TAHLEQUAH – During the Sept. 13 meeting of the Cherokee Nation Resource Committee, Secretary of Natural Resources Chad Harsha gave a report on the upcoming “draw hunts” for deer planned for the CN’s 4,000-acre Sequoyah Hunting Preserve north of Sallisaw.
Harsha said nearly 500 applications were received, of which 70 were chosen at random. There will be two hunts each for youth, elders, veterans, and one for out-of-state at-large CN citizens. All chosen hunters are to be notified by mail.
The hunts will be “almost guided in some ways,” Harsha said, especially with the youth. He said hunters would be told the details of how the hunts will be handled.
“Cherokee Nation is focused on maintaining cultural traditions and providing these hunting opportunities for citizens,” said Deputy Chief Bryan Warner. “The Sequoyah Hunting Preserve, where the controlled hunts are being held, has been heavily managed prior to Cherokee Nation’s acquisition, so it was the perfect opportunity to start a program of this nature when the tribe once again became the steward of this beautiful property. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and I were seeking creative solutions to concerns such as food security, and this hunting opportunity helps in that regard. It also provides us a way to educate citizens who may not realize how many food sources are available in their own back yard.”
Hunting and fishing are a way of life for many CN citizens, and Warner said such activities can be supported through the hunts.
“These opportunities are reinforcing those Cherokee traditional values the Creator has given us for many generations,” he said. “I think it is fitting that we are first inviting our Cherokee elders and veterans to hunt on this new property, and that we have also provided an opportunity for Cherokee youth to experience these important life lessons. We owe a lot to our Cherokee warriors and elders, and this is just a small way to say thank you.”
Warner said eligible applicants for this year’s hunts included Cherokee youths ages 17-under, Cherokee elders 55-older, Cherokee veterans and a limited number of CN citizens who live outside Oklahoma. All applicants had to be CN citizens and fall under one of the four categories.
The hunts are scheduled in October, November and December with dates varying with each category of hunters drawn. A recent release from the CN Wildlife Conservation said the program determined the total number of citizens to be selected for the controlled hunts by using “ongoing herd population data and conservation best practices.” It added that in the future, “offerings may vary based on continued data collection and analysis of the land.”
“This controlled hunt will be only the beginning of what we are able to offer Cherokee citizens so that they can continue these traditional means of providing for their families,” Warner said.