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.

Round 1: Selway Elk Zone vs. Salmon Elk Zone

This is the fourth installment on a series of posts comparing Idaho's any-weapon, antlered, general season elk hunts. For an intro to this series, go here.

For the first post in this series, read Dworshak Elk Zone vs. Bear River Elk Zone.
For the second post in this series, read Snake River Elk Zone vs. Palisades Elk Zone.
For the third post in this series, read Palouse Elk Zone vs. McCall Elk Zone.

Here we go comparing the Selway Elk Zone to the Salmon Elk Zone. First up, the Selway.

The Hunt

There are three any-weapon, antlered-only elk hunts in the Selway Zone.  One is on the A-tag, and ran from October1 - October 31 in 2011.  This over the counter tag had a quota of 647 tags.  These capped tags went on sale for non-residents on 12/1/2010, and for residents on 7/10/2011.  Those dates should be the same for the 2012 hunts.  In fact, the non-resident tags are probably already on sale.
The B-tag has two hunts, an early one and a late one.  The first ran from September 15-30, and the second from November 1 - 11.  In 2011, there were only 1,067 tags in the quota.  The beginning sale dates for these capped tags are the same as what was described above.

This has traditionally been a very popular hunt, so if you are planning on doing it, don't waste much time deciding to buy the tag, or else you may find that they've all sold out.


Location: middle of nowhere.  And that is why some people love it.  This is wilderness.  You either hike or ride a horse in.  There are folks who will guide you in and set you up with a camp.  But that, of course, will cost some money.  Before you half-hazardly decide to hunt the Selway, you need to have a plan of attack.  How will you get in?  How will you get out?  How will you get a downed animal out?  There are three hunts to choose from: September, October, and November.  But expect to encounter any kind of weather in any of those months.  You can access the Selway Zone from the Montana side as well.

The Selway Zone sits south of the Lolo Zone and HWY 12, which runs from Kooskia up to Lolo Pass.  The east boundary is the Montana-Idaho border.  To the south is the Middle Fork Elk Zone (also a very isolated wilderness area).  To the west is the Elk City Elk Zone and HWY 95, which runs from Riggins on north up to Grangeville.

The Zone consists of game Unit 16A, 17, 19, and 20.

Terrain/Land Ownership

This is virtually 100% U.S. Forest Service and designated wilderness land.  You will not have a problem finding a place to camp, but there will be no road to that camp.  Maybe a back country airstrip, though.  The Zone consists of 1,617,051 acres or 2,526 square miles.  With only 647 tags available for the A-tag, and 1,067 B-tags, there is a lot of space.  You might be more likely to run into a wolf than you would another hunter.  Oops, you didn't want to hear that.  I mean you might be more likely to run into an elk than another hunter.  More on wolves later...

As for the terrain, it is rugged, plain and simple.  The eastern border of the Zone will have you on the divide, where the mountains generally peak somewhere around 8,000 ft. in elevation.  Typical elevations will see the drainage bottoms between 2,000 - 4,000 ft, and the ridge tops from 5,000 - 7,000 ft.  And it is one beautiful peak right after another, a wilderness we're grateful to have here in Idaho.

There's a good mix of timber and open country here.  Some sections to the north appear to be more timbered, with more open areas found in the southern and western sections.  The terrain does change from high precipitation forests along certain reaches of the Selway River, to drier, Pondorosa pined ridges and grassland habitat along the Salmon River.  This has been a popular place to hunt for its scenery, solitude, and its elk habitat.  If you want the rugged elk hunt, this is it.

Some areas of the Zone have been burned in recent years, creating good elk habitat.  Other areas are over grown, and have choked out the elk forage.  Researching burn areas before the hunt can give you hints on places that might be better feeding grounds than others.

Herd Health/Stats

When Lewis & Clark came through, there weren't many elk in this area that was once a more unadulterated forest.  Since then, fires and other human activity have mixed up the terrain quite a bit, offering better habitat for the elk population.  Populations continued to grow, and peaked in the '50's.  It then started to go downhill from there due to a lack of fires, hunting pressure, and other environmental factors.  By the '70's the elk population had decreased substantially, and the IF&G changed the hunt to antlered-only.  Unfortunately, the elk population has continued to decline.  Some of that is due to unfavorable habitat change, and some of it is predation - primarily wolves.

Wolves are well established in the Zone.  Current harvest reports show that 4 wolves have been harvested by firearms, and 4 have been trapped.  The Selway wolf hunting season started August 2011, and will continue through June 2012.  There is no quota on the number of wolves that can be harvested in the Zone, but it isn't a piece of cake to harvest wolves here.  It is clear that the IF&G wants to see the elk population rebound, and a lower wolf population is one of the primary keys to that objective.  Local reports have stated that the elk stick close to the timber - a quick hiding place when they need one.

