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Cold water a major safety factor for waterfowlers

WATERFOWLING — Water does not have to be near freezing to kill, it only has to be colder than a person to cause potentially fatal hypothermia.

With the waterfowl seasons about to open, Idaho Fish and game officials are urging waterfowl hunters who hunt from boats are to wear life jackets and take necessary safety precautions when on the water.

Nationwide last year, 15 hunters lost their lives in boating accidents. Eleven victims drowned because they were not wearing life jackets, the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation reports. Overloaded boats and failure to wear life jackets are leading reasons Idaho typically loses a couple of waterfowl hunters every year.

Cold water wicks body heat 25 times faster than air at that same temperature. A hunter who falls in has only a few minutes before the cold renders numb numb and unable to swim.

Most boats float even when capsized or swamped, so get in or on the boat to get as far out of the water as possible. Wearing a life vest is a must. It will help preserve body heat and keeps even an unconscious person stay afloat. Get to shelter, change into dry clothing and warm up slowly.

Read on for more timely tips:

Bowhunter seems to lure unwanted predators

HUNTING — Years ago, before Jim Ebel had retired as manager of the Colville Fish Hatchery, I wrote a story about his unnerving encounter with a cougar.

He was putting up a tree stand before the archery deer season when a cougar came in below the tree and waited for an easy meal to come down.  Ebel was unarmed.

Eventually the cat left the immediate area, so Ebel crawled down and began hiking a mile to his pickup, but the cougar immediately showed up again and stalked him from beihind and from the side, slipping in and out of sight at close range.

That experience — something most hunters will never experience in their lifetimes — was enough to convince Ebel to carry a weapon in the woods.

But last year's hunting season seemed to move Ebel's status from hunter to "bait."

Read on for the rest of the story:

Bear spray worked for bowhunters

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — It's worth emphasizing that an Idaho archer was able to end a grizzly attack on his bowhunting partner on Saturday by using pepper spray, an essential that should be on the pack straps of every hunters in grizzly country.

The elk hunter who apparently stumbled across a bear’s resting spot and was hospitalized after the animal bit him and broke his right arm, officials said.

Richard Paini, 40, suffered puncture wounds and an injured left hand along with the broken forearm in the attack at about 9 a.m. He was taken to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls.

A hospital spokesman said Paini, of Island Park, was listed in serious condition Saturday afternoon.

The bear involved in the attack fled after Paini’s archery hunting partner, John Stiehl of Island Park, used bear spray to scare off the bear. Stiehl told authorities he believed it was a grizzly bear.

Gregg Losinski, an Idaho Fish and Game bear specialist, said hunters are at more risk of surprising bears because they are understandably being stealthy when they're in the woods.

Wolf plan heads wildlife panel’s Oct. 6 agenda

ENDANGERED– Washington’s pending Wolf Conservation and Management Plan will be the focus of another special state Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting Oct. 6 in Olympia.

The discussion will center on the interaction of wolves with livestock and ungulates.  Public comment will be accepted.

The special session will be followed by an Oct. 7-8 meeting, when the commission will receive briefings on issues including the status of north coast steelhead stocks and population goals for deer, elk and other ungulates.

The special meeting is the second of three scheduled on the recommended Wolf Conservation and Management Plan. The first was held in Ellensburg. The third special meeting is set for Nov. 3 in Olympia.

The commission is expected to take action on the plan in December.

Click here to see agendas for the commission meetings.

Click here to see the proposed wolf plan, including recovery objectives that would allow the state to eventually remove wolves from protection lists.  

Cool, rainy spring dampened pheasant hatch, but birds rallied

UPLAND BIRD HUNTING — Hunters chilled at the thought of what the cool, rainy spring was doing to nesting pheasants and quail in June.

Indeed, the hatch isn't anything to crow about, but it's not as bad as hunters may have feared, at least in the Snake River region.

Surveys by Idaho Fish and Game biologists indicate quail and Hungarian partridge had modest reproductive success and pheasants did better than the did last year, although last year's hatch was pitiful.

