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Are (CWMU/PHU) a benefit to Utah, the wildlife, sportsmen and the public?

Almost two decades ago, I was involved heavily in the sport of archery hunting. My favorite hunting spot was Southern Utah and the white cliff regions between Mnt Carmel Junction and Hatch Utah. The deer hunting was fantastic and the bucks were huge by todays comparison. I come to know the locals well and had gained their trust. I was given all but complete access to much of the private land in open unit area. For three years hunting was superb and then things started to happen that changed my whole hunting experience. Private lands almost over night started to close their doors to accessing their lands for hunting. We started to hunt more in-depth the public lands around the private land and still the hunting was good. Then the accesses roads to public property started to be gated off. Places that we had driven for years were now off limits.. Public roads started to have signs posted: "No Trespassing" and some were even illegally gated and closed. I started to hear the rumbling about a DWR enforcement officer out of the Cedar city office, who was taking over the area and starting a new private land movement of land closures to public hunters. My blood was boiling! I hated this man.... and if I ever met up with him I was going to give him a thing or two to think about. The new hated term was PHU.

One night while hiking out to my truck after a long days hunting, I arrived at my truck to find a Division truck parked next to mine. As I arrived, I greeted the officer and wished him a good day, asking if everything was all right? I put my bow in the back of the truck and proceeded to introduce myself. That is when I learned the officers name.....it was he, the devil the evil one who had ruined my life. The man who started the PHU program! He give me a warning about using a head lamp to come back to my truck after shooting hours. I proceeds to give him my thoughts.

This man and I are good friends now and he has retired and started a successful hunting consultancy business in southern Utah. My perceptions have changed a little, however I still have this aching question. Are Cooperative Wildlife Management Units working? Are we being provided better and more opportunities to hunt now after fifteen years of the program? Or have we lost something in the process.

What are your thoughts and experiences? Have you hunted on a Cooperative Wildlife Management Unit? What did you find and what did you expect?

Here is a link to a movie produced on the CWMU program: http://www.cwmuutahwildlife.org/
 

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I think the CWMUs are great because they open lands to hunters that would otherwise not be able to hunt there. I have hunted the Alton CWMU and those guys treat you really good and they have great food. They have a nice lodge to stay in and they work their butts off to make your time very enjoyable.
 

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I think there's pro's and con's with the CWMU program. I have hunted two CWMU's, one for antelope and one for deer. My antelope hunt was the biggest joke in the world. I was told to stay out of the way and not get out of my truck because "the other hunters didn't pay a ton of money to see other hunters." Needless to say that CWMU had it's antelope tags permenently taken away. Our deer hunt was okay, but I did learn that we were steered away from the good area where the paying clients hunted. We did kill a 155" buck, but it was a little bit of a let down. It just seems to me that the public hunters seem to get the short end of the stick. I'm sure this is not the case on all CWMU's. I've been trying to do some research on a moose CWMU for this year. I have called 50 times I bet, have left voice messages and left messages with a woman several times and have never had a phone call returned! It just really pisses me off! I think that CWMU's offer some good hunting opportunity, but it seems like some of these operators need to get a clue on how to run an honest outfit. I'm sure in most cases the public hunters are just a pain in their side, but the public hunters were part of the trade off and need to be treated fairly, which I think in a lot of cases doesn't happen.
 

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Well lets face it. If you were the CWMU operator then you would also want your high rolling clients to take the trophy class animals since they are paying the big bucks and they expect to have a good hunt.

The CWMU isnt REQUIRED to get you a trophy class animal, but most of them hope you do get a great animal. Of course they are not going to have you take that 200 class muley when they have some client paying several thousand to harvest that type of animal. How many people tip CWMU Operators after the hunt?

People say they had bad experience with a CWMU, but I think if they did their homework before-hand and found out more about the CWMU and what type of hunt to expect then they would ultimately avoid a lot of problems.

I have met a lot of CWMU operators at Hunting Expos and they seem to be great people.
 

