Sunday, February 1, 2015
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Last month, Idaho Fish and Game extended an offer for youth aged 10-15 to participate in a mentored waterfowl hunt on September 28.
Hunts are planned at three locations. Openings are still available at two.
The two hunts where registrations are still being taken are the Boundary/Smith Creek Wildlife Management Area, west of Bonners Ferry, and at Heyburn State Park west of St. Maries. The Clark Fork Delta hunt is filled.
There is no charge to participate, shotguns and waders are available for free use, and a lunch is provided to the hunter and a parent or guardian. All one needs to do is sign up and show up. Young hunters must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult; and, need a youth small game license at $7.25 with a migratory bird validation at $1.75. No federal duck stamp is needed until age 16. The license must be brought to the event.
Several years ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began allowing states to hold a special two-day youth waterfowl season prior to the opening of the regular season. The idea is to give young hunters an opportunity to hunt waterfowl before the birds are scattered and become wary of hunting activity.
The concept behind these mentored hunts is to provide the young participants and their parent or legal guardian the opportunity to be paired with an experienced waterfowl hunter who can show them how to hunt ducks and geese. This quality hunting experience is intended to provide the youth and their guardian with enough training to repeat the experience on their own.
Participation in the mentored hunts requires advance registration. Anyone interested should call to reserve a spot at one of the two remaining hunts by calling Fish and Game at 769-1414.
Deer and elk archery seasons are already here and rifle seasons are not far behind. As hunters are purchasing their deer tags from a license vendor they must choose either a regular deer tag or a whitetail tag.
The choice is causing some confusion for hunters who hunt in the Panhandle Region.
The "regular tag" is valid for a whitetail or a mule deer. But the "whitetail tag" is valid only for taking a whitetail. Most hunters in the Panhandle Region will have more hunting opportunity with the regular tag, and most are opting for that tag.
If a deer hunter plans to do some hunting in the Clearwater Region in the latter part of the season, they would increase their hunting opportunity by choosing a whitetail tag. They still have the opportunity to hunt in the Panhandle but they cannot take a mule deer with a whitetail tag.
Fall turkey season opened September 15. Hunters in the Panhandle Region have the opportunity to purchase up to three additional fall tags for use in Units 1, 2, 3 or 5. Called "special unit tags," they sell for only $5 each. The tags are offered as an opportunity for hunters to take advantage of high turkey numbers and to help some landowners who become inundated with turkeys when the snow falls. What a great opportunity to put a Thanksgiving turkey on the table for only $5 and help out a landowner in the process.
Tags purchased for the spring season, up to two, that were not filled, are also valid during the fall turkey hunt.
Phil Cooper is the regional conservation educator for the Panhandle Region.