Round 1 ~continued~

Elk Hunting Idaho: The emblematic Sawtooths, or the mighty Tetons?

ROUND 1 ~ Continued ~

Idaho's Middle Fork Elk Zone

Interview With Idaho Waterfowl Association - Part 4

All about the IWA...

Growler Is Dead

Dirk Durham on the inspiration of elusive legends...

Guest Post

A Thanksgiving excursion to SE Idaho yields some impressive fishing.

Sweet 17 General Elk Hunt Tournament

There are 17 "any weapon" general season elk zones in Idaho that allow you to harvest a branch antlered bull. Which one is the best? Where should I pick up my rifle and hunt? Well, you should go where you want. But this little exercise is intended to give you an idea of some of the hot spots in the state. So stay tuned as we examine Idaho's great general season elk hunts!

2011 data is not in yet, obviously, but there's enough info out there to get us planning for the 2012 hunt. Here's some details about the tournament; more will follow.

- No archery hunts were considered; this is intended for the rifle hunter who wants an over-the-counter tag

- No general spike-only or anterless hunts were considered; only general season antlered seasons were considered

- No controlled hunts were considered (but we'll do that one next)

- Elk Management Zones are being compared, not individual units. However, there will be plenty of commentary about the units in the discussion.

- Zones were placed on the bracket randomly

- May the best Zone win.

~ J. Bunch

Saving Trout

Just when you thought I was off my rocker, trying to defend myself as a conservationist, and all the while sounding less like one - this news story caught my attention.  Somebody is actually saving the trout who didn't get the word that the canals in Southern Idaho were going to be shut off.  Who has the common sense and resources to do something like that?  Let me tell you - a partnership between private land owners, Trout Unlimited, and the Nature Conservancy.

From the Idaho Mountain Express:

Every fall, regional canal companies divert the flow of water from irrigation canals, signaling a change in season and stranding thousands of fish, which, naturally, didn't get the memo about the shutoff.

Seeing this, the Hemingway Chapter of Trout Unlimited has established elaborate fish rescue operations, gathering up and escorting the breathless creatures to a permanent home in the Big Wood River.

Today, thousands of those fish are getting along swimmingly in the habitats around the Heart Rock Ranch, where since the fall of 2010, property owners Harry and Shirley Hagey have been engaged in a project that has turned out to be one of the largest earth-moving projects in Idaho, said Trout Unlimited member Bob Law.
Please, go here, and read the remainder of this fine work.

~ J. Bunch

Conservationism & Conservatism

I am a conservative, in case you couldn't tell.  But to be more specific, and perhaps for the sake of clarity, I'm a paleo-conservative.  Old school.  You know, the kind of guy that believes the federal government should follow its Constitution (as it was written, not as it has been interpreted).

As you know, the Constitution was written to limit the federal government, not give it license to do whatever it wants. So with all of this in mind, some of my comments decrying trust in what federal wildlife agencies are up to should make sense.

My comments yesterday on Idaho's caribou situation should be taken in that light. Believe me, I am all for the caribou. I want to see the caribou flourish like the lichen on the north facing side of a 400 year old hemlock. I think they're pretty cool animals, and I hope they can make a home here.

With that said, why in the world would I trust a federal government who is blatantly inept at managing just about everything (see today's national debt)? Does over $15 trillion in debt sound like a bunch of managers with common sense? At some point, Uncle Sam, you have to realize you're out of money. My money. Our money.

But this sort of blatant disregard for simple math ( -$15 trillion = bankrupt ) trickles down in such a way as to make matters worse. The feds determined that the caribou in Idaho need 375,000 acres of "critical habitat" - a designation that puts a wide ribbon of red tape around any land in which the feds might have any control. Which is pretty much all of the land in the Selkirks.

The feds don't have the money to do this sort of thing, but for them it's easy to spend what you don't have. Unfortunately, the folks who make an income from that land will not be able to print up money to supplement their losses. When citizens print up money that has no backing, it's called counterfeiting - a serious crime. The feds, on the other hand, have this nice sounding institution called the Federal Reserve that prints fiat money for them. It's not hard to see the double standard here, but for some reason most Americans let it pass high over their heads in the clouds of ignorance.

Simply put, the feds are administering an Endangered Species Act that they have zero money to do, and zero Constitutional authority to do.  And with the caribou in Idaho they propose to make 375,000 acres of land a no-touch zone for those citizens who might otherwise profit off of the land - local economies.

But what about conservationism then? Am I not serious about conserving caribou? Of course. But the first step is to get the idiots overseeing the current conservation efforts out of the way.

~ J. Bunch

You and the Woodland Caribou

I was always a little baffled by the IF&G's big game rule brochure when it stated that there is no open season for caribou in Idaho. Caribou in Idaho? Where and how? I thought caribou only existed in the far north tundra, slurping up lichen as they migrate.

Turns out, a few of them prefer the forests, and abide in portions of North Idaho and Washington in the Selkirk Mountains, slurping up lichen off of our old growth forests.

Now, when I say a "few" of them, I mean that literally. Like three (3). In 2008, the IF&G surveyed the Selkirk Mountains for Caribou. In that range, which extends into Northeast Washington and British Columbia, 46 caribou were found. 43 were counted in B.C., and 3 were observed in Idaho.

In case you're interested in exactly where those 3 caribou were spotted in Idaho, below is the survey map:

Supposedly, the woodland caribou once roamed the northern U.S. in greater numbers. But in 1984, they were put under the Endangered Species Act, and have had protection there. In 1999, the population in the Selkirks was 48, 6 of which were located in Idaho. The population has remained steady since then, with an average of 2.555556 (exactly) caribou observed in Idaho during the last 9 surveys going back to 1999.

So what should we do about it? Well, I think having caribou in Idaho is a pretty neat idea. Especially if they grow to such a number that I get to hunt them someday. But the fact of the matter is I probably won't, and neither will my grandchildren. The woodland Caribou in the Selkirks is likely not a viable herd. Augmentation efforts in the past have not helped increased the population. And sometimes the "playing god" activities of wildlife agencies just makes my head spin. Like when they promote wolf, grizzly, and caribou all in the same area.

But the Feds have different ideas with their, er... our land. And how nice it was for them to let us know. They plan on designating 375,562 acres in Washington and Idaho as critical habitat for the caribou. While this proposal will not restrict any private land that doesn't have any federal strings attached, it will mean changes on federal land, and with lands that do have federal strings attached. Which means, unfortunately, since almost all lands these days have federal strings attached, that our three caribou might turn out to be a pain in the butt for more than a few Idahoans.

The anti-common sense of introducing animals into an area, in order to augment an unviable population of animals, and then to pull every string possible to ensure that population grows, is nothing more than a power grab at land, and job justification and security. Wildlife officials love it. Environmental groups and their lawyers love it. And we pay the bill in more ways than one.

More info on what the US Fish & Wildlife Service has planned here.
You can state your comments on the plan at this site.
And finally, you can read the 2008 IF&G survey study here.

~ J. Bunch

Place: Hagerman, Idaho

My Thanksgiving Adventures

Yeah, they weren't really too exciting. But I had a good time nonetheless.

Our plans were to be in Moscow during the Thanksgiving weekend, and I thought that meant I would have the opportunity to spend a few final days calling in a whitetail buck in the rut. Not so fast.

We decided, for a variety of reasons to head to Boise for Thanksgiving. But I wasn't going to go for just turkey and stuffing. No, I made sure to call up a good friend of mine near Melba, and have him set up a first class duck hunt for me on Friday. He agreed in exchange for a bottle of whiskey.

