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No Non-resident Shed Hunters In Wyoming!

Photo Credit: WildMediaSK

A pair of bills that deal with shed antler hunting season in Wyoming are getting closer to becoming law. The first one will prevent non-residents from shed hunting until one week after the season opens, giving residents a week-long head start. For example, if the shed hunting season opens on May 1 at 6 a.m. on public lands, non-residents will have to wait until May 8th and 6 a.m. until they can shed hunt in the state of Wyoming. This includes Jackson Hole. The point is to give residents a fair chance to get out over the course of a full weekend without the non-resident pressure. 

The second bill would require non-residents to purchase a conservation stamp to hunt antlers in the state of Wyoming as well. The license is valid for the entire year and would cost a non-resident $21.50. For reference, the average price of brown elk antler is $20 a pound. A medium sized 6-point bull elk antler weighs 5-6 lbs, so that antler is worth $100. In my mind a $21.50 conservation stamp is a small price to pay when you factor in the price of shed antlers.

Both these bills passed the Senate unanimously and they each have the support of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. There are still a few more votes that need to happen before these bills reach the Governor’s desk. 

What’s your take on this?

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10 Most Common Big Game Violations Part 8 – Hunter Trespassing

Photo Credit: duallogicTrespass on Private Property: Misdemeanor: Up to $1,000 fine, 0-6 months in jail, 0-3 years license revocationMandatory 1 year license revocationIdaho Code 36-1603(a) states “No person shall enter the real property of another and shoot any weapon or enter such property for the purposes of hunting, retrieving wildlife, fishing or trapping in violation of section 18-7008, Idaho Code.” Idaho Code 18-7008(2)(a) states in part “A person commits criminal trespass and is guilty of a misdemeanor, except as provided in subsection (3)(a)(i) of this section, when he enters or remains on the real property of another without permission, knowing or with reason to know that his presence is not permitted”Idaho Code 18-7008(1)(f) states “”Permission” means written authorization from the owner or his agent to enter upon private land, which shall include the signature of the owner or his agent, the name of the person being given permission, the appropriate dates that the permission is valid and a general description of the property; OR another form of permission or invitation recognized by law.”Idaho Code 29-105 states “All contracts may be oral except such as are specially required by statute to be in writing.”

Most people think that you are required to get written permission from the Landowner or his Agent before hunting in Idaho.  This is not the case, but it is a good thing to do. Most state Fish and Wildlife Agencies highly recommend that you get written permission because it can prevent legal headaches in the long run. Those agencies even offer a permission slip template that you can use. Idaho is a verbal contract state and because the 18-7008 statute does not SPECIFICALLY state that the permission must be written, verbal permission works.  

I’ve hunted my fair share of private land and almost no landowner has wanted to do a written permission slip. Most of the old timers consider it a slap in the face to ask for their permission in writing.  For these guys, their word is their bond, and a handshake means more to them than any permission slip.  I even had a guy rescind my permission when I asked for it in writing. However, if you get oral permission instead of written, you are just opening yourself up to potential legal problems.    

I know of a case where a landowner gave permission to a hunter for archery and rifle season. One thing led to another, in that case, and the landowner ended up crawfishing on permission. He did this after that hunter hunted all of archery, and even killed a nice buck in the rifle season. A couple days after the buck was killed that landowner called Fish and Game and falsely reported the guy. Now that guy is wrapped in a long court battle because of this. I believe he will prevail in the long run, but it has been an expensive fight.  

I look back on all the times I’ve gotten permission, and this could have happened to me at any time. It’s a scary thought that it could really happen to anyone. If you cannot do a written permission slip for whatever reason, I would recommend recording the conversation with the landowner/agent. This way you have some protection if they crawfish later on. Idaho is a one-party consent state for recording, so you can record those conversations without worry.  

There are many ways you can get yourself in hot water for “trespassing”.  If you wound an animal and it goes into private, you cannot just retrieve that animal without permission. This is all on top of the obvious, where you just hunt on someone’s land without permission. You are responsible for knowing the boundaries. With today’s mapping services, there really is no excuse for not knowing if you are on private or not. Bottom line, if you are flirting with the private boundary, make sure you are 100% before you pull that trigger.    

