The slit-horned antelope hunting season closes | Corning Observer

California spiny antelope hunters are wrapping up their short seasons while California elk hunters prepare to welcome them. The two groups of great game hunters are among the most determined—if not the luckiest—in the state.

It can take many years, decades in some cases, for filing at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) annual big game fee to accumulate preference points needed to improve the chances of securing a catch mark for either species.

Herein lies the perseverance.

Precious few marks are awarded each year by random drawing.

Herein lies the luck.

Either way, the odds are long for you to secure one of the most coveted big hunting tags California has to offer. The seasons and markings of thistles and elk are very limited and highly regulated to provide a sustainable hunting opportunity while maintaining the overall health of Californian herds.

California is home to three species of elk, Rocky Mountain, and Roosevelt, and CDW provides hunting opportunities for all three species.

Roosevelt elk and Rocky Mountain elk populations grow in the far north and northwest of the state, expanding their range in some cases, often conflicting with farmers, ranchers, and other private property owners.

Expanded elk hunting opportunities are more readily apparent in CDFW’s SHARE program, than in CDFW’s annual big game fee, which tends to make incremental changes in tag assignment from season to season.

For the 2022 season, SHARE offers nearly 100 different elk hunting opportunities for all three California elk species, including 47 bull signs, 41 hornless signs and five marks intended for junior hunting license holders.

SHARE elk hunting takes place this season in six counties with strong herds: Colusa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, Shasta and Siskiyou.

SHARE provides public hunting opportunities on private property in cooperation with participating landowners. The opportunities for elk hunting expanded greatly with the increase of herds and the increase of conflicts.

SHARE Program elk hunts game is awarded by random drawing, separately and independently from Big Game Drawing. No preference points are applied, so first-time applicants share the same odds of winning a chase as those who have applied since the start of the program.

In addition, elk hunting games are offered to SHARE once the Big Game drawing is complete. This gives the unsuccessful applicants of Big Game Drawing another chance to try and get the elk mark.

Besides expanding elk hunting opportunities, CDFW scientists have seen elk populations grow in the Rocky Mountains in the northern state over the past decade and expand further south where they have never been seen before.

Breeding of three herds of elk in the Rockies has been confirmed in Plumas and Sierra counties, and a visit by elk to El Dorado County has been documented. These animals are found outside regulated hunting areas and are off-limits to elk hunters. CDFW ecologists are currently seeking funding to better study these populations, which could lead to hunting opportunities in the future.

The spiny-horned antelope has also expanded south over the past 10 years. Two flocks have been confirmed in Plumas and Sierra counties, outside legal hunting grounds and off-limits to poachers, but nonetheless exciting for hunters, scientists and other fans of the popular western species.

Within its historic habitat in the far northeast corner of California, thistles are dwindling and their habitat is dwindling. As a result, the number of tags with available forked horns has been reduced.

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