And so it begins, Charles “Carl” Mock is officially 2021’s first negative encounter with a grizzly bear in Yellowstone country. If it feels a little early for conflict with the grizzled bruins, well historically it is, as most negative encounters take place in late summer and into the fall when bears are looking to put on the fat for their long winter slumber. Elk gut piles are an easy way for them to do that and Yellowstone country produces elk(albeit in lower numbers in recent years.)

Mock died as a result of the injuries he sustained to his head during the attack. He was fishing and as an experienced guide he had his bearspray with him. According to the USA Today article referenced in the links above it isn’t clear if he was able to deploy it. 

This is an unfortunate and unfriendly reminder to always be prepared for the worst in grizzly bear country. Here are a few things to make sure you always do to stay on top of your situation in bear country.

Always be prepared with your bear spray, it can and does save lives. Under most circumstances it is the easiest thing to deploy under duress.Make noise if it is a summer outing. I get the quiet concept when hunting, but be careful this summer in grizzly country. Keep food hung 15 feet above the ground, downwind of your camp. Self explanatory, but if your camp is downwind of the food the bear finds you first.

Unfortunately with the outdoors being the most popular place of activity during the covid era, conflicts are likely to be on the rise. For more on the grizzly’s endangered status, check out my article last week covering that subject. Stay safe and be bear aware this summer!

The post Already…Happening – Grizzly Bear Confrontations appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

Having trouble drawing an antelope tag? There may be no help in sight.

On April 15th the Wyoming Game and Fish Department announced a substantial reduction in the antelope tag quota for the upcoming draw and 2021 hunting season. The total proposed reduction will amount to 3,650 buck antelope licenses and 5,775 doe/fawn licenses. Based on last year’s quota numbers this would be an overall reduction of about 10% for the coveted “any antelope” buck tags. This reduction would be in addition to a past reduction in buck antelope tags of nearly 4% seen the prior year.

The state contends, the massive spring storm seen in the southern half of the state in March was a major factor for the decision along with the substantial effects of the drought that our wildlife endured during the summer and fall of 2020. 

I expect the majority of the tag reductions to be in the antelope areas inside of the counties of Carbon, Sublette and Sweetwater. These areas would be those in the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 90s. Keep this in mind if you are applying for units in these regions, you might want to make sure you have one or two more points than these areas took last year to draw successfully.  

“We believe that offering some conservative hunting seasons proposals this year will help each of those herds stabilize, and allow pronghorn populations to bounce back,” said the Wyoming Game and Fish Information Officer, Sara DiRienzo on Wednesday. 


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This Eastmans’ review features In-Rut Rifles custom built Full Curl rifle chambered in 6.5 PRC. Hunter Scott Reekers tests the accuracy of this rifle straight out of the box at 1000 yards! Then Scott sits down with Mark Lembke the owner of In-Rut Rifles. Mark is all about precision and accuracy. He personally shoots and sights-in every rifle built in his shop. When you’ve finally drawn that lifetime hunting tag, you want a rifle you can count on. The custom rifles produced by In-Rut Rifles could be just the tool you need to notch that tag when your dream hunt becomes a reality.

The post First shot at 1000 yards! Custom In-Rut Rifles Review appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

If you have been patiently waiting for that tag of a lifetime, don’t get your hopes up.

There is little question that we are living in a different world than we got accustomed to only 18 months ago. One area that has continued to change drastically in the past year is the demand for big game hunting tags and licenses throughout the western half of our continent. Very little foreign hunting opportunity as well as a continued up-swing in hunting participation seem to have created a demand for big game tags that we have not seen in our lifetimes. 

The massive demand blew out the state of Colorado’s server system the week before the application deadline causing the state agency to postpone the application deadline for the better part of a week. To say this is almost unprecedented would be an understatement. A very reliable source has indicated that the Colorado draw system saw an incredible increase of more than 35,000 additional applicants this year versus last year, which again was a record setting year.  

In the Big Sky Country of Montana, our sources in Helena are saying they have seen application demand for both limited and general hunts well beyond what was experienced last year, which was up over 10,000 additional applicants and has stood as a record up to this point in time. Last year, for the first time in recorded history, Montana FWP had zero nonresident elk and deer tags available after the draw. This year the Montana draw system has seen another substantial rise in big game applicants which equates to a 38% increase over the record setting 2020 application demand. 

