ISLAND PARK - Most sane people don't go looking for trouble, trouble just has a way of happening. Last Saturday, September 26, three hunters weren't looking for trouble when they went to help a friend retrieve some elk hind quarters that had been left behind, but they certainly found trouble of the grizzly bear variety. The hunters startled a female grizzly bear and her two two-year old cubs that had been feeding on the gut pile of the legally hunted elk. Surprising a feeding grizzly bear is not a good thing to do, surprising a feeding sow with cubs is an even more unfortunate turn of events. The scene that resulted is one that neither the hunters nor the bears are soon to forget. The hunters were at the head of Cooney Creek on the side of Bishop Mountain near the West End of Island Park Reservoir in Unit 60. They were in the woods to retrieve the remainder of the meat from an elk taken earlier in the day when they startled the sow and she ran off into the woods. Unfortunately, the mother bear quickly circled around and charged the three archers. Armed only with bows and arrows, the archers attempted to keep the bear at bay by striking out at her with their compound bows. In the excitement that ensued, one of the archers was able to knock an arrow and let off a shot at the adult bear from a distance of approximately seven yards. The hastily placed shot succeeded in driving the bears off and allowed the archers the opportunity to vacate the scene. Once safely away, the hunters contacted IDFG officers who accompanied the archers at first light the next day to investigate the scene.
ISLAND PARK - In Idaho, like most of the U.S., hunting is rarely if ever done as a matter of survival. Thanks to modern agriculture and technology the time we spend hunting is counted towards enjoyment, not averting starvation. Today, hunting is considered a sport and as with all sports it has rules and a code of conduct. Those who break the rules are poachers and threaten to destroy opportunities for legitimate sportsmen. What could have been just another unsolved poaching was turned into a victory for sportsmen's ethics when some archers in the Island Park area sensed something was not quite right and took the time and effort to track down info to help IDFG make a case. On September 15, some archers hunting in the Island Park Zone near the Yellowstone National Park Boundary heard gunshots in an area that was only open to bowhunting for deer and elk. After observing some suspicious activity, they sensed a wildlife violation might have occurred, and the sportsmen took advantage of the ease of communication provided by modern cell phone technology and promptly called IDFG's Citizen's Against Poaching (CAP) Hotline. Information regarding the possible violation was forwarded to Conservation Officer Ryan Hilton of Idaho Falls and District Conservation Officer Doug Petersen of Driggs, who were already involved in other poaching cases and could not immediately investigate the report. The fact that the area involved was open to firearms for black bear and forest grouse hunting made the investigation interesting, but did not hinder the officers from completing the case in near record time. The fall hunting season is expectedly one of IDFG's busiest times of the year. Officers are forced to work long hours and juggle a number of cases all at once. Patrol districts for individual officers cover hundreds of square miles and assistance from the public is a crucial tool in protecting the State's wildlife.
The Youth Pheasant Season opens at noon on Saturday, October 5, 2002 in the Magic Valley Region. This special season is open for two days (October 5 and 6) statewide for all licensed hunters 15 years of age or younger, resident and non-resident alike. All youth hunters must be accompanied by an adult 18 years of age or older, but the adult does not have to be a licensed hunter. One adult may take more than one youth hunter into the field that weekend. The daily bag limit is three roosters, and the possession limit after the first day six roosters. A minimum of 50 adult rooster pheasants will be stocked at the Niagara Springs Wildlife Management Area (NSWMA) in Gooding County prior to the youth hunt opener. Young hunters participating in this Youth Pheasant Season and hunting on any Idaho Department of Fish & Game wildlife management areas are not required to purchase the special pheasant permit. However, beginning this fall adult hunters will be required to purchase these permits for Niagara Springs WMA. These permits have not been required in the past on this WMA. The Department releases gamefarm rooster pheasants on nine wildlife management areas in southern Idaho. Hunting for pheasants on these wildlife management areas during the regular pheasant season requires the special WMA Pheasant Permit. Hunters over the age of 17 must have a valid WMA Pheasant Permit in possession while hunting pheasants on these lands. In this region, Niagara Springs is the only WMA where pheasants will be released. When a pheasant is harvested on a WMA, the hunter must enter the month and date of harvest in the space provided and enter the location code (Niagara Springs WMA is code 09). Each $21.50 permit is valid for a total of six roosters; multiple permits may be purchased.
