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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Maybe Spokane drivers aren’t so bad

I don't know how else to explain the survival of the urban turkeys.

On the fresh sheet tonight: wild turkey

HUNTING — Here's a hunting quarry you can gobble up twice in the same day.

By the way, I feel sorry for all of you who filled  your spring gobbler tag on opening day.  That left you less to look forward to!

Idaho spring hunt applications coming due

HUNTING — Sportsmen have until Feb. 15 to apply for Idaho's spring black bear controlled hunts and until March 1 to apply for controlled wild turkey  hunts.

Spring turkey and spring black bear seasons start April 15, with some controlled hunts opening later.  Turkey youth hunts open April 8. 

Hunters may apply for controlled hunts at any hunting and fishing license vendor, Fish and Game office, or online.

The application fee is $6.25 per person for residents and $14.75 for nonresidents.  An additional fee is charged for telephone and Internet applications.  Hunters must have a 2014 Idaho hunting license to apply.

Spring 2014 bear controlled hunt information is in the 2013 Big Game Seasons and Rules book.  Spring turkey controlled hunt information is available at Fish and Game’s website and the the 2014-2015 Upland Game, Furbearer and Turkey Rules book will be available by mid-February. 

Leftover controlled hunt tags for spring turkey and bear controlled hunts go on sale April 1.

How to deal with a wild turkey attack

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A hospital medical staff had a hoot overlooking this UPS driver's recent ordeal with a menacing wild turkey tom in Minnesota. 

Note to self: When sending important packages to turkey country, go with Fed-Ex.

Wild turkeys didn’t come naturally to Idaho

WILDLIFE — Wild turkeys are found across Idaho, and there’s even an open hunting season on them right now in the Panhandle Region and portions of the Clearwater.

But wild turkeys are not native to the state.

Merriam's strain turkeys were introduced by the Idaho Fish & Game Department in 1961, a move that was a common part of wildlife management in the state at the time. The Fish & Game photo above shows the first turkey release in '61.

S-R reporter Betsy Russell has more on her Eye on Boise blog.

The Idaho Fish and Game Department is celebrating its 75th anniversary with daily web posts about its history in wildlife management.

Wild turkeys abound in Idaho, but they’re not native - F&G introduced them in ‘61…

Here’s something to ponder as Thanksgiving approaches: Wild turkeys are found across Idaho, and there’s even an open hunting season on them right now up in the North Idaho Panhandle. But they’re not native to the state. Turkeys actually were introduced by Idaho Fish & Game in 1961, a move that once was a common part of wildlife management in the state. The Fish & Game photo above shows the first turkey release in '61.

“Turkeys have adapted so well in northern Idaho, they have become a nuisance in some locations,” Idaho Fish & Game reports. “Yet few turkeys are found in the Salmon Region, because little habitat is suitable there. Wild turkey populations in Idaho are largely found in the Panhandle, Clearwater and Southwest regions and parts of the Southeast Region.”

Other species Fish & Game has introduced over its 75-year history include chukar, Gambel’s quail, California quail, walleye, crappie, bluegill and tiger muskie. But there have been some that haven’t gone so well, too, including the introduction of mysis shrimp in North Idaho lakes, which shifted the lakes’ ecosystem in ways that hurt native bull trout and kokanee; and the introduction long ago of brook trout, which then competed with native fish species.

Reports Fish & Game, “As the science of managing fish and wildlife has evolved, the practice of introducing new species to Idaho, without extensive analysis, is largely seen as a naïve and outdated practice.” But the turkeys are still here.

Wild turkey late hunting season opens Nov. 20

HUNTING — Washington's late fall turkey hunting season opens Wednesday, Nov. 20, in East Side GMUs 105-154 and 162-186.

A wildlife biologist I know said he has given up the spring gobbler hunts in favor of filling his tags in the fall.  He's trading the thrill of calling in the gobblers during their mating season, but gaining quality for the table, he said.

"In the spring turkeys are skinny and tough from the winter and all the effort they put into mating," he said.  "In late fall they're in the fattest and best condition of the year."

