Hunting and Fishing News & Blog Articles

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Utah Deer Permit Cuts

Utah wildlife biologists just unveiled their 2020 plan last week suggesting to cut over 9,000 general season deer tags. The not so bad news is there will still be 80,725 total general season buck tags available! So that’s still a good amount of opportunity if you ask me. Doe tags would also be decreased, from 2,220 to 1,175.

Premium, limited-entry, and management buck deer permits would remain the same under this proposal. Another new addition this year are HAMS hunts, similar to what we have seen in other states like Arizona. A HAMS hunt is handgun, archery, muzzleloader, shotgun only season. This calls for 15 new permits for limited-entry buck deer tags in the late season. No scopes will be allowed on any of these weapons and no hunter orange is required. We’re not sure which units will be included in this hunt but the criteria to be considered for the HAMS hunt are areas underutilized by hunters, areas with high potential of human conflict, and migratory deer populations that don’t get hunted during standard seasons. The formation of this hunt began with multiple individuals who suggested a desire for a more primitive style of hunting using less technology. I think this is great and Utah DWR has made some great moves providing more opportunities for folks across the state.

These changes are based off the fact that buck to doe ratios and fawn recruitment have declined over the past four years. Furthermore, this is based off of the state’s objective of 15-20 bucks per 100 does. Back in 2015 and 2016, the deer population was over objective so tags were increased in response to those numbers. Populations are back down to the objectives of what the state biologists set them at 5 years ago. In addition, fawn recruitment objectives set by biologists are 60 fawns per 100 does which allows for a population to grow. Currently, the state average is 53 fawns per 100 does. This leaves the state of Utah with 321,000 deer total, which is 51,000 deer less than last year. 

Biologists claim the decrease was due to drought conditions in 2018 and a hard winter in 2019. The southern, southeastern, northeastern, and northern parts of the states showed to have taken the biggest hit. There will be 19 out of the 29 units that see decreases in tag allocations for the general season.

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What Is Eastmans’ TAGHUB?

The brand NEW Eastmans’ TagHub takes the trusted hunting research you rely on to a powerful new digital platform. We’ve taken the Members’ Research Section from the EASTMANS’ HUNTING JOURNAL and EASTMANS’ BOWHUNTING JOURNAL and modernized it. Over 500,000 data points can be yours 24/7 at your finger tips. TagHub allows you to filter and sort hunting information to customize your research needs. This will help you make the best decisions for your hunting application strategy. Your hunt starts here; at Eastmans’s TagHub.

Scott Reekers shows off some of the features offered in TagHub in this hunting tip: Click Here


The post What Is Eastmans’ TAGHUB? appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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Hunting Seasons at Risk?

With the big game applications season upon us, for some, a very critical question at this point in time is, will the CoronaVirus pandemic risk your hunting season? I think it fair to say at this point, there is a very low probability of that actually happening. Right now, I would put the chances of our fall big game seasons in the West being at risk of cancelation at about 10%-15%. Based on some of the most up to date modeling by the CDC and others, we should be well on our way to a reduction in cases by mid-May and nearly back to normal by mid to late June. If this modeling is in fact correct, I think it fair to say our September and October seasons should be safe, for now. But, as we have seen anything could change. 

The spring and summer seasons will not be so lucky however. The state of Nebraska just this morning announced they are halting the sale of all nonresident turkey tags and will probably end up canceling spring turkey season altogether. I fully expect this to become the norm throughout the West when it comes to spring turkey and black bear seasons. I’m not exactly sure why hunting is considered a “non-essential dangerous activity” when it comes to social distancing, as the very nature of the sport is pretty much the definition of social distancing at its finest. Maybe it has more to do with department personnel and that would be understandable given the current situation I guess. 

Many of the early fall/summer hunts up North are very likely to be significantly disrupted however. Many of these seasons start on the 15th of July and are very reliant on-air travel which is sure to have a very delayed rebound once this is over. I have heard speculation that full air travel, even domestically, is likely to not resume to normal until mid to late fall. The hunting seasons in New Zealand and Argentina have been completely canceled while the summer hunts in Africa are at a very high level of risk at this point. One thing is for sure, there could be some very big opportunities for cancelation hunts this year.

As for the draws, I have a feeling we could see a fairly significant reduction in demand inside the draw system this year. Based on economic circumstances I think more applicants will look seriously at the points only option this year. There is also a risk factor at play here as well, as many applicants, particularly from the eastern US might not want to risk the possibility of a season cancelation or major travel disruption come hunting season, therefore making the points only option the best, safest option for them given the risk associated with the uncertainty of the current situation. 