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coyoteslayer said:
The CWMU isnt REQUIRED to get you a trophy class animal, but most of them hope you do get a great animal. Of course they are not going to have you take that 200 class muley when they have some client paying several thousand to harvest that type of animal. How many people tip CWMU Operators after the hunt?
No the CWMU operator is required to allow all those with tags to hunt, if he is more concerned about his high paying clients he needs to remember the more public hunters he screws the more likely he will loose that cash cow you are referring to. I sympathize with the operator but he has an obligation, period. If he is honest and helpful then he should be tipped and praised. If he is a dirt bag he needs to lose his sellable tags and he can buy his own game and fence his property. Of the three operations I have run across all three were illegally closing public roads before the hunts. I turned them in and will continue to do so every time I see anything shady. I know there are good operators out there; it's a shame the bad ones are the ones everyone talks about.
 

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No the CWMU operator is required to allow all those with tags to hunt, if he is more concerned about his high paying clients he needs to remember the more public hunters he screws the more likely he will loose that cash cow you are referring to. I sympathize with the operator but he has an obligation, period. If he is honest and helpful then he should be tipped and praised. If he is a dirt bag he needs to lose his sellable tags and he can buy his own game and fence his property. Of the three operations I have run across all three were illegally closing public roads before the hunts. I turned them in and will continue to do so every time I see anything shady. I know there are good operators out there; it's a shame the bad ones are the ones everyone talks about.
Thats true they are required to let you hunt and their are good ones and bad ones, but most operators are very good and they want you to go home happy.

What im saying is hunters who draw a public tag shouldnt expect the same treatment as someone who pays 5,000 plus to hunt the same piece of property.
 

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coyoteslayer said:
What im saying is hunters who draw a public tag shouldnt expect the same treatment as someone who pays 5,000 plus to hunt the same piece of property.
You are right, however if they spend all their time ignoring "them" public hunters and the complaints pile up; even the laziest of bureaucrats will start revoking CWMU licenses. They need to balance both effectively, if you have a public hunter that just saw a monster and the operator interferes the **** will hit the proverbial fan. I believe there is a balance and most of the good ones accomplish this by scheduling the public hunts before or after the paying hunters.
 

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Personally, I would like to see all CWMU’s management plans available online and as part of the application process including the hunting date’s, physicality levels, harvest objectives, & most importantly, harvest history in relation to the public hunters who drew these tags in the past. Most hunters who do apply for these units do no call the operator and when they do I think they are somewhat intimidated to ask the questions that are really on their mind. I can also say our public hunters are treated very well, our moose hunter killed the largest bull this year, and am I mad? Hell no! This was a once in a lifetime draw. I could only imagine being in this guys shoes and drawing a tag that only comes around once in your lifetime. In short, I know it would cost some money to collect his data and make it available online, but the payoff could be well worth it. I really believe that the public at large is really undereducated about what drawing one of these tags might include, and this is where most of the negative attitude begins towards these units.
Justin
 

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bigbr said:
Are we being provided better and more opportunities to hunt now after fifteen years of the program? Or have we lost something in the process.
By "we" do you mean most of us public Joe's? ...or the few who have or had access to these private lands? ...or those wealthy enough to pay the high fees?
 

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What im saying is hunters who draw a public tag shouldnt expect the same treatment as someone who pays 5,000 plus to hunt the same piece of property.
This statement (made by many different people) is troubling. I am the Sportsman's Rep on the CWMU Committee for the UDWR. If CWMUs are only giving the table scraps to the public hunter then the whole program needs to be dismantled. I feel that is not the case. The CWMU Operators I have dealt with seem to give fair and equal treatment to their public hunters. Of course there are the bad apples and they will be dealt with accordingly IF the public turns in formal complaints.

The CWMU program can be a positive one for Utah hunters and Utah wildlife. The program has allowed ranchers another means of income, another reason to keep their ranches and not sub-divide them in today's crazy real estate boom. CWMUs have also given many ranchers a reason to enjoy seeing elk and deer eat their grasses, rather than viewing wildlife as competition. The program has allowed a small number of people to hunt ranches which were never open to the public.

Most anything in life has its Cons. My viewpoint may be wrong, but CWMUs may have contributed to the closure of some private lands. Although ranches which do not qualify to be in the program are also closing their lands to the public. The money driven part of hunting may also have been affected by CWMUs, making wildlife more of a commodity than a tradition. CWMUs have also caused some problems by not maintaining population objectives-- presently not killing enough elk and moose on some units.

