Hunters still bothered by computer slowdown

New computer hardware should have Oregon's beleaguered point-of-sale computer-licensing system working normally today as hunters continue to file for the delayed controlled-hunt lottery.

Tennessee-based Outdoor Central was expected to make its computer upgrade Wednesday, a week after the vendor's delays in processing controlled-hunt applications led to a June 1 extension of the normal May 15 deadline.

"We're all hoping it will solve these issues for us," says DeAnna Erickson, license services manager for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Point-of-sale agents had been taking up to 45 minutes to process a single controlled-hunt application during the slowdowns, Erickson says. If the upgrade goes as planned, the applications should take just a few minutes, she says.

Outdoor Central has been unable to identify the slowdown's cause, Erickson says.

The glitch means the random computer drawing for limited-entry big-game tags will be delayed from June 5 to June 15. Results normally available by June 20 will not be made public until July 1.

That also pushed back the first-come, first-served sale of leftover tags from July 1 to 10 a.m. July 15.

So far, more than 346,000 applications have been processed for the drawing, including more than 53,000 from people who bypassed the point-of-sale lines by applying over the Internet, Erickson says.

The online sales were not experiencing the slowdowns hitting point-of-sale outlets, Erickson says. The difference was so great that ODFW officials placed personal computers in its Salem headquarters so frustrated hunters could apply online there.

Hunters appear to be avoiding the controlled-hunt process during the delay, Erickson says.

Applications ranged from about 25,000 to 28,700 a day from May 12-15, then plunged to 4,329 Sunday, she says.

The agency processed about 420,000 applications last year for deer and elk hunts east of the Cascades, as well as pronghorn, bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain goat hunts. Erickson says the ODFW is expecting about the same number of applications.

The new deadline does not affect general-season hunts in which tag-sale deadlines are the eve of the individual hunt.

This marks the third consecutive year in which tag-sale deadlines have been extended since Outdoor Central took over as Oregon's vendor for license and tag sales in early 2007.

The June 1 deadline for making changes or corrections to controlled-hunt applications remains unchanged.

Hunters can apply for tags at license agents, local ODFW offices or online at https://or.outdoorcentral.us/or/license.

Hunters need to buy a hunting license and get a hunter/angler identification number before applying for a controlled hunt. The identification number is the same used by an individual hunter in previous years, and licenses can be bought while applying for a hunt.

Applications also can be mailed in or faxed. Forms are on page 15 of the 2009 Oregon Big Game Regulations booklet. They must be faxed to 503-947-6117 or mailed with a postmark by June 1.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.

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