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Colorado Corner Crossing – Here We Go Again

Photo Credit: JosephL_Pixabay

For some time now you’ve probably been following the 2021 corner crossing case in Wyoming that involves four Missouri hunters who used a ladder to cross from one corner point of public land to another like jumping diagonally from one black square to another of a checkerboard. The hunters were using the onX app when they propped their stepladder over the fence posts and stepped through private airspace from public land to public land.

Those hunters were trying to access additional public land for hunting, but they were eventually charged with criminal trespass by a private landowner who alleged the hunters trespassed onto his private land and violated private airspace. The case went to court, and the hunters won, but now it’s moving to a U.S. District Judge who may ultimately decide the fate of millions of acres of public land access across the nation that are “corner locked.”

This issue is huge in Wyoming, Nevada, and Arizona … and now Colorado is jumping into the discussion. Colorado House Bill 1066 has been introduced which would allow lawful passage between these checker-boarded public land parcels bordering private property.

Technically, it’s possible to cross from one public parcels to the next without touching the private dirt; however, corner-crossers do move through the air space above the privately owned land. Believe it or not, it’s that question of trespassing through private air that is really at the center of this corner-crossing issue. Even though there isn’t a law here in Colorado making it illegal to step over private land to reach public land, property owners have pushed to prosecute corner crossers.

In 1979, the Colorado Supreme Court addressed a similar issue of whether members of the public can trespass on private property while floating on a public river. However, no state appeals court or law has directly addressed whether corner crossing is considered trespassing.  Without clear direction from the Colorado legislature or state courts, corner crossing remains an unresolved issue.

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How to Hunt Wild Turkey

Turkey hunting is a popular outdoor activity that requires careful planning, preparation, and patience. Here are some general steps to follow for hunting turkey: Research the area: Before you head out to hunt turkey, it's essential to research the area you plan to hunt. Look for locations with plenty of wild turkeys, such as forests, fields, and gr...

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How to Build an Epic Fire

Building a good fire involves several key steps, which are: Choosing the right location: The location of your fire should be a safe and suitable spot that is away from flammable materials, such as trees, dry grass, or bushes. Ideally, the location should be a flat and dry surface, like a fire pit or a cleared area.Gathering materials: You will need...

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Attacked by a Coyote

Photo credit: CreativeNature_nl

You might have a similar reaction to mine, a soft chuckle and… come-on, really, a coyote? I visited my cousin a few weeks back, as we walked the property behind their house she mentioned the coyotes being aggressive, running towards them barking, acting aggressive when they ride horses through, etc. I acknowledged her but inwardly I was very doubtful and even dismissed the idea for something more realistic in my mind, such as a female coyote trying to bait a domestic dog into the pack. We have all heard of and or seen this happen. 

However, a few days later I was reading through the IDFG news and what did I see? Headline news of a coyote attacking a skier in northern Idaho! Huh!? I laughed to myself and decided to search further and you guessed it…coyote attacks are legit and happening more and more on humans. 

There are a pile of reasons, many people point towards rabid animals when they attack humans but research would argue this in regards to coyotes. The attacks are more likely a result of over interaction with humans and lack of management through hunting and trapping. Which results in less fear from the coyote towards humans. And sadly enough the first recorded (adult) human fatality, from a pack of coyotes was back in 2009 in Cape Brenton Highlands National Park, Canada. 

Wow! A fatality from a pack of coyotes attacking is unthinkable for many of us. Investigation into this incident pointed towards coyotes adapting to hunt larger prey due to a lack of small game available. They even concluded that coyotes were effectively hunting and killing moose in this region! That is hard to imagine, but in recent years I have seen video of large groups of eagles killing mature elk in Montana, it is safe to assume there is power in numbers and that was the conclusion for the Cape Brenton victim. 

Now let’s be real, none of us should walk around in fear of our lives due to coyotes attacking here and there. It is very rare and highly unlikely to happen. However, the skiers in north Idaho or the mother in Alta, Idaho who was bitten in her own front yard, likely have a different outlook. Nonetheless, we have a God given instinct to look out for our own. Using common sense, being watchful and continuing doing what we already do…managing predators. Will all prove to keep us sportsmen and sportswomen at the top of the food chain where God himself intended us to be.

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To Feed Or Not To Feed. . . That Is The Question

Photo credit: Getty Images

With the current temperature sitting at 0 and hitting a balmy high of 2 above today, I have to say that my concern for our big game herds is very real. The only solace I have is that for the last few weeks in my region, much of the snow melted off with some better temperatures. However, the cold streak we are experiencing now has iced things over, which will make it tough on the mule deer for the next week or more, even with the temperature on the rise.