In the end, I feel the CWMU program is a benefit to Utah wildlife and hunters. It is up to the public hunter to help police the CWMUs and make them better. If you have a great time and are treated fairly, give them high rates of satisfaction on the surveys. If not give them a low rate. If you are treated poorly, file a formal complaint. There will be more information available to the public concerning each CWMU. Their management plans should all be online by next Fall. The CWMU Committee and the Wildlife Board are committed to improving the program and part of that is dealing with major problems. The CWMU Association (private) is also trying to improve the program.

A few new items to help the public hunter were recently passed:
-Minimum of a 5 day hunt for the public hunter on the CWMU
-There should be 30+- more bull moose permits given to the public over the next 3 years.
-All open lands within a CWMU are available to the public hunter. (No more "you can't hunt over there" if other hunters are allowed on the same area. Some CWMUs have designated areas where no one, public or private, can hunt)
-All public hunters have the option to hunt in November, if the CWMU has chosen a November season.
-CWMU management plans should be on line prior to next year's drawing.
-Season dates set in management plans (these MAY be altered by consent between the CWMU and the public hunter)
-CWMU swap lands should be online. (lands the CWMU has given to public use while the CWMU uses landlocked public lands)
-Antlerless hunts should be more successful (higher harvests) or the CWMU could receive sanctions.
-Minimum of 2 days to hunt antlerless.

That was long, but it is public information which everyone should be made aware of.
 

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I've researched CWMU's 'till I was blue in the face....and still had some bad experiences! I think in some aspects, it's a public trust issue. I understand that the CWMU is going to cater to the paying client, but again, the public hunter should br treated fairly. And I also understand that some CWMU's are excellent when it comes to taking care of the public hunter. While hunting deer 2 years ago on a CWMU, we were sent way back in an area that looked like great deer country, but after 3 days of hunting, we didn't see squat! We had rode back over to another end of the unit and ran into one of the actual landowners out looking for cattle. He asked us who we were and we told him that we had one of the public deer permits. And then he asked us why we weren't hunting over where they kill all of the deer! WHAT!!! It was only then that we realized what had happened. Just a side note, the other public hunter was the operators father, and guess where he was hunting? Anyway, I'm not saying this is how all CWMU's operate, but this is my experience. I still think CWMU's can have some advantages and I also now know the question to ask before applying.....If they will ever return a phone call!
 

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huntinco said:
Personally, I would like to see all CWMU's management plans available online and as part of the application process including the hunting date's, physicality levels, harvest objectives, & most importantly, harvest history in relation to the public hunters who drew these tags in the past. Most hunters who do apply for these units do no call the operator and when they do I think they are somewhat intimidated to ask the questions that are really on their mind. I can also say our public hunters are treated very well, our moose hunter killed the largest bull this year, and am I mad? Hell no! This was a once in a lifetime draw. I could only imagine being in this guys shoes and drawing a tag that only comes around once in your lifetime. In short, I know it would cost some money to collect his data and make it available online, but the payoff could be well worth it. I really believe that the public at large is really undereducated about what drawing one of these tags might include, and this is where most of the negative attitude begins towards these units.
Justin
I can tell you that this aint the guy that people are complaining about. Keep setting a good example Justin, I wish all were open and honest like you. I also agree that there is a big public misconception about what goes on with CWMU's. It seems like when there is any doubt about what is happening in situations like this (Like comments about the mullet crew blocking off roads etc.) peoples minds tend to cling to the negative stories they 'hear'. A lot of what I have seen equates to myth in the end. Fatcs are a great thing in which to base your opinions.

BTW, Mogle said something about a Montana hunt this year?
 

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Packout said:
What im saying is hunters who draw a public tag shouldnt expect the same treatment as someone who pays 5,000 plus to hunt the same piece of property.
This statement (made by many different people) is troubling. I am the Sportsman's Rep on the CWMU Committee for the UDWR. If CWMUs are only giving the table scraps to the public hunter then the whole program needs to be dismantled. I feel that is not the case. The CWMU Operators I have dealt with seem to give fair and equal treatment to their public hunters. Of course there are the bad apples and they will be dealt with accordingly IF the public turns in formal complaints.

