Hunting and Fishing News & Blog Articles

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Brown Bear Hunting – Kodiak Alaska

Go hunting for giant brown bears in Kodiak, Alaska. Join Pro Membership Sweepstakes hunt winner Chad LaChance for an incredible hunt packed with bear encounters. This giveaway was the biggest hunt drawing of 2018 worth over $30,000. Pro Membership Sweepstakes prides itself on working with the best outfitters and Larsen Bay Lodge did not disappoint on this bear hunt of a lifetime. Learn more at

The post Brown Bear Hunting – Kodiak Alaska appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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Hold On There Cali!

“In response to an outpouring of concerns from hunting, shooting and conservation organizations and the state’s wildlife agency, California’s legislature passed a bill amending language in a recently signed law that broadly prohibited all advertising of firearms and firearms-related products to youth in the state. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the corrective bill into law last Thursday…”

After having our California MRS writer and Research Coordinator Dave Shaffer whip the bushes for news on the truth about California’s most recent attack on your 2A rights. In this case it was a new law that prohibited marketing of firearms to minors (see Previous Eastmans’ Blog)… well that shoots hunter recruitment in the foot! Several sportsmen’s groups, including NWTF raised their concerns and the bill was amended to exclude marketing to minors for hunting and sport shooting. 

We here at Eastmans’ have a large audience in the Golden State and that myopic law would have effectively ended our’s and any other hunting or sport shooting based organization’s ability to promote and recruit for hunting and shooting in California without being subject to intense fines.  

Good job NWTF and the other groups involved in getting this bill amended. 

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Arizona Spring Bison Deadline

Tuesday, October, 11 is the deadline for applications to the Arizona Game and Fish Spring Draw. Included in this draw are applications for Spring (and mostly Summer) bison hunts. Each year Arizona offers the opportunity for hunter’s to pursue bison in three different areas: Raymond Ranch, House Rock Ranch and on the Kaibab Plateau in unit 12A (although the tag is good for several units, 12A holds the overwhelming majority of the bison). 

The Raymond Ranch and Houserock Ranch hunts are both for a “Designated” animal. The reports I have heard from these hunts are more akin to a harvest than what we would most expect from a hunt. These hunts also offer extremely limited permit numbers and are well below any reasonable expectation of drawing.

The hunts occurring on the Kaibab in unit 12A outside of the Houserock Ranch are a completely different experience from their more domestic counterparts. A herd of several hundred free-ranging animals spends most of its time within the confines of Grand Canyon National Park. However, food and water resources inside the park are limited, and because of this, the bison often wander onto adjacent national forest where cattle tanks and salt licks are available. 

When the bison leave the park and its bureaucratic protections, they can be hunted. Most commonly, hunters sit in blinds near water or nutrition sources near the park boundary, often for 12+ hours per day, and hope for a thirsty bull to wander in. The pace of the hunt is both exhausting, and agonizingly slow at the same time. 

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Arizona Spring Turkey Deadline

Arizona’s deadline to apply for spring turkey hunts is Tuesday, October, 11. Some quick thinking and careful planning now can yield extra days in the turkey woods down the road. Arizona is not widely known as a turkey destination, but the state does offer opportunity to hunt three different species. 

The three species in the state (listed by size of their population) are Merriam’s, Gould’s and Rio Grande. Nearly all permits are issued through a draw process with two different season options available for each hunt unit. First season hunts typically start at the end of April with second season following one week later. Both seasons then re-open for two weeks in mid-May. 

Gould’s turkeys are limited to southern portions of the state and begin one week later than Merriam’s seasons. The limited number of Gould’s tags and a lack of other opportunities in the U.S. make this a highly desired hunt and draw odds reflect that. In recent years even Merriam’s hunts have increased in popularity and some now may require 3-4 bonus points to guarantee a tag.  

