Hunting and Fishing News & Blog Articles

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RMEF Gains 15,000+ Acres For Oregon Hunters

In 2021 the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation finalized the first phase in an acquisition of 15,500 acres for wildlife and hunters in northeast Oregon. When complete, the Minam River Wildlife Area will be 32 times larger than it sits now! The purchase of the first 4,610 acres was finalized in November of last year as part of a two phase project. The next phase includes acquiring another 10,960-acre parcel that will connect the wildlife area with the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and Eagle Cap Wilderness. Phase two is expected to wrap up at the end of 2023. 

Anyone who drives from Elgin to the town of Wallowa can see the property that was purchased in the acquisition from HWY 82 as they make the infamous hairpin left turn down the canyon. 

Though this land was previously owned by John Hancock Life Insurance – a corporation that allowed public access – the acquisition of the property for wildlife conservation will ensure public access to the property far into the future. Not to mention, the wildlife area will now offer a permanent trailhead into the huge wilderness, both technically designated and not, that lies south and east of the Minam River for backpackers, hunters, and other recreationalists alike. 

The canyon walls here provide great winter-range habitat for deer, elk, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats since their big steep walls and south-facing fingers rarely hold snow for long after a storm. As such, folks expect the wildlife area will likely host a closure of some kind in critical times of year to prevent unnecessary disturbance, but final future management will be determined through the adoption of a Wildlife Area Management Plan.

In talking to hunters who live in the area, they admit it’s good for the long-term security of access and wildlife priorities, though there are mixed feelings about the acquisition. Specifically, one hunter I talked to, a gentleman named Tanner, was concerned about the acquisition because it puts this little slice of heaven in the limelight to folks from other parts of the state who may not have known it was accessible otherwise. Only time will tell if more users will move into the area, and if drawing odds get harder for the hunting opportunities in that unit from increased interest drawn from this project. 

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Washington State Spring Bear Final Update

This past weekend the Commission that is responsible for approving all hunting seasons in Washington voted 5-4 in favor of NOT having a spring bear season this year.  This is despite the WDFW’s own scientists backing the hunt.  This decision (and the reasons behind it) have significant ramifications for hunting in this state which I will outline below.      

After much pressure from sportsmen, in late January, the Wildlife Commission opened up a public comment period to consider a spring bear hunt again in 2022.  The spring bear hunt generated intense national interest from both pro and anti-hunting groups.   There were plenty of well-thought-out comments and sportsmen rose up to make their voices heard.  In the end, it did not matter as it was obvious to anyone watching that certain commissioners had already made up their mind what way they were going to vote.  They did not take the recommendations of the scientists from their own state who once again provided evidence that the hunt was necessary and did not negatively impact the species.  One of the new commissioners admitted during the meeting that they did not even know there was a spring turkey hunt in the state!       

The loss of this controversial season was a critical one for many reasons.  The first is that the standing Commission decided to make a policy change (voted against the hunt due to ethically not agreeing with it as opposed to the issue at hand which was season dates).  The second is it showed that the Commission is made up of individuals who do not see the benefits of hunting as a game population management tool and are more focused on a preservation approach.  

What’s next you ask?  The Commission has asked the department to provide more detail, more science beginning in June 2022 to prove that the spring bear hunt is sustainable and will not hurt the bear population(even though we have 48 years of data).  Is it likely that the 5 commissioners who voted against the hunt are really interested in seeing more science?  Hardly, most of them come from strong anti-hunting organizations.  Some of the commissioners at the meeting were asking why we have tags for goat, sheep, and whitetail deer when those herds are suffering.  The commission will meet again in mid-April to approve the Fall hunts. I would not be surprised if some of our OIL tags are canceled in the name of “conservation”.  If not this year, then certainly in future years.  Here in Washington, our hunting is under attack in a way we have not seen before and the outcome is uncertain at best. 


