Hunting and Fishing News & Blog Articles

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Man Sentenced for Buying Bear Parts

Yan ‘Bo’ Fong | Courtesy Independent Record

Here’s an interesting case you don’t see too often. Yan Fong of Pocatello, Idaho was sentenced to 10 years with the Montana Department of Corrections with all but 100 days suspended and was fined $25,000. He also lost his hunting, fishing, and trapping privileges in Montana and 46 other states for six years. 

Back in 2017 and 2018 he bought 11 bear gall bladders, four black bears, 24 black bear paws, three mountain lions, two mule deer, one elk and seven bobcats in Montana and brought them back to Idaho. He was charged with a felony count of unlawful sale of a game fish, bird, game animal or fur bearing animal and a felony count of unlawful possession, shipment, or transport of said animals. 

He is also facing similar charges in Idaho and California. Of course these odd animal parts have significant value in Asia which is the driving factor for this business much, like poaching in Africa for horns. These penalties are more substantial than we see in many poaching cases around the West and hopefully will set a precedent. I’m guessing that having six years of no hunting or fishing won’t affect Mr. Wong but, for not being the trigger man that is a solid penalty. I would like to see more stiff bans like this in the future for the convicted poachers out there, especially the chronic poachers. Especially increased jail time. It seems that all too often poachers get away with fines and suspended hunting privileges, which doesn’t mean much to someone who doesn’t hunt legally anyway, and little if any jail time. 

Cases like Mr. Wong’s are a good reminder that poaching is a worldwide problem and one we should be taking very seriously! 


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75,000 New Acres To Hunt!?

Access is king here in the West for anyone who enjoys outdoor activities. Most of us who live here don’t own larger parcels of property to hunt and fish, which means public land is where we spend our time. Many nonresidents come out West for adventures that they have saved and planned for for years because the hunting systems are so different from the places they call home. Public land has become a centerfold in both cases and because of that, access is king. Gains in public access are celebrated then because of the opportunities they present. 

This week it was announced that through a joint partnership between the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation(RMEF) and the Bureau of Land Management(BLM) using RMEF grants and BLM access to funding through the Land and Water Conservation Fund access was gained to 75,000 new acres for recreation. The acquisition only actually purchases 35,670 acres from the Marton family whose land will now be conserved for future generations to use through this process.

Front and center on this particular piece of public is the 8 mile stretch of blue ribbon fishing on the North Platte River. In year’s past the only way to access the fishing here would have been by boat coming in from upstream. Now access to shore fishing will be possible. This 8 mile stretch will also offer the opportunity for waterfowl hunters to enjoy more of the North Platte.

Many in the Eastmans’ audience are probably wondering if this will be land that they can burn an elk, deer or antelope tag on? The answer is yes, with a little bit of luck in the draw as all of the hunts there are part of the limited quota system, in particular for elk. This area is one of the more sought after tags in the Cowboy State by residents and non residents alike. 

While many are talking about the now famous corner crossing case playing out, this type of action may be the answer to some of the conundrum posed by checkerboard public land or even 100% landlocked swaths of public. Acquisitions like this open up not just the land purchased but also the public land that has been inaccessible for years. This may be a strategy we see in the future to alleviate tensions between the public and private landowners who both have stakes in the discussion. 

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The Best Glass Money Can Buy! – Spotting Scope Review

In this review Eastmans’ Staffers Dan Pickar and Todd Helms compare five popular spotting scopes for western big game hunting. The guys break down what to look for in a scope and offer advice on how to pick your perfect spotter.

The post The Best Glass Money Can Buy! – Spotting Scope Review appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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I Got a Refund and an Elk Tag!

Another Montana application season in the books with no successful draws to mention. To my surprise, I received a General Elk license in the mail yesterday along with a refund in another envelope! This had me scratching my head as logged in to MyFWP once again to check my drawing status because I was sure that I hadn’t successfully drawn the nonresident elk combo. Sure enough, nothing had changed, unsuccessful was listed. I have never seen anything like this before and got a good laugh at receiving an elk license and a refund for said license. Jackpot!!

Well, it was too good to be true as a statement released by FWP stating that “This week Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks discovered what amounts to a clerical error in distributing some non-resident elk licenses.