LEWISTON - The Idaho Department of Fish and Game encourages wildlife enthusiasts to attend the October breakfast meeting scheduled at the Helm Restaurant in Lewiston for Tuesday, October 1, beginning at 6:30 a.m. Fish and Game employees will report on the upcoming steelhead and big game seasons, upland bird prospects, enforcement activities and other programs. Sportsmen's group representatives are also welcome to give reports of their groups activities. The informative breakfast meetings are open to anyone with fish and wildlife-related questions, and are designed to stimulate informal discussions about wildlife issues in the Clearwater area. The meetings are generally held the first Tuesday of each month at the Helm Restaurant, with coffee provided by Fish and Game. Individuals with disabilities may request special accommodations by contacting Mike Demick at IDFG, 799-5010, prior to the meeting.
MUD LAKE - Even though the great outdoors are always available for everyone to enjoy, each year in America one day is set aside as National Hunting and Fishing Day. This year that day has been set as Saturday, September 28th. But in addition to being National Hunting and Fishing Day, it is also the day that Idaho has set aside to honor sportsman conservationist Jack Hemingway, late son of famous author Ernest Hemingway. Though not nearly as famous as his father, Jack Hemingway gave large portions of his life to working with and for Idaho's wildlife. In order to honor his efforts, the Idaho Department of Fish & Game (IDFG) has worked with Governor Dirk Kempthorne to proclaim this September 28th as Jack Hemingway Day. As part of statewide efforts to honor this auspicious day, the Idaho Fish & Game Commission has set aside September 28 & 29 as special youth waterfowl hunting days. To help young persons get started with the exciting sport of waterfowl hunting the Upper Snake Region of IDFG will be conducting a free youth waterfowl clinic at Mud Lake Wildlife Management Area. Mud Lake WMA is located north of Highway 33 at Mud Lake, Idaho. The clinic will be held at the North Boat Ramp and will run from 9:00 A.M. until 1:00 P.M.
Youths 12 through 15 years old can hunt waterfowl in the annual Youth Waterfowl Hunt September 28-29. Youth hunters must have a hunting license but the federal waterfowl stamp is not required. A federal migratory game bird harvest validation is also required on the young hunters' license. All rules for hunting including bag and possession limits as well as the requirement for using nontoxic shotshells apply. Waterfowl proclamation booklets will be available at license vendors and Fish and Game offices after September 27. An adult at least 18 years old, having a valid hunting license, must accompany each youth hunter. The adult is not authorized to hunt in this special season. The purpose of the special season is to mentor young hunters in the traditions and practices of waterfowling. Both ducks and geese may be taken in this youth hunt.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game reminds all hunters and anglers, successful or not, that they must stop at all check stations they encounter. Each year, many hunters and anglers fail to stop at check stations because they were not successful on that specific trip. Most see the signs, but think they do not apply to them and continue on the way home. However, failure to stop is breaking the law and a citation can be issued. Fish and Game operates two types of check stations. Biologists interview hunters and anglers at management check stations to determine harvest rates and distribution of hunters or anglers. Biological information is also collected to evaluate the age and physical condition of the harvested animals. Fish and Game workers may also take tissue samples as the department expands efforts to detect potential diseases. Impromptu enforcement check stations are usually conducted on less traveled roads and may be set up at any time of day or night. Here, conservation officers interview hunters and anglers to check for law compliance. Besides the collection of critical information, check stations provide an opportunity for exchange between the public and the department. This may include information on illegal activities, observations on habitat or road conditions, or suggestions for changes in management.
