Reprint from 1/26/2000
Winter Hunts and Future Planning
by Sharon Watson
January is a good month to go
coyote-popping locally, especially since many backroads remain open. Most
folks just cruise and look, which is flirting with our road-hunting laws. I
find it more enjoyable to park quietly, walk 200 yards over a low hill, and
use a predator call to lure coyotes into "sure-pop range!" You can think of
it this way, "Shoot a coyote now and maybe save a deer fawn next spring."
Cottontails seem to be on a population upswing and January and February are
good months to pursue them. True, they're at their annual low point in
numbers, but with big game and bird seasons closed, rabbits nicely fill a
shooting gap before rockchucks start emerging in March.
Prepared and cooked properly, white-meated rabbits offer some of the best
wild-game eating in Idaho. Scoped
.22s, pistols, shotguns, and archery are all great for bunny hunting around
tumbled desert boulders. Or check at higher timbered elevations for bigger,
but equally tasty snowshoe hares. Limits are 8 of any kind with 16 in
possession after the first day. There is a season on cottontail and pygmy
rabbits from September 1, 1999 through February 28, 2000. The season for
the Snowshoe is through March 31, 2000. Jackrabbits are unprotected and can
be hunted all year with no limits.
An Idaho hunting license is required to hunt anything alive. You can shoot
tin cans or targets without a hunting license, but if you look like you
might actually be "hunting" - you'll get cited, so keep it real clear as to
what you are doing.
Wildlife watching is good during the winter with the animals moving down
low looking for food. You might even be able to get some good
photographs. The Bighorn rams are
making their yearly pilgrimage down to the Salmon River below Shoup, Idaho.
If the weather and roads permit, take a drive downriver from North Fork.
The elk and deer have moved down and can be seen along the roadsides. Of
course, the carnage on the highways from deer crossing in front of vehicles
is massive everywhere. It's a consequence of our building in their
Along the rivers of Idaho, look for bald eagles, golden eagles, otters,
mountain goats and many other wild creatures. I see a handful of bald
eagles everyday along the Payette River between Emmett, Idaho and Horseshoe
And, then there's ice fishing ??.
Don't forget to support Idaho's non-game wildlife fund by checking that box
on your state income tax form this year. Idaho's non-game program is
dependent on those donations. Also check into the
Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation and
see what they've been doing for Idaho's fish and wildlife in general.
Spring turkey and spring bear hunters have until February 15 to put in for controlled hunts. See the new Idaho Fish and Game
Turkey Rules at Big Game Regulations for the year 2003.
Idaho hunters everywhere are already planning their deer and elk hunts for
the coming fall. It seems odd to some people to plan hunts without any new
Regs, but that's the way it goes every year. It takes the Fish and Game
wildlife biologists that long to tally the previous year's results and to
determine what is best for an area the following season. If worst comes to
worst, tags can be exchanged for $3.50 until Aug. 31, or until the hunts
As of this date, the non-resident Southeast deer tags are sold out, and
also the Selway Zone B-tag for elk. Everything goes on sale December 1 for
the following year, so the scramble is on already. The elk zones with fewer
tags available this year, even for the Idaho resident, are the Lolo,
Selway, and Middle Fork. These in particular will sell out soon. All other
elk tags will begin to sell out in April or May, or later (for the