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The Warden's Words

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Hiking with griz

I trust that everybody had a great and safe 4th this year. It seemed to me that everybody put a little something extra into the celebrations this year. It was great!

I think everybody wanted to be sure folks around the world understood that we are still here and have no plans to be gone. These small town fourth’s are the best. Last night as we sat on the Clark Fork ball field waiting for the main fireworks display to start we were able to enjoy the younger families and their kids playing with their fireworks. I could remember back when our boys had that look of awe in their eyes. It started to make me a little sad because our family was not together for the holiday. I guess it was then that it finally hit me that we had been among family all day. The community of Clark Fork is like one family so one can never be truly alone.

One thing I did not miss last night at the firework’s were the mosquitoes. Everywhere I have been this year has been overpopulated with the little suckers. Several times they have actually driven me out of a fishing spot with their relentless attacks. I am not exactly sure just what we have here, but it is becoming frightening. Usually windy days are bug free. Not this year, because I have noticed that the mosquitoes are setting their wings and soaring with the wind. They looked like condors over Antelope Lake.

I noticed that the mosquitoes are somewhat bigger this year. I believe they have found a way to crossbreed with craneflies. Usually one need only bring out some repellent and rub or spray it on. The first time I tried that this year I noticed several mosquitoes landed near the puddle of repellent, cupped in my hand, and began to drink. I swear at least one of the little buggers had a grin on its face when it looked at me. Sometimes it is like Hitchcock’s “the Birds.” Anyway, be prepared when you are out there.

Now that most of the snow has disappeared folks will be taking to the hiking trails. Around this area the most frequently asked questions involve encounters with Grizzly Bears. How to avoid encounters and how to survive encounters. There are no guarantees or surefire solutions, and everybody has an opinion as to what will work the best in a certain situation. So instead of offering my opinions I thought I would offer some observations for you to consider.

First, the universal advice is to play dead when attacked by a Grizzly. They even put that advice on signs in bear country. I have always wondered if some Grizzly Bear was on the advice committee because this surely is a method for a hungry bear to expend the least amount of energy to secure a food supply. Besides, one doesn't want adrenaline affecting the taste. 

Second, the universal advice is to make noise when hiking in bear country. An accepted method has been to wear little bells on one's shoes. I know everybody has heard the standard joke about ID’ing Grizzly Bear scat by looking for the little bells in it. But I want you to think of something else. Did you know that the international call for dinner is the sound of bells? The tinkling of bells in a remote area may just awaken the more Cosmopolitan side of a Grizzly Bear.

Third, for years folks have been recommending that you carry pepper spray as a deterrent to bear attacks. The idea being that the spray would blind the bear and give one time to escape. I have always wondered why they wanted you to enter bear country armed only with a condiment. Just some food for thought.

Well our hatchery guys have been out planting like crazy again. They wanted to make sure everybody had lots of fish to catch over the 4th. All the area lakes had some put in, with a few lakes like Porcupine getting some next week. 

For all the fish being planted fishing has still been slow. I watched an Osprey work for almost an hour before it caught its supper. Waters are starting to recede so I expect fishing to get a little better real soon. Those fishing on the Pend Oreille River have been doing well in the mornings on Macks with some fair Kams mixed in the bag. Bass fishing has slowed down as has perch fishing, but don’t let that keep you from taking a kid fishing.I feel the need to be outside so I will end this and get to work. Remember to enjoy what we have, enjoy it with the family and leave it better than when you found it.  

JJ SCOTT 

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Author info

JJ Scott JJ Scott was a Fish & Game warden for the state of Idaho, now retired

Tagged as:

outdoors, wildlife, bears, Clark Fork, mosquitos, grizzly

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