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The Game Trail

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The Game Trail

Elk and deer season underway

I’ll share a sad, pathetic story with you all with hope that someone out there may have some information to help us out. On October 19 at approximately 5:30 am some degenerate wildlife thieves shot a bull elk in the private field behind the Northside School on Rapid Lightning Rd. The scumbags cut the head off and ran from the scene leaving the bull to waste. This poacher is neither a hunter nor sportsman, and the people of Bonner County are outraged. Anybody with information on this case may contact me directly, or call the Citizens Against Poaching Hotline at 1-800-632-5999. If the information leads to an arrest there is a very handsome reward available. As always, callers can remain anonymous.

Elk season is behind us and the prime time whitetail hunting is right around the corner! The elk season seemed to have a slow start with the sunny cold days, but the good weather rolled in just in time for cow season.

Jim Hayden, our Big Game Manager in the Panhandle has sent out some preliminary check station data. Here is what he has to say: At the two check stations Enaville and St. Maries, we checked 106 bulls and 68 antlerless elk for the first two weekends (combined), compared to 98 bulls and 55 antlerless elk last year. Hunter success rates were actually quite a bit better because fewer hunters took more elk. Quite a few three-year old bulls in the harvest this year, so it looks promising for small 6-points next year. There have been Lots of reports of cows with calves as well.

 In a nutshell, the number of hunters through both stations hasn’t changed much since 1999, and is down just a touch compared to last year. The success rates so far are higher this year than last year at both stations. Success at St Maries was 8.4 percent per trip, about average (8.8 percent average). At Enaville, the success rate was 5.8 percent per trip. This is well above the average 3.8 percent (lots of day-trippers through the Enaville station), and in fact, this year had the highest success rate in the last 19 years through the first two weekends.

The season is short this year, and even with higher success rates, the shorter season will mean we’ll have a little head of steam going into next year. No promises for next year yet, though—lots more data to come in.

Remember the deer seasons have changed a bit. The whitetail doe season have been reduced and as always mule deer does are closed. Before you head out in the woods pick up a copy of the regulations and double check the dates. If you have questions call me or the Fish & Game Regional Office in Coeur d’Alene at 208-769-1414.

During the heat of the whitetail deer season your local Conservation Officers receive hundreds of calls related to trespassing. Here are a few reminders of Idaho’s trespass laws.  If your land is not cultivated, you must post your land with signs or fluorescent orange paint. The paint or signs must be 100 square inches (10x10 square). The signs must be posted every 660 feet along the property boundary, and at any reasonable access points (trail, driveway, gate, etc.) If someone disregards the signs and enters your property they are in violation. Please call the Bonner County Sheriff’s office dispatch to report this immediately. They will dispatch your local Conservation Officer, or a sheriff’s deputy.

If you post your land “No Hunting”, does that mean you and friends can’t hunt your own property? Of course not! It’s just letting folks know that you don’t want them hunting your land without permission.  However, I really recommend you do not use the “No Hunting” as that implies that it’s okay to trespass, just not to hunt. Use the “No Trespass” sign to cover your bases.

Fish & Game officers will be deploying their robotic decoys at record numbers this late summer.  This is not a threat, but more of a warning to those that think illegally shooting animals is fun. It may prove to be the most expensive fun you’ve had. We set the decoys to catch folks that are hunting at night, out of season, or on private property without permission.  If you are hunting legally you will never see our decoys! If you are a land owner that has experienced problems with trespass, spotlighting issues, and are interested in having a decoy operation on your property, please call me, or your local officer.

Hard to believe it’s November already!  Happy Veterans Day to all our Vets out there, thank you for your service to our Nation and the sacrifices you’ve made. The Sandpoint District Conservation officers wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving as well. Remember to take the time to be thankful for the natural resources we have here. It’s all our jobs to take care of it responsibly.

Leave No Child Inside



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

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