Outdoors

Outlawed in Idaho, cow decoys work elsewhere for goose hunters

WATERFOWL HUNTING — Jump-shooting waterfowlers might be able to beef up their success by devising a cow “blind” for stalking birds in the field.

The practice once used by market hunters is not legal in Idaho.

But it's legal in Washington, according to  Capt. Mike Whorton of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department.

Plow through the first part of the video above to the third segment, which shows three waterfowl hunters using a cow silhouette to stalk amazingly close to a flock of snow geese.

The subject of cattle silhouttes as hunting blinds came up in a Q&A feature from Idaho Fish and Game.

Read on for more details.

Question: I am in a duck club and we get geese in the field between our blinds. It is impossible to sneak up on the geese without being seen. We made a life-size cow silhouette and painted it black and white just like the cows in the field. We are planning on hiding behind it to sneak up within shooting range of the geese. Is this a legal decoy to use?

Answer from IFG: No, it is not legal to use any mammal (except a dog) or an imitation of a mammal as a blind in approaching or taking game birds (FGC Section 3502.)

According to Capt. Phil Nelms, hunters have long known the benefits of using cattle as duck blinds. In fact, in the early days market hunters were known to train large steers to act as live decoys for them to hide behind while they “walked their shot” to approach the unsuspecting birds for a closer and better shot.

One of the most famous live decoys was a hunting steer by the name of “Old Tom.” When his owner bought him in 1914, Old Tom weighed 1,850 pounds and stood 5 ft. 8 in. high. During the days of market hunting, he was utilized in practically every inland county in the state and made an excellent blind because of his training, size and build.

Because of the high success of this method, market hunters were banned from this practice nearly a century ago, and sportsmen have been banned from this practice since 1957.

However, Washington State does not have any prohibitions against using silhouettes of cattle, Whorton said.




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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.


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