Idaho partridge populations of both are down slightly from 2010 and long-term averages. Pheasant numbers are up from last year, but still be low the averages.

Read on for details in a story by Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune:

Prepare for Montana hunt with online resources

HUNTING — The time a nonresident takes to plan a Montana hunting trip is worth more than the high cost of the out-of-state tag.   

Read on for some steps and resources to consider.`

Calf found dead: More Imnaha wolves targeted

ENDANGERED SPECIES – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will kill two wolves from the Imnaha wolf pack, including the collared alpha male,  after they were blamed for a livestock kill in Eastern Oregon.

The department tracked an adult male wolf with a GPS collar to the location of a calf that was killed last week, according to the Associated Press.

Killing the adult male and a second, uncollared wolf will leave two wolves in the pack. Other wolves from the pack have dispersed to new areas.

The wildlife-advocate group Oregon Wild has protested the proposed kills, saying they are a “major blow” to Oregon’s wolf recovery program.

The Imnaha pack has been blamed for 14 livestock kills since mid-2010.

Wolves in the area were delisted from the federal Endangered Species Act in May, when the department killed two other wolves.

The overall number of wolves in the state has fallen from 21 to 12. The number is expected to climb.

Albino mule deer fawn outstanding in the field

WILDLIFE WATCHING — It wasn’t a ghost Nels Houghton first saw while jogging in the early morning near his Billings, Mont.

Last weekend he returned and stalked to within 75 yards of the rare deer as it walked warily across a hillside, reports Brett French, outdoors writer for the Billings Gazette.

“I’ve hunted all my life and have never seen anything else like that,” he said. “I was pretty excited about it.”

French reports that albino deer are rare, but just how rare is open to debate.

  • One 1989 text, “The Deer of North America,” estimated the rate of albinism in mule deer at 1 in every 500,000 deer.
  • An Outdoor Life article on albino whitetail deer put the number at 1 in 20,000.
  • Former Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Jay Newell said he thinks the 1 in 500,000 odds are high. He told French he'd seen three albino mule deer — spread out along the Musselshell River and in the Bull Mountains — during his work in the area. Yet Newell has never seen an albino whitetail deer.

Coeur d’Alene Tribe asserting right to hunt

TRIBAL HUNTING – The Benewah County prosecutor was incorrect to say the Coeur d’Alene Tribe in North Idaho does not have the right to hunt or fish on reservation land owned by non-tribal members, tribal officials say.

“Any explanation or advice to people that tribal members can’t hunt and fish anywhere on the reservation is wrong, and potentially dangerous,” said Helo Hancock, tribe spokesman in a report by the Coeur d’Alene Press. “I think it misleads people and could lead to people getting into a conflict situation.”

Hancock said the tribe owns about 3,500 acres in the reservation, or about 25 percent of the land. He told the Coeur d’Alene Press that the rest is state, federal or privately owned.

Doug Payne, the county’s prosecutor, said a 1960 opinion by the Solicitor General of the Department of the Interior said the executive order that created the reservation didn’t reserve to tribal members the right to hunt and fish on the land.

But Hancock said that the opinion Payne referred to had been overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1968.

Read on for more of the story.

Number of young hunters dropping in Oregon

HUNTING — The number of youth hunters is dropping as Oregon’s population continues to shift to urban areas, according to a report in the East Oregonian.

 Oregon youth hunting license sales for hunters ages 12-17 have dropped by more than 17 percent in the last 10 years, the paper says.

The total number has dropped from 22,000 in 2001 to 18,000 in 2010 as the state’s population has grown.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy told the East Oregonian the numbers have started to stabilize in recent years.

Dennehy says there are now more activities — and distractions — for young hunters than there were a decade ago.

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that 29 percent of Oregon’s population lives in rural areas.

Hunter killed by gunshot wound, not grizzly bear

ENDANGERED WILDLIFE  — Here's another big twist to the story about the hunter attacked and by a grizzly bear after it had been mistaken for a black bear and wounded in a remote area of extreme northwestern Montana.

The hunter who died during a grizzly bear attack was killed by a single gunshot wound to the chest, the Montana State Crime Lab medical examiner announced today.  Initial reports suggested the man was killed by the bear.