At this point it is very hard to put actual numbers to the demand quotient until the actual draw is conducted and the results posted to the public. But we can go back and build somewhat of a trend based on the demand for Wyoming’s coveted nonresident elk tags. Wyoming is one of the highest demanded elk states in the country. With Wyoming’s nearly perfect trade-off between quality and opportunity, Wyoming is a very good gauge on what is going on in the hunt draw system for the entire western region of the US. 

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How to tune your bow for hunting broadheads, the easy way! No paper tuning required in this how to tune your bow video. Eastmans’ Hunting Journals Dan Pickar breaks down his method for tuning your new bow for broadhead accuracy in less than 30 minutes.

 

Products featured in video:

Bow – Mathews V3 (31″) – https://www.mathewsinc.com/product/v3-31/

Rest – ULTRAREST INTEGRATE MX – https://www.mathewsinc.com/product/integrate-mx-rest/

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Let’s face it, grizzly bear management is a hot topic. Because it is a hot topic the biggest challenge is piecing together ALL the facts to make solid recommendations. Well, it seems that Wyoming Game and Fish is at odds with the US Fish And Wildlife Service on management plans for the apex predators. 

According to the USFWS Five-Year Status Review the grizzly bear should remain protected under the Endangered Species Act. With this review and the all too familiar 9th Circuit Court review it seems that delisting for the Greater Yellowstone grizzly bear population is too risky due to foreseeable genetic diversity issues.

On the other end of the spectrum we have the states that hold the Greater Yellowstone grizzly bear population who are frustrated that their states cannot manage the populations effectively. This has reached the point where legislators from Yellowstone, Wyoming and Montana have been working together on a bill that would remove the grizzly bear population from Endangered Species Act protections and let the states manage them properly. 

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Both the Wyoming House and Senate overwhelmingly voted to reduce the legal age to hunt big game in Wyoming to 11 if the youth in question will turn 12 before the end of the calendar year in which the hunt occurs. For example, if one of my children wanted to hunt antelope in 2021 but wasn’t going to turn 12 until after the season ended, say in late November, they could now legally hunt. 

It’s news like this that makes me even more proud to be a resident of the Cowboy State! By easing up on the restriction that would keep some kids out of the field for another season, Wyoming has created a bridge for engaging our youth in the grand heritage of hunting. There has never been a better time for this than right now. With attacks on hunting coming from all sides we need changes such as this one to help us pass the torch. Way to go Wyo

 

The post Wyoming Lowers Minimum Age To Hunt Big Game! appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

More good news this week on the wildlife management front! The National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) partnered with the Mule Deer Foundation (MDF) to support MDF’s Migration Corridor and Winter Range Initiative, to the tune of $395,000.  The grant will also “be matched by $756,000 to implement habitat projects that focus on big game migration corridors and greater sage-grouse core areas.”

It is nice to see non-profit organizations (NGOs), federal agencies, state agencies, media companies, ranchers, energy industry companies, and private citizens working together to manage the complex sagebrush landscape.

In case you missed it, the video is below to a recent film we did on the mule deer migration corridor topic, called IMPERILED. More projects like this are in the works and we’ll get you the latest and greatest information on these projects as they are unveiled.

As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak, so we must and we will.” The Good Lord gave us dominion over His creation to manage wisely for sustainable use. I, for one, am glad to see these joint efforts come to fruition. For too long groups have tried to make a difference on their own rather than work together. Unification under a common cause such as this is necessary for future sustainability of our natural resources.

Spread the word!

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Go public land bow hunting spot and stalk style for antelope in Wyoming on this web episode of Eastmans’ Hunting TV. Dan Pickar scours the open country for a record book quality pronghorn antelope buck.

 

The post UNBELIEVABLE spot and stalk bow hunt for antelope appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

2020 and Covid 19 saw hunting participation increase by a significant percentage. While the woods, mountains and plains were more crowded last fall that’s good news for the future of hunting. IF we can hold onto those new recruits. 

Sure, tags are harder to draw and yes, there are strangers camped in “your” spot or glassing “your” ridge but that’s a good thing. Hunting’s future has been dimming for the past decade and we needed this shot in the arm. We also need to make sure those numbers continue to grow, but how? Here’s a list of things to remember. 

Take An Adult Hunting! – Taking kids is great but kids usually don’t have much control over when and if they can go again. Adults, once hooked, can go hunting without the constraints of relying on others as much as kids.Be Nice! – It’s frustrating when you find someone else in your spot or lose an opportunity to a stranger. However, instead of getting angry, try to remember we’re all on the same team and we need to act like it. Help In The Field – Going the extra mile to help new hunters when we encounter them will encourage them to continue hunting. This includes helping them find game, helping them recover game and helping them transport game. Again, these new hunters are our best allies against the forces working to end ALL hunting. 