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Elk Hunting in Colorado with Ike Eastman

Hunt elk in Colorado with Ike Eastman and Bill Neff on this web episode of Eastmans’ Hunting TV. It’s the second cycle of the rut and they turn up lots of bulls cruising for cows. The year’s wet spring has translated into strong antler growth and good trophy potential.

The post Elk Hunting in Colorado with Ike Eastman appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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Lighted Nocks and Expandables in Idaho?

Do politics belong in wildlife management? Yes, you read that correctly but this blog is about lighted nocks and expandable broadheads. Or is it? 

If you have been following the trends most hunters know that states around the country have widely accepted the advancement of hunting technology with a few exceptions, and Idaho is one of those exceptions. They have made a stance against what is being referred to as “technology creep” and for years have not allowed even simple changes. For example, lighted nocks are still illegal in Idaho. Why? Glad you asked, something as simple as a lighted nock can be used as a very helpful tool in the world of archery hunting. It doesn’t improve your accuracy, or help you kill the animal with more efficiency, but it does help the hunter follow the arrow flight better and subsequently make better retrieval decisions. This is hard to argue and therefore you will find most sportsmen support lighted nocks. So what is the issue? The issue runs much deeper than lighted nocks, in fact, this is a very slippery slope and that is why all of the attempts with the Commission or legislation on these issues has failed in Idaho. Because to put it simply, “you give an inch, they take a mile”. Therefore, sportsmen and IDFG’s Commission have shot down what would seem to be advancements in archery hunting for many years.

          Let’s rewind a bit and take a look at the bigger picture. Back in 1938 the people of Idaho voted in majority to approve the Idaho Fish and Game Commission Act. With 75.98% approval this Act was placed into law and has been running under this “commission style headship” ever since. Whether you agree with this methodology or not, there is very strong support for this system amongst Idaho’s sportsmen. There are 7 commissioners in Idaho, appointed by the Governor on staggered four-year terms. Each commissioner must be a resident from the region he or she represents and be well informed and interested in wildlife conservation and restoration.” The initial goal was to create a commission independent from the legislative process. Being more connected and accessible to sportsmen and their associated groups than the Senate would be. As flawed as this process may be, it has worked rather well and kept Idaho an “opportunity” state for resident and nonresident hunters for many years. 

Why the history lesson? Well, Idaho’s HB 507 brought the use of lighted nocks and mechanical broadheads back to the table and it passed with flying colors. The caveat? This time, the bill was pushed through completely bypassing the IDFG Commission. A long-standing process which is even considered sacred to some. This over-reach is not illegal, but steps on the toes of over 80 years of tested and proven process. In the end it is safe to say the IDFG’s Commission has probably been too stiff on topics such as lighted nocks and mechanical broadheads. To the point that people felt the need to bi-pass their system. When a power, like a commission group, is potentially abusing their position, it is in our rights to use the laws and systems in place to better the management of hunting and wildlife conservation. 

The question remains, was this the right decision? And so, the “slippery slope” topic is back again. Many sportsmen are in support of the use of lighted nocks and mechanical broadheads and this seems like a win, but all of us should be concerned at the bypassing of long-standing tradition even if it seems right this time. One thing is for sure, history repeats itself and nearly every-time the government obtains more power we as sportsmen and the animals we treasure and fight to conserve lose in the end. Hopefully this will serve as a wake-up call for the Commission and we as sportsmen can unite and help keep states like Idaho on the “opportunity” side of the scale. 

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The Curious Case of Idaho’s Disappearing Deer & Elk

Wolves, these amazing predators claim headlines, article content, and conversation points often enough that it becomes overwhelming and even a point of contention for some. What started back in 1995 when 31 wolves were arguably “reintroduced” into Yellowstone National Park. Has turned into quite the wildlife conundrum, especially on the big game front. Ultimately what we thought we knew, what we were told would happen and the current statistics don’t match up. Not even close! Many of us knew that the reintroduction was a slippery slope and would likely have less than desirable consequences. But none of us knew what the following 25-30 years would bring. Elk herds in many places are a small fraction of what they once were, moose in certain regions are on the brink of no return and deer numbers are dismal. For those of us living in the woods from August through December, the impacts are more than obvious, the hunting and outdoor experience has changed and much of it can be attributed to the ripple effects of wolves and their impressive yet disastrous predation effects. I don’t have enough space in this article to tackle the negative impacts wolves have had on wildlife in the West. So let’s grab some highlights and get to the meat and potatoes of what we can do about it!

