Tribal Government & News

Hunting help is just a download away thanks to Tribal app

06.13.2019 Danielle Frost Natural resources, Tribal employees

By Danielle Frost

Smoke Signals staff writer

Tribal hunters who want to instantly know where the Reservation boundaries are while out traversing miles of trails for elk or deer now have help available through their cell phone.

Taking a few minutes to download an app may be a potential timesaver and also help avoid any issues with accidently hunting off-Reservation during the Tribally sanctioned seasons.

The Tribe’s Geographical Information Systems Department, in conjunction with Tribal wildlife biologists, are utilizing the ESRI Collector Application complete with Reservation maps to help hunters track their location, even if they are out of range for cell service.

Between May 2018 and May 19 of this year, it has been downloaded 161 times.

“If you are out on the roads, there are signs to guide you,” GIS Coordinator Alex Drake says. “But when you’re hunting off-road, there is no way of really knowing where you are at and cell service can be very spotty.”

After the Tribe was given back wildlife management for its Reservation and trust lands in 2014 by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, it also was allowed to issue Tribal hunting tags and establish Tribal hunting seasons. The number of tags varies depending on wildlife populations during a specific year, according to Reservation Ecologist Lindsay Belonga.

The Tribally determined hunting seasons run outside of state seasons, either earlier than the state season begins or after the state-sanctioned season ends. It usually kicks off in August and goes through December.

The Tribe’s GIS Department began to administer an online site to create web maps and services for Tribal employees and Tribal members. Those maps can be used in the app to help hunters.

“Because of (having wildlife management returned), there was more sensitivity around that program,” Belonga says. “We didn’t want Tribal members to get into trouble for unintentionally hunting off-Reservation. We tried a few different things and ended up capitalizing on an app that was existing. It helps our hunters be successful by tracking their location. Even if you are out of cell range, the GPS on your phone will still work.”  

Before a Tribal hunter is issued tags, they must complete a tutorial, which includes information about the app. In addition to knowing where hunters are at, another benefit of using technology is not having to carry around maps and try to pinpoint locations.

“The map is always there as long as you have your phone with you,” Drake says. “I update the maps to let people know the trail conditions. They appreciate it. I also put the roads and streams on there.”

To keep the maps current, Drake walks the trails and notes any changes.

“It is useful for hunters and also allows our Summer Youth Crew to know what needs to be cleaned up,” he says.

For more information about the ESRI Collector app, contact Drake at To download the app, visit the Google Play icon on Android-based phones and the App Store icon for Apple phones and type in “ESRI Collector.”