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Successful hunting in our northwest forests

I began hunting two years ago when I was 12, but I plan to hunt for many more years because I enjoy doing it. This column is for people who aren’t as experienced as others or who have never hunted before but would maybe like to try it out.

The most important thing for would-be hunters to know is that there’s rules for hunting. In Idaho, the sport is regulated by Fish & Game. In Montana, it’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks. You can pick up a copy of the rules book at your local sporting goods store, visit online (click here for Idaho, here for Montana) or stop by your local wildlife office.

At the end of August, black bear and mountain lion were open for hunting, and in Idaho, Archery season began. During archery season for northern Idaho you can hunt for bull elk, cow elk and deer. There have been significant changes in the archery regulations for Montana, so be sure to grab a copy of the book before you head into the woods.

If you don’t hunt with a bow, that’s okay, you can wait until rifle season to pull out your rifle and do some hunting, or why not give a bow a try? If you don’t want to hunt with a bow or, like me, you can’t, just get some shooting practice in with your gun so that you’re ready when rifle season starts.

Before you go out hunting, make sure to get your license, tags and permits. There are five different types of hunting and fishing licenses in Idaho: resident, resident trapping, non-resident, nonresident trapping, and resident lifetime licenses. There are four different types of tags including: resident, controlled resident, non-resident, and controlled non-resident. There are only two types of permits and these are resident and non-resident. To find the costs of these licenses, tags, and permits, go on to the Fish and Game website and look for these costs on the home page, or again, pick up a rules and regulations book at your local sporting goods store.

Montana licenses, tags and permits include resident, non-resident, disabled resident (can hunt from a car in some areas) trapping, hound training, fur dealing, landowner trapper, sportsman’s and more.

Idaho and Montana both have big game species, trophy species, waterfowl, upland game species, and trapping species (furbearers).

The big game species include deer, elk, black bear, mountain lion and pronghorn (antelope). Trophy species include moose, mountain goats, and bighorn sheep; there are two species of bighorn sheep; the Rocky Mountain and the California. You can only kill one of them each in your life, but only if you draw a tag for that animal. Moose and goat are once-in-a-lifetime drawing also, but there are exceptions for moose permits left over from non-filled drawings. For the specific areas where these animals are located and can be hunted, again, refer to your guide.

Waterfowl species include geese, ducks, coots, and snipe. These different types of waterfowl can be found in forests, woods and agriculture areas.

The upland game species are turkey, pheasant, gray partridge, forest grouse, hares, American crow, falconry (all falcons, hawks, owls, and eagles), sandhill cranes, and mourning doves.

The trapping species include river otter, badger, beaver, fox, marten, mink, bobcat, muskrat, and raccoon. Coyotes, striped skunks, spotted skunks and long-tailed weasels can also be hunted and are considered to be furbearers; they can be trapped or hunted because they are classified as predatory wildlife.

And always remember to first look up and find the rules and regulations for the specific animals and unit you will be hunting in. I can’t say this enough.

Here are some helpful tips for when you go hunting.

• Before entering an area, make sure to ask the landowner if you can hunt on his/her property unless you are positive that the area is a public area.

• Before shooting your gun, sight it in! If you don’t, your gun won’t shoot strait and you won’t have a clean kill.

• Pick a gun that is not too big for you because it could affect the way you shoot dramatically.

• Make sure to tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back.

• When going on a hunt make sure that you have an emergency pack that has food, water, and First Aid.

• Make sure to have your license, tag(s), and permits with you any time you are hunting because it is the law, and if an officer stops you and you have an animal with you and you don’t have it tagged, they will fine you a certain amount of money depending on the type of animal that you have. Illegal hunting (poaching) can also result in jail time.

• Always, always, make sure that there are no homes or people in the direction that you are shooting towards.

• While hunting, make sure that you wear some type of clothing that is an orange or red color because even if you think other hunters can see you, they might not. So, before you go out make sure to put on a vest, hat, headband, or coat of the colors orange or red. If you don’t want something super bright you can wear a checkered pattern instead, such as red and black.

If you’re new to hunting, check out the hunter education programs available. These classes cover such topics as hunter responsibility and ethics, how firearms work, firearms safety, firearm handling skills and hunting techniques, improving wildlife identification, game care, survival and first aid skills and more.

In Montana, courses offered by volunteer instructors are listed on the FW&P website or you can contact your local Fish, Wildlife & Parks regional office. They also offer a bear identification class that’s crucial if you’re hunting bear in country where the threatened grizzly roams. No wildlife officer will accept the excuse that you “thought it was a black bear.”

Hunter education is required for new hunters in Idaho before they can be licensed, and can be an instructor-led course or an independent study class. You can register for a course online at the Fish and Game website, or stop by any regional office for class schedules and registrations.


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Author info

Tess Vogel Tess Vogel Tess Vogel is a junior high student at Clark Fork Jr/Sr High School

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