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The Warden's Words

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A quiet elk season

This had to have been the quietest elk season in North Idaho recorded history - well, at least since the elk were transported to this area. Officers have been racing to calls, hoping to be first, so as to have a case to work on. Some of the wardens are even making plans to hunt next year during the elk season.

    I was really surprised to find that only about a third of the campsites available in Unit 4 were being used, and truly glad to see some familiar faces in traditional campsites. I had started to hear “Twilight Zone” music. But I knew I was still sane because over the years I have kidded a few of the campsites that, because they were set up for so long a period, they should put up mailboxes. Well, this year two of the camps did. I wonder how I can get my hands on a Post Office truck for next elk season???

    As retired warden Keith Hawn would say, “let’s get a cup of coffee and cogitate on this for awhile.” The frenzied activity of elk hunting ten years ago has been replaced with a more relaxed, “Zen” type of hunting. In the past, camps raced with each other to be first at the “honeyhole” -now, there is nobody to race. Activity would be so intense that feuds have started between groups that are still not forgotten.

    Why the change? I am sure many things have come together to make the difference. The number of hunters has declined and their children have lost interest. World politics and the declining stock market. The weather or the inability to take time off from work. While no doubt all of these reasons may contribute, it just may be that the Department has finally hit a way to keep most everybody happy. The “A”—“B” tag system just may be doing what it was designed to do -  spread out the hunting pressure and provide additional hunting opportunity. While the numbers of folks buying elk tags have declined, this alone cannot be responsible for the changes we see. Nope, after much “cogitating” I have to believe that the tag system has done the most to contribute to what we now experience during elk season.

    The final elk harvest numbers for the rifle season are not in yet but the preliminary numbers indicate the take is steadily climbing. This year should at least be comparable to last year’s take. During the last few days of the season, with a little snow on the ground, a number of additional bulls were taken in the upper end of Unit 4. As soon as our biologists have added the numbers I will get them out to you.

    We are now a week into deer season with very little activity. Remember, folks, that Unit 4 is closed to rifle deer hunting. So far most folks can drive anywhere they want. This makes it nice for those folks wishing to get high and hunt for mule deer.

    REMINDERS: Do not trespass to hunt as no deer is worth your hunting license for three years. Be sure of your target before you pull the trigger. Kill your own critter. Tag what you harvest. Don’t let some scrote poacher steal your game - take a stand and report it. Know your local warden’s telephone number and keep it handy. Don’t waste your game.     Speaking of waste, if you do not eat deer liver, consider finding a few of our senior citizens and bring it out for them. I have yet to have a senior citizen turn down free, fresh liver. For those of you still fishing, if you catch a fish with an antenna wire hanging out please put it back in the water. It is not a Mackinaw!!!

    Well I think I will “cogitate” my way into some lunch before actually getting serious and earning my paycheck. Please remember to enjoy what we have, enjoy it with the family and leave it better than when you found it. JJ SCOTT

    Thanks to Hope's Bobbie Kassel for the photo of Warden JJ, above,  caring for a small fawn.


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

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