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GRIZZLY ATTACK SURVIVOR back in the woods! Bow Hunting Montana Elk

Go bow hunting for elk on the public land of Montana in the heart of grizzly bear country. Eastmans’ subscriber Bob Legasa was the survivor of a grizzly attack the year before. This is a redemption hunt for Bob as he returns to harvest the public land elk he set out for the previous hunting season.

The post GRIZZLY ATTACK SURVIVOR back in the woods! Bow Hunting Montana Elk appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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Idaho’s New 5 Day Waiting Period to Buy OTC Elk Tags

The Idaho Game and Fish Commission decided at their March 20th meeting to impose new rules when it comes to buying over-the-counter (OTC) elk tags. Game and Fish has found the vast majority of applicants that apply for controlled hunts and are unsuccessful also buy capped elk zone tags. These are mainly archery licenses and a lot of the zones sell out fairly quickly. The most popular are the Sawtooth and Diamond Creek zones. The data shows that hunters apply for a controlled hunt as a long shot option and if they are unsuccessful they will just go buy an OTC archery tag because they 100% want to hunt Idaho that year. Game and Fish are implying that this mentality makes many capped zone tags sell out very quickly. The popular areas sell out in a matter of a couple hours.

So here’s the deal. If you applied for a controlled hunt and want to buy a capped zone elk tag, you must wait for five days after they go on sale to give other people that didn’t apply for a controlled hunt a chance at buying a tag OTC. Game and Fish are looking out for the average Joe hunter that doesn’t apply for controlled hunts but just wants to go on his/her same elk hunt every year and is happy with just that. Will this actually do anything? I doubt it. I’m sure there will be some people that don’t know how to use a computer and will be able to stroll down to a license seller and purchase a elk tag the first five days they go on sale but all the tags will sell out on day five anyway. It will be interesting to see if Game and Fish accomplishes what they want to with this new rule.

This will apply for residents only in 2020 as some of the capped zones already went on sale December 1st for nonresidents. Most of the capped zones go on sale in July, so be sure to keep that noted if you are a resident and apply for a controlled hunt. I’m guessing that all zones that have capped elk tags will change to July next year for nonresidents as well, so be on the lookout for coming changes over the next year right here on the blog.

The post Idaho’s New 5 Day Waiting Period to Buy OTC Elk Tags appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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Coronavirus – How to help if you’re a hunter!

The COVID-19 coronavirus is putting parts of our country on lockdown and leaving many grocery store shelves and meat cases empty. People most a risk from the virus may be stuck at home with no help. This is a unique chance for hunters to help and spread a positive message about the benefits of hunting. If you can spare it, now’s the time to share your hard-earned game meat with those friends, family, and neighbors in need.

The post Coronavirus – How to help if you’re a hunter! appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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Hunting the same buck for a week! Mike Eastman Mule Deer Hunt

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The Most Coveted Deer Permit in Montana that You Will Never Draw

Statistically, the most coveted deer permit in Montana is just outside Darby in the southernmost portion of the Bitterroot Valley. This has been considered the holy grail of mule deer permits in the Big Sky State for the past couple decades. The permit is known as 270-50. Historically, a hunter with some gumption has a legitimate chance at a 180” buck here and many bigger have been harvested. I have applied for this tag almost every year for the 25 years I was a resident and a couple years as a nonresident. This is an extremely hard tag to draw with “sheep like” draw odds. So put on your sweatband and grab your stress ball, we’re going to take a look at the hard numbers. As a reminder, Montana has a squared bonus point system. If you have two points, that gives you four chances in the drawing. If you have max points (16), you have 256 chances in the drawing. 

In 2019 there were 7,654 resident applicants for about 35 tags. Because nonresidents are in the same pool, there are 8,543 applicants in the total pool. Due to the vast quantity of applicants for this unit, the point system does very little for you in return. For example, in 2019 there were over 1400 applicants with zero points, and one person drew. There were 96 people with max points and four applicants drew. Applicants with 10 and 12 points also drew four tags respectively. However, by looking at all point levels from 1-16, multiple applicants drew permits in just about every point level from 0-16. These statistics tell us that the bonus point system does not weigh enough in this squared bonus point system to select applicants in the higher point tiers. The moral of the story is, the more applicants the more “washed out” the drawing is, and the less work your expensively purchased points do for you. Resident applicants for this permit are increasing 300-1000 per year proving that the popularity hasn’t waned.

