Paving at Pocatello’s Sacajawea Park complete

If you like to visit Sacajawea Park, your walk, run or ride is going to be smoother.

Recently, more than a mile of the park’s trails was repaved. In addition to the revitalized surfaces, the trails were widened to 10 feet where possible.

The total cost of the project was $75,000 with $60,000 coming from an Idaho Parks and Recreation Department grant that was secured by the Portneuf Greenway Foundation. The remaining $15,000 was in the form of in-kind work by the city of Pocatello Street Operations Department who provided the equipment and labor to install the asphalt as well as Parks and Recreation Department staff who cleared vegetation and restored streambanks along the Portneuf River.

“The Sacajawea Park trails are situated in a beautiful, natural setting along the Portneuf River,” said John Banks, Parks and Recreation director. “They are a favorite for walkers, joggers, bikers, and skaters in the community and are heavily used.”

“The city of Pocatello and the Parks and Recreation Department have been great partners in not only helping to grow the Greenway trail system, but also maintaining it, too,” said Rory Erchul, Greenway board president. “We couldn’t be more pleased with the support and assistance we get as a not-for-profit from the City and its employees.”

Sacajawea Park is located on Aspen Lane.

For more information on the programs and services offered by the city of Pocatello Parks and Recreation Department, visit, pocatello.us/pr.

Idaho Hunters Feeding the Hungry turns surplus big game meat into food for the needy

For several years I have wanted to meet Jeff Schroeder from Jerome, who is the president and executive director of Idaho Hunters Feeding the Hungry. Unfortunately our paths have yet to cross. Whenever I have been in the vicinity of Twin Falls and Jerome, I have been pressed for time on what usually is a 13-hour journey to the Oregon coast. I have got to just find a time to go to Jerome and meet him.

For those who have not heard of Jeff, he and his wife took over the Idaho Hunters Feeding the Hungry program in 2009. Idaho Hunters Feeding the Hungry (IHFH) was organized into seven regions with cooperating food pantries in each region. It took a while to get food pantries in each region working with IHFH to provide donated wildlife meat to the needy in each region. In 2016, IHFH finally obtained a processor and pantry in the Southeast Region.

Chad Giesbrect of Del Monte Meats in Pocatello said hunters can either pay for the processing of their big game and tell Del Monte how much of the meat they want donated to the pantry — which in the Gate City is First Baptist Church at 408 N. Arthur Ave. — or they can pay for the meat they are keeping and have Del Monte invoice the pantry and IHFH for the portion they are donating to the needy.

Here is how the program normally works: Hunters donate meat to cooperating food processors. The processors call and invoice the local IFHF food pantry, who then submit the invoice to IHFH for processing. Once delivered to the food banks and pantries, they distribute the meat to families and individuals in need.

Hunters can pay for the processing and donate the meat to the food banks and pantries, but they should check with IHFH to make sure all regulations are met for the donations. Donated meat must be processed professionally — so, not in your garage — for the food banks and pantries to distribute it to the needy.

There may be some wildlife meat the processors and pantries cannot accept for donation to the needy, such as bear. Be sure to check with IHFH as to what they are allowed to process and donate to those in need.

IHFH estimates that one in seven Idahoans are hungry and need assistance. The need for donations is very real and appreciated by the pantries and food banks in the area.

The people in Idaho have a history of being charitable toward those who need help getting back on their feet through religious organizations and the many programs that exist in most communities to help those in need. Idaho Hunters Feeding the Hungry and their cooperating processors, food banks and pantries are making it possible for hunters to have their surplus wildlife meat professionally processed and distributed to those who need it most.

Please consider helping IHFH achieve their goal of “Transforming Idaho’s wild surplus big game meat into nutritious food for the hungry.” They have a website at ihfh.org.

Smokey Merkley was raised in Idaho and has been hunting since he was 10 years old. He can be contacted at mokeydo41245@hotmail.com.

Yellowstone National Park to close most entrances Monday

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK (AP) — Yellowstone National Park officials soon will close most of the park’s entrances to prepare for the winter season.

KTWO-AM reports a news release from the park Wednesday says the preparations will begin at 8 a.m. Monday.