    In 1995 15 wolves were introduced into Idaho. The recovery goal was 150 wolves with a maximum sustainability number of 500 wolves. Fast forward to 1998/99 and the goal was reached, yet state management was delayed for 13 more years due to political issues and wolf numbers climbed out of control. Now in 2021 IDFG estimates 1543 wolves statewide and left unmanaged, wolf populations grow 40% annually, Wow talk about over objective! It’s not just ungulates that are experiencing issues, for example, a mature mountain lion that kills one deer per week is an easy target for wolves. The wolves chase away the cat and the cat kills another deer. This continues to happen and in some instances pushes the cat into suburban areas where they make pets their prey. Additionally; hound hunters are experiencing more and more interaction with wolves, many hounds are being killed by wolves each year and many houndsmen are leaving the sport and or changing where they hunt. Thus, leaving predators like bears and cougars to abound and cause their own damage to ungulates. Overwhelmed yet? How about the fact that wolves have pushed deer and elk down onto private lands in such a way that it has changed hunting in many areas altogether? Deer and elk already seek private land for shelter, but now they have gone to another level and in some cases don’t return to the mountains at all. This creates notable issues for public land hunters and also costs thousands of dollars in crop damages due to habitat change. We are only hitting the highlights here folks, it gets worse.

Is there hope? Absolutely! A group of sportsmen have come to the table and made solutions. Back in 2011 the Foundation for Wildlife Management otherwise known as F4WM was created as a 501c3 non-profit with a mission to promote ungulate population recovery in areas impacted by wolves. Their mission has gone from “who is F4WM?” To be embraced by sportsmen and women around the globe and be adopted by Idaho Fish and Game as well as Montana Fish and Wildlife and Parks. All in an effort to preserve ungulates by better managing wolves. 

    F4WM and its members have helped remove nearly 1,500 wolves since they opened their doors. Not only does this greatly reduce the impact on ungulates by saving roughly 200,000 elk, deer, and moose that would have otherwise been consumed by these k-9s. This effort also greatly reduces taxpayer costs. IDFG averages costs of roughly 9k per wolf and they don’t have the funding to tackle the problem head-on. F4WM however, has spent an average of $835 per wolf. All of which is funded by membership and sportsmen donations. 

    What is F4WM and how does it work? Glad you asked! Aside from what has been mentioned; F4WM is a member-based organization that promotes ungulate recovery by reimbursing hunters and trappers up to $1,000 for any legal wolf harvested in Idaho and Montana. (Wyoming may soon join the list as well) and you get to keep the pelt! Membership cost is only $40 per year, which is a drop in the bucket for the sake of conservation. Join up, speak up at Fish and Game meetings, and consider a new hunting season to help conserve our current hunting season! For more information and details please visit    

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This is TagHub!

To draw a tag or not draw a tag? That is the question. Western big game hunting research has always been something that puzzles the mind and with the influx of hunters into the systems of several western states, the mind puzzle is getting harder to figure out. TagHub is designed to help you narrow your big game hunting tag search and provide you with the best hunting content anywhere.


Western Hunting Research – State by State Breakdowns

Here at Eastmans’ we spend as much time, or more, doing our research on drawing tags for elk, mule deer, pronghorn (antelope), moose, sheep, and mountain goat as we spend in the field. In fact, over 2,000 man-hours go into the research we provide to our members in the Members Research Section (MRS) in the Journals (Eastmans’ Hunting Journal & Eastmans’ Bowhunting Journal) and in TagHub, the online research tool that is a monster of data and content. The end result is upwards of 750,000 data points of research to help us all draw the tags we want for the fall hunting season this year and in the years to come.