For nonresidents the statistics are even worse. Remember nonresidents are allocated up to 10% of the tags in an area. However, there are no guarantees a nonresident will even get a tag. There are 45 tags total for 270-50. If 10% are allocated to the nonresident draw, that means four tags maximum (rounded down) go to nonresidents. In 2017, three tags went to nonresidents. Zero in 2018 and two nonresidents drew in 2019. This is with roughly 1000 nonresident applicants every year. If you are a regular nonresident this means you are in the pool of 8,543 applicants for four tags. If you have zero points you have a .004% chance of drawing a tag. If you have max points (16) you have a 2% chance at drawing. Yikes! 16 years worth of buying points all for 1.5% better odds than someone with zero points. WTF!!

So you’re probably wondering, how is it possible that zero nonresidents drew this tag in 2018? The answer is landowners. 15% of the 45 permits are guaranteed to resident and nonresident landowners alike. So that is 7 permits skimmed off the top immediately for residents. Then you have the nonresident landowners who get thrown into the nonresident pool but get guaranteed preference of at least 15% of the tags over the rest of the nonresidents. So in 2018, all four of the nonresident tags went to landowners. And every other year at least one or two of the four tags go to landowners. As you can imagine 270-50 has the highest number of landowner applicants for any deer permit and by far the highest for nonresidents. And it has been increasing every year. In 2017, there were five nonresident landowners in area 270 and in 2019 there were eight! This is quite the impressive increase as to qualify to apply for a landowner tag, you have to own or be in contract to own at least 160 acres in that unit. The big takeaway here is, as nonresident landowners suck out more and more of the nonresident pool, expect less and less tags being drawn by general nonresidents. 

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Your Hunt Starts Here! Eastmans’ TagHub Hunting Research

Learn how to take your hunting research to the next level with Eastmans’ TagHub in this hunting tip from Scott Reekers. This powerful new hunting tool from Eastmans’ allows you to decide where to apply for dream hunt with interactive maps and data from all eleven western states. With over 500,000 data points, TagHub allows you to filter and sort this information to help you make the best decisions for your hunting applications.


The post Your Hunt Starts Here! Eastmans’ TagHub Hunting Research appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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Top 5 Things To Take Away From The Corona Experience


The Top 5 Things To Take Away From Our Corona Experience – And How To Be Prepared For Them In The Future

Your world, no matter where you are in the US, probably feels different than a month ago. With virtually all large gatherings, schools, and business shut down across the nation you are probably reading this at home and likely self quarantined. The Corona Virus unlike a natural disaster is difficult to wrap our heads around. First off, its invisible and potentially asymptomatic in people for a longer period of time. Second, it takes days, weeks, even months to tangibly see the destruction it’s caused, so the now feels normal. Natural disasters are more predictable and very apparent-in and out and we pick up the pieces, but this particular catastrophe is like a butt whipping that last months, who knows, maybe years.

As we sit and contemplate the world around us, here’s 5 things we should take away from this experience.

1. “Preparedness too late is panic too soon.” Many of you saw the lines of Americans stock piling toilet paper and paper towels, hell you might have been one of them. The memes and posts, went viral around this phenomenon. The masses were called freaks, losers, paranoid crazies… but what if you did this in advance-ahead of a pandemic, disaster, catastrophe, then what would you be? Prepared is the answer… let’s not wait until the next “thing” to stock pile essentials and staples.

2. “Family and friends first.” As we get stripped down of our luxuries and even freedoms, we start to watch some of the things we spent time and energy on-wasting away. The bar, restaurants, the club, the game, all fine and dandy, but for the first time you might be looking at the walls in your home thinking-“what do I do now?” That’s where family and friends is important in a time of crisis. We start to realize maybe for the first time what we can live with, and without. Use the time to reconnect or maintain relationships with family and friends

3. “Your body is a gym.” I’ll never forget reading a book written by an elite Pararescueman that described creative ways to push your own body weight to get fit. I used this book because I found myself in desolate and remote places throughout my travels and needed a gym and that gym was me. Push, pull, core, calisthenics, yoga, this time is a great time to kick start your fitness using literally what you are made of.

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Arizona Wolves On The Rise

It seems this topic gets very little attention and I must admit that I don’t know much about the actual impact the wolves are having on game animals in Arizona and New Mexico. That said, I’d love to hear your opinions on this wolf recovery program and the effects it is having on the ungulate population of the Southwest. 

