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James Goerz was so close he could hear her chewing as she browsed. It seemed impossible that he couldn’t put his eyes on the moose, the largest member of the deer family. The cow had been just 50-70 yards away for hours in an old northeastern Washington clearcut, yet he couldn’t see an ear, a leg or even a patch of dark hair.
Idaho’s traditional elk-hunting breadbasket – those mountainous, backcountry units stretching from the Selway country down through the Salmon River country – continues to falter at producing elk. Wolves are part of the problem.
Idaho elk hunters have had to adapt to a “new normal” that looks a lot different from boom years of the 1990s, when the harvests topped 25,000 three times, in 1991, ’94 and ’96. Those were record harvests dating back to 1935.
Idaho big-game hunters could have a season to brag about if hunting success this fall mirrors the current game populations, particularly for deer. Idaho’s 129,155 deer hunters last year killed 48,800 deer, for an overall success rate of 38 percent for all general and controlled hunts.
Roadside check stations are worth the stop for sportsmen who care about the future of their sport. Idaho law requires all hunters and anglers to stop at state Fish and Game Department temporary check stations regardless of whether they were successful on a day trip or from a multiday outing.
Hunters, by law, are required to salvage the meat from game they kill in Idaho and Washington. Most sportsmen willingly go a step further and make sure the meat isn’t just salvaged but also kept in tip-top condition for safely feeding their families and friends.
Fences are not natural to wildlife. Although Northwest critters have lived among fences for more than a century, they still run into them. They snag legs and other body parts on barbed-wire or metal posts. They detour around them and get ambushed by predators, bound over them and collide with vehicles, back away from them and go malnourished as their natural movements for food and cover are cut off.