Of course, with Washington's generous tag allocations, a hunter can have it both ways.

Read all the Washington wild turkey hunting regulations.

  • Idaho is even MORE generous with its fall turkey tags, and the Panhandle season runs Sept. 15-Dec. 15 without a break.  Check out the Idaho regs.

Teen a young model of hunting consistency

HUNTING — Elizabeth Odell is a model of hunting consistency.

The young Spokane hunter bagged her first turkey (see photo at left) and deer in the spring and fall seasons when she was 9 years old.

Liz, now 15, was out last weekend to keep the string going with a nice gobbler (top photo).

Odell is from Spokane and hunts with her father, Jim, and proud grandpa, Dick, who submitted the photos.


Spring gobbler season underway

HUNTING — What are you doing on the fourth day of the spring gobbler hunting season in Washington and Idaho?

Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson bagged this tom with his Canon.

Some turkeys survive opening day; some don’t

HUNTING — The first day of the spring gobbler hunting season is drawing to a close.

"I almost got my turkey today," said George Orr in a voicemail message just before the end of legal shooting hours.

"It ran right in front of me as I drove down Sunset Hill. That would be a hell of a way to start the turkey season, almost running over one."

Well, let's hope George shoots straighter than he drives, should he get the chance.

The season runs through May 25 in Idaho and through May 31 in Washington.

Saturday is hunters’ last shot at wild turkeys

HUNTING — Late wild turkey hunting sesaons will close Saturday (Dec. 15) evening in designagted areas of Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

Washington late fall turkey season has been open since Nov. 20 in Game Management Units 105-142, 149-154 and 162-186. The limit is one turkey of either sex.

North Idaho's fall general season also will close Saturday evening in Game Management Units 1, 2 (except Farragut State Park and Farragut WMA) 3, 4, 4A, 5 and 6.

However, Idaho's fall general season will continue through Dec. 31 in units 8, 8A, 10A, 11, 11A, 13, 14, 15, 16, and 18. This hunt is open on private lands only. Hunters must have permission from the landowner.

Giving thanks for wild turkeys

WILDLIFE — Wild turkeys adapted vigorously to introduction efforts throughout Idaho and much of Washington in the 1980s.  They're interesting, fun to hunt and delicious.  They're also fun to watch, as you can see in this short video from Idaho Fish and Game.

Fresh wild turkey, duck or razor clams available for Thanksgiving

HUNTING-GATHERING — While most people head to the supermarket for their Thanksgiving fixings, some sportsmen head to the field.

Washington's late-fall wild turkey hunting season opens Nov. 20 in portions of Eastern Washington.

November is also prime time to hunt ducks, geese, deer, pheasant, forest grouse and a variety of other game around the state.

Late modern firearm general white-tailed deer hunting season runs Nov. 10-19 in northeast Game Management Units 105, 108,111, 113, and 124 for any buck. GMUs 117 and 121 are also open for the late buck hunt, but are under a four-antler-point minimum rule.

"Waterfowl hunting usually picks up around the middle of the month, when the wet and windy weather starts pushing more migrating birds into the area from the north," said Don Kraege, waterfowl manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Rather serve shellfish? Most areas of Puget Sound are currently open for crab fishing, and two multi-day razor clam digs are scheduled at various ocean beaches in November.

Spur of the moment: Turkey hunter scores big

HUNTING — Steve Solberg of Spokane was grousing in good humor on April 15 that he'd passed given his brother, Jeff, first shot at an opening day gobber then ended up coming home empty-handed himself.

"Seeing your brother finally bag a nice gobbler on opening day after 3 unsuccessful YEARS of hunting – priceless," he said.

"Passing up on an easy shot to let your brother score – stupid?

"Maybe, but it was just great being in the woods again. My bird is still out there.

"My time will come."

Indeed!  This week, Solberg's patience paide off with a bruiser tom.

"I was rewarded," he said in an email with the photo above. "This was my biggest bird ever."

The bird weighted more than 22 pounds, beard was 9 inches. But look at those spurs: 1-1/4 inches.

