Anglers, hunters and trappers throughout Idaho do some pretty remarkable things in a given year. Most of those acts, unfortunately, go unnoticed. What does get noticed are the unethical behaviors like the indignant display of harvested animals, waste of game meat, abuse of motorized vehicles, shot up signs and other unsportsmanlike conduct that casts a shadow on the majority of well-behaved sportsmen and women.
In an effort to shine a brighter light on the good deeds, Idaho Fish and Game’s Southwest Region is expanding a recognition program first started in the Magic Valley in 2012, Caught in the Act of Doing Good.
The program aims to reward sportsmen and women with a minted metal coin whose actions promote good sportsmanship and reflect behavior or ethics that exemplify the model sportsman. The coin is intended to be an immediate and tangible token of appreciation that holds some significance to the recipient, providing a lasting memento for a selfless act that can be shared for many years.
The coin’s image is based on a pen-and-ink drawing Cowboy and Baby Bird, which was drawn by former Idaho Fish and Game Conservation Officer Bill Pogue in 1975. This image captures not only the spirit of the program, but the dedication of professionals in the field of protecting Idaho’s wildlife and fisheries resources.
The first recipient of a coin in the Southwest Region is Mike Stewart, of Bruneau, who came to the aid of a 72-year-old hunter on Dec. 19. Stewart, having heard a great deal of commotion coming from the hunter, went to investigate. The hunter found himself in a terrible circumstance in which his beloved dog had jumped into a slough at the C.J. Strike Wildlife Management Area to retrieve a pheasant. In so doing, the dog presumably became trapped under ice.
The hunter, not having actually witnessed his dog jumping into the slough, due to heavy vegetation, was up to his chest in freezing water calling and blowing his whistle frantically. When Stewart arrived on the scene, the hunter was stumbling and nearly incoherent. Stewart coaxed the hunter out of the water, helped him navigate the long walk back to his truck, turned on the truck’s heater, got the hunter out of his wet clothes, and was trying to talk the hunter, who had begun to shake uncontrollably, into allowing him to call an ambulance.
Through Stewart’s efforts, the hunter began to warm up and recovered to the point that he was able to drive himself home. In Stewart’s absence, it is very likely, if not certain, that the condition of the hunter would have deteriorated, and may have been fatal. It is this type of compassionate behavior that the Caught in the Act of Doing Good program intends to reward. Thank you, Mike, for personifying good sportsmanship.