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The State of Western Hunting

newsletter 2 16 state of western hunting

We aren’t that far separated from the last presidential State of The Union Address and the full court press for the next POTUS has begun. This has kind of got me thinking, what is the state of western hunting? Now, I am not the president of big game hunting, nor would I want there to ever be a title that granted such to someone. However, I do get to talk to all of you this time of year at the shows and hear what issues are really concerning you. Here are a few of them and I hope you will take the time to make your voice heard on each of them!

  1. The ESA has gone from a well intentioned piece of legislation to a dangerous tool that can and does prevent sound management. We narrowly avoided an economy crushing listing of the sage grouse and it appears that we are closer than ever before to a delisting of the Grizzly Bear. Wolves have been delisted and successfully managed in Idaho and Montana for several years now but Wyoming’s population is still left unchecked. Let your voice be heard, we can’t afford many more years of unchecked predation.
  2. Public access and public land continue to be a hot-button topic across the West. Shoulder season elk hunts in Montana continue to draw the ire of the public as well as praise from some hunters. The fiascos in Oregon and Nevada involving public land use will likely get worse before they get better. Remember, that once access is gone, or the title sold it is very hard to get access for the public back. Think long and hard about this issue, because if it is handled poorly we will have to deal with the consequences forever.
  3. Auction tags continue to be a hot button issue as well. The recent battle in Utah over which organization would host the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo turned into an all out struggle that was settled behind closed doors. The real question then becomes, how much good are these tags and events actually doing for conservation? Or is it driven by the pocket books of those organizing the events? You can make that decision for yourself with a little bit of research.

What say you? What do you think are the biggest issues we will face heading into 2016 as hunters?


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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. Who do you recommend for us to notify in Wyoming? I apply there every year and hunt every 3-4. I agree that unchecked predation could be a problem.

  2. I agree with a lot of what you say and I think public land access is a huge threat in many areas. That’s why I was a bit surprised when I signed up for a subscription to your magazines and one them, I believe the Bowhunting Journal, had an advertisement in it for a Colorado real estate company. The first listing was for almost $10,000,000 for 12,000+ acres but when you read the listing it’s that price for about 3000 deeded acres and 9000 acres of BLM land behind a locked gate. Essentially the ad was offering to sell public land. I really wish someone would have caught that and refused the advertisement on principle.

  3. I’m concerned about the surge to put federal land in the hands of states and counties. It then will be sold to increase the tax base. I’m no fan of big GOV everywhere (good example is the ESA as Guy stated, or the EPA that has spiraled out of control) but lets keep federal land in the hands of all taxpayers.

  4. Leave public land as is..It is our last free place to roam..John is right about states selling then it gets locked up.

  5. I live in the state of Arizona, which is a state that cannot support education, so how can I expect it to support the Federal land here. Keep the land under control of the feds. They may not be perfect, but they are better than the individual states.

  6. I stopped hunting on Texas public lands about 30yrs ago because of restricted access. That’s the future for all of the US states thanks to anti-hunters, anti-gunners and the socialist in the Federal government. Kiss your public lands goodbye and prepare to stop hunting. I’m sick about, but us hunters are not politically correct anymore.

    • In Utah it is the right wing Government that wants to take over FEDERAL lands. They will then be up for sale to the rich and the connected. Forget about access for the average Jo. I agree also that Utah doesn’t adequately fund Education, so how would they administer more land. Buy selling it off

      • Utah’s main issue is the extreme greed of the church running the state. The fact that resident hunters have to pay more for certain areas after waiting many many years to draw a tag is insanity. Book Cliffs elk is an average of 15 years. Diamond mountain is 12 years. The Henry’s can take more than a lifetime. Doe populations are insane in the Ashley. It’s not uncommon to see over a hundred before you see one 2 point. But they refuse to offer doe tags for the area. They talk about how pro youth they are yet I know of several who haven’t drawn two years in a row. They are only youths for a short time. Make no mistake, as long as the church is allowed to run the state everything will be based upon revenue. The antelope island mule deer tag is just one example. Utah is a disgrace to its sportsman. Sad really because the state has the ability to be an excellent hunting destination for public land hunters.

        • Utah is beautiful and the habitat is there for a lot of big game. But organized religion will continue to cause problems as it has since the beginning of time. Whatever happened to the separation of church and state? You can’t hunt on Sunday in eleven states…don’t know about everybody else but being lied to by your government leaves a nasty taste in my mouth!

      • Theyre already doing this . Its called land swaps, and it happens all the time. But it only happens for the people who have money . There is a prime example in Cache Valley !!!!

    • Ted Cruz had a big push to sell much of the public land in the US. Google some of these phrases and you will find about it. It was a bill he proposed in 2014 that would require states to hold no more than 50% of their land as Federal public land.

    • Larry: You should run for president! no one has any b—s anymore!

  7. The Feds are going to turn it all into a Monument classification and you won’t be able to hunt or carry a gun then they will over run the land with wolves and grizzly , then you can’t go hiking without putting your like in danger let along the fees you will have to pay

  8. And lets not forget the damage done to hunting by all the high priced outfitters locking away access to public lands via private lands. Many private, hunter friendly land holdings sell the rights to private oufitters, who then dont allow anyone but thier private, paid, shooters to cross. Outfitting is doing as much damage to public access and hunting as the anti hunters. They are also making it the activity of the elite. And anyone that hires an outfitter is not a hunter, just a designated shooter.