"Life is good!" Solberg said, noting that he has a placed pegged to take a kid this weekend.

Video: Local bowhunter shares turkey hunt

HUNTING — Taking a wild turkey gobbler can be difficult for a hunter with a shotgun, but think about the chances of spooking an incoming tom when you have to draw a bow.

Spokane-area hunter Chad Berry shows how it's done in a short, sweet video.

The spring gobbler season opened Sunday.

After years of gobbler seasons, they can still get better

HUNTING — At least 8 gobblers raising hell in every direction from my stand from 5:15 a.m. to 6:25 a.m. this morning, opening day of the spring wild turkey season. 

Then the woods virtually went silents — except for the damned flicker that kept coming by to drum on a nearby bird box and establish its territory.

At 7:25, my calls were answered in one of the best two minutes of turkey hunting in my career.

Shot this boy strutting with my decoy as at least three hens were within 15 feet of me. Had to wait a bit longer as a hen walked in at 10 feet and stopped with its head directly in line with the bead on my shotgun and the gobbler.

Could have bagged a second gobbler, but … naw.

Awesome morning of turkey hunting, just when I was thinking it was getting old.

The night before the hunt: Gobble, gobble

HUNTING — This is where I have permission to hunt for the spring gobbler season. Tomorrow morning, half an hour before sunrise: Game on!

Thanksgiving greeting from the game warden’s diary

Here are best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving in the form of a short story you'll find heartwarming, or perhaps a bit of a heartburn. It was passed on to me from a reader.

A game warden was driving down the road when he came upon a young boy carrying a wild turkey under his arm. He stopped and asked the boy, 'Where did you get that turkey?'

The boy replied, 'What turkey?'

The game warden said, 'That turkey you're carrying under your arm.'

The boy looks down and said, 'Well, lookee here, a turkey done roosted under my arm!'

The game warden said, 'Now look, you know turkey season is closed, so whatever you do to that turkey, I'm going to do to you.

If you break his leg, I'm gonna break your leg. If you break his wing, I'll break your arm. Whatever you do to him, I'll do to you. So, what are you gonna do with him?'

The little boy said, 'I guess I'll just kiss his butt and let him go!'

Idaho seasons about to open for turkeys and other birds

HUNTING — Fall wild turkey hunting seasons open Thursday (Sept. 15) in Idaho and Sept. 24 in select Eastern Washington units.

Other hunts will follow soon.

Read on for the long list of details for Idaho hunts, including the youth waterfowl season (Sept. 24-25) and the youth pheasant hunt, wich starts Oct. 1.

Fall turkey hunters typically find less competition in the field because of other hunting seasons that open in the fall, and they are more likely to bag a bird, Idaho Fish and Game officials say.  Check out their webpage.

Idaho's turkey season is open:

  • September 15 through December 15: General fall hunt in game management units 1, 2 (except Farragut State Park and Farragut Wildlife Management Area) 3, 4, 4A, 5 and 6.
  • September 15 through October 31: General fall hunt in game management units 73, 74, 75, 77 and 78.
  • September 15 through October 9: General fall hunt in game management units 8, 8A, 10, 10A, 11, 11A, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 16A, 17, 18, 19 , 20, 22, 23, 24, 31, 32 (except that portion in Payette County), and 32A. Units 33 and 39 are closed to fall hunting.
  • November 21 through December 31: General fall hunt in game management units 8, 8A, 10A, 11, 11A, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 18. This hunt is open on private lands only.

The daily bag limit is one turkey of either sex per day in the fall. No more than three turkeys may be taken per year, except in Units 1, 2, 3 and 5, where up to five turkeys may be taken in a single day during the fall season. Turkey hunters will need a general or an extra tag. General tags not used in the spring general or controlled hunts are valid for the fall hunt. Special unit tags are valid only for the fall season in Units 1, 2, 3 or 5.

Turkey tags are available at all license vendors for $19.75. An extra turkey tag costs $12.25, and the special unit tag costs $5.

For more information see the turkey rules book or the Fish and Game Web site at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/rules/?getPage=67.