About 1,200 non-resident combination licenses were erroneously printed and mailed to non-resident hunters who had successfully drawn a license but elected to return them for a refund when they didn’t draw their chosen permit. For non-residents elk hunters who want to hunt in Montana in a hunting district with limited permits, they first need to draw a non-resident big game or elk combo license. The application process allows hunters to choose an 80% refund on their license if they don’t draw their elk permit. Applicants also have the option to return their elk license and keep only their deer license if they are unsuccessful in the elk permit drawing. These 1,200 hunters had chosen one of these options.

“The licenses erroneously mailed to these hunters are not valid and cannot be used to hunt in Montana.”

Tags will be requested to be mailed back by FWP in envelopes that the department will provide in the coming days. The department is owning the human error and everyone that successfully a tag or permit on their MyFwp account is good to go.

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Bow Hunting Public Land Elk

Eastmans’ Dan Pickar is bow hunting elk on the public lands of Wyoming. He’s hunting in a general unit during the September rut in this web episode of Eastmans’ Hunting TV.

The post Bow Hunting Public Land Elk appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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The Return of Oregon’s Animal Rights Extremist Petition


How to NOT stoke the fire of extreme animal rights movements!

Do you remember the Oregon petition that was floating around a while ago calling for an end to traditional animal husbandry, forms of animal training, and of course, hunting and trapping? 

The petition, originally known as Initiative Petition 13, would have removed exemptions related to animal abuse, animal neglect, and animal sexual assault that would make many aspects of our daily lives criminal. This would alter food acquisition, animal ownership, and how we maintain functioning ecosystems, like any sort of wildlife management related to hunting and trapping. 

After abandonment in 2021, a similar petition titled “Petition 3” or “P3” was recently filed with the State of Oregon to accomplish the same end goals on Oregon’s 2024 ballot. Within the bill are measures to remove any animal breeding programs, restrictions to training methods, and of course, an end to hunting.

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Top 5 Idaho Elk Hunts

 As we draw near the end of application season many states already have results out and only a couple places are still open for applications, you guessed it, Idaho is one of them. Idaho OTC hunts have become all but extinct (at least for a post draw season opportunity) thus, many of us are forced to jump into the draw if we want the chance to hunt the Gem State. Draw odds are steep, but there is a lot on the table for offerings and overall some really good hunts to be had. Idaho does NOT run on a points system. Thus each year you are flush with the world and go in with straight odds like everyone else. If you have taken the time to run the numbers you will agree this is the best system out there. To help things even more, IDFG requires applicants to stick with one species. You may only apply for deer, elk OR antelope. Pick one and you’re done! After that it’s all up to the odds and for a lucky few the results will come back successful and the work really begins, such as scheduling time off, map and satellite research and hopefully boots on the ground opportunity to scout your area. Not to mention get your gear tuned up and ready for the hunt! A process worthwhile but a process nonetheless. 

          Idaho elk are doing quite well in many areas. We have seen some sub-regions take a heavy hit and change the way we apply. But for those simply looking for the cream of the crop the following hunts should get you started in the right direction. Good luck in the draws and keep us posted!

Any Weapon

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$15 Million For Wyoming Wildlife Migration Projects

Wyoming Conservation License Plates help fund wildlife overpasses like the one in the background near Pinedale, WY along key migration corridors.


I remember the first time that I saw the giant overpasses outside of Daniel, Wyoming on my way North to do a little sightseeing in Yellowstone country. I hadn’t been to that country in quite a while and was quite surprised to see overpasses with forage and high fences crossing the highway. In those days the cell service was spotty at best and “Googling” the project wasn’t in the cards for a few days. Once home the digging began and I was quite impressed with how much work had been done to get those built.

In the few years following I noticed that the area had much fewer dead deer along the highway; there seemed to be an uptick in animal tracks and trails using the overpasses instead. I was skeptical at first that it would be used but ungulates proved me wrong and I was happy that they did. The high fences that funnel the animals help dramatically as well. 

Fast forward a few years and much discussion about wintering bucks and bulls later to where we are now. Research on the relationship between migration routes and herd health has overflowed across the state of Wyoming and now major wildlife crossings as I previously reported are happening around Kaycee and now a 15 million dollar project is scheduled to open at  Dry Piney in southwest Wyoming.