The objectives are to have 4,900-7,300 cows, 1,325-1,950 bulls (of which they want to see 750-1,175 mature bulls).  The 2007 survey counted 3,381 cows, 934 bulls (of which there were 726 mature bulls).

A couple of observation hits, for what they're worth.  77% of the bulls counted were mature.  All categories are below objective.  Hmmm.

The calf retention has been horrible here, due mainly, I think, to wolves.  But no doubt winters have taken a toll the past 15 years.  There's been some tough ones that did some major damage.  There are no cow hunts in the Selway Zone.

On to the stats:

Elk/square mile: 1.7
Hunters/square mile: 0.46
Bulls/square mile: 0.37
Average hunter days: 6.73
Bull Harvest Percentage: 12%
Percent Spikes Harvested: 15%
Percent 6+ points Harvested: 55%

The Salmon Elk Zone

The Hunt

The antlered, any-weapon hunt for the Salmon Zone is found on the B-tag, and ran from October 15 - November 8.  The A-tag is for archery-only, and is for any elk.  The archery season for the Zone runs from August 30 - September 30 (in Units 21, 21A, and 36B only), and December 1 - 31 (in Unit 28 only).  For the any-weapon B-tag, there is a quota of 2,507 tags.  They go on sale on 12/1/2011 for non-residents, and on 7/1/2012 for residents.  Once they are gone, they're gone.


The Salmon Zone starts at the little town of Clayton, and the eastern boundary of the Zone is HWY 93 as it zig zags north along the river to the relatively larger metropolis of Salmon.  From there, the boundary bolts away from the highway over to the convenient boundary that is the Montana-Idaho border.  It follows the border north, until it decides to break away from Montana, and heads west and south, defined by watersheds back down to Clayton.  There's cheap beer at the watering hole in Clayton (FYI).

Terrain/Land Ownership

The Salmon Elk Zone consists of 1,696,926 acres, or 2,651 square miles.  Of that, 83% is Forest Service, 12% is BLM, and the rest is private.  A great deal of the land is used for grazing, and there are some mining activities as well.  

I could go on and on about the terrain here, but there's nothing like seeing it for yourself.  I found this video representative of the terrain as a whole.  This was taken on the north end of the Zone.  Further south you will find steep, more open country around Challis.

Elevations range from 5,000 ft. to 8,000 ft.

Herd Health/Stats

Elk have always been in this area, but it held pretty low densities through much of the 20th Century.  Elk were translocated to the area from Yellowstone back in the 1930's in order to boost the population.  By the 1970's there was a stable herd, and numbers peaked in the 1990's.

The elk have a few habitat issues that demand management by the IF&G.  This zone has a healthy mule deer population, and the competition with the elk is a concern.  IF&G wants both species to maintain the highest numbers as possible.  There was a big fire in Unit 28 back 2000, and those kind of fires create excellent elk habitat.  But then on the predation side, wolves have taken care of business.  There are 4 well established packs in Unit 28 alone, and other packs wandering around the other units.  There is a careful balance between letting the herd get so big that it extends the carrying capacity of the Zone, and making sure it doesn't get destroyed by predators.  

There is a harvest limit of 40 in the Salmon Zone for the wolf season, and so far 19 have been killed.  The season lasts until March 31, 2012.  IF&G believes that wolves may provide some service to the elk herd here, keeping the herd within objectives, and within the carrying capacity of the habitat that they share with the mule deer.  I would rather let hunters take on that task than wolves, but that's just my opinion.

Objectives are for 4,600-7,000 cows, 975-1,425 bulls (of which 550-850 mature bulls are wanted).  2008 Surveys showed there were 6,182 cows, 884 bulls (of which 512 were mature).

A couple of notes on that: 1. 58% of the bulls were mature bulls, and 2. cows are within objective.

Now for the rest of the stats:

Elk/square mile: 2.67
Hunters/square mile: 0.99
Bulls/square mile: 0.33
Average hunter days: 5.9
Bull Harvest Percentage: 18%
Percent Spikes Harvested: 37%
Percent 6+ points Harvested: 26%

It all depends on the experience that you want.  If you want the back country experience with a good shot at a mature bull, then the Selway Zone is your choice.  If you care most about just harvesting something, then it would appear that the odds are better in the Salmon Zone.

If your priorities are low hunter density and opportunities at mature bulls, then pick Selway.  If you don't mind seeing more hunters, and want a really good chance at getting a spike, then pick Salmon.