This has produced a rise in deer feeding by Wyoming citizens. There is only one problem, a mule deer will struggle to digest much of the food offered at feeding stations. Wyoming Game and Fish sent out a notice to the Lander region about the issues mule deer face when fed forage that isn’t part of the natural landscape this time of year. 

To quote one of the mule deer specific sections from the newsletter:

“Unlike elk, mule deer are highly selective foragers due to their specialized digestive system. Mule deer digestive systems contain specific bacteria that help break down only the plants they eat and are adapted to. The bacteria adjust slowly to match their diet through each season, and in the winter their gut contains the appropriate bacteria to digest only their winter diet of woody materials. Any human-provided food sources, including hay, apples, corn, etc. are simply not digestible and cause an abundance of lactic acid, acidosis, dehydration, and ultimately death.  Fed mule deer often die from starvation with full stomachs of food they cannot digest.”

Also from the Wyoming Game and Fish Website:

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Forest Service Guns Down “Feral” Cattle

Courtesy of Center for Biological Diversity

Forest Service Guns Down “Feral” Cattle – Todd Helms

Aerial gunning of roughly 200 “feral cattle” in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest is set to begin today amid concern and opposition from the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association and others. The announcement of this plan was made by the Forest Service on February 16th and was met immediately with a lawsuit from the NMCGA for stoppage of the plan due to the agency’s failure to provide a 75 day notice. 

Sigh. . . There is so much I want to opine about on this one so hold onto your hats because I’m climbing my soap box. 

Why is it okay for the National Forest Service to carry out aerial gunning operations for “feral cattle” on public land under their purview but the BLM can’t do the same exact thing, for the same exact reasons with feral horses on public land under their watch? Does it have anything to do with being under the Department of Agriculture vs the Department of the Interior? I say neigh. . . I mean, Nay!

I’m betting it’s because cattle aren’t “cool”. Horses are the glamorous invasive species and it’s not acceptable to shoot them out of an airplane or even slaughter them. Which makes no sense considering there’s a market for horse meat around the globe. Both species are highly destructive to habitat and pose potential threats to public land recreationists and motorists. So why the division? 

I discovered much of the same nonsensical policy when creating the Eastmans’/Wingmen Sage Grouse film project when it came to the treatment of the West’s Cheatgrass epidemic. The Forest Service is authorized to use a highly effective herbicide to control and eliminate Cheatgrass but the BLM is not, it’s a head scratcher much like euthanizing feral cattle but not feral horses.

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10 Most Common Big Game Violations Part 7 – Unlawful Means of Take / Take Out of Season

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay_David_MarkUnlawful Means of Take: Misdemeanor: Up to $1,000 fine, 0-6 months in jail, 0-3 years license revocationIdaho Code 36-1101(a) states “It is unlawful, except as may be otherwise provided by Idaho law, including this title or commission rules or proclamations promulgated pursuant thereto, for any person to take any of the game animals, birds or fur bearing animals of this state.”Idaho Administrative Rule is where you’ll find the specific weapons restrictions.  It is in an Administrative Rule so it is easier to change with the times rather than in a “Statute” which requires a Legislative act.  

Idaho is one of the more restrictive states when it comes to weapons. For instance, in 2022 Idaho House Bill 507 finally allowed Idaho hunters to use mechanical broadheads and lighted nocks. Idaho was the last state to allow the use of those accessories. Idaho has a 16-pound weight limit on rifles and that includes the scope, sling, magazine, bipod cheek riser or anything other attachment to the rifle. Idaho muzzleloaders are restricted heavily as well. They must be open/peep sights, loose black powder, and must not use a Sabot style projectile. There are too many more restrictions to list so follow the link below to check them out for yourself.

Take Out of SeasonMisdemeanor: Up to $1,000 fine, 0-6 months in jail, 0-3 years license revocationMandatory 1 year license revocationProcessing Fee: $75 Deer, $250 Elk, Civil Penalty: $400 Deer, $2,000 Trophy Deer (Mule Deer over 150” B&C and Whitetail over 130” B&C), $750 Elk, $5,000 Trophy Elk (300” B&C),410,000 sheep, goat and moose.Idaho Code 36-409(c) states “The appropriate tag must be had for the hunting or taking of each and every one of the aforementioned wildlife…i.e. moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, elk, deer, antelope, mountain lion, black bear, grizzly bear, wolf, sandhill crane, swan, sage grouse, or turkey”Idaho Code 36-1101(a) states “It is unlawful, except as may be otherwise provided by Idaho law, including this title or commission rules or proclamations promulgated pursuant thereto, for any person to take any of the game animals, birds or fur bearing animals of this state.”