This is another key area of industrial travel that will help mitigate the state’s roughly 6,000 wildlife related collisions every year. Most of those collisions are mule deer related, putting strains on populations of deer that are already struggling through winter every year. 

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Guy’s TOP 5 Picks for Wyoming Mule Deer 2022

Based purely on the data and uncertainty going into this year’s Wyoming mule deer draw this list should probably be blank, however, that does not work well for readers so I will give you the best list possible with the information I have at this time. 

With absolutely no doubt in my mind I can honestly say that Wyoming’s mule deer are currently at the absolute lowest point in my nearly 30-year career in this business. And the data backs this statement up as according to the Game and Fish Department the mule deer herd in Wyoming, statewide, is nearly 30% below objective levels. An objective level that was recently adjusted downward possibly in an effort to make the situation look not quite so bad. Too late. In my humble opinion, Wyoming is lacking nearly half the mule deer that should be grazing on our spring landscape as we speak. Needless to say, hunting mule deer in Wyoming in its current capacity is going to probably be less than ideal. 

Add to this bad news the fact that many nonresident applicants are getting very, very nervous, to say the least, given the possibility of the proposed 90/10 license allocation change becoming a reality. This proposal would remove half of the nonresident licenses from every quota in every area in the state for the future. Add to that the possibility of an additional 50% of what is left going into an outfitter only draw and nonresident point holders in Wyoming are extremely nervous to continue with Wyoming’s draw system much further into the future. This will cause massive demand on the system this year and next with high point holders forcibly pushed to cash in their points before the change which will cause huge gains in point creep for deer, elk and antelope inside the Wyoming point system. This has already been seen in the recently completed Wyoming elk draw where many areas saw huge gains in point creep with possibly even more to come for next year. 

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Vortex’s NEW Rangefinders Review


This review features three new handheld rangefinders by Vortex Optics . Eastmans’ Todd Helms breaks down all the features of the Viper HD, Diamondback HD and Crossfire HD rangefinders. These boast features ranging from Armortech coatings, LOS, HCD and Scan modes, up to 7x magnification and OLED displays. There’s a model for every price point and each one comes backed by Vortex’s famous warranty.

The post Vortex’s NEW Rangefinders Review appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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Guy’s TOP 5 Picks for Wyoming Antelope 2022

The antelope hunting last fall produced some of the poorest results in recent memory statewide. With a three-year drought as the main contributing factor the hunting was very tough for big bucks in the Cowboy State. As a result, the state has continued to cut and slash tag quotas in nearly every region of the state in a desperate effort to compensate for massive declines in antelope numbers. With nearly 10,000 fewer buck antelope tags up for grabs and a corresponding increase in nonresident applicants versus only three short years ago, the draw odds are going to be tougher than ever this year. 

A slight ray of hope has emerged over the past 90 days however. A very mild winter has blessed the remaining antelope herds with good condition going into the spring and summer months. Add to that the fact that our spring has been somewhat mild, but cold with slightly above average moisture and we may be on track for not only a decent horn growth season but possibly even the beginning of a rebound in our antelope populations. 

If prior history is any indication, Wyoming does tend to grow some very large bucks on the heels of a large die off like we have seen over the past three years. Given the current weather and improved habitat conditions, with a little help this summer could find us on the cusp of a decent year for good bucks for those who manage to draw a tag for the 2022 fall season. 

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Mule Deer vs. Whitetail – Wyoming To Split Tags?

Disclaimer: This is a personal article written by Jaden Bales and is not a reflection of any views, beliefs, or perspectives of the Wyoming Wildlife Federation.

The Wyoming Wildlife Taskforce is a year into tackling the Cowboy State’s thorniest wildlife management issues. When they meet monthly in Casper, you can be sure there will be controversial topics discussed, like the 90/10 allocation change for the Big 5 species, and making the Big 5 once-in-a-lifetime. However, at the April Wildlife Taskforce meeting, the members did agree to something that held wider support; to recommend a split in mule deer and whitetail deer licenses.

What does this mean?

First, it’s important to understand the current situation with deer licenses. Currently, all pricing and tag types for deer are controlled by one license – a deer license as set in law. Early in the creation of Wyoming’s game and fish department, there were very few whitetail deer, save for the northeast corner of the state.