The Winner

There is no question in my mind that I would pick the Selway Zone if I had the choice between the two.  Don't take that wrong - I think the Salmon Zone is an excellent choice for a hunt.  But the Selway experience would sway me.  Both Zones have wolf problems.  But elk are still there for the taking, and hopefully if you go to one of these Zones you can harvest a wolf too.  

But in the end, this little exercise was to determine the best place for harvesting an elk, not for finding the best experiences, and not for trophy hunting.  Because of that, the Salmon Zone takes the prize.

~ J. Bunch

IF&G Taking Comments On Upland Hunting Change Proposals

 Here are the proposed changes that IF&G has for all us upland game hunters:

1. Increasing chukar and gray partridge daily limits from 6 to 8

I have no idea why the limit was changed to 6 for 2011.  8 would be a nice reward for being in good enough shape to climb Everest, and for taking the time to train dogs.

2. Eliminating the Fall General Turkey Season in SW Idaho

This action will supposedly help out the Spring season harvest numbers.

3. Increase the possession limit for upland birds to three days limits instead of two days.

Sounds more than reasonable.
4. Open the chukar, gray partridge, quail, sage-grouse and sharp-tailed grouse seasons on the third Saturday of September.

Just don't make the season shorter on the back end.

5. Open cottontail and snowshoe hare seasons on Aug. 30 to coincide with forest grouse

The IF&G Commission will be setting 2012 Upland Hunting Rules at their meeting on January 25-27 in Boise.  You have two means of commenting on the proposals, if you should so choose.

From the Idaho Statesman:
Idaho Department  of Fish and Game will hold an open house to discuss proposed changes  for the 2012-13 upland bird hunting and furbearer trapping rules from 10  a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 4, at the Nampa regional office at 3101  S. Powerline Road. A complete list of the proposals will be at the open  house, and it is also available for comment at   Written comments can be sent to Upland Game Comments, Idaho Fish and  Game, P.O. Box 25, Boise, ID, 83707.

~ J. Bunch

Our 3 Caribou: Counties Starting To Get Fired Up

About a month ago I reported that the Federal Guvmint is proposing that nearly 375,000 acres of North Idaho be designated as critical caribou habitat.  Now N. Idaho counties are forming a coalition to fight that proposal, realizing that the designation could hurt the economy and hamper public land access.

The Feds are taking your comments (how nice), but realize that your comment carries as much weight as the comment that comes in from the sand filled sandal of a dread-locked L.A. hippie.  And it seems that there's a lot of that type who like to tell us up here in the Northlands how to manage our wild.

From the CDA Press:

Bonner County is pressing ahead with efforts to challenge the designation of habitat for endangered woodland caribou.

The board adopted a resolution Tuesday insisting that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service coordinate with the county regarding habitat designation for endangered caribou. Commissioners also resolved to contact other commissions in the Panhandle, Montana and Washington state in order to build a coalition.

Commissioners here further hope to draw in state lawmakers, agencies and Idaho's federal delegation.

"I'm set up to contact Lincoln County, Pend Oreille County (and) Boundary County. Shoshone County proactively emailed me this morning. They want to join our coordination process," Commission Chairman Cornel Rasor said on Tuesday.

You can read the full article here.

~ J. Bunch

Interview With Idaho Waterfowl Association - Part 1

One of the hot topics facing the Idaho outdoorsman is the issue of guided bird hunts.  Currently, Idaho does not license and allow guided waterfowl hunts (actually, there are 4 licensed guides - more on that later), but it is considering changing that.  Believe it or not, change from that current structure will have all sorts of impacts on the way we hunt waterfowl.  The Idaho Waterfowl Association agreed to answer some questions I had regarding the issue (and concerned I am!), so many thanks go to them for giving us the lowdown of their stance.  This is the first part of the interview, with a couple more to follow in coming days.  Enjoy...  ~ J. Bunch

IDAHOMAN: What is the history here?  Who first initiated the idea of making licensing available for waterfowl outfitters?  And why?  And where does the issue sit today?

Answer IWA:  Jeremy, the Idaho Waterfowl Association (IWA) would like to thank you for allowing the IWA to address and give their side of a very contentious and confusing subject concerning a proposal to allow additional Outfitting and Guiding for Water Fowl in Idaho.  The IWA has been very involved in this issue for several years.  To say the least, it is a very confusing and complex issue that many Idahoans don’t understand.  Based on this, the IWA will give you our position and some history of the issue. 

For starters though, let me give you some information on the IWA.  The IWA is a waterfowl organization representing water fowlers and waterfowl habitat and those resources in Idaho.  More information on the IWA history, mission, how to join, and other interesting information can be found on our website:  Idaho Waterfowl Association

For years, there were only four (4) licensed outfitters for waterfowl hunting in Idaho. There was an informal moratorium on any further guiding for waterfowl that started in 1989.  In 1992, the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Licensing Board and the Idaho Fish and Game reinforced this temporary moratorium on any new licenses being issued for Waterfowl, Upland Game Bird and later Turkey Hunting.