TagHub MAR giveaway 3 22
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59,395 Deer and Elk Tags to Nonresidents!

Nonresident big-game combination (deer and elk) licenses have been capped at 17,000 since 1975 and are to this date. I’ll be honest with you, myself and buddies always complained about too many nonresident hunters when we grew up hunting in Montana. Over the past five years or so I hear of the public land being more and more crowded and the hunting is getting worse and worse in many of these public areas. I do believe the general hunting for deer and elk has been declining in much of the state the last 10+ years but how is there more and more pressure? Not only has there been a huge influx of hunters moving to Big Sky Country and buying their resident general elk and deer tags (quota is unlimited), but there also has been a massive increase in nonresidents as well.

There are several options now for a nonresident to obtain a deer or elk combo in Montana now which include the following. Legislation in 2021 created the landowner-sponsored deer (2,000), coming home to hunt (500 elk and 500 deer), nonresident native (unlimited), nonresident youth (unlimited), nonresident college student (unlimited), and 454-Agreement (quota: none) combination licenses. These are all in addition to the 17,000 big game combination licenses issued through the nonresident drawing. During the 2021 legislative session, HB 637 allowed all nonresident hunters that had previously booked with an outfitter and not drawn a big game combination license to purchase one for the 2021 hunting season. This resulted in an additional 1,429 elk and 1,486 deer licenses being issued to nonresident hunters for the 2021 hunting season. In addition to this, nonresidents were issued a plethora of “B” licenses for antlerless elk and deer. 

When all the numbers are tallied up, it does indeed come out to 59,395 licenses issued to nonresidents during the 2021 hunting season. Those include 22,818 elk and 36,577 deer licenses. This shows that there is in effect no cap to the 17,000 nonresident deer and elk licenses. As a nonresident it does seem like a lot of “side deals” are going on here that are being used as a revenue stream and there is something to everyone complaining about the public land being overcrowded after all. 


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Wyoming Passes 90/10: The Worst Article You’ll Read This Year


Photo Taken by: Mike Eastman



If you are one of the nearly 12,000 nonresident sheep or moose applicants in the Wyoming preference point system this will probably be one of the most infuriating articles you will read this year. 

Before I go any further on this subject I need to highlight two important points of clarity, first off, most of my coworkers and I are residents of Wyoming and stand to benefit from this legislation. I will do my best to be as objective as possible on the subject with as many facts as possible. 

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Mountain Lion Shot with a Bow!


Would you climb up a tree with a mountain lion?  Mountain lions are dangerous any time, but a cornered lion is next-level scary. This mountain lion got hung up in a tree after being shot with an arrow. One the hunters has to climb the tree to get the cougar down.

The post Mountain Lion Shot with a Bow! appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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Bow Hunting Black Bears – Spot and Stalk with Guy Eastman

Bow hunt black bears in the spring with Guy Eastman on this web episode of Eastmans’ Hunting TV. Travel north to British Columbia for this spot and stalk bow hunt. It’s breeding season for the bears and Guy is hoping a big boar crosses his path.


The post Bow Hunting Black Bears – Spot and Stalk with Guy Eastman appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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No More Guides, No More Finder’s Fees in Utah

By twenty20photos

There is a bill in Utah that cleared the House and Senate unanimously that will limit the number of guides and spotters on public lands per hunter. Now, the new limit will be two per hunter if passed by the commission. In addition, this bill also makes it unlawful for guides and outfitters to pay a finder’s fee and compensate more than $25 to anyone that finds a potential animal for their hunter. Compensate means “anything in value in excess of $25 that is paid, loaned, given, granted, donated, or transferred to a person.”

This is a fairly substantial bill that seems to be aimed at the largest outfitters in the state and to make these high-profile trophy hunts in Utah a little more fair chase on public lands. Many hunts in high profile units utilize “spotters” keeping an eye on the target animal, up to 12 or even 15 spotters and guides on each hunt is not uncommon. Violations of these two rules would result in an “unlawful take” ticket which is followed by a hefty penalty. This bill was sponsored by Casey Snider, the same House sponsor of the trail cam bill that was passed late last year. 