There’s no doubt that in 2020 hunting’s future became a bit brighter but it’s up to us, the vanguard, to keep it trending so that our heritage, traditions and the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation can live on, benefitting our animals and the health of our ecosystems. After all, as hunters we are more than torchbearers for hunting, we are stewards of the land and animals and we need future stewards who care as much as the past generations have if we are to have anything left for the future. 

Council Report Highlights Hunting License Sales Increases in 2020

(Washington, D.C.) – “License sales were up in 2020 and we’re ready to focus on Retention in 2021,” commented Dr. Steven Leath in response to the recent insights garnered from the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports (Council) research into hunting license sales during the COVID-19 pandemic. Leath, who serves as the Executive Director of the Council, shared the highlights of the study during the 2021 North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference earlier this month.

The Council initiated the study in early 2021 to document the changes in hunting license sales during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hunting, along with other outdoor activities, became a way throughout 2020 for Americans to get outdoors, connect with nature, and escape daily stresses. Now we have a better understanding of how hunters reacted during the pandemic as well. Study results indicate that license sales increased by approximately 5% nationwide, with growth rates varying by region. A full report is available on the Council’s website.

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Mike Glover sits down with Ike Eastman and Scott Reekers from Eastmans’ Hunting Journal to talk about wildlife conservation. Ike discusses where and how Eastmans’ Hunting Journal got started in 1987. They also talk about their experiences in hunting and how they compare to today, in terms of how social media has changed how the general public views hunting in modern times. From the perspective of social media, many people only see the trophy hunt photo after the hunt, but they don’t see the hard work that goes into the process and the beauty that comes out of it.

The post Talking Conservation with Fieldcraft Survival appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

We are one week from Colorado’s deadline for all species. For many this is THE state that has been an investment for years, especially for mule deer. Hold your excitement though, there may be a few things to remember that are happening in the fine state of Colorado. 

First and foremost is the massive date changes that have been implemented for hunting mule deer. To quote Dave Hoshour from his write up in the Colorado MRS, “If you have been building points, this is the year to use them.” Second season will run from October 30-November 7 and their season will be squarely in the rut with a November 13-19 season. For more information on this particular issue give Dave Hoshour’s full write up a read inside of Eastmans’ TagHub in Colorado’s Expert Analysis section. 

Colorado is maintaining it’s elk herd and by extension opportunity. In many areas you can walk into a store and simply buy a license to hunt elk during the archery season and many times during 2nd and 3rd season rifle hunts. TagHub has all of these hunts listed, for detailed statistics on every hunt the data is at your fingertips. 

Consider this your final countdown, Colorado’s big game deadline is coming for all species. If you need to research your options, take advantage of the free trial in Eastmans’ TagHub. If you stick around as an Elite member your name will also be in the hopper for a pile of gear and so far we have given away five hunts. One elk, two antelope and now two mule deer.

CLICK HERE TO ACCESS COLORADO DATA IN TagHub

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Rest easy- Your hunting licenses will not be increasing by 85%, for now.

Keeping with tradition, the odd years in Wyoming bring odd and sometimes tired old retreads of legislative bills gone by the wayside from the past legislative session. Senate bill SF0103 is one such case. This bill has been refined from the last time it was introduced but still lacked any real serious support at the state legislative level. The bill failed miserably to emerge from the senate TRW (Travel, Recreation and Wildlife) committee by a vote of 1-4, meaning this proposal was far from favorable once the Committee looked further into the repercussions of such a bill on the Game and Fish Commissions fiscal responsibilities to the state’s sportsman and the department as a whole.

On a bit of a side note, Wyoming is a very traditional and conservative state by nature. Bills like these have a very, very tough road to reality in Wyoming. When it comes to wildlife related legislation, the state has a very guarded approach to wildlife related bills that do not have the full support of the Governor’s Game and Fish Commission. Wyoming sees wildlife management through ballot measures and stiff-arm legislation as a true threat to their system. I do not see our Governor ever signing a piece of wildlife related legislation without the full consent and recommendation of the Game and Fish Commission, period. The Governor appoints the commission at his discretion for a reason. There are lessons to be learned from the Colorado wolf reintroduction debacle. 