The attached Policy (see below) – 2027 of the Outfitters and Guides Licensing Board fully outlines the moratorium and what the status was up to the establishment of the Outfitted Waterfowl and Turkey Advisory Work Group.

In 2009 the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Licensing Board (OGLB) asked the F&G to open up to discussion with a variety of groups and individuals to revisit the issue of outfitting and guiding for waterfowl and turkey.  The OGLB based its request to the IDF&G on what they said was an increased request from the public to guide for these wildlife species. 

The Outfitted Waterfowl and Turkey Advisory Work Group was formed on March 3, 2010 by a series of appointments made jointly by the Idaho Outfitters and Guides Licensing Board and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

After many meetings, both in person and by teleconference, the issue came to a stand still in December of 2010.  The sportsmen’s groups held tight the position that the request to expand outfitting and guiding for waterfowl be denied and to continue to implement and hold tight the existing moratorium for waterfowl and turkey hunting in Idaho.  This decision was based on many facts, but, the bottom line being that there was no demonstrated need to expand this activity, nor was there any documentation provided by those in favor of opening this activity up to further expansion.  This included both biological and economic data.

Then in August of 2011, the IWA found out that the OGLB, IF&G, and the Idaho Farm Bureau sent out a private land owner survey to approximately 800 land owners in Idaho asking them various questions about land ownership and outfitting and guiding for waterfowl and turkey in Idaho.  This survey was done with no notification to the Advisory Group even though some discussion about it had been mentioned prior to the close of the groups meetings in December of 2010.

Currently, the results of that survey are being tabulated by a third party with the results not being shared with the Advisory Group or the public as of this date.

As far as surveys go, in December of 2009, the IWA posted an online poll against outfitting/guiding for waterfowl in Idaho.  The IWA received 354 signatures against outfitting and guiding for waterfowl in Idaho and that poll also showed that outfitting and guiding, if allowed, would affect over 500 different individuals in Idaho.  The link to that on line petition is:

The current status of the issue today is, the current moratorium prohibiting outfitting/guiding for waterfowl is still in effect with no resolution in sight.  The IOGLB hopes to have a resolution, even if it is at their own implementation in time for the 2012 waterfowl season.

IDAHOMAN: Could you please briefly explain and frame the current controversy over guiding/outfitting for waterfowl in Idaho?  Who are the players on each side of the issue?

Answer IWA: The current controversy over guiding/outfitting for waterfowl mainly comes from the aspect that the IOGLB insists that there is an increased need for this activity within Idaho.  The IWA and other sportsmen’s groups, and the Idaho Fish and Game has asked the group below, but specifically the IOGLB to demonstrate or show that there is an increased need for this activity.  The IWA and many many other waterfowl enthusiasts and general public have pushed back on this issue saying that there is NO demonstrated need to broaden this activity.  This push back is based on several factors, but one of the largest is that the IOGLB has not shown or attempted to show how many individuals or groups have actually requested to become a guide/outfitter in Idaho.

The IWA expanded its position on this in January 2011.  The IWA presented its position on guiding for waterfowl in Idaho to the Idaho Fish and Game Commissioners at their January Commissioners meeting.  The F&G was taking public comment on this issue, and Bryce Cook, IWA BOD representing the IWA presented the attached position letter to the IF&G Commission.

Further, the IWA has asked for specific information, as required by the IOGLB’s own regulations and in an Memorandum of Understanding with the IF&G that by August 1 of each year, it will provide information such as the number of each species taken by management area, and other pertinent information to each wildlife species being outfitted and/or guided for.  To date, the OGLB has not been able to show any harvest of waterfowl by any guides in Idaho even though this request has been made to them time and time again by the IWA and other sportsmen groups shown below.

In fact, the response the IWA has received is; “the data and information” does not exist.  The IWA position is that if the data and information does not exist, how the argument made by the IOGLB can hold any weight to show that there is a demand to expand this activity.