Merriam’s densities in Arizona tend to be pocketed, especially along canyons. Most of the state’s population inhabits Ponderosa pine tree stands at elevations above 6,000’. Weather is usually mild and roads are generally good. However, early hunts can encounter snow-drifted or muddy roads if late storms occur. Tag numbers are low enough to allow hunters to space out and have a quality experience.  

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Arizona Spring Javelina Deadline

I know right now the weather in most of the country is just starting to trend cooler, but before long the days will be short and the temps below freezing. With most of hunting season right in front of us it’s tough to concentrate on application strategies and draw deadlines. However, if you want to avoid the mid-winter doldrums, some careful planning now can be your ticket to an escape in a few months. Arizona is currently accepting applications for their Spring draw which includes limited quota hunts for bison, three species of turkey (Gould’s, Rio and Merriam), and javelina. Between now and the application deadline on October 11 we will provide an overview of the opportunities each species affords. Proceeding in the order that the seasons occur, we will start with javelina.

Javelina are a bit of an anomaly in big game hunting. For most hunters they are still a low priority target and as such draw odds remain favorable in most units. Like other Western species, their popularity is rising and it’s likely that future draw odds will begin to erode as hunters begin looking for more opportunities to go afield during non-peak months. Javelina are considered big game in Arizona despite adults generally tipping the scale at less than 50 lbs. on the hoof. They are herd animals that live in groups (sometimes called a squadron) that can include up to 20 individuals. Their populations range from the desert floor to the high elevations of Arizona’s sky islands. Typically, they are hunted by glassing in juniper, chaparral or low desert habitat from high vantage points. Their limited eyesight and vocal herd interactions make them favorable targets for primitive weapons hunters who want to hunt in close proximity to their quarry.

Arizona’s javelina seasons are all available via draw except for a few urban units or fringe habitat areas. The seasons are divided by legal weapon and begin with archery hunts in January followed by Handgun-Archery-Muzzleloader (HAM) and rifle occupying the latest dates. Most hunts are relatively easy to draw and can be obtained at least every couple of years in units near Phoenix/Tucson and almost every year in more rural units. Harvest success hovers in the 30-40% range across weapon types and seasons. The big advantage to hunting archery for javelina is that the season overlaps archery deer, so with some careful planning, a combination hunt can provide multiple opportunities in a single season.

To apply for hunts, use the link:

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Hood Slidin’ Like Bo Duke…

In a headline that could come straight out of a “Dukes Of Hazard” episode a  rather crazy poaching story has emerged from the great state of Wyoming. According to Cowboy State Daily a yet unnamed man poached a mule deer buck out of season and then proceeded to break through fence gates when he realized that he was in trouble. By the time a warden arrived on the scene Johnson County Sheriff’s deputies had hemmed the poacher in.

This is certainly one of the more interesting poaching cases to come across my desk. The fines ended up topping out at $9,000.00 with restitution to be made to the land owners. My gut says this may be a little light on the fine side of things, but who knows what “restitution” will look like to take care of the damaged property. 

Bottom line though is that this case is rare on all fronts. Sadly many poaching cases end due to a lack of evidence, this one had plenty from witnesses all the way to a recovered buck on the flatbed of the truck. Which leads me to keep a look out this fall for incidents that need to be reported. Every year the best help a warden has is from witnesses who happen to see something. Wildlife belongs to all of us and when animals are taken out of season the herd suffers first and foremost and then the public suffers due to lost opportunity.

What say you? Did the poacher get a high enough fine? 

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California’s Governor Signed Bill AB 2571 Banning Marketing of Guns to Minors


The illustrious, or rather, notorious, Gov. Gavin Newsom (slicked back hair and all) signed bill AB 2571 under an emergency order banning the marketing of guns to minors in California. He even made a video of himself holding a “JR-15,” an assault weapon akin to an AR-15 that is made for children while he proclaims, “Kids should not have one of these.”

