Where deer and antelope play

The whoosh of the golden eagle’s wings startled me. Both of us were hunting antelope. Only the eagle had the advantage of seeing and swooping in on small band of antelope 150 yards ahead in the sage. I was on my hands and knees crawling along at a snail’s pace and trying to sneak up on the antelope while avoiding getting stuck by cactus.

The antelope scattered as the eagle sailed in. I just watched in awe. With his wings outstretched he looked bigger than the doe antelope he hunted. That is the great thing about hunting. You get to see things that would make the nature channels green with envy.

The chiseled featured of the Lemhi mountains framed the scene. More than 20 miles away the snow-capped peaks loomed so close it seemed I could reach out and touch them. Rivulets of water flowed down from these peaks making the desert green along the tiny watercourses. The water fed the giant alfalfa miles away that drew the antelope during the winter months.

I drew one of the 40 controlled antelope hunting permits for traditional muzzleloader hunting in the high desert near Leadore. Only patch and lead round balls are allowed on this hunt. No fancy scopes, custom built rifles, special bullets or powder pellets are allowed. No use of off-road vehicles to assist in hunting. It is on foot, and goes back to the traditional weapon of pioneer hunters.

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Fisheries work around region

Yellowstone cutthroat trout are being studied on the Upper Blackfoot River. A new electronic weir was installed early this year. It is only one of

Yellowstone cutthroat trout are being studied on the Upper Blackfoot River. A new electronic weir was installed early this year. It is only one of the project fisheries biologists are conducting this year. Harry Morse photo
Yellowstone cutthroat trout are being studied on the Upper Blackfoot River. A new electronic weir was installed early this year. It is only one of the project fisheries biologists are conducting this year.
Harry Morse photo

the project fisheries biologists are conducting this year.

This summer is horrible for fish in Southeast Idaho. Low water, high temperatures and reservoirs draining have cursed our region. So what is Fish and Game doing to help fish?

“We have crews working with fish almost everyday,” says Dick Scully regional fisheries manager. “We started work on the Blackfoot River in April putting in a new electric fish weir and will be checking water and oxygen levels on the Snake River below American Falls Dam into October.”

Fish and Game manages fishing not water. That is the rub. No matter how much anglers and Fish and Game biologists want water for fish, neither can save nor redistribute water for fish.

Few bodies of water in our region have a legal minimum flow for fish and other aquatic life in our streams, rivers and reservoirs the water is owned or allocated to agricultural interests.

We get calls from frustrated anglers, “Do something! You can’t just let reservoirs like Chesterfield, Treasureton and Blackfoot Reservoir drain. Do something.”

It’s easy to understand their frustration. Four years of drought, reservoir draining, fish dying and temperatures soaring into the 100s are a nasty combination.

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Snake River sites are ideal for watching bald eagles

Abundant prey draws raptors

Looking down on bald eagles is a unique experience. Black bodied with news12white heads and tails, the magnificent bird’s 72-inch wing span makes it look like a painted B-42 bomber. During a recent waterfowl survey, we saw many eagles on American Falls Reservoir scouting out a duck dinner. One eagle was standing on a dead goose eating and enjoying its meal.

Bald eagles have passed the word: Hunting and fishing are excellent on the Snake River from the South Fork to American Falls Reservoir. Bald eagles from as far away as Canada and Montana are sharing hunting and fishing spots and perches along the Snake River.

One of Fish and Game’s jobs is to count the concentration of wintering eagles for the national survey conducted in January. Information gathered on the flight provides a small piece of an intricate puzzle of what is happening to bald eagles.

This year, biologists counted 108 bald eagles from Idaho Falls to Massacre Rocks State Park along the Snake River. Over all, bald eagles have done well. State wide a record 925 wintering birds were recorded in 1994, up from 404 surveyed in 1979. Better yet, bald eagles successfully nesting in Idaho has dramatically increased since surveys started in 1979; in 1979 only 11 nesting territories were occupied with eight being successful. In 2003 there were 147 occupied territories, with 103 being successful.

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Visit the beauty of Yellowstone

It is time to visit Yellowstone National Park.