This year, Jack Hemingway Conservation Day will coincide with National Hunting and Fishing Day on September 28. The day is set aside to honor the late Jack Hemingway, son of Ernest Hemingway, and a prominent Idaho conservationist. "I've spent some of the best moments of my life hunting, fishing and exploring Idaho and its rugged terrain," said Hemingway in a 1991 interview. "It's captured my heart, much as it captured my father's years and years ago." Angela Hemingway, wife of the late Jack Hemingway said, "It is a great tribute to a man who treasured Idaho's wild outdoors and delighted in spending countless hours fishing her trout streams and hunting her ridge tops." Sportsmen groups, conservation organizations, school children and individual volunteers are encouraged to plan habitat restoration projects, take a youth hunting or fishing and generally enjoy Idaho's magnificent outdoors. In honor of Jack Hemingway Conservation Day, a waterfowl hunting clinic for youth is scheduled at Mud Lake in eastern Idaho. In Malad, 40 kids will be attending a pheasant hunting clinic that will feature a seminar on hunting with dogs. And up in Idaho's Panhandle, the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge will host a youth waterfowl hunt. Last year, as part of the first annual Jack Hemingway Conservation Day, Governor Dirk Kempthorne announced the re-instatement of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's Community Challenge Grant Program in which $50,000 is available annually in small grants for projects proposed by sporting groups, individuals, cities, counties and organizations. In the year since the first annual Jack Hemingway Conservation Day, $47, 000 was awarded in challenge grants to build boat ramps, put up interpretive signs, improve sportsmen access and enhance habitat.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game reminds hunters that in areas where the department has received complaints of spotlighting or other suspicious activity, enforcement officers will be using artificial simulated animals. Also known as ASAs, these life-like specimens of deer, elk, and other game species, aid conservation officers in apprehending violators of Idaho law. The use of such tools has been upheld in court systems across the country as a legitimate method of apprehending violators and has aided in reducing illegal hunting activities. At least 30 states and several Canadian provinces have been using ASAs since the late 1980s. Aside from the inherent danger in shooting from a vehicle or road, road hunting for wildlife brings to question the ethical behavior of some. Even though the vast majority of hunters conduct themselves ethically and abide by the laws, those who do not can create a negative image for hunters. "Road hunters are the visible minority. They are what everyone sees, and many of their activities are bad for the image of all hunters," said regional conservation officer Dave Cadwallader of Lewiston. Many of the citations issued to road hunters who violate game laws include spotlighting, trespassing, shooting from a motorized vehicle, shooting across the road and waste of game. The penalties for shooting an ASA can include a mandatory license revocation, fine up to $1,000 and a jail sentence of up to six months.
The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will meet in Pocatello October 3-4 with a public hearing and open house set for 7 p.m. October 3. The session will be held at the Holiday Inn beginning at 8 a.m. October 3. The public hearing and open house will be held in the same facility. Subjects on the Commission agenda include a briefing on a recent decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a case involving an Arizona rule that restricted nonresident hunters to 10 percent participation in some big game hunts. The Arizona rule was held to be unconstitutional. Commissioners will hear what the implications of this ruling are for Idaho's rules restricting nonresidents to 10 percent in controlled hunts. The Commission will also be presented with an action plan for dealing with chronic wasting disease. The results of an extensive public survey conducted by the Idaho Fish and Game will be presented to the Commission in a session running from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. October 3. The "Idaho Citizen Survey" was mailed in June to 7,700 randomly selected households in Idaho. The Idaho Citizen Survey is an important part of a large effort to make sure Fish and Game is serving the people of Idaho as well as possible and in the most effective ways. The survey included questions about participation in wildlife-based recreation, public involvement in decision-making, issues facing Fish and Game, the importance and performance of several management activities and programs, and funding for Fish and Game. Nonresident deer and elk tag quotas and outfitter setasides are also on the agenda along with proposals for implementing the new law allowing nine-year-olds to take hunter education courses and hunt small game.
With September 15 fall turkey seasons underway in much of the state, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game encourages turkey hunters to remember that safety should always come first, but hunting tactics need to change for fall hunting. During the fall, hunters will hear little or no gobbling, and gobblers collect into small flocks, while hens and young of the year are together in larger flocks that may contain 30 birds. It is not unusual to find two to three hens together with all their young. The basic hunting strategy is to find and break up a flock, scattering them in all directions. Hunters then wait as near as possible to the spot where the flock was first encountered. Young birds will usually return within an hour while an old gobbler may take three to four hours to come back. The sounds and sight of dozens of turkeys returning to you from all directions can be as exciting as calling in a spring gobbler. However, the fall turkey season has the potential to be more dangerous than the spring because either sex may be hunted. Therefore, less emphasis is put on positive identification. Fall turkey hunters also share the woods with thousands of camouflaged archery enthusiasts. IDFG encourages hunters to follow the basic rules of safe turkey hunting:
- Never identify a turkey by sound or movement. Be 100 percent certain you see the bird clearly before attempting to shoot.
- Never wave, whistle, or make turkey calls to alert an approaching hunter to your presence. Always shout to reveal your presence to an approaching hunter.
- Pattern your shotgun, learn its effective range, and learn to accurately judge distances. Always shoot at the head and neck and remember that 30 yards is about the limit for a clean kill.
- Never wear red, white, blue, or black in the turkey woods.
Information for hunters on Chronic Wasting Disease is available now from Idaho Fish and Game. A brochure on the rare disease that has affected deer and elk in some other states may be viewed now at http://www2.state.id.us/fishgame/ on the Internet. A print version will be ready soon for distribution at license vendors and Fish and Game offices. The disease has not been found in Idaho but the brochure explains what the department is doing to prevent its coming to this state and how hunters can help in that prevention effort.
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