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The Warden's Words

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Fall means Fair, huckleberries and... crawdads!

Not being a born writer nor generally considered a very talkative person has been a real detriment to me every couple of weeks when the “calm center of tranquility” wants to know where in heck is her column. I grumble and mumble because I know that for next two to three hours I will be in front of this dang computer. I usually have a few things I need to write about, but then the long blank stares take over. When I mentioned my difficulties to an old-timer, he said to write from the heart, as I used to do, and the words will fill the pages. Well, I am here to say that advice has not lessened the length of the blank stares.

Fishing activity has been relatively slow as of late, but the bass anglers are still having fun with the smallies. People need to remember there is a minimum size on bass of 12 inches and that once you put a fish into a live well, it is reduced to possession. For those of you who like to dunk a worm, your hatchery crew will soon be planting fish in all the area lakes and ponds as the water temperatures cool. Here is another little reminder for folks—it is illegal to tamper with anybody’s traps. You’re probably asking, “What does this have to do with fishing?” Well, folks, including myself, have been setting “crawdad” traps on the Clark Fork River for many years. For many years we have had to endure stolen traps or loss of our catch. This week I had two traps stolen out of five. For those of you who think this is the easiest way to enjoy a meal of crawdads—next time, smile, as you may be being recorded.

As unreal as it may seem, the summer is winding down. Schools are scheduled to start soon and one can see vehicles parked in the backcountry with their owners skulking around the woods thinking of the start of hunting seasons. Nights up on the mountainside have begun to cool down nicely and we have had a few wetting rains. I know the huckleberries and the thimbleberries have ripened and often add an extra hour to my patrol time. That is the time it takes to stop at a great-looking bush to gorge or to pick some extra to take into my mother, and her friends, at the Life Care Center. I know I have mentioned this before, but I still cannot think of a finer taste than that of a ripe huckleberry eaten in the cool morning after a rain. 

Speaking of huckleberries I noticed in a recent Rich Landers’ column that he said there were at least 16 varieties of the berry in the local hills. That just goes to show you how stupid I have been. All these years I labored under the thought that there were only two types of Huckleberry—ripe and not ripe. See, us old dogs can learn new things!

Man-o-man, where has the time gone? Hunting seasons are upon us and the officer’s slack time is coming to an end. Let’s see, we have the early mule deer controlled hunt, moose controlled hunts, archery season for deer/bear/elk, bear season, turkey season and grouse season all starting up in just a few short days. This means there will be a lot more traffic and people in the woods, and everybody needs to crank up their awareness factor several notches. 

Safe weapon handling should now be foremost on everyone’s mind, especially with regard to being sure of your target before pulling the trigger. I need to remind everyone that hunting over a salt block or in the general area of salt is illegal. A hunter killing his critter with illegal bait is considered to have taken the animal illegally, and when caught will pay a fine—a civil penalty and loss of hunting privileges for up to three years. So keep your eyes open when in the woods and if you should find a salt bait—tree stand set up, give your local warden a call. Make sure you are able to provide good directions to the site. Come on folks, let’s work together to stop the thieves from taking our critters.

I am going brain dead and the only cure is to get outside. I think I should go outside and check on my green tomatoes. My neighbors, Mike and Betsy, have some ripe tomatoes all ready and they need to watch them suckers real close to keep me honest.

Don’t forget the Bonner County Fair going on most of the week. Your local sportsman clubs will be out in the wildlife building. Be sure to drop by and visit with all of us. 

For all of you lake anglers wondering about what is going on out there, the fishery crew from Coeur d’Alene will be in Sandpoint at the Community Hall on September 15 from 6:30 pm until 9:30 pm to tell you everything they know. They also plan on listening to what you know.

It is almost time for all of us to get back into the groove, but not quite. So let us really enjoy what is left of the summer. Take the kids swimming, berry picking, fishing or maybe camping, and don’t put it off. Toast a marshmallow while enjoying the night sky, take a ride in the evening until the house cools off, and see what wildlife is out and about. Enjoying the simple things doesn’t cost a lot and is the best way I know to enjoy what we have and to enjoy it with the family, and leaving it better than when you found it ensures you will enjoy it again.

JJ         You can reach JJ at 208-266-1501

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

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huckleberries, fishing, traps, crawdads

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