He set up the first class duck hunt, and I did my part by bringing along a bottle of Crown Royal, my favorite dessert. Unfortunately, the weather was too nice. Ducks weren't flying. We had duck deeks set up nicely, but the only thing flying around were tons of geese. For those Treasure Valley folks complaining of a lack of geese, I don't know what you're talking about.

My buddy and I sat up in our blinds, passed the bottle back and forth, and tried to call in geese with our duck calls. It was a good time. No, it was a great time.

And that's what it is about. I don't know that I would've traded that time of conversation with my buddy for a "kill 'em" focused time where we get our limits. Sure, it would've been nice to get some ducks. But I'll take the time out in the field with a good friend anytime.

~ J. Bunch

A Few Important Things of Note for This Thanksgiving

I thought about boring you all with the news of why Congressman Simpson was at the Chester Wetlands, and what Senator Crapo's latest conservation ideas were.  But really, who wants to be bored with politics, especially since there will probably be too much of that talk at the table later today?

So, let's just remember why we're so thankful for this great State.

Think for a moment about the North Country Mountains - the Selkirks...

The rolling hills of the Palouse...

The Camas Prairie (#1), and some of our favorite steelhead stomping grounds - Riggins...

The Central Mountains, the Payette & Weiser River...

The Owyhees...

The Camas Prairie (#2), the high valley and town of Fairfield...

The Sawtooths...

The Salmon River as it works its way through Clayton, Challis, Salmon...

The Frank Church Wilderness...

The Centennial Mountains over to Henry's Lake & Island Park...

The rolling barley fields that gently merge into the Teton foothills...

The Henry's Fork and the South Fork...

The extreme Southeast mountains & Bear Lake...

And the mighty Snake River that defines much of who we are, from Idaho Falls to Lewiston.

You bet I'm thankful for Idaho.

~ J. Bunch

Hiding In The Snow

So enough with all of my discouraging posts about grizzlies, wolves, and environmentalists. I'm going to end the day with a guest post by a fellow - Larry Szurgot of Horseshoe Bend - who understands how a hunting dog and a man can become best friends. I'm not a dog person by nature - I've had too many dum ones. But I know that the teamwork cultivated between a man and his pointer can create quite a bond. ~ J. Bunch

~ ~ ~

I should have known better than to go out again today, but Riley and I had such a great time between the squalls yesterday we were ready to chance it again today. It wasn't a very good idea because there was quite a bit more moisture and wind in today's storms and the duration was a little longer. So we got a little wet.

Luckily we found a nice carved out spot in some rocks that gave us some protection from the blowing wet snow. I tucked myself back in as far as I could to protect both me and Riley, who was more than happy to hide with me. The hard stuff lasted for about a half an hour. It's amazing of the things that can go through your mind in that short of a time.

Riley pulled in as close as he could with his nose tucked deep into my chest. As he looked up at me with his eyes I suddenly saw Tucker in him. I remembered all the great times Tucker and I had together and how he used to sit next to me in the same way. He always made me feel like I was really something. Riley has turned into Tucker in his actions. He always wants to be close to me and is as aware of where I am on the hill as I try to be of him. If he comes back to where he thinks I should be and he can't see me he quickly gets that panic look in his eyes.

Tucker taught me more about chukar hunting than I could have learned from a book and now Riley is continuing my education. I remember feeling like all that I have to do to be successful in hunting chukars is to follow Tuckers lead and shoot well. We both had bad days but 9 out of 10 times Tucker's days were great. He had honest points that he would hold until I got into the position I wanted to be in. If I did my job the retrieve would be made with never a word being said.

Never a word being said. That is how my hunts now go with Riley now. Very few words have to be said for encouragement or because of discouragement, except for the times I'm cussing myself out. I know he does what he does because he loves it and it pleases me. I keep my mouth shut when he screws up because I know that he made the mistake trying to please me just as I sometimes miss a bird trying to please him with a possible retrieve. That is what Tucker taught me about being with a hunting dog. We are a team.

Finally the storm broke and it was time for Riley and I to work our way back to the truck before the next batch of snow and wind hit us. Riley jumped up and led the way, hoping to find a bird or two along the way. He seemed to know the way back to the truck and I was ready to head that way. As luck would have it, we did pick up a couple of more chukars along the way, but that wasn't what was important on my mind. It was the realization of how Riley and I had become one. He and I are not only good hunting buddies but are just great friends.

But with the good things our dogs do for us there is the one thing that they have no control over. They don't live long enough. With each passing of our animal friends we lose a piece of our heart. I have lost several pieces in my lifetime and Tucker took a pretty big chunk. Dakota, Tucker,s son probably only has a couple of years left before he will erase all physical evidence of his father. He will also take a large piece of my heart with him. He and his dad were an unbeatable pair on the hill. There will never be a pair of dogs that worked birds together than these two. Thus the name "Team Tuckota" will forever be engraved above my fireplace with the names of all their predecessors and followers listed with them.

While sitting under that rock I couldn't help but to wonder where I am going from here. I never thought I would have another dog that would fit with me as Tucker did. I don't mind saying that I bawled like a baby the day Tucker left and am getting tears now thinking back to that day. I also left some tears under that rock today. They were tears for Tucker but also tears of fear of the day when Riley leaves me. I don't know if I have many more pieces of my heart to give. I wish that the love each one of my dogs have given me would rebuild the heart but there's starting to be too much of a void.

Most who are reading this have hunting dogs so nothing more need be said except, thank you God for giving us such loyal friends and I pray we all see each other again.

~ Larry Szurgot

Larry blogs at 'Tucker's chukars'

Court Says Grizzlies Still Endangered - Updated 11/23/11

Alex Kozinski (pictured) is Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Update 11/23/11 - Shortly after I posted this, Rocky Barker of the Idaho Statesman added this insight:

Federal and Idaho biologists say a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision on grizzly bears Tuesday offers them a clear path back to delisting the West’s biggest predator in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.

The three-judge panel upheld U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy’s 2010 order to return grizzlies to the threatened species list. But it also overturned his ruling that the government’s conservation strategy was not adequate to protect the bears after delisting.

You can read his fine reporting on the subject here.

~ ~ ~

Whenever I hunt in Eastern Idaho, I always get a tinge of nervousness when I step down on some crunchy white pine nuts.  I do a double take, a look up and around.  I know pine nuts are a grizzly's favorite meal, and I don't want to be dessert.  But there I am, standing like a cherry on top of a white pine nut sunday, and I keep a finger ready on the bear spray trigger.

Okay, maybe I'm not that paranoid.  Here's the news - 

The white pine nuts are a favorite food source for the humpbacked bears, but the trees have been the favorite food source of a certain beetle.  So the grizzlies are not living as high on the hog as they used to.  Seems like they're doing just fine.  Numbers are up.  Attacks on humans are up.  What more could a left-wing environmentalist want?

Well, the ones on the 9th Circus Court of Appeals want more.  And the white pine nut shortage is the convenient excuse.  Federal wildlife agencies were about to lift protection on the grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone area, but then the Court in San Fransisco knew better.

The sooner the states can have jurisdiction and management over their own animals, the better.  IF&G's stance, both on bear and wolf issues, is let us manage ourselves.  And not, as Merle Haggard put it, like the hippis out in San Fransisco do.

~ J. Bunch

Idaho Sheep Station Scrutiny Sheepishness

The U.S. Sheep Experiment Station, headquartered in Dubois, is under scrutiny. Just about everybody, from state government wildlife agencies to BLM to environmental groups, wants the station closed.

