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Eastmans’ Firepit: Is Airplane Scouting Ethical?



Under a new rule it will be illegal to scout in Wyoming with aircraft from August 1-January 1. What do you think, is this rule a good thing, or a rule that will likely be abused?


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Is selling coordinates to the location of mule deer guiding or just another way to earn a buck? What are your thoughts on the subject?

The Eastmans’ Firepit is the place for you to find out about the most recent news and events in western hunting and wildlife. We will comb the western news sources every week and post the topics you need to know here so you can find it all in one place. Here’s what people are talking about this week.





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About Guy Eastman, Editor-In-Chief

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Following in the footsteps of his father, Guy has taken up the reins and is now at the helm of the Eastmans’ Hunting Journal and the Eastmans’ Bowhunting Journal. A fine hunter in his own right, Guy has taken several trophy animals and has become an expert in trophy hunting as well.

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  1. I would be more in favor or altitude flight restrictions with a low ceiling of say 3000 feet above ground level over complete ban of aircraft. Whats to say that some person wants to take their plane over the mtns for sight seeing trip and then lands back at the airport, then some overrzealous barney fife cop cites them for “wildlife scouting with aid of an aircraft” thats horse pucks!
    I think it would be really hard to police.
    However I have personally seen UL aircraft flying over elk hunting areas in central oregon, the weekend before bow season starts.
    I have also been jacked by a blackhawk chopper just outside of bull run wilderness near Unity OR when a chopper swooped down over the mtns at less than 500 feet and spooked the massive 6/7 herd bull I was working in. This was over Pvt property. Needless to say I was very pissed and showed my extreme displeasure to the navigator as he looked down out of the chopper at me. I know he saw me as I was looking at them in my binos, he leaned over to the pilot and said something, after that they gained altitude and headed north toward Burns OR. will

  2. I also had a ultra low flying helicopter pushing elk off of public in east bulah unit a couple years ago during 2nd season rifle,,man was I pissed,,about ready to let lead fly at them.there is blatent illegal activity going on and no body to enforce it.

  3. I am a professional pilot, my take on it is simple its not fair chase, thou I think it has less to do with the kind of airplanes and helicopters I fly than with the UAV’s that have become all the rage the last few years or so! And its goes both ways, guys that are lazy and don’t want to put the time into it that is required to be successful and those that would us such things to interfear with lawful hunting persuits!

  4. This would be hard to enforce. If your flying at say 3,500 feet and disturbing the wildlife. And using high powered binos to spot for deer or elk from a long distance. Mark the GPS then wait 24 hours. That is not unethical hunting. Just the advantage of having a private pilot rating.

  5. I live in South Central Montana and what I see is the fwp selling tags for animals that no longer exist in retain areas due to their reintroduction of wolves and their subsequent eruption in numbers and widespread distribution. I had a moose tag a few years ago and put on 150 miles on foot through bow and rifle seasons in an area that USE to have a small population. What a waste of time and money. Did a fly over of river and lake system just to see if there were any to be seen. To no avail. The pilot stated he hasn’t seen any in the few recreating flights he has been on in many years. That in my mind is the c rime. Reintroducing wolvesl and selling permits for animals that do not exist. Just a.screwed up agency up here. In conclusion I for one don’t feel a random fly over within the time frames is unethical at all as long as they animal isn’t harassed

  6. Edward Wright

    For the pilots out there that want fly during season or within time limits, simple do not possess a hunting license, and limit flights to midday. Why? because you are not guilty for spotting, right?, Also, buzzing wildlife with an aircraft prior or during hunting season is harassment of game animals, just like the picture at the top.
    Poor argument in least, any true conservationist, can accommodate the wildlife in” their best interest” and take a back seat to their benefit.
    No, any, and I mean any aircraft in the air during, or pre hunting seasons, is spotting, and harassment of wildlife period. I have confidence that the voters in Wyoming will see this. Alaska is the only state in which air should be used for spotting, due to the huge land spaces devoid of game, and the rational time constraints to hunting.
    If we could all dedicate 3 months of hunting time, we would not need aircraft in Alaska, but reality points to less than 30 days for a hunt, and Alaska would be a crippled hunting area without aid of aircraft, also even with air travel your chances are less than 50%, the vastness is overwhelming. Wake up Wyoming! you are the last bastion of hunting rights hee in the US. If you get Colorado stupid, the entire west will be lost!