According to the State’s Legislative Counsel’s Digest: “This bill would prohibit a firearm industry member, as defined, from advertising or marketing any firearm-related product, as defined, in a manner that is designed, intended, or reasonably appears to be attractive to minors. The bill would also prohibit a firearm industry member from using, disclosing, or compiling a minor’s personal information if it is intended to market or advertise a firearm to that minor, as specified. The bill would impose a civil penalty of up to $25,000 for each violation of these provisions…”

Rightfully so, this law is now under attack.

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Elk Hunting by Horseback in Grizzly Country – Beyond the Grid

Saddle up and ride into the wilderness to hunt elk in Wyoming. Ike Eastman joins Eastmans’ staffer Luke Washington for a horseback hunt in the heart of grizzly bear country. Luke is following in the footsteps of his grandfather who killed a huge trophy bull in the same hunt area decades earlier.

The post Elk Hunting by Horseback in Grizzly Country – Beyond the Grid appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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Text Message From Anywhere! Review: ZOLEO Satellite Communicator

This Eastmans’ gear review features the ZOLEO Satellite Communicator for backcountry communication and safety. Send text messages to family and friends no matter where you pitch camp. It’s durable, lightweight and makes it easy to send text messages with the click of a button or by using the ZOLEO app. An SOS button is strategically placed for emergency use with a flip-down cover to prevent accidents in transport. Backcountry hunter Scott Reekers will be using his ZOLEO for a second hunting season this fall.

The post Text Message From Anywhere! Review: ZOLEO Satellite Communicator appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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CWD Vaccination in Elk – September 2022 blog

Recent news from a state game & fish agency shows the continued focus and research on the nefarious Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Researchers from the Wyoming Game & Fish Department, in partnership with University of Alberta, are potentially making headway on a vaccination for CWD. 

While vaccinations for protein-based diseases like CWD are very difficult to prove effective, I appreciate the fact that researchers and big game managers are pulling out all the stops in their research to see which method may be best at curbing the spread of CWD, especially before making any rash management decisions.

The report of this potentially effective vaccine on elk at the southern Wyoming Tom Thorne and Beth Williams Wildlife Research Center does come with cautious optimism due to the small sample size of 12 elk in captivity. Effectiveness on free-ranging ungulates is obviously still unknown, and logistics of administering a vaccine to wild populations would be difficult at best.

However, researchers keep digging into various management options for CWD, and that’s a good thing. You can watch the Wyoming Game & Fish Commission meeting where these findings were reported by clicking here.

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Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Commission License Distribution Workshop – Part II

The allocation for bighorn sheep, moose and mountain goat is 90% / 10%. There is no set allocation for pronghorn or black bear.

Highlights of what was discussed during the workshop follow.

1st Problem Statement:  Allocation

Non-resident Perspective: There is no problem, support the status quo.

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$74,000 For Poaching… That’s More Like It!

In a case that reads like a Hollywood movie script, Cody W. Davis plays the bad guy who is eventually apprehended and is fined a whopping $74,000 for poaching a 232-⅞” mule deer buck in New Mexico back in 2015. 

Tipped off by the Operation Game Thief hotline, New Mexico Game and Fish officers discovered a headless mule deer buck and shortly afterward the stashed trophy head with antlers intact. They set up 24/7 surveillance cameras and caught North Dakotan Cody W. Davis returning for the head and antlers four months later. Davis led the authorities on a wild goose chase while he dumped the poached buck’s head in the Rio Grande river where it was eventually recovered downstream of where Davis discarded it. Over 2,000 man hours, 25,000 miles and search warrants in two states culminated in a full confession from Davis, which he later appealed, thus the 2021 judgment. 

All told, Davis will be required to cough up $20,000 for the mule deer buck, and $54,000 to reimburse the state of New Mexico for the extensive investigation required in his case. I applaud New Mexico for the stiff fines, it’s about time a state took a hard line with poachers and hit them where it hurts, the pocketbook! 

This case is also an excellent example of anonymous reporting working to apprehend poachers. If you see something, say something! It’s our job as law abiding hunters to help protect the animals we love by helping bring poachers to justice. 

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Drones For Big Game Hunting?