The main issues are concerns for grizzly, wolf, and bighorn sheep habitat. For some scientific reason, the sheep station, right in the middle of prime grizzly territory, is allegedly to blame as an impediment to grizzlies moving further west.

Wait, do we want grizzlies moving further west?

Personally, I don't. But leaving my opinion aside, how do sheep prevent grizzlies from expanding their range? I'm befuddled at that thought. The Experiment Station runs 3,000 sheep on 47,000 total acres of land - land that is, admittedly, grizzly land.

But really? Are the grizzlies scared of sheep? Do they feel the need to circle a wide swath around the little wooly creatures, and run back to last year's cave for safety? Or maybe the grizzlies don't move west because they have plenty of free lamb chops where they're at, and hear that the eatin' ain't so good out west. Yes, that must be it.

The Station has only put down one problem grizzly in recent years. And yet, bears do eat sheep from time to time. Both grizzlies and black bears. So far I'm on the side of the sheep Station. If they don't mind the threat of bears, then neither do I. It's not as if the sheep are eating up all the bears' forage and habitat. No, the sheep are free meals at worst (and how bad can that be?).

Environmentalists, if you want to do the best thing for the bears, let them stay put and feast on fresh lamb. If you don't think that's best for them, just ask them. Grizzlies have recovered nicely, thank you, and the closer we keep them to tourists in Yellowstone, the better.

I hunt the Centennial Mountains for elk and deer. And personally, I think it would be nice to not have to carry bear spray with me while doing so. Further, I wish my kids could dance under the moon, deep in the Centennial Mountain forests, all by their lonesomes, without any fear of safety. It seems I should be able to talk some of the real environmentalists into that side of the argument.

But of course there is the accompanying concern for the wolves. Please. Wolves and sheep are getting along just fine. I can think of many applicable fairy tales to insert here, but I'll just state that the argument that wolves are being held up in any way by a herd of 3,000 sheep is high lore.

Bighorn sheep? Sheep and Bighorns don't get along well. Well, actually they do. They get along a little too well, but the problem is that the contact between the two appear to be fatal for the bighorns. Simple solution: don't plant bighorns where sheep have historically grazed. If wildlife agencies would stop moving animals, half the problem would be solved. I know my argument is simplistic, and not universal. To be fair - the bighorn sheep concern is the most legit.

But lest you think this diatribe is the equivalent of a protest sign saying, "Save the Station," let me assure you that it is not. The station has been around since 1926, with the purpose of doing research on grazing. I'm sure that it provides some valuable data to other agencies, such as the BLM, when they are drafting grazing allotments of their own. But I doubt that the industry or other government agencies couldn't live without their research. It would seem that 80 years of research should be sufficient for now.

I'm sure there is a private sheepherder out there who would jump on the opportunity to graze where the Station is now.

For a less biased article, go here.

~ J. Bunch

Ever Wanted To Be A Professional Trapper?

You may now have your chance.

That is, if you're a creative thinker and businessman.

The Idaho Wildlife Services Program, a federally funded program to assist ranchers with predators, is cutting the funds that they can spend in Idaho. The program is cooperatively funded, with about $700,000 coming directly from Idaho based entities. The rest of the funding is picked up by us, the taxpayers.

But because the federal funds are not going to be available this coming year for the program, the Idaho Cattle Association is prepping up to go ask the Idaho Legislature for some funding. So we, the people, are going to be asked to pick up part of the tab in any case.

But wouldn't it just make a lot more sense to privatize this service? Of course it would. Leaving constitutional arguments aside, private industries are always more effective and efficient than the government. If you need proof, then I would remind you of our national deficit (at the time of writing):


So I think that a savvy individual could go to the Idaho Cattle Association and strike some sort of a deal.  I mean, if you were offered just $700,000, how many coyotes do you think you could kill?  You could just sit in your office, take $100,000 as your salary, and then offer $25 bounty on the spot for coyote kills to whomever.  Using up the remaining $600,000, you could haze 24,000 coyotes.

Or maybe to be more effective, you could use part of the money to offer a bounty, and the remaining could go toward hiring a few full time trappers, who could also then respond directly to predations. 

Write a proposal, and go for it.

More details here.

~ J. Bunch

Wolf Sighting Near Genesee?

I will be the first to say, "I was wrong." But I don't think I am.

The first thing that caught my attention was a wolf track. It was dead in the middle of a trail that I hike down to go deer hunting - just south and east of Genesee. Doubting myself, I think, "Maybe it's a cougar track." All I know is that this is not just any ol' big domesticated dog track. This is a big track, and there's no other big dogs around. It was either a cougar track or a wolf track in the mud. That is what I'm sure of.

I also saw, adjacent to the track, elk tracks - definitely a cow and a calf. Now this is across a freshly planted Winter Wheat field in the Palouse. It's not entirely rare for elk to be out and about in the fields. And the place that I'm hunting is near a drainage that drops down into Lewiston. So seeing elk tracks was surprising, but not shocking. This was Tuesday.

Wednesday morning, my friend and I headed out for deer in the same location. I saw something move several hundred yards out across the field. I lifted my 9x Leupold, and I saw a big dog shifting around out in the middle of a field. In my mind, there was no doubt as to what it was. My buddy thought it was a deer at first. That's how big it was. But the magnification clearly showed a dog of some sort.

Seeing elk in this area was surprising, but not shocking. Seeing a wolf was a little bit more of both. My friends keep on asking me to prove that it was a wolf. All I know is that I have seen suspicious tracks, and then I observed a dog that was way too large for a coyote or any other domesticated dog.

Maybe it was just my "little red riding hood syndrome" taking over, but I doubt it.

Should it really be so surprising that wolves might be 15-20 miles south of where they have been documented as being? It's just that this is just a little too close to the front steps of farmsteads.

The following day, I visited with a man who lives between Plummer and St. Maries. According to him, the wolves frequent his 400+ acres of woods and creeks. But he is quick to point out that while some Canadian grey wolves were introduced here (wrongly), some Wisconsin-Minnesota timber wolves have made it here on their own.

He claims that most of the wolves he has seen are black colored, and are the Wisconsin timber wolves, a breed that has made it here without help.

More research is needed on that, to be sure.

~ J. Bunch

Barker on Grizzlies

Photo by blmiers2

Rocky Barker's latest piece did a nice job of highlighting the increased human-grizzly action this past year, as well as the issues that surround that action.

As I said earlier, there is a lot to be said about this issue. In 1983 (not that long ago for some of us), grizzly numbers were at an all time low in Idaho. They've steadily climbed since, and they are now clearly to the point where...

...Well, let's put it this way. There has been a human-grizzly encounter, either in Idaho, Wyoming, or Montana, seemingly every week since they woke up this last Spring. I can't ever remember a season with as many reports as there have been this year.

All of them are memorable, but this one takes the cake. I could re-cap it for you, but David Letterman does that sort of thing better:

There are many more questions to be asked, and I'm waiting to see how many more man vs. grizzly encounters there are this season before I embark on those questions.

In the meantime, carry your spray, and be bear aware. It's almost night-night time for 'em.

~ J. Bunch

Wolf Harvest Update 11/18/2011

129 have been harvested thus far, 15 more than the previous report from last week. 7 wolves were harvested from zones in N. Idaho, 7 from the Middle Fork Zone, and 1 from the McCall-Weiser Zone.