 The advisory group consisted of eight voting members, four non-voting ex officio participants, and three staff. The advisory group members were self-nominated from stakeholder groups—landowners, sportsmen organizations, and outfitters. Group members were: 

Voting Members:
Wally Butler
Idaho Farm Bureau
Bryce Cook
Idaho Waterfowl Association
Mike Lawson
Dan Jones
Potlatch Corp
Landowners (unable to participate)
Joseph Peterson
Flying B Ranch
Mike Reggear
Clearwater Management Council
Grant Simonds
Idaho Outfitters & Guides Assoc.
Ryan Storm
Pheasants Forever & ISCAC *
Paul Waldon
Idaho Turkey Federation
Non-Voting Members
Wayne Hunsucker
Alex Irby
IDFG Commission
Jake Howard
IOGLB Executive Director
Virgil Moore
IDFG Deputy Director **
Dick Gardner
Bootstrap Solutions
Lance Hebdon
Staff support
Jeff Knetter
Staff support

* ISCAC – Idaho Sportsmen’s Caucus Advisory Council

** - Is now the Director of the Idaho Fish and Game

The group developed the following statement to try and clearly understand the problem they were trying to solve.

“The Idaho Outfitters and Guides Licensing Board has a statutory responsibility to consider applications for outfitting. There is currently a temporary moratorium on waterfowl and turkey outfitting applications. How can Idaho allow, or not allow, additional guiding and outfitting for waterfowl and/or turkey on private and/or public lands, while protecting and maintaining private property rights?”

The OGLB and the private land owners have tried hard to push that this is a private property rights issue. The MOU with the Idaho Fish and Game is clear on the issue of what commercial enterprises such as this are.  That MOU specifically states, that outfitting and guiding are a privilege and not a right.

IWA and other sportsman’s groups, including the IF&G have consistently stated that private land owners have many different tools at their disposal as it affects outfitting and guiding on their private land, but, the sportsmen and IF&G have taken the stance that outfitting and guiding shall not be done since it is a privilege and not a right. Those who are on either side of this issue need to remember that guiding for waterfowl is a commercialization of waterfowl that actually belong to all of the public in Idaho.  By saying this is a private property issue, those pushing for more outfitting and guiding for waterfowl are trying to make waterfowl hunting theirs and only theirs for a price and it will be a high price at that.  And what does the public of Idaho get in return for this commercialization? One really needs to think about this when they are pushing for more and more guiding of Idaho’s public resources

Further, the framed issue also includes public lands, for which individuals representing private land owners are saying does not apply to these discussions, but, they had part in framing the issue, as shown above, and it does state and is very specific to include Public Lands in Idaho.  The issue surrounding Public Lands was discussed thoroughly, and has not been taken totally off the table as to whether or not outfitting and/or guiding can or should be allowed on public lands.

Below are two attachments supplied by the IWA:

Attachment #1. Letter From IWA to IF&G Commission 

January 26, 2011
Idaho Fish and Game Commission

Mr. Chairman and Commissioners:

My name is Bryce Cook and I am representing Idaho Waterfowl Association.  Please let me first start off by saying thanks for the opportunity to speak with you and the opportunity to participate in the advisory group over the last year.
You have all received a final report from the work of the advisory group.  Please allow me to focus on a few key points of this report and facts of the situation.

1.       Outfitting and guiding is not a property or personal right. Whether on private land or public the IOGLB has the authority to place restrictions.  Idaho Supreme Court decision in State v. Koller states, “We conclude the legislature intended to regulate commercial outfitting whether it occurs on public or private land and that such regulation is a reasonable use of the legislature's police powers.”
2.       IDFG commissions in the past have not supported outfitting and guiding for waterfowl.  Nothing has been presented to this current commission that should change past positions.

3.       There is lack of suitable habitat to support commercial interests and still meet the Idaho Statute requirements for IOGLB that outfitters do not interfere with the non-outfitted public.  There is a strong demand for the limited habitat.
a.        Key points on suitable habitat:
                                                               i.      Less than 0.7% of Idaho (374,716 acres) is public water larger than ½ acre, plus rivers (and at least 15,000 acres of Lake Lowell are closed to hunting, as well as other large bodies of water)  Source: Idaho Fish and Game
                                                              ii.      From 1997-2007 Idaho has lost over 500,000 acres of farmland. Source: Census of Agriculture 2007
b.       Evidence of strong demand for non-outfitted opportunity
                                                               i.      Idaho currently has 187,435 duck hunter-days and 110,244 goose hunter-days (average 2005-09).   Source: Idaho Fish and Game, based on Migratory Game Bird Permit Surveys.
c.        Idaho Statute Requirements:
                                                               i.      Source: Excerpt of Title 36 Chapter 21 of Idaho Statute (36-2101)
1.       …nor is it the intent of this legislation to interfere in any way with the right of the general public to enjoy the recreational value of Idaho’s deserts, mountains, rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs, and other natural resources when the services of commercial outfitters and guides are not utilized…”

4.       Outfitting would increase the loss of access for the non-outfitted public.
a.       Source: IDFG Survey of State Fish and Wildlife Agency responses to Turkey and Waterfowl Hunting 2010
                                                               i.      Two out of four neighboring states(Utah and Washington) that responded to the survey stated that waterfowl outfitting negatively affected waterfowl hunters.  Utah is even considering a ban on guiding in state managed WMA’s due to conflict.
                                                              ii.      Arkansas, which is a state with much more waterfowl habitat has implemented an outfitting/guiding ban on public land.