This law seems straight forward but it can get more complicated when you look at how it’s unusually violated. Most people see the “take out of season” and envision a poacher who is shooting deer in February, but that’s not the case. Most of these violations come from people not knowing the species and sex regulations in the area they are hunting.  

Take Unit-5 for example. In Unit-5 with a “General Deer Tag” you can hunt antlered whitetail deer from October 10 to Dec 1.  There is also antlered mule deer open from November 1-14.  If it is November 20th and you shoot a mule deer buck not knowing it closed on the 14th that will qualify you for this code. This also happens in areas where there is a “Two-Point” restriction and where the antlerless take is for youth only.  

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Harsh Reality…Winter Can Be A Killer

Photo Courtesy of Pexels-Mariana Bobina

We are well into the new year and for many it is easy to feel like winter and her sting of cold might be nearing an end. However, this is far from a reality in the Rockies. Late-winter and early-spring often bring the toughest storms and that is exactly what we don’t want to see for our big game herds. Currently IDFG is implementing feeding plans for quite a few areas in the SE portion of the state. Yet again, we see heavy snowfall and tough conditions for deer and elk. This area’s deer took a big hit just a handful of years back and are still trying to recover, and from what I hear there’s more snow and cold temperatures in the near future. Winter conditions are expected to be so severe that it could be the worst winter kill in decades. I sure hope we don’t see another event like that, but the writing is on the wall. 

Looking at the snowpack in these areas it is easy to see that conditions are less than ideal and there are legitimate concerns for the deer and even the elk there. Keep in mind, IDFG’s policy on winter feeding is a more “hands off” approach. They don’t want animals to become dependent, nor susceptible to outside issues such as communal disease, vehicle collisions, harassment from people, etc. Thus, when we see feed sites going up left and right, it brings concern. 

This is a reminder for all of us how sensitive big game populations are, especially during winter. It never hurts to keep tabs on these situations before you apply either. Events like this can be very localized as well, so don’t assume your hunting spot isn’t affected just because the area in general didn’t see much impact. Also, when we have special conditions such as heavy snows that cause hardship on the herds, let’s be good stewards and keep a distance when we recreate, skiing, snowmobiling, snow shoeing, shed hunting, etc. Educate those around you and let’s do our part to ease the pressure. 

The post Harsh Reality…Winter Can Be A Killer appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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Washington State Hunting Under Attack Again

Photo Courtesy of Pexels-Aaron

Your State Will Be Next! 

This Friday, February 17th, Lorna Smith, a new commissioner to the WDFW, will present a radical new model of game management in Washington state. Past readers of this blog recall that in 2022 the WDFW commission canceled the annual spring bear hunt in Washington, claiming lack of scientific evidence for the hunt, despite 48 years of data and the elk population being significantly below target.  The main reason for the cancellation of this hunt had to do with the commissioners that our governor has appointed, the majority of whom are anti-hunting. This appears to be the next move in this high stakes game of chess for our hunting heritage.

This radical new model of game management is straight out of the playbook of Wildlife for All, an anti-hunting organization whose entire premise is to “focus on biodiversity conservation, not management of consumptive uses.”  The other group involved is Washington Wildlife First, whose website explicitly states their mission is to “Elevate Conservation over Consumption”.  Their website also actively pushes for adding commission members who align with this new way of thinking. The playbook of these anti-hunting, extremist organizations is to load up wildlife commissions with people who think the same way and then, from within, make these changes. Washington sits at ground zero in this battle.  

Items on the agenda to be discussed on Friday include a multitude of topics, all of which fall in line with this new way of thinking. Setting the stage with topics such as: “Washington wildlife is part of the Public Trust”, “Changing faces, changing values, changing funding support”, and “including other species as a protected species, i.e. coyote, ground squirrel”.  It is clear that this monumental shift is a direct attack on hunting and trapping and will be detrimental to science based wildlife management in the state. 

Interestingly enough, under Wildlife Management Issues, one of the first topics talks about Best Available Science, which was conveniently ignored when deciding to eliminate the spring bear hunt. I wonder what else falls under that category or stands to be ignored.   

