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WALLOWA, Ore. — A conservation easement in the heart of Wallowa County farmland is being managed to grow large white tail buck deer for big game hunting — and philanthropy.
Landowner Woody Wolfe said he’s managed the river bottom to grow big white tail bucks for several years and with a handful of Land Owner Preference elk, buck and doe tags issued through Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, he has a few tags to share.
“In 2016 the largest white tail buck in the state was taken off my property by a neighbor,” Wolfe said.
At the time, Wolfe said, the buck ranked fifth in the Oregon black powder record book.
Chad Garrett has guided hunts on the Wolfe Ranch for several years and is well familiar with the Wallowa mid-valley land with views of the surrounding mountains.
“Woody has a lot of trophy game on his place,” Garrett said.
As he’s become known around the county, Garrett said he’s been asked to help local clubs and nonprofits raise money through hunt raffles, allowable under Oregon state gaming laws.
When Wolfe was approached by Wallowa County Center for Wellness for a donation he looked for advice from staff at The Nature Conservancy’s Zumwalt Prairie Preserve that offers raffle hunt opportunities to local nonprofits. Then he turned to Garrett for help.
With a website and a PayPal account 100 tickets were sold at $100 apiece in six days. Garrett was paid for his effort, Wolfe said, and $8,500 went to the Center.
According to Garrett, the winner of that raffle was a man looking to kill his first white tail buck to qualify for the Super Slam of North American Big Game — the legal taking of all 29 of the traditionally recognized species of big game animals native to North America.
Wolfe said the experience got him thinking. With such a rapid response to the first raffle, what other worthy causes could he support by raffling some of his Land Owner Preference tags?
“If I could raise that money that with one tag or two, I thought about what cause do I feel is the most valuable to me?” Wolfe said.
The answer was a scholarship for a Wallowa County high school graduate pursuing a degree in agriculture at Oregon State University. As a sixth-generation Wallowa County farmer, agriculture is close to Wolfe’s heart.
“I think an education can facilitate people who want to go into agriculture, whether in ag service or production,” Wolfe said. “Ag is what has paid me back for the efforts I put forth — if it is a passion for someone else, I want to help create a return for that passion.”
Again Wolfe turned to Garrett for help. He set up a website and a PayPal account to facilitate raffle hunts and serves as the guide. After Garrett’s time, Wolfe said each scholarship award will be around $7,500.
This year two raffles are offered to raise money for the scholarship. Garrett said 100 tickets are available for $100 apiece for each hunt. The winner of each of the two raffles will receive a three-day guided hunt and lodging.
Garrett said the first scholarship will be awarded in 2019, but the money will not be available until the winner’s junior year, when he or she declares a major. The winner must also have maintained a 3.0 grade-point average those first two years of college to claim the scholarship.
Tickets are available at www.biggamerafflehunts.com through Jan. 1. The raffle drawing will be held Jan. 10. For more information call Garrett at 503-367-0207.