As a result, all regulations have been built around this singular license with sub-types created by the WGFD and separate general seasons with bag limits like, “antlered mule deer or any whitetail deer.” As of 2022’s regulations, there are 15 hunt areas with general hunting opportunities for mule deer and an additional any-whitetail deer season that usually runs Nov. 1-30 with a rifle. Additionally, there are 61 different type-3 any whitetail licenses and type-8 doe/fawn whitetail licenses totaling 16,275 specific whitetail licenses given out by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

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Eastmans’ Subscriber Tips – Public Land Elk Tips

GUEST AUTHOR: Wes Reidhead

The following excerpt is a golden nugget for hunting heavily pressured public land elk by Arizona hunter and Eastmans’ member, Wes Reidhead. This excerpt was taken from Wes’ account of his son’s successful AZ, DIY elk hunt. To view the full story become a TagHub member today! 

Proven, High-Pressure, Public Land Elk Tactics

                 Many of the public land success stories that I hold dear stem from personal experiences on my own hunts or while hunting with friends and family on public land. These hunts were successful, not because we always harvested our quarry, but because I was able to learn so much from the animals themselves. I would like to share some highly effective tactics that have worked for me while hunting public land over the span of 30 plus years. 

                 Many of the states out West have lots of public elk hunting acreage in units that contain lower semi-desert areas, don’t overlook the lower elevations, even though it doesn’t fit your typical high mountain elk habitat. Scout for water to sit and remember that you’re hunting wary, public elk. If you use a tree stand, ensure plenty of back cover is available and if you use a ground blind, spend some extra time to brush it in. 

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Conservation Vs. Preservation: A Stark Difference!

Photo Credit: Mike Eastman

Do you know the difference between Conservation and Preservation? Yes, there is a difference and it’s stark! 

“In the words of our founder Theodore Roosevelt, “Conservation means development as much as it means protection.” Aldo Leopold said, “Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.” Gifford Pinchot said, “Conservation means the wise use of the earth and its resources for the lasting good of man.”’ (Cummins, 2022)

The above quote was taken from the Summer 2022 issue of Fair Chase, The Official Publication of the Boone & Crockett Club in the issue’s Conservation Policy Column regarding the current federal administration’s America The Beautiful Initiative. I just happened to run up against the article and the one from the Buffalo Bulletin, linked below, on the heels of a whirlwind tour of Wyoming, interviewing experts in the game and fish department, wildlife organizations and the energy industry, all stakeholders in the conservation initiatives playing out in Wyoming and across the West. 

Each of these folks acknowledged a difference between conservation and preservation but I’m taking it a step further in this op-ed… Preservation is an aspect of conservation, NOT a separate entity. They are inextricably linked and work together to achieve a goal. 

Unfortunately, there are too many preservation groups masquerading as conservation groups on the landscape today. It’s no different than falsely referring to poachers as hunters. It’s more than just wrong though, it’s misleading and ultimately harmful to the credibility of legitimate conservation groups such as The Boone & Crockett Club, Pope & Young Club, TRCP, RMEF, Mule Deer Foundation, Ducks Unlimited and others. 

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Review: Swagger Bipods QD Shooting Sticks

Ike Eastman reviews the QD shooting stick system by Swagger Bipods. The last two years Ike has hunted off of these bipods, harvesting antelope, deer and elk with ease. This hybrid system was built with Quick Adapt Technology making these sticks more compact and lightweight. They are available in two sizes; 42 and 72 inches, for shooting positions from seated to standing.


The post Review: Swagger Bipods QD Shooting Sticks appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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Army Paratrooper Killed By Bear

Big brown bear (Ursus arctos) in the forest / Photo by: byrdyak

The fatal mauling of Staff Sgt. Seth Michael Plant by a female brown bear on Alaska’s Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson late last week serves as yet another stark reminder of just how tenuous life in the backcountry can be. Staff Sgt. Plant was killed while scouting an area of JBER for future land navigation courses. He reportedly ventured too close to a den that the sow and her cubs were inhabiting when she sprang upon him and one of his companions. Plant was pronounced dead upon reaching the hospital and an unidentified surviving soldier was released with non-life threatening injuries. 

Condolences from all of us here at Eastmans’ Hunting Journals to the friends and family of Staff Sgt. Plant, you are in our prayers. 