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Montana Region 7 Deer Populations Cut In Half

Photo courtesy of Joetography

The Montana deer population survey numbers for 2022 were published late last year and show that mule deer numbers are down, way down! There are a lot of factors to blame, starting with the largest culprit that has been proven by research in many Western states and that is drought. Research shows deer (does) that go into winter in poor shape, with minimal body fat in dry years, have much lower fawn health and birth rates in the spring of the next year. 2020-2022 were very dry years in the eastern half of the state and forage in the fall of 2021 was especially poor when I hunted there. Trophy quality also seemed to be hurt by the drought. In 2022 population counts showed 58,000 mule deer in Region 7 which is down from 114,000 in 2020; that’s a 52% decrease!

Disease is also another factor and sure doesn’t help the situation; EHD, Blue Tongue, and CWD. All of these diseases have affected the eastern half of the state the last few years. CWD has been the one in the spotlight recently but there’s no proof that CWD has wiped out entire herds of deer in the West unless you consider how it has impacted state’s like Montana’s deer management policies. 

Overhunting could also be a factor. Montana gained a lot of residents the last two years and if you don’t know, Montana is an opportunity state and is not managed for trophies. It’s managed for opportunity, hence the many general tag areas. Basically Montana is a, “If it’s brown, it’s down” kind of state and all of Regions 6 and 7 are either-sex, either species except for one district on the general tag. In addition there are thousands of antlerless tags available for each species in these regions as well.

For more in depth insight, my expert analysis and hunt recommendations for the entire state of Montana consider joining Eastmans’ TagHub.

The post Montana Region 7 Deer Populations Cut In Half appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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10 Most Common Big Game Violations Part 6 – Shooting From/Across Roadway and Party Hunting (Transfer Tag)

Photo courtesy of USFWS National Digital LibraryShooting from or across a public roadway or right of way Misdemeanor: Up to $1,000 fine, 0-6 months in jail, 0-3 years license revocationIdaho Code 36-1508(a) states “No person shall: Shoot from Public Highway. Discharge any firearm from or across a public highway…”Idaho Code 36-202(x) states: “Public highway means the traveled portion of, and the shoulders on each side of, any road maintained by any governmental entity for public travel, and includes all bridges, culverts, overpasses, fills, and other structures within the limits of the right-of-way of any such road.”Idaho Administrative Rule states “Established Roadway. Any road established, built, maintained, approved or designated by any governmental entity or private landowner for travel by full-sized automobiles. An established roadway shows evidence of repeated use by full-sized automobiles, and may include a traveled way of natural earth with depressed wheel tracks and little or no vegetation in the wheel tracks.”

This one is pretty simple and most states also have similar laws.  Don’t shoot from or across a roadway.  I think of the roadway as anything maintained by any government agency for use by full-size vehicles.  This would not include, in my opinion, OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) trails.  Idaho has a lot of 50 -inch and motorcycle only trails that are called “trails” for a reason.  If it’s called a “trail” you’d be safe but it’s called a “road” I wouldn’t test it.  Bottom line is, get off the road and don’t shoot across it.

Transfer of Tag/License to AnotherMisdemeanor: Up to $1,000 fine, 0-6 months in jail, 0-3 years license revocationMandatory 1 year license revocationIdaho Code 36-409(c) states “The appropriate tag must be had for the hunting or taking of each and every one of the aforementioned wildlife…i.e. moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, elk, deer, antelope, mountain lion, black bear, grizzly bear, wolf, sandhill crane, swan, sage grouse, or turkey”Idaho Code 36-202(j) states “”Hunting” means chasing, driving, flushing, attracting, pursuing, worrying, following after or on the trail of, shooting at, stalking, or lying in wait for, any wildlife whether or not such wildlife is then or subsequently captured, killed, taken, or wounded”

This is another simple one.  If you don’t have a tag for the animal, don’t shoot it.  This one is common for large groups of hunters (Parties).  There will be a large group that go out hunting together and shoot deer as they see them until everyone’s tag is filled, even though only a select few have a tag.  This is also common when people get tags that have no intention of actually hunting.  For example, Grandma gets a tag and someone else “fills” her tag for her.  If you don’t have a tag for that animal, don’t shoot it.  Tags are issued to specific people for a reason.  

The post 10 Most Common Big Game Violations Part 6 – Shooting From/Across Roadway and Party Hunting (Transfer Tag) appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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Utah Shed Hunting Closed… It’s About Time!