Steve Stevenson, 39, was killed when his hunting partner, Ty Bell, shot the bear multiple times in an attempt to stop the bear’s attack on Stevenson, according to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office. One of the rounds struck Stevenson in the chest.  The breaking story has just been posted by S-R reporter Chelea Bannach.

Here's the perspective the S-R published last week from the father of the young hunter who shot the bear.

WDFW director to address sportsmen at Brewster roundtable

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Northcentral Washington residents have an opportunity to discuss fish and wildlife issues with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Phil Anderson and regional staff in a roundtable-style meeting Sept. 26 in Brewster.

The 10th annual meeting is scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Columbia Cove Recreation building, 508 W. Cliff Ave., in Brewster.

“This forum has become a tradition that allows local residents to meet with our director and staff in an informal setting to discuss topics of interest to hunters, fishers and other outdoor recreationalists,” said Dennis Beich, the agench's Northcentral Regional director in Ephrata.

Charges dropped against ex-detective

The case against former Spokane police Detective Jeff Harvey has essentially been dropped after a jury deadlocked Wednesday on an obstruction charge and the prosecutor said he won’t pursue a second trial.

 Verdicts require unanimous decisions and the jury split 5-to-1 in favor of acquittal. Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Brian O’Brien said the case is over.

“I won’t be pursuing it,” O’Brien said. Harvey “had to go through the full trial. We had our day in court on this charge.”

Read the reset of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Sept. 20: Obstruction trial for ex-police detective begins

July 16: Fired detective files $10 million claim

July 15: SPD detective fired for 'troubled history'

Feb. 10: SPD detective accused of obstruction

CdA River campgrounds reopened for free autumn use

CAMPING – Big Hank and Bumblebee campgrounds on the Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District have been reopened for free fall camping through October on a trial basis.

“We’ve had requests to open the campgrounds in the fall to accommodate both hunters and people who enjoy fall camping,” said Deputy District Ranger Kimberly Johnson.

“This year we decided to experiment with an extended season to determine how much use these sites would receive after Labor Day.”

No camping fee is being charged during the extended trial season. No water or trash removal is offered, but outhouses will remain open.

If the experiment works, and visitors pack out their garbage, other campgrounds, including Kit Price and Devils Elbow, would be considered for fall openings.

  • Big Hank Campground is 15 miles north of Prichard, Idaho, on Forest Road 208 along the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River.
  • Bumblebee Campground is 2 miles west of Forest Highway 9 near the Little North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River on Forest Road 796.
  • Info: (208) 664-2318.

Spirit Lake teen hits bulls eye with archery

BOWHUNTING — Alex McClean, a senior at Timberlake High School/Spirit Lake is an avid bow hunter who boasts of being able to “Robin Hood” an arrow on numerous occasions. (He can shoot a bull's eye, then split the arrow with another shot, reports photographer David Nall).

Alex caught the attention earlier this week of Huckleberries blogger D.F. Oliveria.

Alex still has the target he used with the two arrows, one split right down the middle up to the point, hanging in his room as proof, Oliveria said. Nall snapped the photo above in a group of trees right down the divider of Seltice Way, in Post Falls, near the National Guard.

See David Nall's Facebook page here.

Hunter: Deadline looms for buying Montana preference points

BIG-GAME HUNTING — Montana has gone to a preference point system for elk and deer.

Of course, this means the cost of being competitive has gone up, but as a benefit, this should make planning your hunt more predictable.

If you plan to hunt Montana in the future, you shouldn't miss the chance purchase a preferance point before the deadline.

Applicants may purchase only one preference point per license year.

Preference points purchased at the time of application are awarded prior to the drawing.

The deadline for applications to be postmarked is Sept. 30 at 5 p.m.

Click here to download a 2011 nonresident preferance point application.

PETA plans porn site to screw hunters, anglers; protesters naked in Spokane today?

ANTI-HUNTING — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is planning to launch a pornographic website to promote its animal rights and vegan diet message, according to a story today by the Associated Press.