For as many complaints that I hear about wolves from guys in the extreme southeast part of the state, I'm surprised to see that the Southern Idaho Zone has had no reported wolf harvests.

~ J. Bunch

Main Snake Focus

IF&G has long focused on Henry's Fork and the South Fork of the Snake River with its fish management. But recently, more focus has been centered on the main channel of the Snake in SE Idaho.

IF&G has been electro-fishing the river near Osgood, in attempts to find out how many fish are there. This is the first survey they've taken in that locale, and because that portion of the river is under-utilized, they want to know numbers before they make management plans.

Turns out there's some pretty big fish there too. The above photo shows IF&G Biologist Greg Schoby showing off one of his catches - a 31", approximately 15 lb., brown trout.

But there's always other interests in mind in the process of making management plans. The area around Osgood is an important agricultural section of the state. Busch's Clydesdale mural reminds us of that every time we pass by. That malt barley grows so well because it's irrigated. Which means irrigation districts have a strong interest in what the IF&G has planned.

But for the time being, it appears that Idaho Irrigation District is welcoming of IF&G's studies of that section of the river. Hopefully, a we-can-all-work-together attitude is maintained.

One thing is for certain, this picture will spur more fisherman to be on that section of the river this coming year.

More here.

~ J. Bunch

Teton Valley Mule Deer

The Teton Valley News reports:

Many reports coming out of the field this year are that the deer hunt in and around Teton Valley has been a difficult one. While high fawn and doe mortality rates over the past couple of winters are surely to blame for what looks like a significant decline in our local herds, a recent report commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation shows that growing human demands on the landscape are corresponding to lower animal numbers and slower rebounds from cyclical pressures like hard winters, drought, and disease.

This report comes in conjunction with a public forum held Wednesday evening in Driggs as part of a series of talks on sustainability in the Teton Valley. Of course, sustainability and development has been a big and controversial issue in the Teton Valley for some time now - especially once the housing bubble burst, leaving empty high end homes vacant, and subdivisions looking like ghost towns.

I have noticed a great decline in mule deer numbers in the Upper Snake Region the past few years, from Palisades on up through Island Park and Kilgore. Winter kill certainly is partially to blame. And now, apparently, so are the developers. But ultimately, I've been baffled as to the real reasons why (it might be time to interview the biologist in the area).

It will be interesting to see the scientific facts (if there are any) that show Teton Valley development is to blame for disrupting mule deer migrations, and how that has led to lower numbers. Development & migration routes appears to be a hot topic right now, as the elk herd just across the border at Jackson is getting a lot of the same attention. You can read more about that here.

Also, cameras will be placed along a 10 mile stretch of I-84 just north of the Utah border, monitoring elk and mule deer migration. This comes in response to suspicions that the freeway itself has depleted herd numbers, by disrupting the long established migration routes. More on that here.

~ J. Bunch

Thanksgiving Recipe

I know what you're thinking - another turkey recipe. Nope. Most likely the pilgrims were not feasting away on birds, and when done they were not lazing around seeing who wins the wishbone pull.

Most likely, venison was on the table, as deer were always in season in those times. So this one is for those of you who want to change it up a little bit this Thanksgiving. Or maybe you've got venison in the freezer, and feel like saving a few bucks by not buying a turkey. Or maybe you've got some venison steaks in the freezer that are 4 years old, and you really need to find a use for them.

If you need other reasons, perhaps this photo will help. I know my wife wasn't convinced away from the traditional turkey, but...

Here you go (probably delicious anytime)

Rosemary Salt-Crusted Venison with Cherry-Cabernet Sauce

Yields: 4 servings (serving size: about 3 ounces venison and about 1/2 cup sauce)

8 large (about 1/2 pound) shallots, peeled and quartered
4 teaspoon(s) olive oil, divided
2 (about 9 ounces each) venison tenderloins, trimmed
1 teaspoon(s) Rosemary Salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon(s) coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup(s) cabernet sauvignon or other dry red wine
3/4 cup(s) dried cherries
1 1/2 cup(s) less-sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon(s) water
1 tablespoon(s) cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoon(s) chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon(s) fresh lemon juice
Rosemary sprigs (optional)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Combine shallots and 2 teaspoons oil; toss well. Arrange shallots in a single layer in a shallow roasting pan.
Rub venison evenly with 1/2 teaspoon Rosemary Salt and pepper. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add venison; cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove venison from pan; arrange on top of shallots in roasting pan. Bake at 400 degrees F for 17 minutes or until a thermometer registers 145 degrees F (medium-rare). Remove venison and shallots from pan. Keep venison warm. Chop shallots.
Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots, wine, and cherries; cook until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup (about 3 minutes), scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add broth and remaining 1/2 teaspoon Rosemary Salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until reduced to 2 cups (about 5 minutes). Combine 1 tablespoon water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add cornstarch mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in butter and juice. Cut venison across grain into thin slices; serve venison with sauce. Garnish with rosemary sprigs, if desired.

~ J. Bunch

Millions of $'s, and 24 Contaminated Boats. A Good Deal for Idaho's Waters.

Government check point stations and additional fees paid by boaters and fisherman are always going to be controversial. After all, a lot - A LOT - of money, time, and energy was exerted this past season to find a grand total of 24 zebra or quagga mussel contaminated boats.

Is the money and hassle worth it?

Go ask the folks who used to love fishing Lake Mead.

Yes, I do believe it is worth it. 15 of the contaminated boats came into the state from the Midwest, and 9 came from the Southwest - Lake Mead in Nevada, and Lake Havasu and Lake Pleasant in Arizona.

The State of Idaho spends more than $10 million each year trying to prevent invasive species. Zebra and quagga mussel prevention is part of that $10 million that comes from state funds, property taxes, industry fees, and grants from the federal government.

The point is that many other states who are already infested with invasive mussels spend many more millions of dollars trying to eradicate them than what it would have cost to prevent them in the first place. The invasive mussels latch on and plug everything thing they can, from harmless native mussels to irrigation equipment. The detrimental impact that it has on power companies is in the millions as well. And we all know where power companies pass down their costs to.

Just imagine Henry's Lake, or Cascade Lake, or Lake Pend Oreille being unfishable and unboatable. I'm of the opinion that a 10 minute delay at a check point, or a small fee for a sticker to put on the boat, is worth protecting our waters.

For more info on this last year's catch of mussel contaminated boats, go here.

~ J. Bunch

Boise Steelhead

This is a guest post by Dale Garrard, telling some great fishing tales. Fortunately, he has the photos to prove those tales. Thanks, Dale!

Couldn't decide what to do today... drive to Riggins and fish? Try and get my 17 year old out of bed to chase deer with his bow, or maybe pheasants with a shotgun on a WMA or something? Heaven forbid I do yard work. My wife said I should go back down to the river in town and give it another shot, since I'd been whining about the fish I lost Thursday night.

Why is my wife always right?

I had my fly rod ready to go, but I also had a bobber rig on a spinning rod I'd tried to figure out. I thought I'd just check and see if I could get the depth right with it for a few casts, then go back to fly fishing, since I know how to do that. I really didn't think I could catch anything with a spinning rig cause I kinda suck at it.

I tried some jigs I had tied, but I had tied them on regular wire jig hooks, and after seeing how bent the hooks got just from pulling snags free, I figured I'd better switch to a store-bought jig on a stout hook.