Most roads, and the west, south and east entrances will close so the park can prepare them for snowmobile and snow coach travel, which begins Dec. 15.

The road from the north entrance at Gardiner, Montana, to Mammoth Hot Springs in the park will remain open.

The road to the nearby of communities of Cooke City, Montana and Silver Gate, Montana, is open all year, weather permitting. Travel east of Cooke City on the Beartooth Highway is not possible from late fall to late spring.

Cleaning your rifle for accuracy

As I get older I like to have tighter and tighter groups for my rifles — I like an accurate rifle. Fifty years ago, 1- to 1 1/2-inch groups with a factory rifle and factory ammo were unheard of, but today it is possible. But you have to do a couple of things if you want to get a tight group using factory ammo and a factory rifle.

Here’s what I’d suggest. First, you’re going to have to test a few different manufacturers and grains of ammo to determine what shoots best in your rifle. It constantly amazes me as to how much the accuracy of different ammo varies.

Secondly, some rifles are more picky than others. Some rifles like to be clean before they’ll give you a good group. My Mossberg Patriot Revere .30-06 likes to be clean. After I shoot about 15 shots, the groups start widening out. That doesn’t cause me any heartburn because I’m not going to get in that many shots in a day other than on a hog hunt.

So here’s how I’d recommend cleaning your rifle. But first, one disclaimer. I’m a middle of the road cleaner. You have extremes on both sides. On one side was my old 94-year-old buddy, Roy. He said a smokeless rifle didn’t need to be cleaned. And then on the other end of the spectrum are the fanatics that will run 20 patches down their barrel.

Here’s what I do, and it works fine for me. To begin, get a good gun cleaning station. I use an Otis Range Box. For years, I’d pile blankets on the kitchen table and try to balance it on them. Make a one-time investment in a gun-cleaning station and you’ll be happy ever after. You can keep all of your gun-cleaning supplies in it so it doesn’t take 30 minutes rummaging around hunting all of your supplies.

The first patch I’ll run down my barrel using some Barnes CR-10 Rifle and Hand Gun Bore Cleaning Solvent. Then run a wire brush. Then a rag to clean it up and repeat. it depends on how dirty the rifle is, but generally I’ll do this two or three times (Let it set for a minute the first time. But read the instructions).

Then I run a couple of dry rags down the barrel to remove any loose crud and then use some of my Otis gun cleaning oil and run a few patches and brush it until clean. You want to remove all of the CR-10. The last patch I run a lightly oiled patch down the barrel.

Then oil a rag and lightly oil the bolt and clean out the breech. Then run a patch over the outside of your rifle. If you over oil it, it will just act as a dust magnet.

Then using an optic rag, I will clean the lenses on my Riton Optics scope. Don’t dry rub the lenses. I like to blow off any loose dust. Then using a good lenses spray apply to the lenses and then clean with a lenses rag.

You are now ready to go sight in your rifle.

Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana. He also writes for various outdoors magazines and teaches outdoors seminars at stores like Cabela’s, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Bass Pro Shop.

Most hunters satisfied with whitetail management, but surveys show division

A majority of Idaho’s white-tailed deer hunters surveyed show support for current white-tailed deer management, but it’s not unanimous, and there are contrasting opinions about management in the core of Idaho’s white-tailed deer country.

That’s a summary of the hunter survey done by Idaho Fish and Game in 2018, which the department will use in part to gauge hunter preferences as it updates its white-tailed deer management plan. Results were similar compared to the last white-tailed deer survey conducted in 2003.

“We’ve seen that most whitetail hunters are satisfied with the current management, but survey results also suggest opportunities to do even better,” Wildlife Bureau Chief Scott Reinecker said.

A draft of the new white-tailed deer plan is expected to be released during winter, and there will be more opportunities for public comment. After adoption, the management plan will help guide rules and seasons for whitetail hunting over the next six years.

Nearly 8,000 white-tailed deer hunters responded to surveys with identical questions available three ways. Two surveys — mail and email — were sent randomly to hunters who have bought white-tailed deer tags in the past. The third survey was on the internet and open to whoever wanted to take it. The two random surveys showed very similar results, typical responses were within a percentage point of each other.

Random surveys (mail and email) showed 52 percent of respondents had more than 10 years’ experience hunting white-tailed deer in Idaho, and when deer hunting, 79 percent said they spend most of their time hunting whitetails.

The random surveys showed 72 percent of respondents were satisfied with their chances to harvest a white-tailed deer, 71 percent said they were satisfied with their chances to harvest a buck, and 58 percent were satisfied with their chances to harvest a mature white-tailed buck.

The majority of hunters were satisfied or very satisfied with white-tailed deer hunting in Idaho. Here’s what was important to them:

  • Satisfied with number of days and hunting opportunities
  • Like to hunt in early and late November
  • Satisfied with chance to harvest a deer in Idaho
  • Satisfied with harvesting a mature buck

However, there were significant differences in responses between the random surveys and the open survey regarding attitudes about harvesting white-tailed bucks. That tells Fish and Game officials that some hunters feel strongly for and against some aspects of white-tailed deer management, and there are opportunities to meet additional desires.

What hunters harvested, where and when they like to hunt

During the 2017 season, 39 percent of respondents answered that they harvested a white-tailed deer, most of which were antlerless (44 percent) followed by medium bucks (35 percent). Small bucks (12 percent) and large bucks (9 percent) accounted for the remaining responses.

Three surveys showed slightly different results for the most common units in which respondents hunted, but in all three, Unit 10A was the most common.

  • Mail survey respondents (2,922): Units 10A, 1, 3, 2 and 4.
  • Email survey respondents (3,757): Units 10A, 1, 8A, 3, and 2.
  • Open internet respondents (1,057): Units 10A, 8A, 8, 11A and 5.

A slight majority hunted white-tailed deer in the same unit every year (52 percent) and 43 percent reported hunting two or three units each year.

Random surveys showed hunters were largely satisfied with number of days offered for white-tailed deer hunting (70 percent) and showed strong support for November hunts with 75 percent of respondents saying early November hunts are important and 77 percent saying late November hunts are important.

A large majority (76 percent) also said it is important for them to hunt white-tailed every year, and 50 percent also said it is important to hunt white-tailed deer at the same time and place as elk.

In response to access to private lands, 60 percent agreed or strongly agreed Fish and Game should spend more time and resources developing public access to private lands for white-tailed deer hunting.

Where hunters differed in surveys

Three different surveys showed there are many things the vast majority of white-tailed hunters agree on while also recognizing there are strong feelings by some hunters, which was seen in the open survey. Fish and Game strives to recognize the preferences of the majority of hunters without disregarding the feelings of others as it moves forward with updating its white-tailed management plan and setting the upcoming seasons.

The differences between random surveys and the open internet survey were most pronounced regarding overall hunting satisfaction and the opportunity to take a white-tailed buck, particularly large bucks. Deeper analysis of the surveys focused on hunters who hunted in the Panhandle and Clearwater regions, where 92 percent of all white-tailed deer are taken in Idaho.

In that analysis, random mail and email survey respondents were largely satisfied with their opportunity to harvest a white-tailed buck with 77 percent (mail) and 80 percent (email) agreeing. But satisfaction level dropped to 67 percent when internet respondents answered that question.

The differences became more pronounced whether they were satisfied with their chance to harvest a mature white-tailed buck with 64 and 63 percent of random mail and email respondents agreeing, but only 46 percent of internet respondents agreeing.

The split continued when asked about the overall quality of the hunting experience with random mail/email respondents saying they were either satisfied or very satisfied (73 percent and 77 percent respectively), but 60 percent of internet respondents were satisfied or very satisfied.

The differences also continued regarding whether some units should be managed for larger white-tailed bucks with 42 percent of internet respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing, with that statement, while 31 and 32 percent (mail/email) agreed or strongly agreed with that statement.

