Preparation remains key to successful big game hunts

Thursday, July 28, 2016

With a number of hunting opportunities opening in early August on or near private property, Idaho Fish and Game Department officials reminded hunters to work with land owners in advance for access to their property.

A hunter can increase their success and avoid potential problems with these owners by getting permission in advance while taking extra precautions to properly care for harvested game.

Most of the hunts that open in early August are designed to help reduce chronic crop damage for landowners, fish and game officials said. This includes general season controlled hunts for antlerless elk and antlerless deer.

Some of these hunts are restricted to areas outside National Forest boundaries and within one mile of private lands in agricultural production. Other hunts are restricted to private land, and hunters participating in these hunts must secure permission to hunt on these properties.

Many landowners are willing to allow hunting access if asked first, fish and game officials said. According to a survey of rural Idaho landowners, 88 percent of them will allow hunting on their property. Landowners are more likely to grant access to their land to people who ask well in advance, officials added.

If allowed to hunt on private property, it's critical that hunters know the landowner's property boundaries and treat the property as if it were their own, officials said. This includes packing out garbage, leaving gates as found, staying on roads versus driving into fields and to never fire a weapon near or toward buildings, equipment or livestock.

Additionally, many landowners have concerns about fire danger and hunters should be sensitive to these concerns, officials said.

Hunters also need know what to do should a wounded animal run onto private property or private property under different ownership, they added. If this happens, the hunter must contact the landowner, get permission to enter the property and retrieve the animal.

If the landowner denies permission, fish and game officers or county sheriff's deputies may be able to mediate the issue.

Hunters also have an ethical and legal obligation to salvage the edible portions of their kill, but meat spoilage is a serious concern during hot weather, fish and game officials said. The key to preserving meat is to begin the cooling process quickly.

Harvested animals should be immediately skinned, reduced to quarters in most cases, and quickly transported to cold storage facilities. Early season hunters often remove the meat from the bone and use large ice chests to keep their game both cool and clean.

When cutting up a carcass to transport, hunters must be sure to preserve the evidence of the animal's gender. In hunts restricted to mule deer or white-tailed deer, hunters that remove the head must leave the fully-haired tail naturally attached to the carcass until it reaches the final place of storage or personal consumption, or a commercial meat processing facility.

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