The Warden's Words
What happened to the elk hunters?
Another rifle elk season has come to a close in our valley and this one, just like all the others before it, has been unique. The lack of participation during this hunting season will stand out in my mind, along with the need for scuba gear during the cow season.
Just to put an emphasis on this season—my phone was so quiet that I routinely checked to make sure it was still plugged in. Even at the end of the season, when we had some decent snow, I still could not find very many hunters. On the last day of the elk season I was able to check only one hunter in my end of Unit 4 and five hunters in Unit 4A. Of course, it is rumored that the traditional “locals” elk season is set to start next week!
We still have lots of elk hunting opportunity left this year. “A” tag muzzleloaders will be loading their “possibles” bag for the November 10th start of the bulls-only season in Unit 4. Muzzleloader “B” taggers will have their chance on December 2 to hunt spike elk. For those dedicated stick flingers you will have your chance from December 10th to the 23rd to harvest any elk. Sometimes the seasons seem to never end.
The deer season began on November 1 and, as usual, it began with a whimper. Activity will remain low until we get some snow. This is the time when most hunters spend a lot of time driving and looking, but with the current price of gas and diesel the amount of road hunting may be severely curtailed.
Hunters need to keep their eyes open ands be their most alert, not only to harvest deer but to help your wardens catch those who would steal from all of us. Those people who would poach an extra deer, kill a moose or an elk during closed season, violate road/gate closures, trespass to hunt or use a spotlight need to be reminded that they are in the minority and legal hunters will not tolerate that type of behavior. The old excuse that it was needed to feed the family is just not viable anymore. In this community we have a wildlife salvage group that puts in a tremendous effort to ensure that meat is available for those in need.
So what can you do to help protect what belongs to all of us? You must be observant. You can write down information and license plates. Be willing to call your local warden or dispatch. You can call the CAP hotline. You can do all these things while remaining anonymous, if you prefer. But you do need to do something when the incident happens. We few wardens can only be in so many spots at one time and we rely on hunters and citizens to be our eyes everywhere else. Remember, every warden would prefer to answer 100 calls of suspected poaching that don’t pan out than get no calls at all.
One type of call I field a lot of this time of the year involves trespass and property. Questions like: How do I regulate hunters on my property? What do I do when poachers trespass in spite of my signs? Who do I contact? If I post my property can I hunt on it? If I shoot a deer on public property and it runs onto posted land, can I retrieve the animal?
Answers: To control hunters on your property you must post your property lines with signs or 100 square inches of orange paint every 600 yards. Allow trespassers to hunt with permission only. If you have poachers on your property, call your local warden or Bonner Dispatch immediately. Try to get people descriptions and/or vehicle license numbers, but remember it is always best to not confront scrotes with guns. The property belongs to you and you can certainly hunt it even if you have posted it “No Hunting.” If you have legally shot a deer on public ground but it finally dies on posted property, it is best to try and contact the landowner for permission to remove it. If you cannot locate the owner, try contacting your local warden. Give it your best effort, but do not let the deer go to waste. Be smart about your actions because you may have to explain them.
Next week a day has been set aside to honor those men and women who fought and suffered and continue to die for this country. Some of these veterans continue to suffer and find little peace. Join me in thanking them on their special day.
I need to close this and get my butt in gear. So, without further ado, I hope you will enjoy what we have, enjoy it with the family and leave it better than when you found it.
PS-if you have any questions or need telephone numbers, give me a call at 208-266-1501.