However, these rules do not affect hunting or guiding on private or CWMU hunts. If passed, I can see these to be difficult to enforce by wardens but perhaps this is a good motion and a way to advocate fair chase hunting in Utah if put in place. What do you think?


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NEW Digital React by Trophy Ridge

This review features the new Digital React bow sight made by Trophy Ridge. Eastmans’ Hunting Journals Dan Pickar breaks down all its features. The sight is micro-adjustable and the display is easy to read even in bright sunshine. Dan calibrates the sight and puts it to test at distances out to 60 yards.

The post NEW Digital React by Trophy Ridge appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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Arizona Credit Card Deadline…

Eastmans’ Bowhunting Journal Feature Cody Vine


The Arizona Game and Fish Department has announced the deadline for updating credit card information and purchase of point guard as 11:59 PM MST on March 1. If history is any indication, this means the behind-the-scenes portion of the draw will have been completed by that time and all that will remain is for payment to be processed for those lucky souls who were drawn. So, starting on March 2 start watching those bank statements and credit card accounts for any charges from AZ Game & Fish Dep.

Once those charges begin popping up, keep a few things in mind:

Resident elk tags incur a charge of $135 (the $13 application fee is deducted when you apply) and a nonresident elk tag will run $650.Resident antelope tags = $90, Nonresident = $550There is no correlation between when your card is charged and what hunt choice was drawn.

Link to AZGFD

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CWD Management – Science or Money?


Photo Credit: Vic Schendel

As I reported in my blogs on Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) management in Wyoming in the spring (click here to read) and summer (click here to read) of 2020, the Wyoming Game & Fish management plan contains some potential management strategies that are very concerning, especially since there are still many factors we still don’t know for certain when it comes to CWD prevalence and lethality.

The Game & Fish is continuing the discussion on possibly moving hunting seasons later and/or targeting mature buck harvest on the winter range. While I commend the Game & Fish for their increase in surveillance and testing of animals to gather more information on CWD, there is still so much we don’t know with 100% surity and management strategies like this are very alarming. 

What I’m about to line out is not popular to bring up, but I need you to hang with me here and walk through this logic. I’ve been dealing with the CWD topic in my career for over 20 years and until 2020, I hadn’t been asking the right questions on this disease and I’m concerned that those in game & fish departments around the country aren’t asking them either. I know the professionals I’ve talked to haven’t been and they didn’t seem to think their peers were either. Here we go…


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Corner Hoppers Face Civil Suit

It appears that the Elk Mountain, Wyoming corner-hopping case has taken yet another turn as it heads toward the April 14th court date. The owner of the Elk Mountain Ranch has now filed a civil suit which potentially comes with a fresh criminal charge. The new civil suit declares that the four Pennsylvania bowhunters “committed a civil trespass” and that Iron Bar Holdings, the company that owns the sprawling Elk Mountain Ranch, is pursuing reimbursement “to the fullest extent of the law.” 

The plot twist in this case stems from the claim of private ownership of “airspace” above private property. The current interpretation of the law is ambiguous and with burgeoning recreational use demands across the West the decision of the court in April could very well be a watershed moment in the private property rights vs. public access debate. 

What hangs in the balance of this entire case is the possibility that over 1.5 million acres of landlocked public property could either be “opened-up” or “closed-off”. While our collective attention has been diverted to the events in eastern-Europe at this moment, the corner-hopping case in Wyoming stands poised to change the face of public access forever. We here at Eastmans’ will do our best to keep you posted, er, um, informed. 


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Wolves Back On The ESA!

Wolves have been placed back on the Endangered Species list in the Great Lakes region, West Coast states and southern Rocky Mountains. The wolves in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming remain under state management, for now. That footing is tenuous at best however as witnessed by the following… 

“The court ruling does not restore protection to wolves in the northern Rockies, as wolves in that region lost their protection prior to the delisting rule challenged in this case. However, in response to an emergency petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and its partners, the Fish and Wildlife Service determined in September that protecting the species in the northern Rockies may be warranted based largely on new laws in Idaho and Montana that authorize the widespread killing of wolves.”