The details of this bill are somewhat straightforward which is surprising for politics these days, but this is Wyoming after-all. In a nutshell, this bill aimed to cut the nonresident tag allocation for big game licenses to less than 10% from the historic norms of around 20%, depending on the species (moose-16%, sheep-25%, deer, elk and antelope-20%). The original bill introduced a few years ago was very simple and straightforward to that change. But the bill quickly ran into a brick wall regarding funding concerns given the fact that nonresident hunters contribute a massive haul of more than 77% of the total licensing revenue generated by the state of Wyoming. In addition, nonresident applicants in Wyoming contribute more than $12,000,000 worth of preference point fees each and every year to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s budget, while resident applicants only pony up an anemic $100,000. Plain and simple, slashing nonresident hunting licenses by half did not sit well with Wyoming legislators, Game and Fish Commissioners, Outfitters or our Governor. The original bill died quickly.  

With the bloom of another legislative year brings another opportunity at a run for this bill as a more refined version including a funding realignment component that would, according to the bill, actually increase revenues to the state Game and Fish Department. This new retreaded bill, Senate Bill SF0103 again sought to cut the nonresident tag allocations by more than half, but also sought to nearly double the cost of what tags were left to nonresident hunters and applicants. In addition, the bill seeks to increase application fees slightly for both resident and nonresident hunters ($5 to $7 for resident, and $15 to $17 for nonresident) alike. The bill would also eliminate nonresident applicants from any hunt that garners less than 10 tags in the quota altogether and would create a $500,000 wildlife crop damage fund with the increased license fees, obviously a landowner crumb thrown in to increase potential legislator support. 

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If you’ve been paying attention to my many rants on poachers over the years you know that I’m all for stiff punishments in deliberate and heinous poaching cases. I’m talking about the deliberate theft of wildlife from the public trust, not about the hunter who accidentally kills a hen pheasant or a sub-legal mule deer buck and reports themselves. Honest mistakes happen but premeditated acts of poaching, no matter the motive, are exactly what I labeled them above, theft, plain and simple. 

That said, I cannot help but having noticed some disparities in punishments between types of game animals. This past week I posted the results of a waterfowl poaching case from Michigan on the Wingmen Facebook Page. It received a ton of traffic and generated a lot of comments, spurring some excellent dialogue. The case in question was most certainly premeditated and a piggish display of human greed as the three poachers killed birds far in excess of their bag limits. The punishments include nearly $20k in restitution, permanent forfeiture of the guns used and the loss of hunting rights for roughly one year. I personally think they got off easy! That said, the day after I posted the news release on Facebook another Michigan poaching case popped up, this time it was an elk poaching case. 

Now before some of you walk away saying, “Michigan? Who cares?” I think it’s important to note that cases like these happen all across the country and are perhaps more impactful in the West as our big game herds produce vast amounts of monetary value for the states in which they reside making losing animals to poaching a pretty serious cut out of local economies. But here’s where my real question comes to bear. The elk poachers in Michigan are serving six months probation, loss of hunting privileges for 15 years (which I do not believe works, these aren’t hunters to begin with), and a $625 fine. They must also reimburse the people of Michigan $5K for the three elk killed. 

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The post TagHub Elite Membership Giveaway appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

SECTION 1. In Colorado Revised Statutes, add 33-4-122 as follows: 33-4-122. Big game licensees – reserved requirements for Colorado hunters. WHEN CONDUCTING A LIMITED LICENSE DRAW FOR A BIG GAME LICENSE, THE DIVISION SHALL NOT ISSUE TO NONRESIDENT APPLICANTS MORE THAN ONE-THIRD OF THE TOTAL NUMBER OF BIG GAME LICENSES AWARDED IN THE LIMITED LICENSE DRAW.FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION, AN ACTIVE DUTY MEMBER OF THE UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES WHO IS STATIONED AT A MILITARY FACILITY LOCATED IN COLORADO IS DEEMED A RESIDENT.THIS SECTION DOES NOT APPLY TO BIG GAME LICENSES LEFT OVER AFTER THE INITIAL LIMITED LICENSE DRAW AWARDS BIG GAME LICENSES TO APPLICANTS.

The wording is a little ambiguous. Which draw? All draws together? It sounds like all species combined, but then, sometimes wording is intentionally ambiguous, especially if you have friends in the courts.

Here’s the thing. In 2020 nonresidents only drew 25% of the limited elk licenses (26% counting nonresident youth) and only 17% (18%) of deer licenses. They drew only 3% of pronghorn, 10% of moose, 9% of sheep and 9% of mountain goat. So why is this necessary?

