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The Game Trail

Hunter numbers are good; CAP is there for poachers

There is nothing like the crisp clean mornings of early fall, even better if you mix in a few bugles and grunts from a bull elk in rut! Hunting seasons are here and the past archery season was productive according to those who took the time to hunt hard. People are seeing a good number of elk, but they are not always cooperating. We have been enjoying some great hunting in the Panhandle over the past few years. There’s always a few who complain how terrible but they’re the ones still in camp in the morning enjoying an early barley pop. 

We’re seeing the number of archers (includes both A tag and B tag) increasing at a rate of about 4.7 percent a year in the Panhandle. Last year we had just fewer than 4,900 elk archers in the region. That’s about one out of every four elk hunters hunting with a bow. Panhandle archers are doing better now than they did a few years ago as well. According to our wildlife manager, Jim Hayden, that’s probably due to a combination of better equipment, better access, improved overall elk herds, and/or a shift of hunting to areas with more elk. In 2001, about 9 percent of archers took an elk in the Panhandle. Last year, it was better than 12 percent. The combination of more hunters and higher success rates led to an all-time record of 594 elk harvested by Panhandle archers in 2007. Just for a comparison, 15 years ago, Panhandle archers took just 128 elk during the 1992 archery season! We’ve also seen a slight increase in the number of nice bulls taken by archers. From 2000 to 2004, archers took about 65 six-point bulls a year. That’s improved now, and last year, archers took 118 six-point bulls in the region. 

With the excitement of hunting seasons upon us some folks, a very small portion of people in our neck of the woods, like to steal our wildlife by poaching. These people are neither hunters nor sportsmen; they are thieves and should be treated as such. To combat such activity, an amazing group of Idaho citizens created an organization called Citizens Against Poaching. 

Citizens Against Poaching, otherwise known as CAP, was created in 1980 and continues strong today aiding Conservation Officers in catching poachers. It’s obvious we can’t catch every poacher out there so we rely on the good citizens of Idaho to help us. We have 83 Conservation Officers covering the 84,000 square miles in the state, which leaves each officer with roughly 1,000 square miles to patrol. For example, my patrol area stretches from Shoshone County to Kootenai County north to Boundary County and east to the Montana line, a daunting task to say the least. In an ideal world I would be covering every square inch of that area every day and be aware of all illegal activity. Unfortunately the world doesn’t work like that so we as officers ask hunters, bird watchers, hikers and all those who enjoy spending time in the outdoors, to take the responsibility and make the effort to call and report illegal activity.

To call CAP and report poaching activity simply call 800-632-5999. The phone lines are manned 24 hours a day and 7 days a week with operators prepared to take the information and relay it to the nearest Conservation Officer. CAP pays rewards if the information supplied is sufficient for a citation or a warrant to be issued, a conviction is not necessary. Set reward amounts are $100 for birds, fish, and general violations, $250 for most big game animals and $500 for trophy species, such as sheep, goat, moose and caribou. With approval from the CAP board, these amounts can be increased in special circumstances. Major funding for CAP rewards come from donations, controlled hunt fee check off, court ordered reimbursements, and license sales commission on licenses sold at department offices. 

Please take the time to call your local officer, county dispatch center, or the CAP line. If you think some activity isn’t right it’s your duty to make the call. Nothing is more frustrating than when we hear from a landowner, sportsman, or any other citizen who saw some illegal activity and didn’t report it right away. In most instances it’s the difference between making a case and stopping illegal behavior, or not.

We’re very lucky to have some quality waterfowl hunting here in the Panhandle and it often gets over looked. Waterfowl season starts October 2 and closes January 14 in our neck of the woods. Please don’t forget that scaup season does not open until October 23 this year, so identify your birds before pulling that trigger. Duck daily bag limits are as follows; seven of any kind of duck but not including more than the following: two female mallards, two redheads, two pintails, three scaup, and one canvasback. Goose bag limit this year is four birds.

Conservation Officers see some common mistakes in waterfowl blinds that could easily be avoided. Remember to purchase the correct license and stamps. A waterfowl hunter should have a hunting license, validated for the Federal Migratory Game Bird Harvest Information Program, and a 2010 waterfowl stamp. The stamp needs to be attached to your license and signed. If your shotgun is capable of holding more than 3 shells make sure you have a plug and remember non-toxic shot only. So get those grouse loads out of your hunting vests and pouches. 

Be safe out there, and be the most ethical hunter you can be. Don’t forget to take the time to include the kids and show them the right way to hunt. Hope to see you out there!

Leave No Child Inside

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Author info

Matt Haag Matt Haag is an Idaho Fish and Game Conservation Officer.

Tagged as:

elk, hunting, waterfowl, archery, poachers, CAP

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