Fish & Game outlines private land hunting rules

Thursday, September 24, 2015

With Idaho's hunting season continuing this month, the state fish and game department also urged hunters to act responsibly when hunting on private land.

"We are fortunate that the majority of hunters are ethical and considerate to landowners. But each year, we deal with problems related to irresponsible hunter behavior," said Sal Palazzolo, private lands coordinator for Idaho Fish and Game.

Whatever the complaint, most circumstances boil down to a lack of common sense and lack of respect for both private property and wildlife.

"Be the best ambassador of hunting that you can be," Palazzolo said. "Remember to always treat the landowner as you would like to be treated and treat their land as you would like yours to be treated."

Fish and game officials outlined the following guidelines hunters should follow when hunting on private land.

* Always ask first. Plan to obtain permission whether the land that you would like to hunt is posted or not, as it is a courtesy and act of respect to the landowner. Be polite, friendly and ask in advance, Palazzolo said. If the request is denied, hunters should be understanding and remain polite, regardless of the landowner explains the reason for the decision.

* Always respect the rights of landowners. By always asking permission in advance and every time one hunts, hunters can adhere to the landowner's wishes. Many times, this involves keeping safe distances from livestock and buildings, knowing the property boundaries and where not to hunt, closing gates, and keeping vehicles off dry, fire-prone vegetation or even muddy roads.

* Exchange landowner and sportsmen courtesy cards. The two-part, pocket-sized booklet of six cards provides hunters with a handy way of exchanging essential information with landowners, who in turn, feel more secure knowing who's hunting on their property and how to contact them. The courtesy cards are free and available at fish and game offices.

* Always leave the area better than people found it. This includes picking up litter, including that left by others, and not cleaning birds or other game in road ditches or in areas frequented by people or livestock.

* Thank the landowner. When people finish hunting, they should drop by and thank the landowner for allowing them access. Often, hunters will send a thank you card, gift certificate to a local restaurant or even offer to do something for the landowner such as helping with chores, Palazzolo said.

* Mentor the future. For many, one of the most exciting and memorable hunting experiences will be that of mentoring a young hunter. As part of that process, it's important they understand that if they are to preserve the state's hunting heritage, which includes respecting landowners and their land, Palazzolo said. Consider providing a young hunter with an opportunity to ask a landowner for permission and to express their appreciation after the hunt.

* Responsible hunters don't need a harvest to have a successful day, Palazzolo said. They can have a great day by recognizing the challenge of the hunt, the pleasures of being out in nature, sharing companionship of friends and being an ambassador to the sport.

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