Groups of bachelor bull elk with massive antlers coated in velvet are a yellowstonestone’s throw from park roads. Herds of buffalo stop traffic in Hayden Valley.

“The Yellowstone Park is something absolutely unique in the world,” said President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903. “The park was created and is now administered for the benefit enjoyment of the people.”

Nothing has changed since Roosevelt’s time and in some ways it is even better than it was. Average people with a desire to see the world’s most spectacular display of geothermal features and magnificent wildlife can visit the park easily. In Roosevelt’s time it was a journey by train, wagon or horseback. Today we just turn the key instead of saddling up.

My family’s first journeyed to Yellowstone when I was 11 years old. It fascinated me. Decades later it is even more fascinating. It is like reading a good book. On your first visit you skim through the chapters (Drive from one end of the park to the other doing the great American road tour) and read the plotline on the inside cover of the book (Find out it was the first National Park and see Old Faithful). As you grow older and learn more about the park you savor the storied history and ecological changes chapter by chapter.

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Into Africa: Fish and Game officer gives in to the call of the wild

ADDO ELEPHANT NATIONAL PARK, South Africa – The bull elephant crashed through the thick vegetation 25 yards away, trunk raised and ears flared. Urine sprayed down the bull’s hind legs as he turned toward us.

It was the perfect shot. Our cameras clicked. The park ranger jammed the

Harry Morse photo
Harry Morse photo

four-wheel drive vehicle in gear and hustled us out of range of the massive bull’s ill temper.

This was exactly what we hoped to see. Pam Sherwood and I were on a combination photo safari and plains game hunt in South Africa.

Pam wanted to see Africa and its amazing wildlife. I wanted to hunt for two elk-size antelope, nayla and kudu, and photograph the continent’s amazing wildlife. Pam was extremely apprehensive about traveling abroad in the new era of terrorism – a hand held rocket attack closed commercial flights into Kenya as we planned our trip. Therefore, we selected South Africa because of its exceptional wildlife, superb national parks and its lack of terror attacks. South African Airways has direct flights from the U.S., avoiding European hubs.

Day one, in Addo Elephant National Park in South Africa soothed Pam’s fears. The flight and transfers went flawlessly. Watching elephants Pam’s apprehension melted away. We were in Africa, a herd of 25 to 30 elephants grazed in front of us. You could hear them sheering grass with their trunks and watch them poking tidbits into their mouths. We could smell them.

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How to get kids excited about the outdoors

“If you want to know why it is hard to recruit youth to hunting, take a look at how it is advertised,” said author Ted Kerasote. “Commercials for cars, Mountain Dew and clothing show young people doing exciting thingshunter_dog from rock climbing to white water rafting. It is challenging, adventuresome and exciting. What do we show about hunting? Look at the front of leading outdoor magazines and you see a bunch of middle-aged men standing around a campfire. How exciting is that to young people?”

Point well taken. Many young people don’t see the exciting and challenging side to hunting or fishing. Kids are looking for something that is thrilling and challenging. Hunting and fishing can provide that zest but do we market it well?

Part of our job as parents is to help our youngsters find challenges we believe in. Hunting and fishing is part of a heritage many of us truly love. But have we made it challenging and exciting?

Kerasote spoke to conservation groups and fish and game organizations around the states and Canada. He was trying to get them to think outside the traditional box. Make it exciting and alluring. Not Boring.

The hunting challenge

So, how do we make hunting exciting and challenging to young people?

– Learn about wildlife and hunting: Start with the video store. There are hunting games and videos that are intellectually challenging and good learning tools. Bighorn Archery and Sportsman’s Warehouse in our area offer a good selection to choose from. Check out the Outdoor Channel and ESPN TV. Go to the Internet. Look up the Idaho Fish and Game Web site. Once kids are comfortable with the subject get them outdoors. Visit a national or state wildlife refuge. Study live elk, deer and mountain goats at the Pocatello Zoo. Sign up for an adventure with the Yellowstone Institute and learn about bison and grizzly bears in Yellowstone Park. Get them involved.

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