5.       The temporary moratorium on waterfowl outfitting has been an Idaho policy for ~20 years. It has had time to face any legal challenges of being ―arbitrary. In fact, to change it now may well be ―arbitrary.

6.       Some provisions proposed during the advisory group to protect the non-outfitted hunter may be hard to enforce. The IOGLB has very limited resources for enforcement of its regulations.
a.       According to IOGLB their free fund or savings account will be at zero balance by July, 2011, also they stated when this happens, “there will likely be an immediate effect on both customer service and enforcement processes.” Source: IOGLB Winter Newsletter 2009

7.       Throughout the entire advisory group process the sportsmen’s groups requested numerous times for demonstrated “need” for waterfowl guiding or outfitting.  The IOGLB could not and did not provide any documented or demonstrated need.
a.       The “need” of outfitters and guides to make money is not a substantial public need.
b.       The existing IDFG and IOGLB Memorandum of Understanding requires that outfitted/guided harvest for all species is to be reported.  These numbers were requested during the advisory group and could not be provided for existing grandfathered waterfowl outfitters by IOGLB. 

The reasons provided to support a permanent moratorium are based upon fact and surveys done throughout the advisory process.  The reasons provided against the moratorium by outfitters and landowners in the advisory group are not based on fact, nor has any reason been shown to go with anything but the permanent moratorium.  The desire by a few to profit off of the public’s wildlife should not be at the expense of the access and opportunity for the non-outfitted public.  Landowners are free to charge trespass fees and use leases as opportunity for financial gain with a permanent moratorium.  As stated previously, it is key that Idaho Supreme Court has declared that outfitting and guiding is not a private property right.

With all of the above in mind we, the Idaho Waterfowl Association, ask the IDFG commission to continue their support of no outfitting or guiding for waterfowl in the state of Idaho.  We also request that if IDFG consider any change in this position that they complete a thorough public comment period of the state’s waterfowl hunters.


Bryce Cook, Idaho Waterfowl Association


Attachment #2. Outfitters & Guides Act

1.00.00                        POLICY OF THE AGENCY

The Board has certain statutory powers and duties set forth in the Outfitters and Guides Act. These powers and duties not only include licensing qualified applicants but also enforcing the provisions of the Act for the conservation of wildlife and range resources (IC 36-2107(d)). The Board is further authorized to cooperate with federal and state agencies in matters of mutual concern regarding the business of outfitting and guiding in Idaho (IC 36-2107(e)).  Further the Board is obligated to consider when licensing an activity the accessibility of the area and its terrain and the effect such license would have upon the environment, the game and the number of persons that can be served (IC 36-2109(b)).

The Board has adopted certain rules as authorized by the Act which provide additional considerations when licensing an Outfitter. In evaluating an Outfitter application, the Board must consider the public need for the requested services, the accessibility and use of the area by the general public and the area requested and the effect such license would have upon the environment and game available for harvest (Board Rule 021.)

For the reasons provided in this document, it is Board policy that a formal “moratorium” be established regarding new applications and amendments to existing licenses for Outfitted Waterfowl, Upland Game and Turkey Hunting.      

It is Board policy that this “moratorium” be temporary and shall only be in place until a complete analysis and evaluation  can be conducted by the Board in cooperation with the Idaho Fish and Game Commission and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and with other agencies, industry representatives, the outfitted public and the public at large so that objective information can be prepared and identified in a cooperative and collaborative fashion for the Boards consideration so as to make an informed and appropriate decision regarding these activities.  This policy does not affect Outfitters who are currently licensed to provide these activities.

2.00.00                        TABLE OF CONTENTS

3.00.00                        REFERENCES

4.00.00                        GENERAL

The following facts support this Moratorium:

-  The Board recognizes that an understanding has existed between the Board and the Idaho Fish and Game Commission since the July 10-14, 1989 Board meeting where a “moratorium” was placed on new outfitter licenses for waterfowl and upland game hunting.

-  Beginning as early as the August 23-27, 1992 board meeting and based on the recommendations of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, applications have been consistently denied for outfitted turkey hunting.  At their May 17-19, 2006 meeting, the Fish and Game Commission reaffirmed the IDFG Department’s opposition to upland game (including turkey) and waterfowl outfitting for the outfitting industry.  This opposition was again reaffirmed at the June 2008 board meeting where the Idaho Department of Fish and Game expressed concerns with outfitted turkey hunting and its affect upon general public access.