The CWMU program can be a positive one for Utah hunters and Utah wildlife. The program has allowed ranchers another means of income, another reason to keep their ranches and not sub-divide them in today's crazy real estate boom. CWMUs have also given many ranchers a reason to enjoy seeing elk and deer eat their grasses, rather than viewing wildlife as competition. The program has allowed a small number of people to hunt ranches which were never open to the public.

Most anything in life has its Cons. My viewpoint may be wrong, but CWMUs may have contributed to the closure of some private lands. Although ranches which do not qualify to be in the program are also closing their lands to the public. The money driven part of hunting may also have been affected by CWMUs, making wildlife more of a commodity than a tradition. CWMUs have also caused some problems by not maintaining population objectives-- presently not killing enough elk and moose on some units.

In the end, I feel the CWMU program is a benefit to Utah wildlife and hunters. It is up to the public hunter to help police the CWMUs and make them better. If you have a great time and are treated fairly, give them high rates of satisfaction on the surveys. If not give them a low rate. If you are treated poorly, file a formal complaint. There will be more information available to the public concerning each CWMU. Their management plans should all be online by next Fall. The CWMU Committee and the Wildlife Board are committed to improving the program and part of that is dealing with major problems. The CWMU Association (private) is also trying to improve the program.

A few new items to help the public hunter were recently passed:
-Minimum of a 5 day hunt for the public hunter on the CWMU
-There should be 30+- more bull moose permits given to the public over the next 3 years.
-All open lands within a CWMU are available to the public hunter. (No more "you can't hunt over there" if other hunters are allowed on the same area. Some CWMUs have designated areas where no one, public or private, can hunt)
-All public hunters have the option to hunt in November, if the CWMU has chosen a November season.
-CWMU management plans should be on line prior to next year's drawing.
-Season dates set in management plans (these MAY be altered by consent between the CWMU and the public hunter)
-CWMU swap lands should be online. (lands the CWMU has given to public use while the CWMU uses landlocked public lands)
-Antlerless hunts should be more successful (higher harvests) or the CWMU could receive sanctions.
-Minimum of 2 days to hunt antlerless.

That was long, but it is public information which everyone should be made aware of.
That's good onfo Packout. To me, it's the constant progression and fine tuning that will make any policies related to wildlife successful.

Nothing comes perfect out of the box. There are many people constantly looking at ways to improve Utah's hunting and wildlife situation in many aspects.

Getting involved and educated is the best way to change things that you do no like.

Just remember, You can't score from the bench.
 

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I have participated in several CWMU hunts. I have great respect for participating private property owners and only wish I was in a position to be one of them. Most of my hunt experiences have been positive.

Two of my negative experiences involved antlerless elk hunts where we were only allowed two days to hunt and had poor weather both days. I know that's how hunting goes, but it sure would have been nice to have another weekend. Packout, instead of all anterless hunts being at least two days, how about two weekends? Sometimes one weekend isn't enough, especially for cow elk.

Better maps of boundaries would also be a plus. You don't get much detail with a 15,000-acre ranch split into two parcels is condensed onto a single page.
 

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Flint, I tend to agree with you. There was a lot of discussion about allowing people a minimum of 2 days for the antlerless hunts, both pro and con. There is also a harvest objective that the CWMU operator must meet for the antlerless tags (averaged over 3 years). If they do not meet those objectives then there will be punishments (example: loss of buck/bull tags). So it is in the operator's best interest to have the public antlerless hunter harvest animals. I will also reiterate the point of giving proper feedback to the UDWR concerning your hunt.

Do your homework and research. Just like there is a difference between the Henry Mtns and 1000 Lakes, there are big differences between CWMUs.
 

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So, Packout I know you said the CWMU hunts were 5 days, are they 5 consecutive days? I have just heard some weird schedules happening with some CWMUs.
 

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Thanks for the great post, Packout.

I've been told that in a couple cases, the CWMU program has enabled landowners to hold onto property that they would've otherwise sold to development. I'm wondering if that's actually the case. It wasn't the program's purpose, but if it preserves habitat, I'm all for it even if I don't get to hunt there.
 

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Cooper, the wording which passed the Wildlife Board (as I am aware) did not stipulate a 5 day consecutive season. BUT the CWMU must submit the hunt dates in their management plan and if there dates are not consecutive then they must have a good, biological based reason. Also, the dates will be published in the proclamation so everyone will know what they are getting into. IF the dates submitted do not seem fair, then the UDWR and the CWMU Committee needs to know why. Again, feedback concerning the program, both positive and negative is how we can all better the system.