Mexican Gray Wolves have expanded their population by 24% since last year and now total an estimated minimum of 163 animals. An interagency aerial count combined with tracking collar studies and other field research revealed that the wolves are distributed quite evenly between Arizona and New Mexico. 

The wolves have expanded for the second year in a row with more breeding pairs raising more pups and agencies aiding in the expansion of established packs via “cross fostering” a practice that takes pups from other areas or packs and plants them in other packs to be raised. 

Growth for this wolf population has been progressive over the past decade with more and more wolves populating the landscape of the Southwest every year. This growth is due in large part to the science based conservation efforts of an inter-agency task force called the Interagency Field Team or IFT. The IFT is responsible for monitoring wolf populations, encouraging and aiding dispersal of genetics, and a captive breeding program that supplements established wolf packs and expands wolf range. The IFT operates under the Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan, whose goal is the return of the Mexican Wolf to populations that can be “accommodated with the subspecies’ historical range in the southwestern United States and Mexico.” 

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How To Stay Busy During COVID-19

With business closing through out the country, employers asking employees to work from home and social distancing being encouraged. You can be stuck at home not knowing what to do. Being around the house all day can get boring, eventually and you will run out of shows to rewatch and things to do. Try some of these tips out that can keep you active and also get you ready for fishing or hunting season.

1.Practice your cast

Get your fishing pole out and set up targets at different distances and angles. If you have buckets use those. Try to hit the target with your cast. Make it a game, make each target worth points and see how many points you can get in 10 casts.

2 Practice your game calling

Pull out your calls and start practicing and tuning up your calls. It might drive your family and neighbors a little crazy but have some fun with it!

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Vortex Razor HD HRT Review

Hunter Todd Helms reviews the brand new all-in-one hunting rifle cope from Vortex Optics. The Razor HD LHT is a lightweight all-in-one scope. This features an HD optical and APO systems for a crystal clear sight picture in a light conditions. The elevation turret has a zero stop so you don’t have to worry about accidentally bumping the dial no matter what terrain you’re hunting.

The post Vortex Razor HD HRT Review appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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NEW Hunt Area Research! How To Use Eastmans’ BaseMap Layer

Take your hunt area research to the next level with BaseMap’s brand new Eastmans’ hunting research layer. Learn how to use this new research tool in this video. Scott Reekers breaks down where to find the layer, how to access the data and why you need this tool to maximize your hunt potential! This layer is available to any Basemap subscriber.


The post NEW Hunt Area Research! How To Use Eastmans’ BaseMap Layer appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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Idaho Nonresident License Fees go up!

Tough time finding the extra money to buy your license and tags? Well hold on, because costs are going up and some permits are skyrocketing! Idaho has been a fair priced state for hunting licenses for decades, and most of us blue collar hunters really appreciate the below average fees associated with hunting the Gem state. After Montana jumped through the roof nearly a decade ago, it was a breath of fresh air to have Idaho “hold on for the little guy”, or so it seemed until now. Legislative sessions are coming to an end in Idaho and as the dust settles, one of the major changes we see for IDFG is the new nonresident license and tag fee structure. Idaho hasn’t bumped prices for roughly 10 years, and when they last bumped them it wasn’t anything to write home about. That doesn’t appear to be true this time around. Although costs are not as high as they could be, prices for the more prominent tags jumped up substantially. If you ask most residents and many other sportsmen around the West they will tell you that this move is way overdue and many are welcoming the change. However, nonresident fees make up for 57% of IDFG’s budget in 2019. Yet, new structured nonresident caps are well underway as per the commission’s newly adopted plan to “…authorize the Commission to restrict nonresident participation by proclamation in general season big game hunts to reduce the hunter congestion.” IDFG was expecting a 5-9 million dollar loss due to lack of NR funds. Thus, HB 330 was presented and passed “…just to stay even” according to Rep. Clark Kauffman who voted in favor of the bill. Or as the statement of purpose for HB 330 says: “The increased fees in the bill are necessary to compensate for the reduced levels of nonresident participation, allowing the Commission to maintain a balanced budget that can support existing services. The bill, in combination with the Commission’s desired reduction in nonresident tags, will improve management of nonresident participation and maintain quality, diverse general hunt opportunities for residents.” 

In an attempt to simplify the busyness of this, here is the shorter version: Resident hunters have been overrun in many units and are making this known to IDFG. Thus, the Commission has instituted a new NR cap that no longer is a statewide blanket/allocation and will now be managed unit by unit or as IDFG sees fit to best manage hunter pressure with the goal of protecting resident hunter’s experience. This new unit by unit NR cap will reduce funds as many nonresidents will either not be able to obtain their tags or may choose not to hunt based on the changes. Thus, a prediction of loss of funds and a price hike to help pick up the tab! Clear as mud? 