-  It is also recognized that discussions have occurred during IOGLB’s meetings with the Idaho State Senate Resources and Conservation Committee in the 2006, 2007 and 2008 sessions where Senators have expressed their concern with new outfitter licenses for waterfowl, upland game and turkey hunting.

It is recognized that private land owners or other business owners may be licensed as outfitters to provide equipment, facilities and services on those lands they own outright or under arrangements with other private land owners. The Board must strive for its decisions to be understood and fair and that the decision basis should be supported by the record as a whole.

The Board does not possess adequate facts, data and information concerning the nature of the upland game (including turkey) and waterfowl resources in the state of Idaho and the effect the issuance of new licenses or amendments for these activities may have upon such resources and the current  hunting access the public currently does or doesn’t enjoy. Further the public need for these outfitter services is currently unknown. 

It should be noted that historically the Board has licensed four outfitters who provide outfitted waterfowl hunting in eastern Idaho; the Board regularly licenses outfitters to provide upland game hunting to individuals who are granted private land shooting preserve permits by the IDFG.  Currently, there are nine outfitters providing these services statewide.  Additionally, the Board decided in 2004 to license six existing outfitters in the Clearwater Region to provide outfitter turkey hunting on lands that they own outright. 

There have been on-going discussions and concerns regarding these matters for a number of years and this policy and other combined IOGLB and IDFG efforts  are be taken to finally address these concerns so that appropriate and reasonable decisions can be made. 

The following are matters which need consideration in this matter:

-  Procedures and protocol are necessary for IOGLB staff (staff) and other agencies to gather information and data as reviewed in this policy in order for the Board can make reasonable and informed decisions when processing applications or requests for information regarding these activities.

-  Procedures and protocol are necessary for industry representatives, the outfitted public and the public at large to determine their positions on the access issues, need for such services, whether license opportunities exist and if so, what the license restrictions might be and to determine application requirements.

-  A review of issues or the past comments from the State legislature and a determinate whether legislative intervention is needed or whether new or revised statutes or rules are necessary.

-  A commonly recognized understanding of who the “public” is and how to understand “public need” must be determined.

-  It is recognized that a moratorium by it nature is not an appropriate response to this matter and as such it is temporarily in place until a final disposition is reached and set a foundation and support for  the record as a whole.  In this respect, a reasonable timeline must be established to arrive at recommendations to address this matter.  

IF&G To Host Summit For Public Input

Well, Merry Christmas folks.  Hope you survived the big day.  I'm busy waterfowling in Oregon, where there's actually some weather to push the birds around.

On tap for this week is an interview with the Idaho Waterfowl Association, the first part of which will be posted here on Wednesday.  Don't miss it.  Lots of information to come.

In the meantime, check out what the IF&G has on tap for the coming year.  They would like the public's comments on a host of issues, and you will be invited to a 3 day summit to do so.  You can read all about it here.

~ J. Bunch

Important News Flash

Posts may be a little sparse over the next week, as I'll be busy duck hunting in Oregon, stuffing myself with Prime Rib and red wine, and lounging on the EZ chair watching bowl games.

Still, stay tuned here as there are some exciting things ahead.  So keep checking back.  Hopefully this week we will have the first installment of an interview with the Idaho Waterfowl Association on the topic of waterfowl guiding in Idaho.  You won't want to miss that.

Merry Christmas!

~ J. Bunch

Huge Idaho Elk Migration

This video was apparently taken north of Mountain Home on Nov. 20, 2011.

~ J. Bunch

Whitetails Taking Over Muleys

Whitetail deer seem to breed like rabbits.  And that's one reason why they're increasing in numbers in the West.  Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana have all seen whitetail numbers increase, while mule deer numbers decrease.

A couple of other reasons why whitetails are on the rise over muleys:

1. Whitetails are more likely to have twins
2. Increasing rural expansion - suburbs taking over mule deer habitat and leaving it for the whitetails who can stand living closer to humans
3. Wildfires that destroy sagebrush land, destroys mule deer wintering land
4. Increased demand for forage between elk, whitetails, and mule deer leaves the less competitive mule deer at a disadvantage.  Whitetails are very competitive, and adaptable to changing environments.

Whitetails are moving out of their traditional stomping grounds of valleys and river bottoms, and are taking over what was once prime mule deer habitat.  For instance, whitetails can be seen the high Yellowstone plateaus, a place they've never, or rarely, been seen before.

The Billings Gazette article has the full analysis of what's going on in Montana, but is very applicable to Idaho's whitetail/muley dilemma.

