional Office on March 17 and at the Afton Civic Center on March 18. Both meetings will run from 4 to 7 p.m.
“We are all going to be showing up to the season setting meetings to propose what the group wants for season settings,” explained Heiner. “We want to propose that Hunt Area 135 have the same season opening dates as Hunt Areas 144 and 145 – the Greys River and Salt River – to spread out the hunting pressure. Right now, the Greys River and the Salt River have the earliest deer seasons in the state, so the entire state comes over and hunts here, and then the south end, Area 135, opens up, so everyone goes there and floods that area, bringing quadruple the hunt pressure. So, if we open them all at the same time, it will spread out the hunt pressure.”
Most members of the association agree that general license regulations also need to change. “Right now, hunters can buy a general license and hunt every general area in the state,” stated Heiner. “We would like to have hunters choose and buy a regional license and only hunt one area, so we don’t have hunters bouncing around all over the state creating twice the hunt pressure. This way, we won’t be taking hunt opportunities away from people like you would with a draw.”
Members attending meetings need to plan ahead and submit their proposals in writing when attending the season setting meetings and any commission meetings. The next commission meeting is scheduled for April 24 at 9:30 a.m. in Cody at the Holiday Inn. It will also be streamed live via Zoom.
• The Zoom link for the meeting is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82934826145?pwd=SVVnK05hOXpTSnM3ZW16OElyS3pvUT09
• Webinar ID is: 829 3482 6145
• Passcode is: 442870
• You may also participate via telephone: 669-900-6833; 253-215-8782; 346-248-7799; 646-876-9923; 301-715-8592 or 312-626-6799.
“We want the members of the association to voice their opinions in writing and in person at the [season setting and commission] meetings,” urged Heiner. “We want everyone to come together with one voice – whatever we vote on in our meetings is what we want to present. There are a lot of different opinions, but the majority rules for a few certain things and that’s what everyone needs to present, whether they fully support it or not. That way, we have 100 voices for one proposal rather than 5 voices each for 10 proposals. We have to be united to make this work.”
Once 501C3 documents are finalized, approximately 100 members are planning to formally enroll and pay dues to the association. The pending 501C3 allows for federal tax exemption of the nonprofit organization. All administrative and board members of the organization are volunteer and will not collect any payment for their services. All money raised will go back into the organization and to protecting the deer herd. Heiner included that fund raising will be needed in the future for the association to function correctly and effectively. They will need to hire a professional biologist, an accountant, and possibly an attorney.
“If you want your voice to count, you need to join,” concluded Heiner. “Everybody’s voice is represented here, so if you have a concern about the mule deer herd and what’s going on, you need to get involved.”