  9. It is odd to me how some big name folks get long odds tags year after year. For example, how did Carter of Ridge Reaper hunt 40 series units back to back years in Idaho? That’s what 3-5% draw ods non-resident in back to back years? Drawing those two tags year to year has to be lottery type odds. Having a giant buck like that killed on TV will sure do wonders for tag sales though…..

    All that aside, there is no denying the Utah influence is strong in Idaho, and anyone who has seen what SFW has done in Utah can see Utah is as crooked as a dogs hind leg. SFW is trying the same Utah style tag grab in Idaho right now.

    Look at the list of names who draw tags in Utah’s expo though Idaho people….be careful what you wish for. The grass is not always greener.

  10. The cost of hunting on your own for us easterners is getting out of hand, between travel expenses and licenses cost, its making it out of reach for anyone, especially for someone with kids. Not having public lands would eliminate it totally!!!!

  11. I’m in Oregon but not sure what you are referring to in Oregon in relation to public land. have i missed something?

    • Yes. They have in southern or the fed wants to increase monument land and restrict access. They (blm) has already closed access to formally open areas for conservation they claim and recently signed agreements with liberal conservation groups (Sierra club types) to close off alot of roads restricting access to long time hunting public lands

  12. Obviously we have many different concerns about a variety of issues facing our sport, or to most of us, our culture. One of my biggest concerns however is what seems to be happening from within. There seems to be a very active movement to find ways to make hunting easier and more assured of success; the art and desire of the hunt itself appears to be declining. There is a great emphasis on extremely long range shooting and less emphasis on the stalk. Watching the Outdoor and Sportsman’s channels I continuously see people focusing on nothing more than trying to reach farther and farther with advancing technology rather than putting out the effort to try and stalk close. It seems that taking a shot less than 6 or 800 yards is simply not respectable. I also saw a show host demonstrate how to take a 100 yard shot with a bow! Its almost routine now to see people sitting on ridges with portable weather stations, collecting data to prepare for a shot at an animal in the next county.

    It doesn’t stop there either, we now have access to an “Ozonics” machine to cover our scent while sitting in a little house above a food plot with our thermos of hot coffee. Where will it end? How are the state agencies going to manage this continuous increase in effective weaponry, it would seem they would have to reduce the opportunity.

    Something else that concerns me is the gradual decline in respect shown on some of the hunting shows as well. On one show, I believe it was “Relentless Pursuit”, they were hunting with spears from a tree. When the animal walked underneath the tree, the spear was hurled down into the top of the animal. To each his own, the problem is that the spear had a camera mounted on the tip of the spear and the spurting blood was shown very graphically over and over. I personally have no problem with the sight of blood, after all, hunting is a blood sport. But showing that on TV gives the anti-hunters a lot of fodder for their cause. It makes it hard to argue that we are not focused on blood and the kill.

    To wrap this up, my concern then revolves about where our sport is going as a whole, the picture we are painting of ourselves and what we are adding to our opposition’s fire.

    • I couldn’t agree more, nicely put.

    • Nicely worded. I agree completely. Although I’m not sure what to do about it. Finding a quality hunting show that actually displays hunting, not shooting or shopping is very difficult. I understand the whole “If it’s legal, then it’s OK” argument, and I don’t have the answer either as evidenced by my inability to influence my friends to hunt in a different manner, but I’m concerned that there is a significant change afoot and gathering momentum. I think the long term impact of the image as seen on TV will degrade the support of non-hunters for the sport as they don’t see the reverence or respect for the animal or the tradition. Only a type of “blood lust”, and that’s not even talking about land access…

      • I think you’re read on the state of hunting in this country is very accurate. My father taught my brother and I how to hunt, and when ducks were lighting into our decoys Dad would say “take em”. He didn’t say “kill them” as most every waterfowl show on TV now does. And while it’s really the same thing Imwas taught not to glorify the kill as the actual hunt, including time together in the outdoors, the food, the hardships, the weather, etc. was the important aspect…not the kill. Well said Jerry.

  13. “Public” land is a problem if it is owned Federally, it would seem that the current mind set in DC is that the Government owns the land not the people. This will only get worse, I felt when the “Oregon” incident took place that it was touch and could end badly for both sides. It is imperative that PUBLIC LAND remain PUBLIC, not off limits. The management of the land should be a combination of state and federal agencies working in unison for the good of the land and the wildlife and domestic animals living on it. Access to public land is a must.
    This Presidential election could have far reaching effects on this issue from BLM, EPA, and Supreme Court Decisions!

  14. As stated in a couple of the comments above, having the federal government owning and thus in charge of public land will sooner or later end badly for hunters. At least if the states controlled public lands, one might have some chance of influencing their legislators.

    • I feel just the opposite; State legislatures are far more likely to be influenced by big money than what Congress will be. And I would think that Congess, due to the myriad of special interest groups and their lobbyists, is scrutinized far greater than state legislatures are. It’s way easier to make a back room deal at the state level than at the Federal level.

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