Imagine sitting atop a favorite glassing point and scouting for elk the old fashioned way when you hear a mechanical whirring noise and look up to witness an “unmanned aerial vehicle”, drone, buzzing over the landscape as its operator “scouts” from afar. 

Not cool! 

Currently Wyoming law is a tad ambiguous on the use of drones for scouting big game but a clarification is in the works to ensure that your honey hole won’t be defiled by drones remotely scouting, aka, harassing both wildlife and hunters.

“Aerial scouting and the use of aircraft to hunt or harass game animals is already illegal in Wyoming; a draft Wyoming House bill would add a paragraph of clarifying language. The paragraph includes the wording “unmanned aerial vehicles”.”

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More Non-Resident Elk Tags For Wyoming!

7,250, that’s how many Wyoming elk tags non-residents have had allocated to them since 1980 in the Cowboy State but that could be about to change! Wyoming elk numbers have skyrocketed in the eastern portion of the state, putting a strain on socially and biologically acceptable elk populations, where a lack of non-human apex predators, (wolves & grizzlies) allows the elk numbers to grow exponentially. 

Along with the recommendation, from the Wyoming Wildlife Taskforce, to eliminate the 7,250 allocation cap, comes a regionalizing of non-resident elk tags as well. 

“Recent Wyoming Game and Fish Department analysis concluded that regionalizing non-resident elk licenses would provide game managers more precise abilities to manage the elk populations across the state,” the taskforce’s recommendation letter said. “If implemented this measure could result in allocation of licenses in areas where additional elk harvest is needed and also provide additional options to manage hunter crowding.”

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Good News For Sage Grouse

An easy winter coupled with a mild spring and lots of moisture have netted a 6% increase in Wyoming Sage Grouse numbers as witnessed by spring lek counts in 2022. This good news comes on the heels of increased efforts to push for an ESA listing of these icons of the West and is a ray of much needed hope. 

Wyoming is home to almost 40% of the world’s Sage Grouse population and seeing an uptick in our numbers is a win for everyone involved in the bird’s struggles. That uptick is due in large part to the condition of the habitat the birds call home. With good habitat, adult Sage Grouse are virtually predator proof as very little recorded predation has been witnessed according to sources I interviewed for our recent Sage Grouse film

Despite an upward trend in the grouse’s population here in Wyoming, an estimated 80% decline in population across the bird’s range has been observed over the past 50 years or so. There are a lot of factors involved in this but habitat loss and degradation via human impact and feral horses have made the big birds more vulnerable to nest predation by animals such as ravens, leading to the decline. 

Of course the big picture is complex but all of my study and research for the above film indicate that we know how to fix the problem but for some reason have opted, in large part, to defer to more “research” and have mired ourselves in bureaucratic red tape while the grouse languish and spiral downward toward a possible ESA listing and all the impacts that carries with it. 

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Montana Elk Recommendations Open For Comment

The Elk Management Citizen Advisory Group has made all of its recommendations open for public review and comment until Friday, October 14, 2022 at 5 p.m.

The 15 recommendations are broad and include a wide range of topics. If you’re a Montana elk hunter or plan to be, I would encourage you to provide your feedback ASAP. If you choose to abstain from this public process then you have no platform from which to complain later. Get involved or keep quiet, the choice is yours. 


Source Links: 

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Pittman Robertson In The Crosshairs

Sitting down to write this article, especially when I am citing a VERY well-written article by Gabriella Hoffman on the Townhall website, makes it tough to offer a deep perspective of my own on her subject matter. She nailed the complexities of what is going on, and I won’t try to rehash her article, as it stands for itself and is worth your time to read. What I will offer are a few thoughts on some of the crazy that stuck out from her opinion piece and encourage you as a reader to make your voice heard to your reps.  