Photo Courtesy USFWS National Digital Library

Utah recently closed down all shed antler hunting through April 30. The only question rattling around in my largely empty skull is, “What took so long?” 

Ungulate populations across southern Wyoming and northern Utah and Colorado are severely struggling this winter. I just passed through the Park City to SLC corridor last week and witnessed deer and elk eeking out a difficult existence firsthand. The conditions were even worse along the I-80 corridor in southern Wyoming. There is no reason to be pushing those animals around in the winter, especially one like this and for something as trivial as picking up antlers.  

I enjoy “hunting” for shed antlers as much as anyone. It’s a great excuse to get outside with family and friends and get some exercise. That said, I feel like it’s past time that some major regulation be put in place on the practice. Too many people pushing around too many weak and struggling deer, and to a lesser extent elk, are damaging a dwindling western icon, mule deer. It’s way past time we put the deer first and our own selfish desires for “brown gold” second. 

I’m not saying we can’t pick up antlers, we should, and we should enjoy doing it but we need to be doing it at a time when the deer especially, have moved or have access to better groceries and are out of the brutal grasp of old man winter. I’m thinking mid-May or early June. Let’s put the deer first and the lust for antlers second. We owe it to them.

What’s your take? 

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We Were Wrong! The Changing Face of Bear Hunting

I haven’t found one yet, but I’ve heard there are recipes for eating crow. I wish I could find a good recipe because I’ve been eating my fair share of it lately.

Every year during legislative sessions we hear of bills that come up that make us raise our eyebrows. This year has been no exception.

Recently a bill to change the classification of bear in Wyoming from a trophy game animal to a large carnivore game animal was sent to us and here was my response before understanding what the bill was about:

I’m 100% against this BS. Hunters giving way to the anti’s in this leads to them pushing for more and more and more until eventually it is outlawed in the state just like Washington.

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10 Most Common Big Game Violations Part 5 Proxy Statement

Photo Courtesy of Rodger HolscherPossess/Transport wildlife without a Proxy Statement – Idaho 36-502(a)(4)Misdemeanor: Up to $1,000 fine, 0-6 months in jail, 0-3 years license revocationIdaho Code 36-502(a)(4) states “No person shall give another person wildlife to possess or transport unless they also give the transporter a proxy statement…”. “Possess” is both actual and constructive possession – Idaho Code 36-202(m)“Transport” is carrying or conveying (or causing to be carried or conveyed) from one place to another – Idaho Code 36-202(r) 

The word “Proxy” means the authority to represent someone else.  A Proxy Statement is a small form that is attached to your printed out tag.  This form has the tag number and tag holder’s information at the top.  The tag holder info will include the name and address of the tag holder along with the hunting license number.  Towards the bottom of the proxy statement, there’s a section for sex of the animal, date harvested and signature of the hunter.  The Proxy Statement requires a pen to fill in a bubble for sex of the animal, fill out the date harvested and for you or the tag holder to sign. 

After examining this section and its definitions, I’ll give you a few scenarios for when you should be filling out a Proxy Statement per the “letter of the law”.

You are a few miles in the backcountry on an elk hunt with a buddy, you kill an elk and your buddy volunteers to help pack out the elk.  Per this law, you would need to fill out a “Proxy Statement” for your buddy to possess and transport your animal or parts thereof.   Seems a little on the ridiculous side if you ask me.  Even more on the ridiculous side is if your 14-year-old daughter killed her first deer, you’d need a Proxy Statement to help her pack out her deer.  

I don’t mean for this to scare people but it’s what the law says and it CAN be enforced strictly.  On the other hand, you have the “spirit of the law”.  I have spoken with an Idaho game warden that I trust and he gave me his view on this law.  He has seen this law used in multiple different ways so I’ll give you the common scenarios where he has enforced this code.  

If you are transporting wildlife for another person and lose sight of that person, especially if you make it back to camp or the truck before they do, you need to fill out a Proxy Statement.  If you transport the wildlife on the roadway without the tag holder with you, you need a Proxy Statement.  If you are a parent and you are taking your kid’s meat to a game processor, and that successful hunter is not with you, you need a Proxy Statement.  

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2023 Arizona Elk Application Strategy

Arizona has a big game draw process whose complexity rivals the trophy quality of its elk tags. If you are familiar with how the AZ system works, read on, for those who are new to applying in AZ or who haven’t read up on it in a while, scroll to the bottom for some basic information on how it all works.