  7. Edward Wright

    One more thing, those of you that have been harassed during hunting by aircraft. Use your binos, get the AIRCRAFT number, and report them to wildlife officials. Come on guys!

  8. Justin Unfred

    For me it comes down to this. You are looking at another rule put in place to not do anything but maybe set a legal argument for later on down the road to be blown up to a new law that will really hurt the way we hunt. From a legal standpoint if you can make the argument “flying over an area gives you more of an advantage than the other guy” then I think companies like swarovski and Schmidt and Bender will be out out of business for letting us see so far and so clear. The fact is there are laws for this already (wildlife harassment laws). I happen to be in Colorado. But just like the rule passed in Wyoming and else where it is almost impossible to enforce due to having to prove intent. When you file your flight plan you don’t put down “scouting trip” on your log. I agree with. Ed Writght in saying if you see something say something. Wildlife law enforcement can’t catch everything. I think in the end this rule is a loss. It won’t really change much except for when they decide the law doesn’t go far enough they will make a way for it to go farther.

  9. How do you enforce it? You enforce it like any other major game violation. A violator is identified and a complaint is filed. Then the game department investigates and possibly set up a sting to catch the violator in action. I don’t think the law is meant to catch individual recreational fliers but to catch violators who capitalize on the act either monetarily or with a unearned trophy animal.

  10. No, you just can’t do it. Here’s why: I’ve been a helicopter and fixed wing pilot for 42 years, and a big game Hunter that’s been in maybe 100 differebt big game camps, 7 times to africa, etc
    Unlike the trend appears to be, with “hunters” adopting every bit of technology that comes along…1000yd rifles, rangefinders, gps software, some are thinking drones I’m sure…unlike the trend that excites the young shooters and hunters, HUNTING is not designed around technology. It’s defined by tradition, harvesting meat, working for trophies When $$ equipment is brought into it (God knows we all love the cool gear), the latest gear/ equipment /technology are all intended to provide an advantage never had before. It turns a sport that was equally shared into one where you’re outdone By the guy with the most money
    The four wheeler degrades the horse hunters hunt. The “long range” shooter wrecks the hunters stalk. The drone finds the game the rest can’t see. Thermal imaging finds them before light, and aircraft let you find, monitor, study, choose, watch…everything. Including other hunters ….
    You’re accused and labeled by everyone that is jealous, and feels outdone, especially by the ones that know very well how THEY’D use it if they had the chance. I remember 2-3 of our proudest “hunters” at Dubois hiring a guy with a plane to scout for sheep, then later accuse someone else that hadn’t done it. I remember a well-know “outfitter” that located moose from the air in Idaho, then took the Hunter straight to them the next day
    The ability is there, so it will be snuck in by a few, and in a sport that belongs equally to everyone, you just can’t have it .
    No, it wasn’t ok, all along. I think this is a step to prevent idiots with drones from ruining others hunts, but it has always applied to aircraft anyway. It was never ok. Just don’t do it .

  11. Again, government legislating morality. You will always have people who miss use, push the limits or in some cases out right commit illegal activities. So, the government and too many groups have “knee jerk” responses. Another point, is Alaska, several Canadian providences have rules in place. You can’t hunt until “X” number of hours have surpassed. banning technology and techniques is getting ridiculous. Several states you can’t use trail cameras or with severe restrictions, you can’t place or put out blinds or stands. Trapping is about gone. Come on people, wake up. All this bull is hurting the law abiding legal citizens, because of some criminals.

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