And members are planning to protest naked today at a sushi restaurant in Spokane, according to Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat.

Critics say the stunt to start a porn site will backfire and ostracize PETA from mainstream society — but the anti-hunting and anti-fishing group will get millions of dollars of publicity in the meantime.

(Reader comments have gone mostly like this: "PETA ostracized themselves from the mainstream long ago.")

PETA also made news in Seattle this week, protesting the practice of teaching kids how to fish.

PETA spokeswoman Lindsay Rajt said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles that the group has applied with ICM Registry to launch the website peta.xxx.

Rajt says the site will feature “tantalizing” videos and photographs, which will lead viewers into animal rights messages. She noted that Norfolk-based PETA has used porn stars and nudity to get its message across in the past, including an annual speech online in which a PETA representative undresses. That video later shares a message about slaughterhouses.

Read on to see the rest of the porn site story from the Associated Press.

Biologists post Washington hunting prospects on web

HUNTING — Washington Fish and Wildlife Department biologists and staffers have posted on the agency's webesite their observations on prospects for hunting this fall.

There's information for districts across the state ranging from canned to to detailed. Check it out before you plan your hunt.

Also check out the information in The Spokesman-Review's Hunting 2011 special section of stories.

Fired detective’s criminal trial begins

The obstruction of justice trial began Monday against embattled former Spokane police detective Jeff Harvey.

Harvey was fired this year after being charged with a gross misdemeanor following a confrontation with a state Department of Fish and Wildlife police officer who responded on Jan. 22 to a report of boys shooting after hunting hours on private land north of Spokane. Harvey, who was off-duty at the time, is accused of hindering the investigation, which involved his sons.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

July 16: Fired detective files $10 million claim

July 15: SPD detective fired for 'troubled history'

Feb. 10: SPD detective accused of obstruction

Last chance to sign up for North Idaho youth waterfowling clinics

YOUTH HUNTING — A few openings are still available for three mentored waterfowl hunting opportunities for youth aged 15 and under, sponsored byThe Idaho Department of Fish & Game Department.

If you have a kid who might be interested in being exposed into this fascinating sport, don't miss this opportunit y.

The hunts are planned for Saturday, Sept. 24, the opening day of the annual youth-only waterfowl season which is open only to hunters age 15 and under.  The mentored hunting clinics will be held at Boundary Creek Wildlife Management Area, Heyburn State Park, and the Clark Fork River delta.

Participation will be by advanced reservation and space is limited.  Anyone interested should call to reserve a spot at one of the three clinics and to obtain additional details. 

  • For the Boundary Creek and Heyburn hunts, contact Dave Leptich at (208) 769-1414. 
  • For the Clark Fork hunt contact Ray Millard at (208) 264-5252

Young hunters will need to be accompanied by a non-hunting adult and bring a shotgun and ammunition.  Young hunters will also need to secure a youth or small game license ($7.25) with a federal migratory bird permit ($1.75) prior to the event. 

Youth participants and a guardian will have the opportunity to spend a morning hunting with an experienced waterfowl hunter.  Following a morning hunt, all will be treated to a free barbeque and waterfowl hunting skills clinic. 

The idea is to expose youth to a quality hunting experience and provide their guardian with enough training to repeat the experience independently.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is also soliciting experienced waterfowl hunters willing to assist with the clinics.  If you want to help pass on the tradition of waterfowl hunting, please call either of the numbers listed above.

Hunter culpable in death of partner, grizzly

HUNTING — While I'm still bowing my head in sympathy for the hunter and the family of the hunter who was killed by a grizzly bear in the remote far northwestern corner of Montana on Friday, I'm also shaking it back and forth now that more details have been revealed in today's news story.

Here's the perspective from the father of the young hunter who shot the bear.

Idaho hunter bagged 2 wolves in 2 minutes

HUNTING — Hunters have a seven-month season to kill two wolves in Idaho, but Boise's Stan Burt did it in about two minutes, according to Roger Phillips of the Idaho Statesman

Near McCall of the second day of Idaho's wolf hunt, Burt said he howled to see if any wolves were in the area.

