Q. What can I do if I think my hunting access is blocked by a backcountry fire? A. Hunters and anyone else heading into the backcountry are advised to check with Forest Service ranger district offices or county sheriffs' offices in their hunt area before heading out. Fire updates can be found online at: http://www.inciweb.org/state/13/. Additional fire information is available on the Fish and Game Hunt Planner at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis/huntPlanner/. Fish and Game generally doesn't close hunts or change seasons in response to fire restrictions. Most fires are not large enough to affect an entire hunt unit. Hunters can hunt later in the season or exchange general tags to hunt in a different area. But tags must be exchanged before the season begins. Hunters with controlled hunt tags may exchange them for general season tags before the controlled hunt begins. But controlled hunt fees would not be refunded. Fish and Game will consider requests for rain checks or refunds in the event that all access to a hunting unit is blocked by fire. Hunters requesting a rain check must submit their tags and permits with a letter describing their request to the license section at Fish and Game, P.O. Box 25, Boise ID 83707 when the season is over.
The regular deer season opens October 10 in many parts of Idaho. In some areas, a regular deer tag allows hunters to take either mule deer or white-tailed deer. A white-tailed deer tag allows hunters to take only a white-tail. Many areas across the state also offer antlerless youth hunt opportunities, but check the 2012 big game rules brochure carefully for the areas where youth hunts are open. To hunt deer in Idaho during the regular season, a hunter must have valid 2012 Idaho hunting license and a deer tag. Fish and Game law enforcement officials ask that hunters report any poaching or suspicious activities they encounter or hear about while hunting. Most serious poaching cases are cracked and won only with the help of ordinary Idaho residents, hunters or others who report crimes. Hunters with information about a wildlife crime may call the Citizens Against Poaching hotline at 1-800-632-5999, 24 hours a day. Callers may remain anonymous. Or they may call the nearest Fish and Game office or local law enforcement. Hunters also are encouraged to pick up a free copy of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's backcountry game meat care guide. The guide has helpful tips to ensure proper handling of game to avoid wasting the meat. The guide is available at Fish and Game offices and license vendors. A link to the guide can be found on the Fish and Game website at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/rules/?getPage=63 and http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/?getPage=61 And for help planning their hunt, hunters can use the hunt planner on the website at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/ifwis/huntplanner. Remember to ask first before hunting on private land.
A youth pheasant season opens statewide Saturday, October 6, and runs through October 12 for all licensed hunters 15 years old or younger. The week-long hunt opens a half hour before sunrise statewide and continues through a half hour after sunset. The regular season opens October 13 in Area 1 and October 20 in Areas 2 and 3. Youth hunters must be accompanied by a licensed hunter 18 years or older - one adult may accompany more than one youth. The daily bag limit is three cocks, and the possession limit is six after the first day, except on wildlife management areas where pheasants are stocked, in which case the daily limit is two cocks and four in possession. Hunters 17 and older need a WMA upland game bird permit to hunt on Idaho Fish and Game wildlife management areas where pheasants are stocked. Pheasants will be stocked on the Payette, Montour, Fort Boise, Niagara and Market Lake wildlife management areas before the youth hunt weekend. All upland game hunters are required to wear hunter orange during the pheasant season when hunting on wildlife management areas where pheasants are stocked. And all hunters must have a valid 2012 Idaho hunting license. Please consult the 2012 upland seasons and rules brochure for details - available at all license vendors, Fish and Game offices and online at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/rules/?getPage=67.