As I stood in our booth at the Western Hunting & Conservation Expo in Salt Lake City, Utah this news was made known to me by an industry friend. I had previously written a blog about the “possibility” of this decision but hadn’t expected it to come through so quickly. I should not have been surprised. As word of this spread around the show the collective mood was one of “phew, at least Idaho, Montana and Wyoming dodged that bullet.” My question is, have we? 

The last couple lines of the above block quote clearly indicate the intentions of groups such as, Earthjustice, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, the Humane Society of the United States, Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association and Oregon Wild, just to name a few. It is only a matter of time until these radical groups bring court cases aimed at stripping Idaho, Montana and Wyoming of their rightful and balanced wolf management capabilities. 

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BIG, old BUCK DROPS! Trophy Deer Hunting with Mike Eastman

Hunt for trophy mule deer with Mike Eastman in one of his favorite hunt areas. Mike is competing with his son Ike to see who can bring home the biggest buck with only a few short days of hunting season remaining. Deep sagebrush makes great cover for smart, old deer, but Mike has the patience and experience to pick them out.

The post BIG, old BUCK DROPS! Trophy Deer Hunting with Mike Eastman appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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Hunting Private Land: Be A Good Guest

Many years ago a friend and I decided to do a last minute hunt for some antelope does. He was a local and I was from a town about an hour down the road. In those days doe/fawn tags were much easier to come by and it was a bit easier to knock on doors in season for access. We put on our most polite attitudes and found a rancher who needed a bit of help himself. He was an outfitter but was short of help that day and needed a couple of pieces of his property checked for bucks for his morning hunt. We had doe tags and he allowed us access only asking us to report back what the numbers were after our hunt on a separate piece of property past where he asked us to look. Sure enough a few bucks  were on the property he asked us to check and we brought home meat for the freezer. It was a win for everyone.


So how as a DIY hunter do you get access to private property? Here are some of the best ways in the modern era to gain access out West and have a great hunt. 


Start early and have your plan in place well before hunting season. The days of door knocking in season are over as many places now post “No Hunting” signs just to limit the number of people knocking on the doors. The best bet is to make arrangements as soon as you draw a tag and be prepared that a trespass fee might be asked. If you are from out of state this is simply a land owner wanting to make sure you are serious, and people with skin in the game tend to make the best guests. Follow the rules and pay attention to details. Leaving the wrong gate open can damage a relationship and really hurt the land owner’s pocket book. One cow hit in the road can turn into a long line of repercussions, including access to the property being denied for years to come just to avoid headaches. A land owner would rather have you ask a few questions, pull up a map and get the details right than have a mess on their hands. When in doubt on road conditions, just walk. Climbing that slick hill and tearing up the two track with chains just to cut 400 yards off your hike isn’t worth it. More Hunter Management Areas have been lost due to vehicle abuse of rules than any other reason. Use common sense, if you wouldn’t want somebody to do it on your property then use your better judgment and don’t do it.Last but not least, and perhaps the most important thing, express gratitude. Thank you cards at the end of the season go a long way or even a pre-arranged stop in after season just to say thank you can make the difference for access the next season. 


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Eastmans’ Hunting Journal Updated: EHJ 190


The post Eastmans’ Hunting Journal Updated: EHJ 190 appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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Trophy Ridge Digital React Bow Sight Review

This review features the new Digital React bow sight made by Trophy Ridge. Dan Pickar breaks down all its features. The sight is micro-adjustable and the display is easy to read even in bright sunshine. Dan calibrates the sight and puts it to test at distances out to 60 yards.

The post Trophy Ridge Digital React Bow Sight Review appeared first on Eastmans' Official Blog | Mule Deer, Antelope, Elk Hunting and Bowhunting Magazine | Eastmans' Hunting Journals.

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