"A whole chorus erupted," Burt told Phillips

Not only had Burt located a pack within a quarter mile, but the wolves had located him, and they headed in his direction.

He positioned himself in a clearing with a good view of the terrain.

Within minutes, Burt told Phillips he had at least eight wolves were milling around and looking for the source of the howling.

"They were basically all around me," he said.

He got his sights on a wolf about 75 yards away and shot it with his Ruger bolt-action rifle chambered in .223.

He expected the wolves to scatter, but they continued stirring in front of him.

"The gunshot did not bother them," he said. "It really unnerved me that they were not afraid of me after firing a rifle shot."

Hunter near Idaho-Montana border kills grizzly after bear kills hunting partner

HUNTING — A grizzly bear killed a hunter in Montana near the border of Boundary County, Idaho, today before another hunter fatally shot the bear, S-R police reporter Mehgann Cuniff reports.

Officials from the Boundary County Sheriff’s Office, Idaho Fish and Game, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service went to the scene of the attack, which occurred about 10 a.m. in the remote area of Buckhorn Mountain near the border Idaho-Montana.

The hunter who was killed is not a resident of Boundary County, officials said.

The victim’s name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. The hunter’s partner shot and killed the attacking grizzly, officials said.

Several rifle hunting seasons are open in the Boundary County region, including black bear, mountain lion, wolf and controlled hunts for moose and deer.

The Idaho Fish and Game Department bear hunting regulations page warns hunters that grizzlies can be encountered in the North Idaho units.

Heading into bear country?

Click here for good information on hiking, hunting and traveling in grizzly country.

Idaho Fish and Game also has tips for hunting and camping in carnivore country on its Grizzly Bear webpage.

Disabled hunters can sign up for special vehicle access on forests

HUNTING — Handicapped hunters in the Inland Northwest are making inroads to decent hunting opportunities on the Idaho Panhandle National Forests as well the Colville National Forest and two timberland companies.

Deadlines are approaching to sign up for several of the opportunities to drive motorized vehicles behind otherwise locked gates.

Hunters with certified disabilities can apply for access to hundreds of miles of otherwise closed roads on the Colville National Forest and Idaho Panhandle forests as well as Forest Capital Partners lands.

Inland Empire Paper Company also participates, although the road access is not exclusive to handicapped hunters.

The program allows hunters with disabilities to use a motorized vehicle on the designated roads, which are usually closed to motorized use year-round.

Several special platforms are being built by Inland Northwest Wildlife Council volunteers to accommodate hunters in wheelchairs at specially selected sites.

The Sandpoint Ranger District holds a drawing to select disabled hunters for special access behind gates on three roads during big-game seasons. The deadline to apply is Sept. 28.

The deadline to apply for access to roads on the Coeur d’Alene District is Sept. 30.

Generally, hunters must provide a copy of their disabled hunting license and handicapped vehicle hunting permit, make, model and year of the vehicle to be used, and the name of the hunting assistant.
  

Washington contacts include:

  • Colville National Forest, (509) 446-7500. Hunters also can sign up at the BLM & Colville National Forest Information Desk, 1103 N. Fancher in Spokane Valley.
  • Forest Capital Partners timber company has designated areas in Stevens County with access coordinated by Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, (509) 487-8552.
      

Idaho contacts include:

  • Coeur d'Alene River Ranger District in Fernan, (208) 783-2363.
  • Sandpoint Ranger District, (208) 63-5111.
  • Bonners Ferry Ranger District, (208) 267-5561.
  • Craig Mountain Wildlife Area on the Snake River, coordinated by Idaho Fish and Game Department, (208) 799-5010.

Read on for details on disabled hunter programs on the Sandpoint and Coeur d'Alene Ranger Districts:

Fish and Game taking names for Panhandle wolf trapping class

PREDATORS — Idaho wolf trapping rules require trappers complete a wolf trapper class before they can buy a wolf trapping tag.

Idaho Fish and Game Department regional officies are making a list of people interested in taking the courses, which will be scheduled, probably in October. The wolf trapping season — Idaho's first — will start in November.

