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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Hunters help kill muzzleloader bill in Idaho Legislature

By Eric Barker Lewiston Tribune

A bill that would have opened Idaho’s muzzleloader-only hunting seasons to equipment that increases the range and accuracy of the primitive weapons appears to be dead.

House Bill 469 that would forbid the Idaho Department of Fish and Game from regulating the use of sabots, 209 primers and pelletized powder in muzzleloader seasons was held in the Idaho House Resources Committee on Wednesday.

Members of the committee appeared moved by testimony from hunters who opposed the legislation and feared it would jeopardize muzzleloader seasons, said Brian Brooks, executive director of the Idaho Wildlife Federation. More than 400 hunters used the federation’s template to submit comments and Brooks said many other hunting organizations also commented on the bill.

“It’s a relatively small bill in the grand scheme of things but it’s nice to have a win in the Legislature and have legislators voice support for the people who reached out to them.”

Idaho’s muzzleloader seasons are typically held in the late fall, a time of year when deer and elk are more concentrated by snow and weather changes at lower elevations and odds are tipped slightly in favor of hunters. The Idaho Fish and Game Commission allows the seasons because muzzleloader rifles have much shorter ranges than modern rifles and are less reliable and much slower to reload.

The commission, along with many hunters, said allowing 209 primers, sabots and pelletized powder would effectively increase the range and accuracy of muzzleloaders. They feared if the bill became law, success rates of muzzleloader-only hunts would climb enough that the department and commission would be forced to offer fewer tags or to shorten or discontinue seasons.

Brooks said decisions over hunting season rules and regulations are best left to the department and commission.