Earlier this fall, an Idaho hunter pursuing antelope in a coveted special draw unit took a stand in support of fair chase and legal access of our public lands.
Josh S. was chasing pronghorn with a muzzleloader in an area of open country bordering a large military installation. This region is checkerboarded with swathes of private land and alfalfa fields and is closed to motorized access. The temperature approached 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and a large wildland fire nearby was billowing smoke into the air.
During his hunt, Josh witnessed another hunter standing 150 yards away with a thrashing bull elk down on the ground a few hundred yards past. Sensing that something was not quite right, he looked around and saw another bull down next to a road 30 yards away. As it turned out, the hunters had illegally driven a pickup nearly 800 yards off the road to retrieve the first downed elk.
In addition to degrading habitat, a wayward spark from this off-route vehicle could have started a grass or forest fire and resulted in millions of dollars’ worth of damage to natural resources, threatening lives, structures and stock and requiring massive firefighting efforts to extinguish. Given the scorching weather and a vehicle-caused fire raging nearby, Josh did not hesitate in calling Idaho Fish and Game to report this irresponsible and illegal behavior. He commented, “What frustrates me is that landowners complain about hunters doing this sort of stuff all the time. If he starts a fire and burns down half of the unit, then we’ll lose access to this area.”
Due to the military facility and abundance of private land in the unit, hunting infractions here result in severe penalties and the loss of hunting rights. Hunters are required to stay on the roads, carry a permission slip, and abide by strict rules concerning access and conduct.
Josh was ultimately successful in harvesting a mature pronghorn buck with his muzzleloader in this unit. In exchange for his report, which led to a successful conviction, BHA is glad to reward him for reporting illegal OHV use on public land and pleased to welcome him to the fold as a new BHA member.
Josh's beautiful 2018 antelope buck
BHA offers up to a $500 reward for members of the public who step up and report illegal off-road activities that result in the conviction of those who threaten wildlife habitat and jeopardize public access to public lands.