This seems to be like passing a bill that no one can drive over 100 mph in your town when the highest posted speed limit is 55. What is really going on here?

Well, for one thing, the current allocation is 65/35 on most hunts, 80/20 on very high demand hunts, so this does cut into the limits, but as I say, the actual allocations are far lower.

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This review features Mystery Ranch backpacks product engineer Alex Rich and brand ambassador Sam Soholt. Eastmans’ Brandon Mason sits down with the guys to talk hunting and the how Mystery Ranch’s hunting backpacks developed over the last twenty years. The guys talk custom fit and how the Guide Lite Frame is built to work with your body. Learn what inspired the design Pop-Up design and of the NICE Guide Lite frame system.

The post Mystery Ranch Backpack Review: Over 20 years of mission built packs appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

Go mountain goat hunting in Alaska with Eastmans’ subscriber Gary English. This is Gary’s third attempt at a billy and he’s determined to make it count. He hikes one thousand miles in preparation for his last chance at a mountain goat.

The post Mountain Goat Hunting- He hiked over 1000 miles! appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

Region 1 comprises the northwest part of the state from the Canadian border south to Missoula and the Flathead Indian Reservation. Elk and deer numbers have been on the decline in most 100 districts largely due to the number of predators. DIY hunting is the most difficult here compared to any other part of the state. Sparse elk populations can be found in all three forks of the Flathead River drainage and headwaters. The Cabinet mountains, Swan Valley and the Bob Marshall Wilderness all hold elk. Perhaps your best bet to harvest an elk in Region 1 is with an outfitter in “the Bob”. These are not trophy hunts as most hunters are looking to just kill a bull but it seems like someone takes a 350 bull every year. Lots of wolves and grizzlies reside in the Bob but the wolves have been hunted hard the past several years so your main foe is the grizzly bear. 

The DIY hunting will be a struggle for the first timer on public land in this region. Plan on hiking and more hiking. Find areas above treeline during archery season, glass what you can and chase bugles if possible. This is thick country so glassing isn’t always effective. Be prepared to beat the brush and struggle. 

The Flathead River drainages have a lot of alder, mountain maple and other brush that makes navigation difficult. Stick to old logging roads, logging units and ridgelines if you plan on traveling or south and west facing slopes where brush may be a little more sparse. Logging units are often the best feed in really thick country so always check them, especially during rifle season. The Bob Marshall Wilderness portion of the Flathead River system is the best elk habitat. 

The Cabinet Mountain area and the far northwest portion of Region 1 is similar to the Flathead River system with plenty of public access and not many animals. Lots of alder, devils club, ferns, and brush that make traveling extremely difficult. Stick to trails and logging roads. Check the burns and alpine during archery season or early in rifle on a year that doesn’t have snow. 

The Clark Fork River system offers a little better elk country and there are better numbers in the regions than further north. Logging units are common, as are burned areas, which provide the best elk habitat. There are a high density of predators here as well but the habitat is a little better overall than most of Region 1. 


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The Council to Advance Hunting and Shooting Sports tracked data from more than 40 state fish and wildlife agencies and reviewed monthly license sales for residents in 2019 and 2020. You guessed it, sales soared in 2020 as people turned to the outdoors to escape the pandemic. The agency reviewed monthly sales data which proved that there was a 5% increase in hunting license sales in 2020. Resident sales increased 5.4% and nonresident sales increased 1.6% during the same time period. 

They saw initial license sales fallout in March when the Covid lockdown began, which is expected because a lot of states banned out of state sales. Sales picked up throughout the summer when restrictions were lessened and eased up in the fall. 

We saw this in the western states too. For example, there were 103,000 people with elk preference points in Wyoming in 2019 and that number rose to roughly 124,000 in 2020. That’s a whopping 21,000 additional applicants in the system which pencils out to a 17% increase!! Holy smokes! 

Reports I’ve heard from other places in 2021 show that applications are up 20% from this time that last year. These are incredible numbers and acquiring tags through the draw is going to be more and more difficult for all of us. The western states are going to have to begin to brainstorm on how to handle this giant influx of applicants in the coming years as state systems become more stressed. 

I expect 2021 to be no different across the board but it is early in the year so we will see how sales progress throughout the year as it seems that covid restrictions seem to be easing in most states. Or heck, who knows, maybe as covid restrictions ease and businesses open back up, bars will see the largest surge in participation in 2021!

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