I jacked around with the depth until I was barely contacting the bottom once in a while, and then I decided to see if I could make the extended downstream drift work. I was just starting to feed some line for a downstream drift when the bobber hung up- which pissed me off because I really thought I had the depth dialed in. I tried to pull the rig free, but it felt like I'd hooked the bottom pretty solidly. And then the bottom started to shake its head.

Even with my spinning rig the fish gave me a nice tussle. I led it up to the bank and let it beach itself- just in time because the poor fish's gum wore out just as I got him there and the hook fell out. A nice 30 inch buck.

I'd been all alone when I was fishing, but people came out of the woodwork when I caught the fish - one lady even pulled off the main road from the bridge into the park to talk to me. Nobody ever told me that all I have to do to make friends is catch big fish. When I turned around, some guy had come out of nowhere and was fishing right where I had been. What a crack up.

By the time I'd finished taking pictures, retying my knots, and (loudly) bonking my fish over the head, the guy had moved out, and I resumed fishing. I figured the fish was just a fluke, but that I might as well give the bobber a few more casts.

I adjusted the depth a few times, and tried to get the depth right again. I tried fishing a little closer to myself, just for fun, but the darn thing got hung up again.

This fish went ballistic - run after run after run. Turned out I had my drag set perfectly. After I got him in and was working on getting the jig out of his mouth, I saw a broken off fly in his mouth. I started chuckling to myself. Yep, I caught this big 'ole fish that some loser couldn't handle.

I know you guys won't believe me - but you probably already guessed where this is going. It was my fly from Thursday night. If you look carefully at the head shot below, you can see the red and black jig I caught him on in the top of his mouth - and the apricot egg pattern I'd tied on a salt-water hook stuck in his lower jaw. I don't blame you guys for not believing it. I couldn't either. A 33 inch buck.

I figured I should get my fly rod going since I'd brought it - and then thought to myself - "what, are you crazy? you could catch a limit for the first time in your life!" I retied my bobber and jig rig, and re-adjusted my depth again until it was right. And the damn bobber got hung up again.

This fish was a major jumper. Good thing the hook was in solid, because he jumped at least ten times, shaking his head like he had a piece of metal rammed through his face or something. A guy who was fishing with his dad down the bank jogged over with his net and helped out, once I'd led the fish to the shallows. This buck was a "little" 27 incher, but was much more silver than the first two.

The guy who netted the fish for me asked if he could bring his dad to my spot, since I was done. I gave him the last of my salad shrimp and showed him how I was rigged. It felt funny, since I really don't know what I'm doing... but I guess I had caught some fish. I hadn't seen another person touch a fish the whole day - fly guys, spinner guys, bobber guys, nobody. Maybe I just get lucky once in a while? Anyway, glad I did what my lovely wife told me to do today.

~ Dale Garrard

Tasmanian Poacher Update - The Final One (I hope)

An Australian newspaper reported that Tasmanian hunters are more suited to hunting big game than Americans are. We are simply out-skilled by them:

While interviewing Tasmanians who have hunted Idaho, they got this gem:

"The mountains there are 8000-9000 feet [2400-2700m] and the elk are up high," he said.

He said Mr Kapeller had the ability to "hunt up high", which meant sleeping at 7000-8000 feet.

"You've got to be fit and dedicated because the air is thin, and it would be nothing to carry a 100-pound [45kg] pack," a second hunter said.

"Americans generally sleep at 3000-4000 feet [910-1200m] so it means the Tasmanians have the advantage of height when the elk start to head up the mountain in the morning," he said.

"He is generally more successful than locals and they may have got resentful."

I'm sure the Aussies just want their mates home, and can't understand the American crankiness that is holding up these virtuoso hunters. After all, the accused stated that all they did was kill a wolf in self defense.

Well, Idaho doesn't care about skill levels or bogus claims. Idaho has facts. And Idaho used the facts to nail the Tasmanian hunters pretty soundly.

I'm tire of talking about them, but you can read the full disgusting story of what happened, along with their punishments here.

In the end, it sounds like the ring leaders simply won't be welcome to hunt in Idaho ever again.

~ J. Bunch

Have You Ever Been Tempted To...

hunt or fish as a resident of more than one state? Of course you have. But if you're like me, you wouldn't dream of actually doing it.

One Idaho man did, and the consequences were steep enough to deter me (if I had even entertained such a devious thought).

Roger Woodworth, 64, of Hayden, ID found a way to obtain a Montana hunting license. Then he found a way to win the lottery for a controlled bighorn sheep hunt. Then he shot a trophy bighorn ram. Then he got caught.

Was it worth it? $13,000 in fines and restitution. Hunting, fishing, and trapping privileges lost for life.

Nope, not worth it. I'd rather be fishing.

Here is the KHQ (Spokane - N. Idaho) write-up.

~ J. Bunch

2012 IF&G Legislation

The Idaho Fish & Game Commission approved three amendments to send to Idaho's 2012 Legislature.

1. Amend 36-1510 to also allow youth under the age of 12 who are participating in the mentor hunt program to possess a firearm. Create ability to transfer a control hunt tag to a minor child or grandchild.

This makes a lot of sense. It allows a parent (or grandparent) to allow their child to have the opportunity to harvest an animal, while they are out in the woods teaching that child how to hunt, even if the child doesn't have a tag.

2. Amend the Nonresident Season Hunting License to be a Nonresident Season Hunting / 3 Day Fishing License, retaining current fee structure for the nonresident season hunting license.

The 3 Day Fishing License is a nice bone to throw, but I don't know that it's going to draw hoards of out-of-staters to buy hunting licenses. Currently, it only costs an out-of-stater $24.75 to fish for three days.

Most out-of-staters come to hunt deer or elk. To hunt deer here it costs (for license & tag) $465.50, and for elk - $571.50. The hunting license itself costs $154.75.

As I wrote yesterday, IF&G out-of-state sales are way down, and it has resulted in a serious budget shortfall.

I would have proposed this: Lower the non-resident license cost to $100, and include a free wolf tag. And throw in a free 3 day fishing license as well. Then have plans to slowly increase the non-resident license cost back to where it was over the next several years. This would encourage non-resident sales short term, increase income, and perhaps decrease wolves.

But I'm just a creative thinker, not a politician.


3. Amend the Sportsman’s Package License to include a wolf tag with an adjusted fee. The new fees would be $114.65 license fee plus $9.60 vendor fees for a total of $124.25. Idaho code requires half vendor fee per item for this license. The license and tags are scaled at about 63 percent of full price. Current total cost is $117.25.

That's a good deal.

Of course, if any of these things has you really creased, call your Legislator.

~ J. Bunch

Update: Bennett Hills Extra Anterless Tag App Deadline

The IF&G announced yesterday that two controlled extra anterless deer hunts in Unit 45-1 are being made available for application. The first hunt will run from December 1-14, and the second December 20-31.

The deadline to apply is November 18. That would be this Friday.

Here is where you can find more information on how to apply.

Here is a map of Unit 45-1.

~ J. Bunch

Funny Anti-Wolf Hunting Comments

I stumbled upon some pro-wolf drivel here that bemoans the "bloodbath" that "is underway in the northern Rocky Mountains as hunters there relentlessly target wolf packs in the region."


But the entertaining part of such articles always takes place in the comments section. Here are a few of my favorites:

Hunters are wildlife terrorists. They destroy wildlife but yet complain when wolves do it. hypocrites? indeed. Hunters do not care about wildlife, only killing it. A lot of hunters have turned into extremists and have become anti-predator. They want to turn the wilderness into a game farm and get rid of all of the non-human predators, so that there are many more game animals for them to kill.