Youth Waterfowl Seasons Open Soon

The Idaho waterfowl youth hunt opens September 24 and 25, and the regular 107-day season opens October 1 in northern and eastern Idaho, and October 15 in southwestern Idaho.

Daily duck bag limits are seven birds in the aggregate – no more than two female mallards, two redheads, three scaup, two pintails, one canvasback – with a possession limit of 14 birds after the first day and no more than four female mallards, four redheads, four pintails, six scaup and two canvasbacks.

Daily limits for Wilson’s snipe are eight; with a possession limit of 16 after the first day; and the daily limit for coots are 25 with a possession limit of 25 after the first day.

Daily bag limits for dark geese – Canada, greater white-front – are four per day. Daily limits for light geese – snow, blue, Ross’s – are 10 per day.

Seasons are:

  • Area 1: All of the state not included in Area 2.
  • For ducks and dark geese from October 1 to January 13, with a shorter scaup season from October 22 to January 13.
  • For snow and Ross’s geese from October 1 to January 13, 2012.
  • Area 2: All or parts of Ada, Boise, Canyon, Cassia, Elmore, Gem, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka, Owyhee, Payette, Twin Falls and Washington counties.
  • For ducks and dark geese from October 15 to January 27, 2012, with a shorter scaup season from November 5 to January 27, 2012.
  • For snow and Ross’s geese from November 6 to January 27, 2012; and reopen from February 18 to March 10, 2012.
  • Area 3: For light geese only – includes that portion of the Upper Snake Region within Bingham County in Game Management Unit 63 south of Highway 20 and west of the west bank of the Snake River, and that portion of the Southeast Region within Bingham and Power counties in units 68 and 68A west of the west bank of the Snake River and American Falls Reservoir bluff.
  • For snow and Ross’s geese from October 23 to January 13, 2012; and reopens from February 18 to March 10, 2012.

Parts of Area 2 closed during the spring light goose season areFort Boise and Payette River WMAs and that portion of the Roswell Marsh Wildlife Habitat Area south of state Highway 18, and the Snake River Islands Unit of the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge in the Southwest Region.

In Area 1, Fremont and Teton counties are closed to light goose hunting.

Additional details will be available in a printed brochure and on the Fish and Game website within about a week.

Hunters must have a valid Idaho hunting license, a federal migratory game bird harvest information program validation and a federal migratory bird (duck) stamp, except youths 15 and under do not need the duck stamp.

Nontoxic shot is required for all waterfowl hunting in Idaho. For details see the 2011-2012 Waterfowl seasons online at: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/rules/?getPage=66; the printed brochure will be available within abouta week at license vendors and Fish and Game offices.


Youth Pheasant Hunt Opens October 1

A youth pheasant season opens statewide Saturday, October 1, and runs through October 7 for all licensed hunters 15 years old or younger.

The week-long hunt opens a half hour before sunrise in Area 1, 2 and 3, except on the C.J. Strike, Fort Boise, Montour and Payette River wildlife management areas, where shooting hours begin at 10 a.m. Shooting hours continue statewide through a half hour after sunset.

The regular season opens October 8 in Area 1 and October 15 in Areas 2 and 3.

Youth hunters must be accompanied by a licensed hunter 18 years or older – one adult may accompany more than one youth.

The daily bag limit is three cocks, and the possession limit is six after the first day, except on wildlife management areas where pheasants are stocked, in which case the daily limit is two cocks and four in possession.

Hunters 17 and older need a WMA pheasant permit to hunt on Idaho Fish and Game wildlife management areas where pheasants are stocked. Pheasants will be stocked on the Payette, Montour, Fort Boise, Niagara and Market Lake wildlife management areas before the youth hunt weekend.

All upland game hunters are required to wear hunter orange during the pheasant season when hunting on wildlife management areas where pheasants are stocked. And all hunters must have a valid 2011 Idaho hunting license.

Details are available in the current Upland Game, Furbearer and Turkey rules brochure, available at license vendors and online at http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/hunt/rules/?getPage=67.