Water does not have to be near freezing to kill, it only has to be colder than a person to cause potentially fatal hypothermia. Waters are cold now with waterfowl hunters gearing up for a new season, and many anglers are still fishing. Overloaded boats and failure to wear life jackets are leading reasons Idaho typically loses a couple of waterfowl hunters every year. In 2011, 70 percent of all fatal boating accidents victims drowned, and of those, 84 percent were not wearing a life jacket. Eight of every 10 boaters who drowned were using vessels less than 21 feet long. Cold water wicks body heat 25 times faster than air at that same temperature. Anyone who falls in has only a few minutes before the cold renders them numb and unable to swim. Most boats float even when capsized or swamped, so get in or on the boat to get as far out of the water as possible. Wearing a life vest is a must. It will help preserve body heat and keeps even an unconscious person afloat. Get to shelter, change into dry clothing and warm up slowly. Here are some tips to remember when using open boats during cold weather:
- Life jackets only work if they are worn. Most drowning victims could have survived if they had worn theirs. Idaho law requires a life jacket on board for every passenger, and a throw-able personal floatation device is required in boats more than 16 feet long.
- Stay within the load limits shown on the boat's capacity plate. All vessels less than 20 feet long built after November 1, 1972, must have a capacity plate permanently attached and clearly visible. For boats that don't have a capacity plate, use this formula: boat length times width divided by 15 gives the number of passengers of about 150 pounds each. Distribute the load evenly and keep it low.
- In a canoe, each person should paddle on the opposite side at all times to maintain balance.
Waterfowl hunters are invited to join an online chat with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and ask questions, give feedback, and learn more about Idaho waterfowl seasons from noon to 2 p.m. mountain time on Friday, October 12. Participants may ask questions, respond to polls, take quizzes on their waterfowl knowledge and see the results in real time. They will also be able to see how their answers compare with others. Fish and Game's enforcement chief Jon Heggen and waterfowl biologist Jeff Knetter will answer questions about Idaho's hunting rules, waterfowl biology and management, and other related topics during the live, two-hour chat. "We want to provide customer service in a new and interactive way," Knetter said. "We hope waterfowlers bring their burning questions, and we'll do our very best to provide answers." Visit Fish and Game's home page at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov, and look for the waterfowl chat link.
The Martin Access Area will be closed most of October for a major renovation. The project includes a designated RV camping site with 11 RV sites and a camp host site, two pit vault toilets, overhead security lighting, improved parking area and over flow camping, three primitive camping areas near the banks of the Snake and Boise Rivers, gravel footpaths leading to the river banks and a new gravel access road. Martin is on the south bank of the Boise River mouth 5.5 miles from Parma off State Highway 95. The area will be closed to the public while work is being completed from the first week of October through the end of the month. For information, please contact the Fish and Game regional office in Nampa at 208-465-8465. The finished project is intended to offer better access to fishing and camping along the Snake and Boise rivers. The camping area will be managed cooperatively by Canyon County Parks and Recreation and Idaho Fish and Game. The new facilities will provide families a place to fish, hike and watch wildlife. The area will also be available to people floating or motor boating on the Snake and Boise River Water Trails. The project is funded by federal grants and an Idaho State Parks RV grant. The total estimate project cost is $210,000.
The Martin Access Area will be closed most of October for a major renovation. The project includes a designated RV camping site with 11 RV sites and a camp host site, two pit vault toilets, overhead security lighting, improved parking area and overflow camping, three primitive camping areas near the banks of the Snake and Boise rivers, gravel footpaths leading to the river banks and a new gravel access road. Martin is on the south bank of the Boise River mouth 5.5 miles from Parma off State Highway 95. The area will be closed to the public while work is being completed from the first week of October through the end of the month. For information, please contact the Fish and Game regional office in Nampa at 208-465-8465. The finished project is intended to offer better access to fishing and camping along the Snake and Boise rivers. The camping area will be managed cooperatively by Canyon County Parks and Recreation and Idaho Fish and Game. The new facilities will provide families a place to fish, hike and watch wildlife. The area will also be available to people floating or motor boating on the Snake and Boise River Water Trails. The project is funded by federal grants and an Idaho State Parks RV grant. The total estimate project cost is $210,000.