By Pauline on Mon, November 14, 2011 at 7:01 pm

So in one sense, hunters are accused of wanting to showcase survival of the fittest. But then they are accused of not having evolved enough:

Thank you, Bill Gibson, for another excellent article shedding light on the horror going on in our state, and in Montana as well. The wolf was brought back to right a wrong, to bring back a balance, not just to be exterminated again. There is so much information out there about how, not just a part, not just an important part, but an ESSENTIAL part of the ecoystem the wolf is. Idaho has more than enough wild lands for wolves to live here. Why can’t more people make room in their hearts and minds? Its as if some people just haven’t evolved.

By Ann Sydow on Mon, November 14, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Particularly interesting are those comments that exemplify what true tolerance should look like. We hate the wolves, and the wolf lovers hate us with just as much, or more, fervor. Consider:

may the karma of One thousand hells rain upon those who chose to kill these wolves! May their lives end in torture and pain as their have inflicted on our wolf brothers & sister.

By crystalwolfakacaligrl on Mon, November 14, 2011 at 2:16 pm

And let's not deny LoveWolf his $0.02:


I agree with crystalwolfakacaligrl on that one…



Have a good day!


By LoveWolf on Mon, November 14, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Talk about free flowing love vibes dribbling out of trees. At least one sentence was intelligible there, and I'll end my day by echoing it.

Have a good day!

~ J. Bunch

Comments Wanted on Minidoka Wildlife Refuge Plan

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is revisiting their Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) for the Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge.

Some have feared that a priority to conserve habitat for the American white pelican at Lake Walcott might trump any hunting and fishing opportunities. And it certainly is not unfounded fear. The USF&W Service stated 7 goals, upon which they seek comment, as the CCP is drafted. They are:

1. Maintain and protect open water and aquatic habitats to benefit nesting, migrating, and molting waterfowl and waterbirds.

2. Maintain and protect riparian habitat and islands to benefit colonial nesting waterbirds and nesting and migrating landbirds.

3. Maintain, protect, and enhance upland habitats, including sage-steppe, grasslands, sand dunes, juniper shrublands, basalt outcrops, and bluffs, to benefit native wildlife and contribute to the Refuge’s biological integrity, diversity, and environmental health.

4. Perpetuate ecological resistance and rapidly respond to the pervasive
threat of invasive species by using appropriate Integrated Pest Management techniques.

5. Gather scientific information (surveys, research and assessments) to support adaptive management decisions.

6. Protect and manage the Refuge’s prehistoric and historic resources to ensure present and future generations recognize the significance of the area’s past.

7. Increase public understanding and appreciation of wildlife, and build support for the Refuge by providing opportunities for all visitors to participate in safe,
quality wildlife-dependent recreation and education programs, while minimizing wildlife disturbance or other impacts to wildlife populations or habitats.

These do appear to be listed by priority, so take special notice of what comes last.

There were two meetings held last month, one in Burley, and one in Pocatello, that encouraged public comment. Some internet chatter indicated that USF&W Service will likely keep things "as-is." However, I wouldn't bet on it.

They will be accepting public comment via mail or email until the end of the month. You can find the contact info here.

Or you can sign your name to the letter I will be sending in via email on November 20, 2011. If you wish to do so, please email me your name and the town you reside in to, with "Minidoka Letter" as the subject. Below is the letter:

Dear United States Fish & Wildlife Service & Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge,

This is your boss speaking - We The People. Thank you for asking our input on what you might propose to do with the Minidoka Wildlife Refuge and Lake Walcott. We are citizens who have enjoyed this lake, the state park, and the rest of the refuge, and the activities it affords us and our families.

We understand that many of your goals and objectives are to provide habitat for wildlife in the refuge, and to conserve that habitat. It is our opinion that you can achieve those goals and keep all sporting (including hunting, fishing, and frisbee golf) activities allowed on the Refuge unchanged.

If you come to a different opinion, please check back with us before you make any final decisions.



Once the letter is sent, I will email all signers a copy of it that shows all signatures.

~ J. Bunch

Grizzly Attacks: Spray or Shoot, Round 1

There is a lot to say on this subject, especially with the high numbers of attacks this last year. My plan was to write on the entire subject after hunting season is over, but here is something to whet your appetite.

The River Journal in Clark Fork, ID recently posted two articles, each one taking up opposite views in the bear spray vs. firearm debate.

The case for bear spray here.

The case for letting bullets fly here.

~ J. Bunch

Catch of the Week

If you are not out for ducks yet, here's proof you should be.

Justin Pratt of Blackfoot and his gang took advantage last week with 28 birds before the morning expired. One of which (the ducks, not the gang) was sporting some nice jewelry.

Tasmanian Poacher Update

The three Tasmanian men accused of poaching and a bunch of other associated violations will appear in court on Tuesday. So far, they've spent two days in jail before posting a combined $165,000 bond.

Likely, the men will plead guilty, have their license privileges suspended, be fined for the crimes, and sent home.

Likely, the fines won't be enough.

~ J. Bunch

IF&G Revenue Down: How It Could Affect You

Last year, my father, an Oregon resident, decided to come to Idaho for an elk hunt. We ended up hunting like mountain goats in the steep terrain of the Palisades Zone. The first day of the hunt, he saw more wildlife than he could have asked for. It was his first experience seeing moose, and a mountain goat just so happened to meet him on a trail. We saw some elk too.

Besides that experience, the next day he ended up harvesting the largest bull he had ever shot. So will he be coming back again?

No. At least not for several more years.

Out-of-state tags and licenses are the big money maker for the IF&G, and they are down nearly $3 million from the peak in 2008. That means cuts from the department, including a hiring freeze, the elimination of some jobs and programs, and some department activities that could affect how game is managed in the future.

Jim Unsworth, Deputy Director for the IF&G, stated that one of the first things to go is the aerial surveys of game. Without reliable counts in the books, regional supervisors stay conservative when setting tag quotas and harvest targets.

That means less tags offered.

Which also means, less revenue for the IF&G.

There are three reasons given for why out-of-state sales are down: 1. wolves; 2. the downturn of the economy; and 3. high prices for out of state tags and licenses.

There is nothing the IF&G can do about the economy. But they do appear to be letting the public have at it with the wolves. Most of the state does not have a quota set on the harvest of wolves, and now trapping will be allowed to start this week. Hopefully, this will result in a small wolf population so that elk populations can recover. And maybe out of state perception that Idaho elk hunting is a waste of time due to wolves will be a perception that fades out in the coming years.

Will they lower the prices for out-of-state tags and licenses? If so, there would seem to be enough people out there willing to come to Idaho to hunt if it were just a little more affordable. My father included. Perhaps that action would bring enough revenue in to make IF&G's downward spiral spin a little less fast.

More details here.

~ J. Bunch

Geese & Duck Migration 2011

This photo shows what one hunter in SE Idaho observed this past week.

At the very least, the migration has started. Reports are that geese are all over South East Idaho, and ducks are coming in. The smaller bodies of water have frozen over already, and the edges are starting to freeze around the edges on the larger ones. Colder weather is in the forecast. Soon, the birds will be limited to the river.

Which won't bother the ice fishers at all.

More info can be gleaned here.

~ J. Bunch

News: Unit 45 Controlled Deer Hunt Added After Wildfire

This last summer, a wildfire quickly ate up 38,000 acres of mule deer winter habitat north of King's Hill. The main worry that I heard at the time was that the deer would keep traveling south to find winter food. Which might mean a mass attempt to cross Interstate 84. Among the wild, imaginative, crazy solutions was that wildlife bridges over the Interstate might possibly be quickly constructed. Instead, IF&G will have a couple of controlled extra anterless deer hunts available for hunters.