Sage-Grouse Season Opens October 1

The Idaho restricted seven-day; one-bird per day season for 2011 opens Saturday, October 1.

Sage-grouse season:

  • Seven day season, one-bird daily limit, and two in possession after opening day, statewide in sage-grouse range within Area 2.
  • Area 2 includes:
  • Butte, Camas, Cassia, Clark, Fremont, Gooding, Jefferson, Jerome, Lemhi, Lincoln, Madison, Minidoka, Power and Teton counties.
  • Bannock County west of Interstate 15.
  • Bingham County west of Interstate 15.
  • Blaine County, except within the Salmon River drainage.
  • Bonneville County west of Interstate 15 and north of U.S. Highway 26.
  • Custer County, exceptwithin the Salmon River drainage upstream from and including Valley Creek.
  • Elmore County south and east of U.S. Highway 20 and north of Interstate 84.
  • Oneida County west of Interstate 15.
  • Owyhee County west of the Bruneau River.
  • Twin Falls County east of U.S. Highway 93.
  • Closed:
  • All areas not included in Area 2.

Details are available in a brochure available in print at license vendors and on the Fish and Game website: http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/public/docs/rules/uplandSage.pdf.

Any person hunting sage- or sharp-tailed grouse must have in their possession a valid hunting license with a sage- sharp-tailed grouse permit validation at $4.75.

The sharp-tail grouse season also opens October 1 and runs through October 31. Check the Upland Game, Furbearer and Turkey Seasons and Rules brochure for 2011-2012 for season and limit details.

The fields are pulsing with little critters

WILDLIFE — Deer were dropping their fawns in the last week of May.  The four robin chicks jumped out of their nest behind our house on Saturday and have been hopping around the house all weekend.

A couple of hikes in Lincoln County Sunday revealed more little critters.  A hen turkey flattened to the ground as though her legs had vanished when I rounded a bend on the trail at Twin Lakes.  When she realized I was still coming, she wheeled around and started trotting away. I knew she had chicks nearby, but was surprised to see about eight of them flush from behind her — the size of quail and they flew very well up into a stand of aspens.

Then the hen circled around and gave me hell from a distance of about 10 feet.

I was outta there. 

Later in the day, while hiking down Crab Creek, I spotted at least two broods of mallards and two teal broods.  Parents did a good job of broken-wing decoying (top photo) to keep me moving down the trail and away from the ducklings that quickly hid in the shoreline grass.

In the turkey photo, above left, notice the chick flying above, and the one behind the hen on the ground getting ready to flush and fly strongly.

Hunt for most wanted turkey ends with shot to head

HUNTING — After much scouting and several disappointing close calls, my spring wild turkey hunting season ended this morning at 6:10 a.m.

A head shot.

No photos will be posted.  I don't want to take the chance of offending anyone or inciting violence against hunters. 

It was unarmed, but I'm proud of a job well done. I feel no need to high-five, cheer or pump my fists.

The celebration will be quiet and respectful, enhanced with a garlic lime sauce.

No DNA testing is required. It had a long beard. 

If you need more proof, ask my wife, or show up for dinner to see for yourself. Bring a bottle of wine.

Gobble, Gobble: One down, one to go

HUNTING — One could hear shots fired within minutes of after Washington's wild turkey hunting season opened this morning at 5:31 a.m.

One down, one to go for spring gobbler hunting on the East Side of the state.

It was beautiful out there.

Timely advice before wild turkey spring season opens Friday

HUNTING — Here are a few hunting basics to ponder before the spring wild turkey gobbler season opens Friday in Idaho and Washington.

The tips are from Mossy Oak pro staff member Mike Cockerham, who offers advice on scouting,
advance work and the preparation it takes to bag a spring gobbler:

Yes, this doesn't give you much chance to apply all the information before the season opens tomorrow, but many hunters believe the best time to lure in big gobblers isn't opening day, when they're firmly attached to hens, but rather later in the season when they're lonesome and looking again for love.

Read on for the Q & A.

Distracted on the eve of turkey hunting season

HUNTING — A landowner just emailed me photos of three toms strutting Wednesday morning.

