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Boone & Crockett scorer scores trophy pronghorn

HUNTING — Larry Carey, who measures dozens of trophy big-game animals in Spokane each year as an official Boone and Crockett scorer, bagged his own wall-hanger recently while antelope hunting with relatives near Cimarron, N.M.

Carey, 74, shot a pronghorn measuring 85 inches green. After the 60-day drying period, the buck should easily make the 82-inch gross score minimum for the B&C Record Book.

Carey, a member of the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council and the anchor of Trophy Territory at the annual Big Horn Show, logged eight pronghorn hunts before tagging a bruiser this large.

Wolf answers bowhunter’s elk call; archer wins

HUNTING — Bowhunters have been learning over the years — some of them the hard way — that bears and even cougars will sneak in on them while they are calling elk during the September rut seasons.  

Cow and calf talk is especially effective in luring predators, and archers must be ready to deal with being prey for a large carnivorem whether it's with their bow, bear spray or a handgun, where allowed.

This week, a Montana elk hunter with a wolf license shot a wolf on the fourth day of archery season just west of the Whitefish Divide, reaching a quota that prompted Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to close the North Fork Flathead’s wolf management Unit 110. It is the only hunting district in the state that retains a quota for wolves.

Region One Wildlife Manager Jim Williams said the hunter checked in the wolf as required on Wednesday.

“An individual archer took an 83-pound, 4-year-old male wolf just west of the Whitefish Divide,” Williams told the Daily Interlake. “The guy was cow-talking at elk. The wolf came right in.”

Only two wolves can be harvested a year in the district, which covers the North Fork west of Glacier National and extends over the Whitefish Divide into Lincoln County.

One more wolf can be harvested once the rifle season for wolves opens Oct. 15.

Waterfowl calling, hunting seminars featured at Cabela’s

HUNTING — Duck and goose calling contests plus seminars by waterfowling experts and a retrieving dog trainer are on the schedule for two days of free events this weekend (Sept. 8-9) at Cabela’s in Post Falls.

Some of the seminars will be conducted by hunters who've been spotlighted in S-R outdoors features, including Pend Oreille County waterfowling expert Kent Contreras and Spokane-area dog trainer Dan Hosford.

Saturday’s schedule:

8 a.m.-9 a.m. – Registration for junior duck calling.

9 a.m. – Seminar on identifying waterfowl, hunting regulations by Idaho Fish and Game.

9:30 a.m. – Junior Duck Calling Contest (16 and under).

9:30 a.m.-10:30 – Registration for open duck calling.

10:30 a.m.  – Reading birds, when to call by Bill Saunders.

11 a.m. – Open Duck Calling Contest.     1 p.m. – Layout blind hunting, judging distance by Kent Contreras.

 2 p.m. – Working Man’s Retriever by Dan Hosford.

Sunday’s schedule:

9 a.m. – Registration for junior and open goose calling.

9:15 a.m. – Duck calling strategies by Chris Redell.

9:45 a.m. – Junior Goose Calling Contest.

10:30 a.m. Reading birds, when to call by Bill Saunders.

11 a.m. – Open Goose Calling Contest.

1 p.m. – Hunting gear, hunting situations by John Plughoff.

2 p.m. – Working Man’s Retriever by Dan Hosford.

Note: dog-training seminars may change times if weather too hot for the dogs.

Backcountry hunter, angler highlights issues

HUNTING/FISHING – Matthew Scott, Washington coordinator for the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, will present a program about the group’s involvement in the Colville National Forest planning, wilderness recommendations, collaboration efforts and off-road vehicle issues Tuesday (Sept. 4), 7 p.m., at the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, 6116 N. Market.

Opening day for grouse hunting: mission accomplished

HUNTING — A nice, easy, fulfilling start to the hunting seasons.

Scout and I have three and a half months to go!

Fire restrictions loom for Labor Day weekend campers, hunters

PUBLIC LANDS — Fire danger as well as still-burning wild fires will be a major factor for some campers and hunters heading for recreation areas in Idaho, Montana and Washington during Labor Day weekend.   

Smoking, campfires and use of chain saws are restricted on most state and federal lands to prevent more fires. Access roads and trails to some areas are closed because of existing fires, notably in Montana and central Idaho.

For example, the Selway River Trail, popular with hikers and hunters in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, is closed this week as fire crews clear timber falling on the route in the Moose Creek District.

No major fires are listed on the Colville or Idaho Panhandle National Forests, but fire restrictions are in place.