So what is the nonresident take-away? Let’s hear your thoughts! I have hunted Idaho for most of my life, and I am a nonresident hunter there. I totally understand the concerns with hunter pressure and have experienced them firsthand. Also, I can see a benefit to a more evenly distributed nonresident tag allocation. However, raising costs of Jr. mentored tags more than 600% or boosting my archery or muzzleloader permit up to $80 is a bit much if you ask me! For a full list of the new pricing structure click here. These changes will NOT impact your 2020 hunts, as they do not go into effect until Dec. 1st 2020. Is this a time we decide to put our money towards another hunting adventure? Idaho has a lot to offer, but with these changes they are nearly status quo with Montana and Wyoming, this creates a split in the road for many hunters and until we see how IDFG changes the unit by unit NR quotas a big question mark stands in the gap for 2021 hunts.

The post Idaho Nonresident License Fees go up! appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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Cougar Attack In Denver-When Will Coloradans Wake Up?

Another mountain lion attack in Colorado hit the news yesterday, this one was once again in broad daylight, on an adult human male but this time it was in Denver, well a part of Denver anyway, to us folks from Wyoming Denver starts once you head south from Cheyenne and cross into Colorado. 

Watch the video here…

But I digress, what the hell is going on down there and how long will the folks in Colorado put up with predator management run amok? For crying out loud, three known attacks by cougars in the last year? I don’t think there have been three cougar attacks in the past decade in states that manage lions effectively, even if we lump them all together! 

The point is that without proper management of predators we all know that they get overpopulated, outstrip their food supply and begin viewing humans as prey. I cannot fault the cats for this, only the people responsible for letting this happen. Someone is going to be killed and eaten down there, and you mark my very sad words, it will most likely be someone’s child. 

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CWDuh! Be Informed: CWD Management Guidelines


“How did he die?”, I asked my parents when a beloved uncle died in the 1980s.

“Oh, he died of ‘natural causes’,” they responded.

That sounded completely logical to me at the time. In fact, that was a logical response to the death of someone you knew until the last 20 years when our medical advances have increased exponentially. Now we are accustomed to knowing what, exactly, is ailing someone and what they die from. No more guessing or ignorant statements of “dying of natural causes”.

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Fixed or Mechanical – The Great Debate

Guest Author: Dan Turvey, Jr.

Archers are tinkers by nature. Even the old dyed in the wool guys that are set with their gear, get caught in the trance of the newest and latest every now and again. As with all things in life, in the early stages of new product introduction comes resistance from the status quo. Mechanical broadheads were no exception and hotly contested in the early years and rightfully so in many cases. To this very day their use is still debated amongst archers and it’s this debate that has almost caused the fracture of some relationships in my hunting circle.

So the question lies in the fact that should there even really be a debate anymore? I mean with the advancements of modern mechanical broadheads should it be a factor? I realize I have the burden of proof with this one so with that, Dan Pickar and I will dive right in….

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Off Season Bowhunting

Do you want to become a better bowhunter and produce consistent trophies with stick and string? If this describes you, this offseason is your chance to become more efficient and really improve your skills. Pick a sport – the guys that choose to work on their jump shot, work on conditioning or watch extra film are the guys that come back better the next season. So if you are one of the hardcore guys that think constantly about making bowhunting dreams a reality, the offseason is time to get to work.

“Destiny is not a matter of chance; but a matter of choice. It’s not a thing to be waited for, it’s a thing to be worked toward and achieved.” ~ William Jennings Bryan


I believe the biggest key to producing consistent results is mental strength. The first step to harvesting a trophy is setting your mind to it. You have to decide what you want out of your hunting and then decide what you need to do to achieve it. Once you set your mind to achieving, stop at nothing until you get there. Mental strength is not something that comes easy, it is a process learned through overcoming challenges. It is a badge of honor earned through perseverance, trials and tribulations. 

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Bow Hunting BEARS UP CLOSE! Spot & Stalk Spring Black Bears

Bow hunting spring black bears means spot and stalk hunting on the ground. It gets exciting for bow hunter Dan Pickar. He has two close encounters with protective mama bears and baby bear cubs, but eventually finds the jet black bear of his dreams!

The post Bow Hunting BEARS UP CLOSE! Spot & Stalk Spring Black Bears appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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