To register for the Idaho Panhandle class, contact the Fish and Game office in Coeur d'Alene, (409) 769-1414.

Classes are first-come, first-served and limited to 25 individuals. The $8 fee covers the cost of materials. All class times, unless noted, are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a one-hour lunch break; lunch will not be provided.

For details please consult the Wolf Trapping page on the Fish and Game website: .

Elk poachers bagged after slaying Wenaha Unit trophy bulls

POACHING — An Island City, Oregon father and son were arrested last week by Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Division troopers following an investigation into the unlawful taking of two bull elk in the Wenaha Wildlife Management Unit in northeast Oregon. 

The Wenaha Unit is considered a premier controlled branch antler bull elk hunting unit for which only 20 tags are issued during archery season.  This is a very difficult tag to obtain, and for most hunters it may be a once-in-a-lifetime hunting opportunity.

Read on for details from an Oregon State Police press release via Northwest Sportsman Magazine:

Out of the blue, commission to consider battery-operated decoys

WATERFOWL HUNTING — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider a petition to allow use of battery-powered spinning-wing decoys for hunting during a special conference call meeting Friday, 8:30 a.m.

This didn't come up at the recent meeting the Fish and Wildlife Department had on new rules for upcoming hunting seasons.

The only way the public can listen to the discussion — travel to the Fish and Wildlife Department's Olympia headquarters and listen on the speaker phone.

Whitetail bucks losing velvet, prepping for fall, at different rates

DEER HUNTING — Hot weather and a brief cooling trend followed by record or near-record hot weather greeted archery hunters out for the opening of whitetail hunting seasons the past week in western states.

Then came the full moon: Deer activity really slowed for hunters.

The change in weather should get the action back in gear.

Although the velvet seems to peel off most bucks around Sept. 1, hunters are seeing some major differences in antler appearance.

In northeastern Washington, Kevin Scheib saw two nice bucks while scouting over the weekend: One was all rubbed clean, the other still had velvet hanging off his rack, he said.

A little farther south, Brandon Enevold has had plenty of action near his stands as well as at his trail cams as bucks continue to be in summer feeding patterns.

The night of Sept. 6, he snapped photo documentation (above) of two bucks, one in full velvet and the other with a bone-clean rack.

"I'll be letting both of these bucks grow for another year or two," he said, offering an explanation for his patience: "I passed up 10 bucks over Labor Day weekend and almost got a shot at a solid 140 incher."

But he said the hot weather shut down his action last weekend. He's expecting that to change.

Can hunters block their scent from a deer’s nose?

HUNTING — What do you think? Is a hunter spending his money wisely investing in soaps and clothing billed to mask human scent from the discriminating noses of deer and elk?

I'll tell you what I think in my Thursday outdoors column. Check it out, along with a long list of stories in our Hunting 2011 special section Thursday at spokesman.com/outdoors

Idaho hunters can exchange tags if fires prevent access

HUNTING — Fires burning in Idaho’s backcountry have state and federal land managers to close roads and trails in some areas, including the Idaho Panhandle.raised concerns about public safety and hunter access.

Those closures may affect access to some hunting units.

Idaho Fish and Game officials say they will not recommend closing hunts or altering season dates in response to fire restrictions. Most fires are not large enough to affect an entire hunt unit, they say.

Hunters affected by a fire closure can adjust their schedule to hunt later in the season or exchange general tags to hunt in a different area. But tags must be exchanged before the season begins.

Hunters with controlled hunt tags affected by a fire closure may exchange them for general season tags before the controlled hunt begins. But controlled hunt fees would not be refunded.

Fish and Game will consider requests for rain checks or refunds in the event that access to a hunting unit is blocked by fire. Hunters requesting a rain check will be required to submit their tags and permits with a letter describing the conditions of their request.

Rain checks would be evaluated case-by-case at the end of the hunting season. Rain checks will be valid in 2012 and offered only for the same species and hunt area as the hunter held in 2011.

Written requests should be sent to the license section at Fish and Game, P.O. Box 25, Boise ID 83707 when the season is over.

For updates on fires and access restrictions, go online to the Forest Service fire incident website.