Despite cooler temperatures, fire danger continues to be rated extreme in much of the region, said Joani Bosworth, spokeswoman for the Umatilla National Forest. 

National forest websites are the best all-hours sources for updates on fire-related restrictions.

Websites with updates on fires and restrictions include:




Prosser man wins berth to World Duck Calling contest

WATERFOWLING —  Abel Cortina of Prosser won the premier solo event in the Washington State Duck Calling Championships last weekend, earning a berth in the prestigious World Duck Calling Championships held over Thanksgiving holidays in Stuttgart, Ark.

John Plughoff of Yakima dominated goose-calling, winnng the Washington State Goose event as well as the Open Goose event.

Cortina — chairman of the Washington Waterfowl Association and one of the judges in the state event — won the Washington premier contest in 2003 and went on to place 16th at Stuttgart.

Cortina missed several years of competitive calling while serving in the military, although he won the 2005 Arizona state title while stationed there and returned to finish second hin the Washington state event last year.

Cortina teamed with another WWA member, Mike Maier of West Richland, to top the Two-Man Duck event.

Apparently Cortina’s position with the WWA judges doesn’t help him in the competition. Judges never know who’s competing at any time; they’re in a segregated area and can only hear (and grade) the calls — not seeing the callers.

Read on for the list of top callers in each division.

Wolf hunting opens Thursday in Idaho; pro-wolf rally in CdA

PREDATORS — Idaho's 2012-2013 wolf hunting season opens statewide on Thursday (Aug. 30).

A season has been open since July 1 on private land in the Panhandle Zone, but no wolves have been reported harvested to date.

Wolf advocates are countering the Thursday wolf season opener with a rally "honoring the 379 wolves killed in Idaho, during the 2011-2012 wolf hunt." The event is set for 3:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Thursday at Fort Sherman/Coeur d’Alene City Park.

Live music, guest speakers, refreshments are planned as well as a trap-release workshop put on by Footloose Montana. The session is aimed at educating citizens on how to identify traps/snares, and if necessary, how to release a pet that is caught in a trap or snare.


The 2012-2013 wolf trapping season opens Nov.15 in six wolf zones.

Wolf hunting and trapping seasons and rules are posted on the Idaho Fish and Game website.

Bear aware: Tips for hunting-fishing in bear country

WILDLIFE — More anglers are heading into the mountains and hunters soon will follow, putting more people out among wildlife, including bears.

The Grizzly Bear Outreach Project offers basic tips to help hunters and anglers avoid attracting bears, which can be dangerous people if not just destructive to their camping gear.

Worse, a bear that finds value — notably food — in raiding camps or threatening humans almost surely will become a repeat offender that ultimately will have to be killed.

Click "continue reading" to refresh your memory on tips that come from years of case studies 

Whitetail buck offers sure sign fall is coming

BIG GAME — Antlers raw from freshly shed velvet, this whitetail buck's clock is ticking toward the rut.

The image was made last week by Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson.

Wildlife Summit probes Idahoans’ thoughts on management

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Idahoans care deeply about fish and wildlife, and whether they engage in it or not they strongly support hunting and fishing, according to a recent poll commissioned by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

That's one of the points made at the beginning of the three-day Wildlife Summit held over the weekend at venues acrosss the state.

Read on for insight from the beginning of the summit reported Saturday by Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune.

New wildlife land in Asotin County off-limits to some hunters

HUNTING — An Asotin County ranch purchased by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife last winter is open to public walk-in access this year with the exception of some big-game hunters.

Deer and elk hunters are allowed on the newly-acquired addition to the Chief Joseph Wildlife Area only if they drew “4-0 Ranch” special hunting permit, officials said this week.

“The restriction is an effort to provide high-quality hunting opportunities and was something the rancher wanted as a condition for sale of the property,” said Madonna Luers, agency spokeswoman.

The 2,180-acre 4-0 Ranch parcel – the first of a multi-phase, multi-year public land acquisition project – was purchased in January with the approval of the state Fish and Wildlife Commission.

The ranch is within Game Management Unit 172 (Mountain View).  But neither GMU 172 permit holders nor general season deer and elk hunters are allowed to hunt the parcel this year.

Read on for more details.

Judge denies claims in mountain goat goring case

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS —  A judge has dismissed most of a widow’s claims in a $10 million suit against the federal government after her husband was killed by a mountain goat at Olympic National Park two years ago, saying that even if it seems unfair, the park can’t be sued for the decisions it made, according to the Associated Press.

Robert Boardman, a 63-year-old registered nurse, was trying to protect his wife and friend when the 370-pound billy goat gored him, severing arteries in his thigh, on a trail near Hurricane Ridge in October 2010. The goat is believed to have been one that harassed park visitors for years.

His wife, Susan Chadd, sued, accusing the government of negligence in its management of the goat, known as “Klahanne Billy” for the name of a nearby ridge. She also alleged that the park botched the rescue effort – the one claim that was not dismissed in U.S. District Judge Robert Bryan’s ruling in Tacoma this week.

Bryan said even though the park could have acted more quickly to kill or relocate the goat, its actions are immune from lawsuits under the Federal Tort Claims Act because they involved an exercise of discretion related to public policy.

The one remaining claim is that the park staff failed to act quickly once the attack was reported, AP reported.

Wildlife enthusiasts sign up for Idaho Wildlife Summit

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — More than 800 hunters and anglers, birders and wildlife watchers and others interested in wildlife conservation have signed up to participate in the Idaho Wildlife Summit that starts Friday and runs through Sunday (Aug. 24-26).

“It is extremely gratifying to see so many Idahoans care enough about their wildlife to be involved with the Wildlife Summit,” Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore said in a media release. 

The three-day event will convene at the Riverside Hotel in Boise and six concurrent satellite sites in Coeur d’Alene, Lewiston, Salmon, Twin Falls, Pocatello and Idaho Falls. People also may participate online in real time.

The agency hopes to involve as many people as possible in helping to set the direction for how wildlife is managed in Idaho, to find common ground, and ultimately to build a broader base of support for wildlife conservation. 

Part of the conversation involves the question: Where will the funding come from to manage game and non-game critters alike?  Currently virtually all of the funding for Idaho's wildlife management comes from hunter and anglers.

Participation is free, but registration is required because of limited seating.

The Boise venue is at capacity, but an overflow room, which will feature a live video feed, is available.

Click here for more details and background.

Idaho commission to set waterfowl seasons

HUNTING — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will consider hunting seasons for sage grouse and waterfowl and changs to the motorized hunting rule when it meets on Aug. 23 at Fish and Game headquarters in Boise.

Read on for details.

TV documentary first to tackle Montana wolf hunting

HUNTING — A TV documentary will air Thursday featuring two Montana hunters confronting the issues and the difficulty centered around hunting wolves. The two-episode program on the Sportsman Channel will be the first to follow a wolf hunt in the Lower 48 states.

It's already getting praised and bashed, as you might expect.  See the video intro above and judge for yourself.

 “On Your Own Adventures” tackles the issue of wolf management head-on with an attempt to present equal parts education and adventure.

Big game hunter and conservation historian Randy Newberg, along with hunting partner, Matt Clyde, will try to outsmart an intelligent predator—and explain the reasons why wolf management is necessary—during an 11-day spot-and-stalk wolf hunt.

The series airs Thursday (Aug.) 16 and concludes on Aug. 23. 


To find the Sportsman Channel:

Use the zip code locator on the website http://thesportsmanchannel.com if you plug in your zip code, it will show the providers the channel is on.

I used zip code 99201 and it shows the Sportsman Channel on Comcast ch 428, DIRECTV 605, DISH 395 (that's in HD too).

For more details, see my Outdoors column: TV show confronts contentious wolf hunting issues

Sportsman’s issues topic of Safari Club Symposium in Spokane

HUNTING– A Sportsman’s Symposium focusing on hunting and fishing issues is set for 7 p.m. Thursday Aug. 16, at the North Central High School Auditorium, sponsored by the Inland Empire Chapter of Safari Club International.

Guest speakers include Nelson Freeman, SCI’s government affairs director in Washington, D.C., and Dick Leland, district director for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

Topics Freeman plans to highlight in a town hall meeting format include:

  • Federal public lands policy, including the Forest Service planning rule, the roadless rule and Bureau of Land Management sport shooting policies.
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service policies limiting hunting on national wildlife refuges.
  • Hunter participation in national elections.

Info: www.inlandempiresci.org

North Dakota’s problem makes it goose hunter’s mecca

WATERFOWLING — North Dakota is opening what looks to be a bountiful hunting season on Canada Geese in mid-August to deal with the flyway's overly successful goose boom.

For the first time, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department is recommending a daily bag limit of 15 and a possession limit of 30 for the early season that begins Aug. 15 and continues through mid-September.

That’s up from limits of eight and 16 during last year’s early season.

The reason for the liberal bag is simple, wildlife managers say:

There’s too many Canada geese out there - way too many, in some cases.

"Canada geese are definitely emerging as one of the Central Flyway’s top priorities up and down the flyway," said Mike Szymanski, a migratory game bird biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck. "It’s not just the Dakotas having issues; they’re superabundant, and prairie Canada has a ton of Canada geese, too."

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the federal agency charged with regulating migratory bird seasons, North Dakota’s estimated Canada goose population this spring stood at a whopping 415,000 birds. That’s more than twice the 162,000 Canada geese tallied in the spring of 2000 and five times higher than the state Game and Fish Department’s management goal of 80,000 birds.

Idaho to hold drawing for unclaimed big-game hunting tags

HUNTING — Sportsmen who didn’t draw in the first round of Idaho big-game tag drawings can apply for the second controlled hunt drawing for unclaimed tags.

The application period for the second drawing for deer, elk and pronghorn hunts started Sunday and through Aug.15. The application fee is $6.25 for residents and $14.75 for nonresidents for each species.

The drawing will be Aug. 20. Any left over tags will go on sale Aug. 25.

See a list of available leftover tags.

Apply for the drawing at license vendors or online.

Tennessee hunter wins Idaho bighorn raffle tag

HUNTING — After 30 years of dreaming for a chance to hunt bighorn sheep, Rob Durrett, 56, of Clarksville, Tenn., has won the 2012 raffle for a prized Idaho Rocky Mountain bighorn tag. 

“It’s a life-changing adventure,” he told IFG officials

Every year Idaho Fish and Game provides one tag for a bighorn sheep in Idaho, marketed by the Idaho Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation. The winner will be able to hunt in any unit open to hunting for Rocky Mountain or California bighorn in 2012, pursuant to Fish and Game rules.

This year’s lottery tag includes the coveted Unit 11, in Hells Canyon of the Snake River. Unit 11 is available to the lottery winner only in alternating years.

Durrett has been putting in for an Idaho bighorn sheep tag for the past seven years.

“I always heard Idaho was good place to hunt sheep, and a beautiful, beautiful place,” he said, beaming with excitement. His father was a fan of Jack O’Connor, and the young Durrett grew up on O’Connor’s hunting stories.

Read on for more details.

Bear hunters join hikers, campers, berry pickers in mountains

HUNTING — Black bear hunting seasons opened Aug. 1 in portions of Washington, including areas in the North Cascades as well is areas in Lincoln County.

More bear hunting areas will open Aug. 15, including the area from Spokane north through Mount Spokane.

Although hunting-related accidents with othe recreationists are extremely rare, black or brown are not the best colors to wear while hiking or huckleberry picking during bear seasons.

The black bear season that mixes hunters with the most hikers, campers and berry pickers opens Sept. 1 in most of the areas of northeasthern Washington's Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties.

  • North Idaho's black bear hunting seasons open Aug. 30.

Idaho selling some leftover big-game tags over-the-counter

HUNTING — Because some controlled hunt already have started, Idaho Fish and Game just announced it will not include leftover tags for those hunts in a second drawing in late August.

Rather than include them in the second drawings, which comes near the end of these hunts, Fish and Game has designated certain leftover controlled hunt tags to become available on a first-come, first-served, over-the-counter basis starting Aug. 7 at 9 a.m.

Read on for the list of hunts and numer of tags available.

Wet spring was dream for ducks

WATERFOWL HUNTING — Preliminary surveys indicate a wet spring is just ducky for waterfowl.

While the jury's still out on whether pheasants and other upland birds will produce many young after the wetness that smothered our region during nesting, ducks apparently prospered throughout much of North America. The notable exception is pintails.

Is you're retriever in shape? 

Here's a summary of the North America breeding ground population surveys by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

Mallard: totaled 10.6 million ducks, a 15 percent increase over last year and a 39 percent increase over the long-term average.

American wigeon: increased 3 percent from last year, but remains 17 percent below the long-term average.

Teal, Green-winged and blue-winged: numbered 3.5 million and 9.2 million, 20 percent and 3 percent respectively above last year. Both are well above the long-term averages by 74 percent and 94 percent.

Gadwall: increased 10 percent above last year’s estimate, and 96 percent above the long-term average.

Northern pintail: numbered 3.5 million, down 22 percent from last year’s estimate, and 14 percent below the long-term average.