The opposition to hunting is creative, I will give them that. They have actually been very creative for a long time and as part of that creativity, weaponized the court system in their favor. The part that really struck me as creative in this go-around was an initiative to deny Pittman Robertson dollars to Idaho and Montana because…they are hunting wolves. Creative, yes; a good argument, no. Those dollars work to keep habitat open for all species, including their beloved apex predators that are politically polarizing and tough to manage on top of that. Removing that money would be to the detriment of their cause as well.  

What really concerns me, though, is that there is an effort supported by some Republicans, the party that tends to hold 2A close to the heart, who are okay with getting rid of Pittman Robertson under the misinformed idea that it is “anti 2A.” Pittman Robertson fuels hunting, which in turn fuels shooting, which in turn brings more people to the gun store. That one is a head-scratcher, and if you live in one of the places that elected these legislators, I would really encourage you to let them know this is a BAD idea.    

Gabriella also nailed another thought—preservationist lines of thinking vs. conservationist lines of thinking. As a conservationist, I choose where to send my dollars. For instance, I know that we will never tear up the highways that run through some of my favorite mule deer migration routes. Where those two intersect is where I want to see fewer dead deer, antelope and elk on the side of the highway. The easiest way to do this is to fund more overpasses and underpasses with high fences directing the animals to use them. Wyoming has a place where I can put my money where my mouth is and donate to the cause every year. I can even get a cool license plate to match if I choose to go so far. My money, my choice, and we are conserving what we have and hopefully growing over time the mule deer population that has been hammered. 

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New Mexico: Tag Allotment Update

The New Mexico Department of Game & Fish (NMG&F) is beginning to finalize the next four-year rule cycle beginning April 1st, 2023. Even though the deer and elk rule cycle will not be voted on by the Commission until October, not much is expected other than the passage of the muzzleloader rule. This effectively eliminates scopes from all of the muzzleloader hunts, thereby making them a primitive weapons hunt. This basically applies to all species.

 The Commission voted on and passed the exotics rule for the next four-year cycle with some minor shifts in licenses but again the major rule is the elimination of scopes on all muzzleloader hunts.

I applaud the NMG&F for standing up for all hunters and for trying to keep the status quo with the current split on the license structure, meaning 84 percent go to residents, 6 percent to non-residents and 10 percent to hunters hiring an outfitter. Especially for bighorn sheep hunters, (both Rockies and Deserts). There are some organizations that are attempting to circumvent this system by saying that the NMG&F has changed the rule to allow for more non-resident hunts. These organizations are spreading misinformation to the Game Commission which in turn has the potential to vote against the NMG&F on the next rule cycle. 

Because none of the current bighorn sheep ram hunts have more than five tags by individual hunt codes, the argument by the NMWF is that all of these tags should go to residents by following the 84/6/10 split. The way that the current structure is set up by the NMG&F is that all of the Rocky Mountain ram tags and the Desert ram tags are pooled into one hunt code for each. This creates a pool of 26 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep ram tags and 24 for the desert sheep and the existing structure allows for the 84/6/10 spit. 

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Two Giants, Two Days! Elk Hunting with Grizzlies 4K

Ride horseback deep into grizzly country to hunt elk in October on this episode of Beyond the Grid by Eastmans’. Two giant public land go down in less than 48 hours!

The post Two Giants, Two Days! Elk Hunting with Grizzlies 4K appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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Texas-Sized Public Land At Risk! A Sage Grouse Conservation Story

This wildlife conservation story features the most important bird you’ve probably never heard of. Sage grouse hunting has been a fixture of American culture since the earliest pioneers settled the West. This native upland game bird is the canary in the coal mine for the sagebrush landscape it calls home. Sagebrush habitat loss due to a variety of threats could place the sage grouse on the endangered species list affecting western public lands the size of Texas! Join Wingmen Todd Helms and Ike Eastman as they explore the story of the sage grouse. This film aims to open the eyes of the American public to an issue they are likely completely unaware of, but could have a real impact on their day to day lives. Get the full story. Releasing early 2023.



The post Texas-Sized Public Land At Risk! A Sage Grouse Conservation Story appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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