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Ask the Conservation Officer (CO)

by Gary Hompland, Regional Conservation Officer Question: "Now that the waterfowl and upland bird seasons are closed, what's left for an avid hunter and angler to do?" Answer: There are still numerous hunting and fishing oriented opportunities open to the avid hunting and angler. I first would remind everyone to make sure they first purchase their 2008 hunting, fishing, or combination hunting/fishing license. For the angler, the Magic Valley supports some excellent ice fishing opportunities. Salmon Falls and Magic Reservoirs offer excellent opportunities for trout and yellow perch. In addition, trout fishing through the ice at Dierkes Lake is a stones throw from Twin Falls. For anglers that don't normally eat their catch, fresh caught yellow perch through the ice just seem to "taste better." As temperatures fluctuate anglers must use caution around the edges of the reservoirs since they are filling with water. It is likely anglers could encounter some water over the ice around the edges of the reservoirs. For the avid hunter there are still several hunting seasons open. Small game hunters will enjoy the cat-and-mouse style of stalking cottontail rabbits. In winter, cottontails tend to be close to escape cover such as rock piles or heavy brush. When hunting in areas where pygmy rabbits exist, hunters must be sure of their target since pygmy rabbits are protected. Rabbit hunting is an excellent opportunity to experience the outdoors with a young hunter, and it brings back many memorable childhood hunting experiences with my dad. For predator callers, the bobcat and mountain lions hunting seasons are also still open. Hunters are allowed to use electronic predator calls for coyotes and bobcats, but they are prohibited in the Magic Valley for hunting mountain lions. All bobcats and mountain lions harvested must be checked at a Fish and Game regional office where pelt tags will be attached. Mountain lion hunters must also purchase a mountain lion tag prior to hunting. If using trailing dogs, hunters must also purchase a hound hunting validation for their hunting license. Jackrabbit hunting is also a popular winter pastime. Both white-tailed and black-tailed jackrabbits are classified as predatory wildlife. As predatory wildlife, there are no bag limits or prescribed hunting seasons, however, a hunting license is still required. The last opportunity doesn't require any licenses, tags, or permits. Winter is the time when many wildlife species are the most observable. People often take this opportunity to observe and photograph wintering waterfowl and big game. A cautionary note to wildlife watchers, please keep your distance. Your presence can create unnecessary stress and expenditure of energy by wildlife trying to avoid or escape your presence. If you are experiencing cabin fever, take a kid hunting or fishing! If you have any further questions you may call the Magic Valley Regional Office of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at (208)324-4350 or e-mail us at the Fish and Game web site at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov.