Archive for February, 2010

Wolf Depradation Numbers-The Real Story

Posted in Big Game, North America, Wolf on February 28, 2010 by thegreatwhitehunter

When wolves were reintroduced into Idaho, Montana and Wyoming the agreement with the states, sportsmen, the Federal Government and the tree huggers was simple.  300 wolves.  The prowolf people asked for 450 wolves with at least 150 and 15 breeding pairs in each state.  This 50%margin, they reasoned was needed so the number wouldn’t fall below 300.  It would take YEARS they argued, probably DECADES with a slow 5% population growth rate.  The 450 would represent wolf repopulation recovery and then management would be returned to the states.

2010 Numbers

Idaho-850 + wolves

Montana-600 + wolves

Wyoming-300 + wolves

We are at 1200 wolves more than the 450 requested.  Biologists agree that 1 wolf kills 20 elk each year.  2,000 wolves x 20 dead elk = 40,000 dead elk each year.

Tom Bergerud top wolf expert from British Columbia told the Idaho Department of Fish and Game  the following:  

“I predict that you´re going to have major impacts from wolves in this state,” (Idaho) he said. I predict a major elk decline. 

He said that he saw wolves “repeatedly depress moose, caribou and elk populations while studying them throughout Canada and in some cases they wiped out local populations of caribou.” 

“I’ve watched herd after herd (of caribou) go EXTINCT across Canada,” he said. The problem: wolves have no known predators to keep them in balance with the ecosystem..”

 

The Idaho Fish and Game predator expert disagreed with Tom Bergerud

“We really don’t fear wolves or other predators are going to drive any populations of big game animals to extinction,” says Steve Nadeau, who heads the Idaho Fish and Game Department’s wolf, bear and mountain lion management effort at Boise.

“They will cause some level of predation within those populations that may or may not affect the status of that population.”

The department and tribe are monitoring elk and wolf populations. If it’s determined wolves are having too severe an impact on elk, he says, new rules proposed by the Fish and Wildlife Service would allow some wolves to be removed. ……… Steve Nadeau

So who was right, the guy who had seen it all, or the guy who thought he knew it all?

Here is the bottom line, the Lolo herd had 9,729 elk before wolves were reintroduced, that number is now down to 1,473.  Of that number cow elk, the producers of the next generation, are down from 3,832 to 705.  Calves are down from 669 to just 144.   You need 25 calves per 100 elk just to sustain a population.  In the Lolo unit, the number is below 10 percent.  Simple math Folks, looks like Tom was right and Steve was wrong.  Wolves are just as good as killing big game as was predicted.

Here is the news article from 2010 on the Elk Populations in the once mighty Lolo Herd.   

February 25th, 2010

By Eric Barker of the Tribune

Lolo Zone also could see fewer hunters after notching a large decline in elk numbers

…Depressed numbers of elk in the Lolo Zone could lead to fewer tags being sold there. Tags are already capped in the zone.

“We are seeing continued declines of elk numbers in the Lolo Zone,” Crenshaw said. “Data is indicating a 50 percent decline from 2006.”

The total number of elk counted during recently completed aerial surveys dropped from 3,452 four years ago to 1,473 this year. Cow elk dropped from 2,276 to 824 and calves from 669 to 144. Bulls are doing a bit better. They went from 504 to 461. But Crenshaw said bull numbers won’t stay at that level if few young elk survive to replace them.

“With such poor recruitment anticipated we expect them to be affected in the next couple of years as well,” Crenshaw said.

He said tag sales for the zone could be further capped, but hunters are already abandoning the zone and the restrictions might not be necessary.

“Around half of the resident tags were left unsold last year and about two-thirds of outfitter tags were left unsold…

Warning Graphic Photos!

We were told that Wolves only kill the sick, old and infirm.

This pregnant cow was killed by wolves.  They only ate the fetus, leaving the cow unused.

This one too…

This one too…

They didn’t even finish eating this unborn calf.

Mountain Lion Killed By Wolves in Sun Valley

Posted in Big Game, Cougar, North America, Wolf on February 27, 2010 by thegreatwhitehunter

Go to http://www.lobowatch.com/WolvesNearYou.html to read the full story of this adult mountain lion killed by wolves in Idaho.  The wrecking ball is out and wiping out everything in its path. Time to wake up to what uncontrolled wolf populations are doing in the lower 48 people.

Ear Tag identifies Lion as an adult relocated by Idaho Fish and Game earlier in the year.

Look in the background and you will see the residential community of Parker Idaho.  Only 1/4 mile from the cougar kill site.

Audience members at a meeting called by Sun Valley Mayor Wayne Willich saw many pictures of wildlife in the city, including this cougar that was killed by wolves. Willich is concerned about predators within city limits.(ARIEL HANSEN/Times-News)

SUN VALLEY — A large audience Wednesday heard Sun Valley Mayor Wayne Willich do some howling about community concerns of wildlife within city limits.

Willich called for the Wood River Elk Trust II to quickly come up with a plan to feed elk on a ridge above the Elkhorn neighborhood of Sun Valley next winter, hoping they won’t then attract predators into the city.

The elk have not been fed by an organized group in three years, and last year wolves hunted them as they wandered through town. The wolves have not been present in the city this winter, which is attributed to the wolf hunting season launched last year.

Following a self-described “lecture” about the wildlife situation in Sun Valley, Willich took questions, but refused to take comments, on his proposal to have the elk trust present its plan to the Sun Valley City Council in two weeks.

“I’m finished with these town hall meetings, we’re moving to a solution,” Willich said. “The time for discussion is over.”

He said if the elk trust can’t resume feeding, or if the council fails to approve a resolution in support of their feeding, he will demand that Idaho Department of Fish and Game be more proactive. Several Fish and Game agents were in the audience.

“We’ll put you on notice that whenever there’s a predator around, you need to use whatever techniques to get the predators out of town,” Willich said, calling Sun Valley a “no-predator zone.”

Fish and Game Regional Supervisor Jerome Hansen said that’s already the department’s policy.

“We’ve got a document specifically developed to deal with urban large-animal conflicts. This is all about public safety,” he said. “Our guys are Johnny-on-the-spot.”

The department’s policy is to avoid feeding programs whenever possible, although they maintain feeding sites in other areas of the state, including nearby Warm Springs.

“Their plan to start up a feeding program (in Elkhorn) is an easy short-term solution, maybe, but I don’t think it’s the long-term solution,” Hansen said. “It takes a while (for the elk) to develop new patterns. It takes longer than we’ve had.”

He said he would prefer to find other solutions to keep the elk out of town, such as reducing the size of the herd and enhancing habitat in areas to attract the elk to areas not as close to homes, such as Parker and Independence gulches.

Willich said the City Council will take comments on March 11 on the elk trust’s plan. He said the council would likely offer moral, not monetary, support for a feeding plan.

Posted in Local, Wood-river on Friday, February 26, 2010 1:00 am Updated: 11:08 pm.

Ethiopian Mountain Nyala-#2 alltime SCI

Posted in Africa, Big Game, International, International Hunting Adventures, Plainsgame, Trophies, World's Best on February 26, 2010 by thegreatwhitehunter

Yesterday’s post was on my harvest of a greater kudu in 2009.  Greater Kudu are one of the most popular and common of spiral horned antelope species in Africa.  This makes them affordable for the average Joe.  A not so common spiral horned antelope is the beautiful mountain Nyala.  One of my clients and already legendary hunter, Marc Watts harvested another amazing Spiral Horned antelope species-the mountain nyala.  Marc’s mountain nyala was harvested in Ethopia in November 2008 and scored a remarkable the 102 5/8 SCI, with 42 inch horns and 10 1/2 inch bases placing this exceptional animal at #2 on the alltime record book list.

 Not only is this rare mountain nyala a trophy for the ages, the story of Marc hunting in African “mountain goat” country for this rare trophy makes the harvest a truly great story. Read the full story on the SCI website http://www.scifirstforhunters.org/article/index.cfm?action=view&ArticleID=3202

What makes Marc’s harvest that much more remarkable is that this is the second top 5 African spiral horned antelope harvested by Marc.   Here is a photo of Marc’s top 5 Lord Derby Eland.

To read more about Marc’s harvest of this exceptional animal visit my earlier post https://thegreatwhitehunter.wordpress.com/2009/09/26/lord-derby-eland-5-alltime-sci/

Marc has an exceptional line of award winning African Safari videos which can be purchased at Marc’s website at http://www.sabletrailproductions.com/  These two exceptional animals are just two of more than 275 animals Marc has harvested on the continent of Africa.  Marc was the first African American to complete the big five.  Read more about Marc at http://www.marcwatts.com/

My Dream Hunt-African Greater Kudu

Posted in Africa, Big Game, Friends and Family, International Hunting Adventures, Plainsgame on February 25, 2010 by thegreatwhitehunter

2009 was the 100th anniversary of Teddy Roosevelt’s historic African Safari.  One of America’s greatest presidents, Teddy Roosevelt was also an inspired leader in wildlife conservation.  A year end bonus from my law firm gave me a bit of spending dough.  After paying off some bills, I asked my wife if we could do our own modest version of the Teddy Roosevelt Safari. 

This meant something to me.  Teddy Roosevelt was not only a die hard hunter and conservationist, he was also Harvard Educated.  I graduated from Harvard Law School in 2001.  Like Teddy Roosevelt, I also share the passion for the outdoors, conservation and hunting.  For me, following Roosevelt to the Dark Continent was a sort of a pilrimage.  I was happy to learn that while an elephant or cape buffalo were out of price range, a person can do a fairly nice plainsgame package for not a lot of scratch.  At the top of my list was the greater Kudu.  I found an outfitter with an impressive 100% harvest rate on monster greater kudu, including many in the 50 inch range and even a world glass 60 plus inch which ranks top 5.  His base package included my #2 plainsgame trophy gemsbok along with an impala and a warthog.  All for less than a good guided mule deer hunt.   We booked the hunt last minute and were on the ground in Africa a scant 6 weeks later. 

This was easily the hardest animal to harvest on the Safari.  Free range, rough country and dry weather.  We saw a good number of kudu.  Even captured some on film.  But either the animals were not trophy class animals, or they saw us before we saw them.  Nicknamed the gray ghost, the enormous antelope can disappear faster without a whisper.

After lunch we switched to the land owner’s Land Rover-one fine piece of machinery if you ask me.

The afternoon we missed a couple of quick-shot opportunities.  The PH would say, “shoot that one.”  But after being warned repeatedly not to kill a female kudu (like the hunter from the previous week.)  I wasn’t about to shoot until I was sure that we were looking at the same animal.  Opportunities missed only add to the excitement and sense of expecation if you ask me.

Shortly before dusk we saw two big bulls fighting in a meadow.  They quickly disappeared into the thicket.  When I finally located the big bulls as they moved through the thicked, I found a sliver of an opening through the trees.  With my PH telling me to shoot, I was able to connect on one of the bulls. 

You can see that the tips of these massive spiral horns arc outwards.  I am told that only 1 in 20 greater kudu have this horn configuration with of most bulls curving inward (see photo above.)  What a beautiful animal.  I can hardly wait for the mount to arrive so we can enjoy this beautiful animals for many years to come.

Marco Polo Sheep-Kyrgyzstan

Posted in Asia, Big Game, International on February 24, 2010 by thegreatwhitehunter

I was sent these photos from Johann.  This is not the first Marco Polo sheep post I have done.  However, I thought these beautiful version of the mighty Argali deserved another post.  Marco Polo sheep are simply at the top of the list for most sheep hunters.  Looking at the size and mass of the horns it is not hard to see why.

 

Here is a description of the hunt from the outfitter: 

There are three races of Argali in Kyrgyzstan: 1. Marco Polo,2.Tian-Shan Argali, 3. Hume Argali. Marco Polo Sheep (Ovis ammon polii) inhabit the mountains to the South of the country from Naryn River up to the China’s border. Normally, Marco Polo in Kyrgyzstan is not as big as those in the Pamirs, Tadjikistan. These averages from 50 to 53”. These Argali prefer wide plateaus and sloping mountains without steep ledges at elevations of 11,000-15,000 ft (3,500 – 4,500 m) over the sea level. Base camp is located at 10,000 ft (3000 m) – there is no need in acclimatization. Local terrain allows for the use of horses and sometimes 4×4 vehicles during the hunt. There are professional guides, doctor, cook and helpers in the camp. So far, we have experienced the 100% success rate.

In the morning you load onto your horse. In Kyrgyzstan you may have horses and jeep. During the day you may travel the upper edges of the mountains, glassing the hillsides and feeding areas. Sheep will normally be sighted each day. For lunch in the field we offer you hot drinks, sandwiches, salami, dry fruit and nuts. Once the trophy ram is located, you complete your stalk on foot. You will hunt at around 13,000 feet ( 4,000 m). Physical condition is a factor on the stalking portion of the hunt. A long range shooting, up to 500 yards (450 m) is normal for sheep hunting. Spike camp and horse back riding is a part of your hunt.

If you would like to discuss booking a Marco Polo hunt or another asian trophy, contact Johann directly at johannd@yandex.ru; laika-tours@mail.ru; or call (011)004915156241064

Fugu-Dinner of Death?

Posted in Fish, Other cool stuff, Saltwater on February 23, 2010 by thegreatwhitehunter

1200 times more toxic than cyanide.  1 fish can kill 30 people.  A fatal does is smaller than the head of a pin.

And the Japanese eat 10,000 tons a year of this fish?  Read the interesting story in time magazine http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1967235_1967238_1967227,00.html

High Water Bears and the Drowned Truck

Posted in Bear, Big Game, Guides and Outfitters, North America, Other cool stuff on February 21, 2010 by thegreatwhitehunter

Thanks to Cory from Got Hunts for forwarding this amazing post.  Talk about bear hunting guides who go beyond the call of duty.

To see video of the first truck river crossing visit  http://www.gothunts.com/2006/05/25/high-water-bear-hunt/

Here is what the Got Hunts website says about this amazing photo. 

Bear hunting this spring was quite an adventure. We had above average snow pack this winter and the creeks were raging. As you can see, it ended up getting us in some trouble. If you haven’t yet, watch the video http://www.gothunts.com/2006/05/25/high-water-bear-hunt/ before you read further.

Close call huh? Normally this stream is only a few feet wide and maybe a foot deep. Pretty incredible. That evening, we attempted the crossing again (we know we’re not too smart… hindsight is 20/20) in George’s Dodge diesel pickup and it got stuck too. Cory was able to winch him out with his Jeep again, but the pickup sucked water through the engine and the insurance company totaled it. This was an expensive hunt to say the least. We’re just glad nobody was hurt.

Fortunately, both hunters harvested beautiful color phase black bear.

Thanks Cory for the forward to this great story.  Be careful out there!  Congratulations to both of these hunters on amazing color phase bears and to the guides for going above and beyond the call of duty.

Trip to the Backcountry

Posted in Deer, Friends and Family, North America, Ungulates on February 20, 2010 by thegreatwhitehunter

My backcountry bowhunting trip is without a doubt, the trip I look forward to the most every year.

I go solo.  5-7 days with a pack on my back.  The area I hunt is a 4 hour trip one way and 4500 vertical feet of up and down.  Sleeping in a bivy on a narrow game trail keeps it light.  I simply can’t find another way to do it.  There are some great animals, but it is harsh terrain.  Two years ago I almost killed the mule deer buck of a lifetime. 

I spotted this monster buck down in a deep basin. 3 hours later I was guessing a bit, but thought I was within 40 yards of his hiding place.  I popped over the narrow ridge between myself and where he had been all morning.  I looked down the ridge to where I thought he was holed up.  Perfectly upwind, the greuling stalk had gone exactly as planned.  But he wasn’t there.  Had he found a secondary escape route?  I had the rest of the basin to my open view and I was sure that he and his 4 buddies had not left their spot.  That was when I heard the snort-wheeze.

I was within 40 yards of the big buck, but while I was circling to the other side of the basin behind the bucks, I had gotten a bit disoriented.  I had come in 40 yards below and downwind of the 5 bucks (all 4 points or larger.)  They were in the process of blowing out of the country.  I was able to snap a few photos at about 150-200 yards.  That was the last I saw of those bucks all week.

Later that week I was able to get my arrow into something much larger.  But that is a story for another day.

Big Game?

Posted in Africa, Friends and Family, International, Plainsgame on February 19, 2010 by thegreatwhitehunter

For some reason I have always loved small antelope species.  During my 2009 pilgrimage to Africa, I really wanted to harvest a Steenbok.  As I negotiated my package cost and the budget of the trip with my wife, we discussed the reasons I wanted to harvest each animal.  She finally agreed that a zebra should be part of the package.  I agreed to give up my warthog and steenbok.  On the third day of the hunt, it happened.

We spotted a really good steenbok while riding back to the lodge.  We stopped the truck and had a conversation with myself, our PH and my sweetheart.  It went something like this.  “That is a record book steenbok.”  “How big?”  “Best we’ve seen in a few hunts.”  “Can I shoot it?”  “No!” “Man, I really want to shoot that Steenbok”  “It is not going to just sit there while you make up your mind” “I’m going to shoot it.”  “Then why did you even ask me?”  “Boom”  “Great, I thought we had a deal.”  “I just couldn’t pass it up babe, sorry.” 

Let’s define “a really good buck.”  I was told that 8 inches total will get you into the record book.  The 8 inches is calculated by adding the length of both horns to the circumference of each horn.  Honestly, I haven’t checked to see if that is the case.  What I do know was that we had seen a few steenbok and this dude had good length and much better mass than anything else we had seen.  He ended up measuring (I say this a bit tounge in cheek)- a whopping 10 inches total.  Each horn was just over 4 inches with a very respectable 1 inch of mass for each horn.  At the end of the day, I really didn’t care that much about the measurement.  The biggest thing was just enjoying the harvest of that little steenbok that I had wanted since I had booked the hunt.   By the way, it was delicious.

Phenomenal Mountain Lion Harvest

Posted in Big Game, Cougar, Guides and Outfitters, North America on February 18, 2010 by thegreatwhitehunter

I was recently sent these photos from legendary mountain lion guide Wade Lemon.  Not only is this an exceptional cat, the scenery is otherwordly.  Judge for yourself, but the charred background moonscape almost would fit into a sci-fi movie.  Congratulations to Mark Morse on an exceptional harvest.

Thanks again Wade for the forward.  Visit Wade Lemon Hunting http://www.wadelemonhunting.net/

On a more personal note, I did a mountain lion hunt a few years ago.  I did not harvest.   A bit disappointing, but as they say…that is hunting.  I should also mention that I wasn’t hunting with Wade who has a 99% harvest rate.

At the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo this last weekend, I got talking with Matt Wanner who books hunts with Wade Lemon’s outfit.  As we talked, I realized it was time to go do another cougar hunt.  Things are a bit tight for us all, but what better cause than supporting some of the guys who have given so much to hunting and conservation.  Matt and Wade, I can’t wait for my 2011 mountain lion hunt.   The hunt will be filmed for the outdoor show Hooked on Utah and will show locally on KSL television and nationally on the Sportsman Channel.