The were about 10 feet where I plan to be sitting with my 12 gauge over my knees when Washington's wild turkey hunting season opens Friday at 5:31 a.m.

And now I'm starting to wonder if I have everything together.  License? Yep. Ammo, camo and calls? Yep. Bottle of wine for the landowner? Yep.

My shotgun is camouflaged, but if yours isn't, check out the photo above of a gun covered with Mossy Oak Graphics®  new  vinyl camouflage graphics.  Installation is easier than ever with the industry's first pre-cut shotgun camouflage kit.

Mossy Oak says the 3M™ premium cast vinyl eliminates shrinking, bubbling and peeling associated with conventional brands. You can even buy a kit to cover your pickup.

The company says the material has an industry leading seven-year durability rating.

These are the things I'm thinking about today. To heck with work.

Founding fathers had pecking order for national symbol

WILDLIFE"He is a bird of bad moral character; he does not get his living honestly. You may have seen him perched in some dead tree where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labor of the fishing hawk and, when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish and is bearing it to his nest for his young ones, the bald eagle pursues him and takes the fish. With all this injustice, he is never in good case."

—Benjamin Franklin in 1782, explaining why he wished "the (bald) eagle had not been chosen as the representative of this country." Franklin had proposed the wild turkey for the national symbol.

Wild Turkeys Visit Fortgrounds

Dan Gookin snapped these 10 good-sized wild turkeys wandering through the Fortgrounds this morning. Emails Dan: "The cat was going nuts, but they were big birds. I remember seeing turkeys a lot when I lived in the county. The birds were headed to the Fort Grounds Grille, obviously looking to make lunch … "

Wild turkey pre-running Bloomsday course

WILDLIFE WATCHING — I'm a little late getting into the office today, distracted by a wild turkey crossing in front of the S-R building and heading west on Riverside Ave., across Monroe Street — traffic kindly giving it the right of way in a Spokane-friendly way.

It's a hen, gently yelping occasionally, seemly looking for love in all the wrong places.  It continued out Riverside when I realized it seemed to be checking out the Bloomsday course.

Last day to register for Bloomsday without a late fee is April 12.

First day of the spring wild turkey hunting season is Saturday for kids and April 15 for everybody else.

Wild turkeys toughest bird around

WILD FOWL — In a testament to the species’ hardiness, reports of white wild turkeys among the region’s big wintering flocks are fairly common.

First, one must marvel that there are big wintering flocks after two bad winters in the past three years followed by this year’s unusually wet spring nesting conditions.

Then, to see white wild turkeys surviving through spring, summer, fall and into winter reinforces the bird’s top survivor status.

Albinism and white phases occur in many species, including skunks. But nature tends to be harsh on these aberrations. Lacking the natural camouflage, predators key in on them easily, although they might have some sort of advantage in the scattering of weeks when snow is on the ground. 

Sadly, another sign of their toughness is the beating they take.   Evan Johnson sent me the two photos accompanying this post.  — the white turkey and the normal wild turkey feeding among its flock with an arrow through its breast.

The only thing worse than the shot and the arrow choice some archer made is his unwillingness to do what it takes to finish the job on a noble bird.

Turkeys gone, no shots fired

NUISANCE WILDLIFE — I have a gift to offer the region’s rural residents who are being besieged by wintering turkeys that are congregated in flocks and fouling barnyards.

Just invite me to come out with my one remaining 2010 turkey tag and I can virtually elminate the entire flock without firing a shot.

It happened again yesterday.  A man, who’s had up to 200 turkeys at a time all around his Mount Spokane-region place in the past month, asked me to come out and use my tag to help thin out the flock.  

“All you have to do is walk out on the deck and pick one out,” he said. “They’re taking over the place.”

So I went out and my mere presense sent the turkey’s packing.  The big flock that’s been there every day for weeks was gone.  One wild-ass turkey came in within 75 yards and ran off for no reason.

After enjoying coffee, cookies and some good hunting stories in his kitchen, I shook his hand at roosting time and left, proud to have once-again shared my talent for the benefit of sportsman-landowner relations.