~ J. Bunch

The Idiocracy: Soda Springs Firearm Safety Gets A Little Crazy

From Eastern Idaho's

No one was hurt when a 9 mm handgun discharged during a hunter education class in Soda Springs Monday night.

Region 5 Idaho Fish and Game Supervisor Mark Gamblin has asked the Soda Springs Police Department to investigate. The instructor has been dismissed.

Gamblin says Fish and Game prohibits a hunter education instructor from bringing live ammunition into a classroom. According to police, the volunteer instructor brought the handgun and ammunition to class for a demonstration. Unaware the gun was loaded, they say one of the students discharged the weapon after the demonstration.

The bullet hit a mounted mule deer head.  Fish and Game said counseling would be made available to anyone in the class who wants it.

~ J. Bunch

Yellowstone Cutthroat Populations Stable?

The population is stable now, according to some data, but that doesn't mean there aren't challenges ahead.  And the key is to keep the species out from under the Endangered Species Act.  The IF&G has made that one of its priorities in its management of the Yellowstone Cutthroats.  We've seen how sticky it gets when wolves and grizzlies get all tangled up with the ESA, and IF&G believes that management of those animals could best be done without having to walk the federal government tight-rope.

IF&G Director Virgil Moore addressed the issue at the annual conference of the Henry's Fork Watershed Council.  He basically stated that the data has backed up IF&G's management decisions of the Yellowstone Cutthroats, and vice-versa.  And that would not have been possible if they hand their hands tied by the ESA.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle has the full write-up here.

~ J. Bunch

Once Alleged Poacher Now Sues IF&G

Can the IF&G screw up?  Go ask Rex Rammell, right?  Nevermind, don't.  But seriously, we should expect that because people are not perfect, and government agencies are run by people, that government agencies don't always act perfectly.  Wait, government agencies aren't perfect?  Whoa - now that's an eye popper.

One North Idaho man is suing the IF&G in federal court for "civil rights violations, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, malicious prosecution and slander."  This comes after he was accused of poaching an elk on September 14, 2009, the day before archery season opened.  Eyewitnesses on the date witnessed that they had seen Roland Hall approach a freshly killed elk.

Mr. Hall was apparently with, accompanied by, or somehow associated with Dennis Liermann Jr. on that day when they were seen approaching a couple of poached bulls.  Felony charges were soon brought against both men.  Liermann eventually pled guilty to misdemeanor poaching, and spent a few days in jail.  Charges against Hall were amended several times, and then eventually dropped.

From the Bonner County Daily Bee story:

Hall alleges in the suit that Fish & Game officials knew he was innocent of the crime but pressured his prosecution, withheld exculpatory evidence and issued press releases containing information it knew to be false.

In case you forgot what "exculpatory" means:  applied to evidence which may justify or excuse an accused defendant's actions, and which will tend to show the defendant is not guilty or has no criminal intent.

In other words, Hall believes that IF&G had evidence that he was not guilty.  Amended and then dropped charges would seem to be consistent with that.  But how about the fact that the prosecutors moved to dismiss the case against Hall after the Judge ruled that remarks by Hall to investigators were inadmissible because Hall was not advised of his Miranda Rights?  Oops.

So what is the truth of it all?  Hall claims he did not know that his buddy, Liermann Jr., intended to poach 2 bull elk on the day before the season opened.  Hopefully we'll find out more soon.  Not only is the IF&G the defendent, but so are the two conservation officers involved.

~ J. Bunch

New IF&G Upland Game Hunting Ideas

The IF&G is seeking comments on changes to the upcoming upland game seasons.  From the IF&G website:

Idaho Fish and Game is working on recommendations for furbearer and upland game hunting season rules, except sage-grouse, for 2012-13 and 2013-14.

Final recommendations will be presented to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission at the January 2012 meeting. All rules, except for sage-grouse, will be published in one brochure.

Some ideas that will be considered include:

  • Expanding youth hunting opportunities.

  • Moving upland game bird seasons to the third Saturday in September.

  • Increasing the chukar/gray partridge bag limit back up to 8 each.

  • Increasing possession limits to three times the daily bag limit.

  • Reductions in fall turkey hunting in the Southeast and Southwest regions.

  • Increasing otter quotas in the Panhandle, Clearwater and Southeast regions.

  • A few changes to areas open or closed to beaver trapping in the Clearwater and Magic Valley Regions.

Public meetings will be held regionally, and will be announced when they are scheduled.  Not a lot of information so far on these new ideas, but if you have comments on them that can't wait for the meetings, you can write them here:

Upland Game Comments
P.O. Box 25
Boise, ID 83707

~ J. Bunch

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