The Basics

Applications are due by 11:59 on February 14, 2023Applications must be submitted online @ applicants must have a hunting license valid through the draw application deadline.Arizona requires all applicants to enter credit card information at the time of application, but only the application fee is paid at that time. The remaining cost is only charged to the card if a tag is drawn.Application fees are $13 for residents and $15 for non-residents.Bonus points can be purchased for the same cost as an application fee and are only available during the draw application period.For a full breakdown of the draw process visit the AZGFD website:


For those of you with your heart set on hunting blue chip units in the rut I will keep this very simple. There are a handful of units in AZ that consistently produce top end bulls; 1, 3C, 9, 10, 23(North and South) and 27.  All of these are exceptional elk units with high densities and solid age class. Hunting any of these units in September is truly the experience of a lifetime and it will likely take a lifetime to draw one. Archery hunts in any of these units will require double digit bonus points and a firearm hunt will require somewhere in the upper 20’s to draw.

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Will The G-Bear Be Delisted…Finally?

Folks paying attention to the ongoing saga of delisting the grizzly bear finally woke up to long-awaited response on the morning of February 3rd. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced their take on petitions for delisting that were submitted by Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho.

While the 90-day findings the federal government issued were nearly a year in the making, there was good news for two of the states who petitioned for the bear to come off the list. Montana and Wyoming were given the green light to begin the 12-month review.

This is the third time the grizzly bear in Wyoming and Montana has entered in the 12-month review process; first in 2007 and then again in 2017.

One difference is these delistings are based on smaller recovery zones – that means the bears in certain areas can be delisted but the grizzly bear as a whole in the Lower-48 area would not. In addition to Yellowstone bears, Montana also has been given the go-ahead to review the Northern Continental Divide population of grizzlies for delisting. Those bears, commonly encountered in the famed Bob Marshall Wilderness and west, are seen as a distinct, healthy population above recovery objectives, as well.

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Washington State Hunters Fire Back at Commission

Past readers of this blog recall that in 2022 the WDFW commission cancelled the annual spring bear hunt in Washington, claiming lack of scientific evidence for the hunt, despite 48 years of data and the elk population being significantly below target.  The main reason for the cancellation of this hunt has to do with the commissioners that our governor has appointed, the majority of which are anti-hunting.  With these individuals controlling the commission, the outlook for hunting in Washington is not good. With spring bear off the table, many hunters are asking what species are next?

During 2022, a Washington hunting and conservation group took the steps to sue Governor Jay Inslee for failing to follow the Washington code which clearly states that governors “shall seek to maintain a balance reflecting all aspects of fish and wildlife, including representation recommended by organized groups representing sportfishers, commercial fishers, hunters, private landowners, and environmentalists.”

The governor’s appointments to the commission have not been balanced, nor included representation among all those groups.  He has appointed 5 commissioners over the course of 2021 and 2022 who are all voting along anti-hunting lines.  This is why we are seeing this seismic shift in how wildlife is being managed in Washington recently.  What is even more scary is that there are two commissioners whose positions are up soon, one of which belongs to the most pro-hunting commissioner left.  

These new commissioners are not all that interested in solving or addressing the significant decline in the elk population in the Blue Mountains, even though the department’s own data clearly shows that predation is a significant factor.  They are content to watch our big game herds shrink as long as the hunting of predator animals does not occur.  

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10 Most Common Big Game Violations Part 4 (Tagging)


Failure to properly validate and attach the tag. Misdemeanor: Up to $1,000 fine, 0-6 months in jail, 0-3 years license revocation. Idaho Code 36-409(d)Idaho Administrative Code 

In Idaho, it is a misdemeanor to not properly validate and attach your tag immediately upon kill.  I’ll be breaking this down, so you have a better understanding of what exactly is required.  

In Idaho Statute 36-409(d) “Game Tag to Be Validated and Attached to Carcass” it states, as soon as a person kills any wildlife for which a tag is required, that tag must be validated and attached in a manner provided by commission rule.  That law can be vague, so we must look to the Idaho Administrative Code  Here we can find a more descriptive answer.  

Immediately after any deer, elk, pronghorn, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, mountain lion, black bear, grizzly bear, or gray wolf is killed, the appropriate big game animal tag must be validated and securely attached to the animal.

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