I took this picture just after the burn. Looking north and east from Glenns Ferry, you can see the scorched black hills.

From the IF&G:

JEROME - The Idaho Department of Fish and Game will be offering two extra antlerless deer controlled hunt opportunities during December in a portion of Unit 45 near the area of the Blair Fire. The hunts were approved 11-10-11 by the Fish and Game Commission.

The hunts have been established to reduce herd numbers prior to winter to help ease pressure on remaining habitat, minimize deer collisions on nearby roadways, and alleviate some depredations on private croplands.

The first controlled hunt will occur December 1 - 14, while the second will occur December 20-31. Each hunt will have 250 tags for antlerless deer only. These tags represent an extra deer hunting opportunity; hunters who already hunted or harvested this fall are eligible to apply for these hunts.

Interested hunters will need to apply by November 18 at any Fish and Game license vendor, by calling 1-800-55HUNT5, or on the Internet at

For more information, please contact Idaho Fish and Game's Magic Valley Regional Office at 324-4359.

~ J. Bunch

Wolf Harvest Update: Traps

Idaho Fish & Game is not happy with the success of the open rifle season on wolves in the state. So they're going to allow hunters to trap them starting next week. Of course, this comes not without controversy. Animal rights activists will howl at the inhumanity of trapping wolves, which most certainly will have collateral damage by trapping other species.

13 additional wolves were harvested last week (including the first taken in the Selway Zone; Southern Idaho is the only Zone without a reported harvest). The hope is that the trapping will be far more successful in depleting the packs that remain dangerous to big game herds... and to humans.

While the environmentalists claim that there is a "Little Red Riding Hood Syndrome" spread about, there really is no founding for citizens to be scared of wolves. After all, there have been no wolf attacks on humans in the Lower 48. But the people living on the land where wolves roam see it differently, and are reporting dangerous encounters with wolves. They simply don't feel as safe in the woods these days.

You can read Spokane's KXLY4's in depth report here.

~ J. Bunch

Place: Troy, Idaho

Spring Valley Reservoir, located just a few miles from Troy, is one of IF&G's family friendly fishing waters. Heavily stocked with rainbows, it's a fun place to take the kids and drown some Powerbait.

Other guys go out to catch the bass that linger around the edges.

Troy sits on the edge of the rolling hills of the Palouse, just a few miles east of Moscow. The deep canyons that break down into the Potlatch and Clearwater, and the agricultural ground in between offer great elk, whitetail, and moose habitat. The whitetails have pretty much taken over this little corner of the state, and muleys are rarely, if ever, seen around Moscow and Troy.

~ J. Bunch

News: Tasmanian Men Charged With Poaching in Idaho

Apparently, hunting regs in Tasmania are much different than they are in Idaho. Or something. In any case, ignorance of the law is no excuse when you've been caught poaching elk. Right, Rex?

3 Tasmanian men were arrested last week near Atlanta for harvesting elk out of season, along with the various other offenses that accompany that crime. They were bailed out yesterday, but it doesn't sound like they're headed home yet. The Elmore County judged required a bond hearing, and that the men stay in Idaho.

The interesting bit of this is that the men claim they only shot a wolf out of self defense. Huh.

So, let me get this straight. IF&G charges them with poaching at least two elk, wasting meat, illegal transfer of tag, etc., etc., but they claim that all they did was shoot one wolf out of self defense?

I'm not buying it.

But this looks like a fun story to follow. You can read about it from the Sydney Morning Herald here.

~ J. Bunch

News: Hammer Flat sold to IF&G

The Hammer Flat wildlife refuge just east of Boise has been sold by the City of Boise to the Idaho Fish & Game. The 705 acres that act as a wintering ground for big game will be managed as a preserve by the IF&G. The deal is a win-win move for conservation efforts, as the sales price of $4.23 million will go into Boise's levy to protect the foothills. Boise originally purchased the property from a defunct developer for $4.1 million.

The full story from the Idaho Statesman is here.

~ J. Bunch


I've seen one on a small scale, and it was impressive enough. But this is amazing:

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

~ J. Bunch

Catch of the Week

While trolling the fishing/hunting forums, I had to admire the picture of the fat rainbow pulled out of American Falls Reservoir last week.

Kurt, aka drowning_flys on, who incidently was not drowning flys, but rather spoons, connected with this:

You can read all the details here.

Of course, American Falls Reservoir is no stranger to large rainbows. Earlier this year, a record setting trout was caught. More on that later.

Nice catch, Kurt!

~ J. Bunch

Wolf Harvest Update

From the IF&G Website, updated 11/3/11:

My only comment at this point is that it's interesting that the Selway Zone has a big goose egg. Perhaps that's because the wolves have already decimated that area, and have moved on. And I'm a little surprised that Southern Idaho hasn't had a recorded harvest yet. Parts of SE Idaho should have a few notched tags at this point.

~ J. Bunch

The Psychology of the Poacher

Os Guinness once described the difference between jealousy and envy by explaining jealousy is wanting what someone else has. Envy, on the other hand, wants what someone else has, and includes the desire for someone else to not have whatever it is at the center of attention.

Think about the annoying crime of keying a car. Why would somebody take pleasure in destroying a paint job? If they can't have the wheels that you do, by gum, then you shouldn't enjoy it so much yourself. That's envy.

The wild game of this state belongs to all of us collectively. Setting the politics of it aside, that game is managed by a state agency, enforcing wild game laws. I happen to think that our game herds have been managed fairly well, at least to the extent where the federal government hasn't put down their weighty booger of a foot (read: un-indigenous wolves). But the point is that Idaho's wildlife is a natural resource, and there are laws and rules for how that natural resource is extracted from the land.

Bottom line: when somebody poaches an animal, they're taking something of yours unlawfully because they want it. But also by doing so, they're grabbing at something so that you absolutely can't have it. You've had one car stolen, and they keyed your other car. You're a victim of envy.

Of course, envy itself isn't a crime, but it's where the perversion starts.

There can be other root causes of poaching. Someone may be genuinely in poverty, and truly needs the meat. I have more empathy with that situation, provided the person isn't passing up the smaller bucks. But if someone is really in dire straits, I could be tolerant. The problem is that even the poorest among us are wealthy enough to obtain food legally.

Others poach for money. No empathy or sympathy there. That's just theft fueled by greed.

But what kind of perversion is it that sees the 6x6 bull elk out of season, and just has to take it? What sort of soul is it that can crawl out of their little shroud of shame and brag about the trophy?

What if Boise St. beats Louisiana St. in the the National Championship Game in football this year? How would you feel if it came out that BSU had an insider that stole LSU's entire playbook and game plan prior to the game? What if they also wire tapped LSU's offensive and defensive coordinators during the game? You still fist pumping the air?

Hunting wild game is a sport that doesn't make any sense without sportsmanship. A trophy of any kind carries only as much legitimacy as the one who scored it.

Poaching for pleasure is the result of envy, lack of self discipline, and the ability to take pride in something illegitimate - a psychological perversion beyond my understanding.

So my solution for anyone caught poaching for pleasure is to promise them not a suspension of their hunting license and a small fine. Instead, promise them 1 year in a room with padded walls. That, combined with F&G's investigative force looking more like an episode of CSI, might ward off some of this nonsense.