More info: www.ducks.org

Idaho Wildlife Summit addresses pressing trends

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT —  Idaho Fish and Game officials have scheduled an Aug. 24-26 conference – with regional and online participation – to get sportsmen and other state citizens to help tackle major challenges facing wildlife management.

The Idaho Wildlife Summit, set in Boise, also will have six concurrent satellite sites including Coeur d’Alene and Lewiston.

Much has changed in the 74 years since Idaho adopted professional wildlife management, says Virgil Moore, department director:

  • The state’s population has tripled and two-thirds of the residents live in cities.
  • Wildlife habitat has changed or disappeared.
  • Invasive species compete against native wildlife.
  • Idaho’s population has increased faster than the number of Idahoans who hunt and fish.

“While 80 percent of Idaho’s wildlife is not hunted or fished, hunters and anglers support most of the cost to manage all species through license and tag fees,” he said. “No general tax revenue goes to manage the wildlife we all enjoy.”

Moore calls the Summit a starting point for exploring broader support for wildlife conservation and wildlife related activities.

The Summit will feature presentations by prominent wildlife and habitat authorities, including The Nature Conservancy. On Aug. 25, participants will gather rotating groups to discuss issues.

Participation is free, but registration is required for on-site attendance.  In this area, participants will be seated at North Idaho College.

Info: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/summit/.

Mountain goat man lives the high life

WILDLIFE — A man spotted dressed in a white goat suit crawling around among a herd of mountain goats in the mountains of northern Utah has been identified as a hunter preparing for an archery hunt in Canada.

Read the AP story here.

They guy probably never expected people in airplanes to be taking aerial photos of his scouting plan.

Hey, if walking behind a cow decoy works for snow goose hunters, it's worth a try.

(Some of my friends in Montana reportedly have been doing something like this for years — for sheep.)

I mentioned the Goat Man to a friend and he said I'm already well-suited for his hunting tactic:

"You don't need a goat suit," he said. "You look like a goat. And smell like one." 

Swine line lets you squeal on a feral pig

INVASIVE WILDLIFE — S-R Boise reporter Betsy Russell smelled the bacon for today's front page story on the tri-state campaign to keep feral pigs from the wilds of Idaho, Washington and Oregon.

The gist of the story is that feral pigs are tremendously destructive to the land, wildlife habitat and wildlife itself, including upland birds.  We don't need another pain in the butt non-native critter out there, even on the outside chance that they'd give wolves a reason to leave the elk alone.

Here's the SWINE LINE to report sightings of feral swine in Washington, Idaho or Oregon: call toll-free (888) 268-9219.

Read Andy Walgamott's Northwest Sportsman story on the recent history of Washington-Oregon efforts to keep feral pigs from taking hold in the Pacific Northwest, including the radio collaring of a pig dubbed Judas, which led Oregon authorities to its kin so they could be rendered into something like a Jimmy Dean sausage.




Idaho readies hunting, fishing proposals for legislature

HUNTING/FISHING — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission recently adopted a series of “nonbiological” rules that would take effect only if the upcoming Legislature approves them.  Among the proposals:

  • Allow commission to adjust resident and nonresident elk tag allocations in capped zones in which resident demand exceeds tag availability and nonresident tags are undersold.
  • Eliminate the requirement for hunters to remove bear baits from the field between the summer dog training season and the fall harvest season in units 10 and 12.
  • Require trappers in wildlife management areas to register in advance of trapping and enable regional supervisors to manage trapping better on wildlife management areas through limits on the number of trappers, type and number of traps.
  • Limit the number of trappers at any given time, and to regulate the type and number of trap sets in the area.
  • Require that hunters leave one fully-feathered wing or the head on Eurasian collared doves while in the field or in transport to their final place of consumption.

New Idaho rules aid disabled and young hunters

HUNTING — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission recently adopted rules that boost disabled and youth hunters:

  • A companion without a tag or permit will be allowed to assist a disabled hunter.
  • A person will be able to transfer a controlled hunt tag to a child or grandchild.

Idaho lawmakers directed the commission to develop these rules during the 2012 Legislature.

The commission also adopted rules that become effective January 1, 2013, that will allow a person age  8 and older to participate in a mentored hunting program without being required to hold a hunter education certificate.

Read on for details.

Trapping clause draws objections as right-to-hunt amendment heads for Nov. ballot

Trapping is back in the spotlight in Idaho, the Times-News reports, with a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to enshrine the right to hunt, fish and trap. Sen. Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, pushed for the amendment; opponents are objecting that trapping shouldn't have been included. Click below for a full report from Times-News reporter Melissa Davlin.