While bear attacks, both fatal and non-fatal, are exceedingly rare overall, (68 people hospitalized between 2000 & 2017 in Alaska & 13 fatalities across North America since 2020) people who work and recreate in bear country face dramatically increased risks of mauling and/or death. Therefore, we once again urge anyone venturing into bear country (black, grizzly or both) to understand the risks, educate and train yourself and those around you in bear avoidance measures and safety protocols. I personally would urge all who wander into the vast and breathtaking spaces that North America’s bears call home, to know how to use, train with and carry both bear spray and firearms, whether they be long guns or handguns. 

One of SSG Plant’s companions was able to bring bear spray into the fracus which seemingly deterred the mother brown bear from continued aggression and likely saved the injured soldier’s life, regrettably after Plant sustained his fatal injuries. 

Another point that this unfortunate incident reminds me of pertains to a question we here at Eastmans’ get all the time… “I’ve got “X” number of elk points in Wyoming. Where should I apply?” 

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Review: Apex TSS shot shell by Apex Ammunition

This review features the Apex TSS shot shell by Apex Ammunition and the 3 inch Turkey TSS also from Apex Ammunition. Eastmans’ Scott Reekers patterns the 3-inch and 3 1/2-inch turkey loads before heading out on a spring turkey hunt.

The post Review: Apex TSS shot shell by Apex Ammunition appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) remains prevalent across much of Colorado and continues to negatively impact deer, and to a much lesser extent, elk populations. To date, CWD has been detected in 40 of 54 deer herds, 16 of 43 elk herds and 2 of 9 moose herds. Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) continues to study CWD and just released some interesting info on their CPW News Release site entitled: “CPW presents results of mandatory testing for chronic wasting disease at May Commission Meeting in Sterling” (small town in NE CO).

Map of CWD infection rates in harvested adult male deer in Colorado, 2017-2021.

(This CWD deer map, and the elk map below, are also in the 2022 Colorado Big Game brochure.)

At the May CPW Commission meeting in Sterling, CPW Terrestrial Programs Supervisor Matt Eckert provided an update to the Commission on the agency’s CWD mandatory testing efforts. From 2017-2020, CPW focused mandatory testing on deer because deer have the highest disease infection rates and greatest need for disease management. During this time, CPW examined CWD levels across all 54 deer herds. A variety of management methods have been utilized around the state since mandatory testing began. When infection rates are greater than 5%, wildlife managers have utilized tactics such as:

Reducing population or densityReducing male/female ratio (males tend to have double the infection rates of females)Changing the age structure (4- to 6-year-old bucks tend to have the highest infection rates)  


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Review: Element Turkey Gun by Weatherby

This Eastmans’ review features the Element Turkey Shotgun by Weatherby Inc. Hunter Scott Reekers patterns this lightweight turkey gun and tests it out on a spring hunt. This gun features Mossy Oak Bottomland camouflage and it’s practically invisible!

The post Review: Element Turkey Gun by Weatherby appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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Wyoming Couple Guilty Of Deer Baiting

Michael and Teresa Rinehart along with 30 of their clients have been pinned to a poaching investigation that began in 2011 by the Shoshone and Arapaho Fish and Game and was concluded with assistance from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. 

The Rinehart’s have been found guilty of Lacey Act violations and Wyoming Game and Fish violations due to the baiting of deer and subsequent illegal harvest of deer on their property adjacent to the Wind River Indian Reservation. $60,000 in fines have been issued and the Rineharts face suspended hunting privileges as well. Their 30 “clients” from 11 different states also face various charges. 

Now for my take… I can’t stand people like this. People who use and abuse our state’s wonderous resources to make a buck by calling themselves “outfitters”, all while giving legitimate guides and outfitters a black eye. People like the Rineharts are nothing more than poachers, plain and simple. They should also be treated as such. I don’t think $60k is enough of a fine and don’t get me started on self-supervised probation and suspension of hunting privileges. The Rineharts and others like them need to serve jail time and once they get out, community service, lots of it! 

Until we are willing to get tough on poachers, incidents such as this will continue. Enough is enough, we need stringent and severe, codified poaching sentencing guidelines. Anybody want to help me draft a proposal? I’m all ears.

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