Idaho Fish and Game will be offering four wolf trapper classes this fall the Clearwater Region. Attendance at an Idaho Department of Fish and Game wolf trapper education class is required for those wishing to trap wolves in Idaho. The eight-hour class provides students with interactive, hands-on training from experienced, certified trapper instructors. The curriculum includes wolf management, wolf trapping regulations and ethics; wolf habits and behavior; making, rigging, and setting traps and snares; proper care for a wolf; and reporting requirements. Classes in the Clearwater Region on wolf trapper education by are scheduled for:
- Friday, October 26 - Fish and Game regional office, 3316 13th St., Lewiston.
- Saturday, October 27 - Clearwater Fish Hatchery, 118 Hatchery Roe Rd., Ahsahka.
- Friday, November 9 - Nez Perce National Forest office, 104 Airport Rd., Grangeville.
- Saturday, November 10 - Fish and Game regional office, 3316 16th St., Lewiston.
Idaho Power Co. reports that the road across Hells Canyon Dam will be closed for extended periods this fall to allow repairs to the switchyard below the dam. The road across the dam will be closed between 8 a.m. (Mountain Time) and noon and from 1 p.m. until dark on:
- October 8-17.
- November 10-21.
- November 24-December 13.
The last wolf trapper class in Salmon this year will be Saturday, October 6. Trappers may register online at https://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/education/?getPage=30. A person must have a trapping license and attend a wolf trapper class before purchasing wolf trapping tags. Classes are offered in all regions of the state. But trappers must register to take the wolf trapper class. The eight-hour class provides students with interactive, hands-on training from experienced, certified, volunteer trapper instructors. The curriculum includes wolf management; wolf trapping regulations and ethics; wolf habits and behavior; making, rigging and setting traps and snares; proper care for a wolf; reporting requirements. The cost is $8 per student. Online registration includes an additional convenience fee of $1.24. Register online or contact the regional office at 99 Highway 93 North, Salmon or call 208-756-2271.
Q. What kinds of shot are legal for waterfowl hunting? Is lead shot still legal for any kind of waterfowl? A. Lead shot is illegal for all waterfowl hunting, including ducks, mergansers, geese and coots. Hunters may not hunt waterfowl while in possession of shot other than nontoxic shot approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The shot must be 0.2 inches - T size - or smaller. Only steel shot or shot made from bismuth-tin, tungsten-iron, tungsten-polymer, tungsten-matrix, tungsten-nickel-iron, tungsten-iron-nickel-tin, tungsten-tin-bismuth, tungsten-tin-iron, tungsten-iron-copper-nickel, or tungsten-bronze, are on the list of approved nontoxic shot.
The sharp-tailed grouse season opens October 1 and runs through October 31, with a daily bag limit of two birds and a possession limit of six. The season is open only in eastern Idaho in these areas: Bingham and Clark counties east of Interstate 15, Franklin, Fremont, Jefferson County east of Interstate 15, Madison, and Teton counties, Bonneville County east of Interstate 15, Bannock County east of Interstate 15 and south of Interstate 86, Bear Lake, Caribou, Cassia County east of Interstate 84 and that portion west of Interstate 84 south of the Malta-Sublette Road and east of the Malta-Strevell Road, Franklin, Oneida, and Power County south of Interstate 86. Sharp-tailed grouse have been introduced into historical range in southern Twin Falls county and southeastern Owyhee County. Twin Falls County, Owyhee County and most of Cassia County are closed to the hunting of sharp-tailed grouse. Sharp-tailed grouse also occur around Split Butte area in Minidoka County. Hunting of sharp-tailed grouse is closed in Minidoka County. Any person hunting sharp-tailed grouse must have in their possession a valid Idaho hunting license with a sage/sharp-tailed grouse permit validation at $4.75. The permit allows better monitoring of the harvest of this game bird. It is available at Fish and Game license vendors. All hunters are encouraged to refer to the upland game or waterfowl rules brochures for hunt details on seasons, limits and rules.
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