Finnegan, yes some CWMUs have delayed or deterred the development of their lands. Many families can not ranch or pay the bills with their lands off of ranching alone. The CWMU program has helped many ranches gain enough income to help protect the habitat and allow increases in wildlife populations. I can give examples, but would rather not post them on the internet.
 

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Finnegan, yes some CWMUs have delayed or deterred the development of their lands. Many families can not ranch or pay the bills with their lands off of ranching alone. The CWMU program has helped many ranches gain enough income to help protect the habitat and allow increases in wildlife populations. I can give examples, but would rather not post them on the internet.
At the Wildlife Board meeting last month the Board voted to give 'extra' tags to CWMU's that make improvements on their land that will benefit wildlife. Here is the simple truth, w/o landowners working WITH sportsmen/hunters, the number of animals on public land would be greatly limited. Many animals spend time on private land in MOST parts of the state. If landowners have no incentives to 'allow' wildlife on their property, they WILL demand they be removed, which hurts 'us'. Giving landowners/CWMU operators a reason to work for ways to help wildlife and NOT hurt wildlife is a positive policy, even for those of us who may never hunt on a CWMU, me most likely being one who most likely won't.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
My concerns with Cooperative Wildlife Management Units.

About six years ago I submitted a formal letter of testimony to the board about abuses that I had observed with CWMUs. The next Big Game proclamation that come out after that letter, had a full page ethics proclamation statement signed by some forty CWMU operators. No action was taken or investigations performed by the DWR.

One of the first things I asked for, some fifteen years ago was an addendum to the big game proclamation the outlined season dates, management objectives, property descriptions, an accounting of how many acres total where listed and how much public land was included, contact person information of CWMU operators and a division officer who was the oversite person for that CWMU. To this date some of the items I requested are now available over the internet or in the proclamation, but that was not always the case.

I have been stopped by division enforcement officers who have no clue as to the boundaries of the CWMU they are portending to enforce. Several years ago, I had a property manager show up with a heavy badge young enforcement officer who was going to issue me a citation for harvesting an elk on a cooperative wildlife management unit. I asked the officer if he had a map or description of the CWMU boundaries? His answer was No! I asked him if he knew the boundaries? His answer was No again! Then the property manager chimed in and said he knew the boundaries, and that I had illegally killed my elk on his property! Needles to say that I had a copy of the CWMU boundaries with a letter from the now DWR director, Jim Karpowitz that included a map and described what the CWMU managed for and the permits allocated for that year. After pulling out the map, the GPS and taking both the officer and the CWMU manager to the harvest site, I proved that I had killed my elk on public ground (State Trust) that was not included in the CWMU boundaries. No citation was given, but I was left with the burden of proof. Needless to mention is, that the state school sections that I was hunting on then, have now been purchased by the CWMU for pennies and are now listed in the current CWMU boundaries. Kind of makes you wonder why sportsmen promised some 4 million dollars to the state school trust program for access to hunt, when the trustees are selling all of the prime wildlife habitat land out from under the sportsman of Utah as fast as they can at bargain basement prices. I have seen many cases of hunter harassment, game harassment, misrepresentation of property boundaries, and illegal obstruction to public property by the operators of several CWMU and have so testified to the Board and the RAC.

My opinion is that CWMU have there place but I do not believe that they have proper oversite. For example; and Packout may be able to answer this question. Why is it that one of the sportsman's representatives for the CWMU steering board is the son of a large land holdings family who derives income from hunting on private property? Am I the only person that see a problem with this.... Why is it then when a CWMU includes public property into its boundaries that sportsmen do not receive 50% of the permits into the drawing? Why is it that CWMU who are benefitting greatly from wildlife of the state continue to block millions of acres of public property and access to sportsmen who fallow the law and are denied access even after it took 1.4 million dollars of sportsmen donations to supposedly buy that access?

I am a person who likes to see the statics of cause and effect on paper...and I have yet to fully see true positive benefit to greater sportsmen access or opportunity from the program. Nor have I seen violators punished for their improper actions. Until I see that, I will be very critical of the Cooperative Wildlife Management Unit Program.

Bigbr
 
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