~ J. Bunch

Breaking Bacon

The recent resurgence of Converse All-Stars as popular footwear must make some of those basketball players from the earlier part of the 20th Century roll their eyes. Old school and new school find a common sole. Chuck Taylor is smiling though, I tend to think, and the legend lives on via fad. One wonders when it will die and be resurrected again for whatever function. I prayed that bell bottoms had gone to the grave for good back in the ‘80’s, but we Americans with such shallow roots have to keep turning things over and over again (apparently, they go under the moniker of "boot cut" these days). In and out, and then back in again, a vicious cycle either determined by the arbitrary or the puppet masters. Either way, as far as I can tell, we’re like a stuttering Ferris wheel being operated by a drunk carnie.

But every now and then something really good comes along, something that we wish would stay. For instance, I’m a fan of Chuck Taylors. I hope Converse lives happily ever after. And as for those basketball players from an earlier generation, I can understand their sense of superiority. Whenever newbies go gaga over something that I experienced authentically a long time ago, I admit that it bothers me more than a little. I mean, no one actually plays basketball in them anymore. Posers, right?

So what’s the deal with bacon? Since I was knee high to a grasshopper I can remember having bacon and eggs for breakfast on a regular basis. And all the while growing up, I can’t remember anyone ever mentioning bacon other than taking what it is for granted. Sure, we all knew that consuming bacon was simply the guiltiest pleasure on earth. We all knew that it was the most prime meat, and that’s why we begged for it on the occasion it wasn’t on the breakfast menu.

Bacon was something to fight over. Chores were often traded for bacon. Frying pans and spatulas were licked for any remaining residue. Nobody wanted to brush their teeth after eating it. As kids, we didn’t give too much thought to getting married, buying a house, having kids, or having the perfect 8 to 5 job. No, we thought bacon was the American Dream. We assumed that bacon was the taste that every American kid took to school in his mouth.

Ever since I left home for college, my apartments or houses always carried the stench of stale bacon. Bacon grease was found splattered about the stove top most mornings and some evenings. My other cooking used bacon grease as an ingredient whenever I could plug it in, and it was used as fire starter in the wood stove. All of that couldn’t keep up with the amount of grease that I was able to produce on a weekly basis.

In other words, I am the authentic bacon fan. I was there before any big fuss was made over it. I have eaten bacon virtually since the time I was born, and I haven’t let up. So you can imagine my perplexed and jealous feeling. It was perplexing because I understood the enthusiasm behind the wave of sudden bacon enthusiasts, but I couldn’t understand why the sudden wave. Jealousy was born of the feeling that something long-standing and precious to me was being treated all of sudden like a cheap thrill.

This is all silliness, you say, and let the people just enjoy their bacon! Alright, I will, so onward with the bacon revolution. I surrender, but I still have a couple of beefs.

First, please learn how to cook bacon correctly. Bacon takes time. I am amazed, even in this era when bacon seems to be everywhere and all the rage, at the chances that I’m going to get poorly cooked bacon at a restaurant. More often than not people either burn bacon (which some people actually prefer to bacon cooked correctly) so that it turns into a pile of ashes in your mouth, or it is cooked just to the scant taste of ham with bad texture (curiously, some people like this sort of squishiness).

I know what you’re thinking – is this guy really a bacon nazi? – is cooking bacon really an objective thing? Maybe yes, and yes, respectively. There is an optimum point at which the fat has been rendered just enough to achieve the most desirable flavor that defines bacon itself. If you leave the poor bacon on past that optimum point, you will start getting the burnt flavor. That is because you are burning it. Burning things while cooking is usually a faux pas. But like I said, some people like their bacon burnt (probably because they don’t know any better). If someone requests that their bacon be extra crispy, you should reply with a lowered head, a furrowed brow and a slight shaking of the head. In this world, it is very possible that they haven’t had properly cooked bacon before.

On the other hand, undercooked bacon just doesn’t quite get you that bacon flavor that one should want. People who like their bacon squishy simply do not have a refined bacon palate, and if they request it that way, you should give them the aforementioned look.

The second beef is not unrelated. Bacon has been a staple of my diet, and the quality of my life has been the better for it. You don’t have the wiggle room in your veins for the extra cholesterol? Well, take it from me, it’s worth the extra exercise. It’s worth making the rest of your diet leaner. It’s worth getting your hands on any cholesterol lowering medication at any chance you get. Might as well grab the high blood pressure meds too.

More importantly, do it for your kids. Don’t allow the big bacon fad to fizzle out. Let’s all work together to ensure that bacon is taken for granted again. The revolution must mature. This is a cultural thing, folks, and it’s helpful for us to ponder on how we’ve gotten to this place in our bacon history.

Once upon a time people got up early enough to have the most important meal of the day. Eggs, bacon and hash browns were fried up before the family went to work and school. Everybody sat down and broke bread to start the day. But somewhere along the way we lost our heads, we started squishing out table time, and it took a toll both on the family relationships and the meal itself. Many families don’t eat at the same time these days, and the scrumptious breakfast was replaced by a bowl of cut up pieces of cardboard in skim milk.

Eating good food together is a building block of a good culture. Skim milk, fast food cereals and isolationist eating is not. So learn how to cook bacon correctly. Take the time to do it, and then take the time to eat it with one another. “Breaking bread” is the ultimate eating slogan, but “breaking bacon” with one another is a practice that I hope finds its permanence in a culture that needs some permanence.

~ J. Bunch

F&G News: Poaching

Two recent poaching incidents have the F&G's attention this week.

Two bull moose were shot near Cataldo. Apparently, the poachers field dressed the moose, indicating that they were going to retrieve the game, but never did.

Conservation Officer Mark Bowen stated,
"This is a waste of valuable wildlife resources. Lots of hunters have applied in the moose tag lottery for years and have not drawn a tag. Then, they hear about a case like this. Those hunters hoping for the opportunity to legally hunt moose; and, all Idaho residents for that matter have good reason to be outraged by this."
Poaching in general is sub-sportsmanlike, obviously.  But poaching moose?  An animal that you can walk up to and pet if you wanted (something I've never done, but have had the opportunity to)?  That's sub-sub-sportsmanlike.

 Another poaching crime was committed near Winchester, where a large mule deer buck was taken.  I should say, only the head was taken.  That's a problem.

Conservation Officer Jim Pagel noted that this isn't the only poaching of this style in that area this year:

"Judging by the size of the carcass, the deer likely sported a large set of antlers. Several other deer have been found wasted in the same area this fall, so we really need people to make the call."
 As always, if you have information that would help the F&G put away the poachers, there's a cash reward for you.  Call the Citizens Against Poaching hotline at 1-800-632-5999.

For more details go here and here.

~ J.Bunch

Place: Albion, Idaho

Albion, Idaho, a small 2 restaurant town just south of Burley, is the gateway to the Pomerelle Mountain ski area. Mule deer hunting is good to the east of the valley in the sagebrushed breaks, but receives quite a bit of pressure. Pomerelle sports an elk herd, but is relatively small.

Gotta love the rocket ship water tower.

Albion sits in a high valley that likes to catch snow, and is known for catching cloud bursts in the Spring. Green fields and pastures attract game, as does the elk farm that's located just south of town. Mule deer hide in the tall sagebrush east of town, but where the private land turns to public, the pressure is high during season. This picture is taken just west of the town, looking south and west toward Pomerelle Mountain.

The biblical story is that Hagar was wandering out in the desert, where the Lord provided her with refreshing... Coke? Interesting name for a store.

~ J. Bunch

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