Not all whitetail hunters surveyed are satisfied

While the majority of hunters were satisfied or very satisfied with whitetail hunting in Idaho, a smaller percentage (16 percent) of random mail respondents said they were very dissatisfied with at least one aspect of it. The leading causes of dissatisfaction were:

  • Length of hunt (too long)
  • Lack of access to private land
  • Too many nonresident hunters
  • Hunter congestion
  • Lack of access to public lands

Hunters were also asked if there’s anything else they would like to tell Fish and Game about whitetail hunting, and the most common responses were:

  • Things are good, I like current management
  • Lack of access to private land
  • Don’t manage for trophy bucks/maintain opportunity
  • Low numbers of mature bucks

Nearly all entrances and roads in Yellowstone to close Monday

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyoming — This weekend, Nov. 3 and 4, provides the last chance for visitors to drive to many iconic locations in Yellowstone National Park. The West, South and East entrances and all roads, with one exception, will close to vehicle travel at 8 a.m. Monday so the park can prepare them for the winter season and snowmobile and snowcoach travel, which will begin Dec. 15.

The one exception is the road from the park’s North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana, through Mammoth Hot Springs to the park’s Northeast Entrance and the communities of Cooke City and Silver Gate, Montana. This road is open all year, weather permitting. Travel east of Cooke City (via the Beartooth Highway) is not possible from late fall to late spring.

If you plan to drive to and in the park during the fall and winter, have flexible travel plans and prepare for changing weather conditions. Temporary travel restrictions or closures can occur at any time without notice. Visit Park Roads for the status of Yellowstone roads. Receive Yellowstone road alerts on your mobile phone, text “82190” to 888-777 (an automatic text reply will confirm receipt and provide instructions).

Extensive information for planning a winter visit in Yellowstone, including information about lodging, camping, services, and activities, is available on the park’s website at www.nps.gov/yell.

All communities near Yellowstone are open year-round, with local businesses offering a wide range of fall and winter recreation opportunities. For information about communities in Montana (Gardiner, West Yellowstone, Cooke City and Silver Gate), visit www.visitmt.com. For information about Wyoming communities (Cody and Jackson), visit www.wyomingtourism.org. And if your travel plans to the park take you through Idaho, visit www.visitidaho.org.

Nearly all entrances and roads in Yellowstone to close Monday

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyoming — This weekend, Nov. 3 and 4, provides the last chance for visitors to drive to many iconic locations in Yellowstone National Park. The West, South and East entrances and all roads, with one exception, will close to vehicle travel at 8 a.m. Monday so the park can prepare them for the winter season and snowmobile and snowcoach travel, which will begin Dec. 15.

The one exception is the road from the park’s North Entrance at Gardiner, Montana, through Mammoth Hot Springs to the park’s Northeast Entrance and the communities of Cooke City and Silver Gate, Montana. This road is open all year, weather permitting. Travel east of Cooke City (via the Beartooth Highway) is not possible from late fall to late spring.

If you plan to drive to and in the park during the fall and winter, have flexible travel plans and prepare for changing weather conditions. Temporary travel restrictions or closures can occur at any time without notice. Visit Park Roads for the status of Yellowstone roads. Receive Yellowstone road alerts on your mobile phone, text “82190” to 888-777 (an automatic text reply will confirm receipt and provide instructions).

Extensive information for planning a winter visit in Yellowstone, including information about lodging, camping, services, and activities, is available on the park’s website at www.nps.gov/yell.

All communities near Yellowstone are open year-round, with local businesses offering a wide range of fall and winter recreation opportunities. For information about communities in Montana (Gardiner, West Yellowstone, Cooke City and Silver Gate), visit www.visitmt.com. For information about Wyoming communities (Cody and Jackson), visit www.wyomingtourism.org. And if your travel plans to the park take you through Idaho, visit www.visitidaho.org.

After 30 years of hunting in the same area, a father is fighting a trespassing charge

KAMIAH, Idaho — For three decades, Michael Hileman hunted on the same area of Bureau of Land Management land in central Idaho near Kamiah.

Every year he and his friends harvest deer, supplying Hileman, a Kuna resident, with food for five children and his wife.

But this year was unlike the rest — something Hileman blames on Idaho’s new trespassing law that took effect July 1.

When he and his 16-year-old stepdaughter, Julie, joined other hunters in their usual camping spot, they were met by landowners with binoculars and questions about where exactly they were hunting.

The BLM land is near private property. In previous years, Hileman has gotten permission to enter landowners’ private property while hunting. Never was he “harassed,” as he put it, by landowners while camping on BLM land.

Hileman and Julie arrived at camp Oct. 8, two days before hunting season, to set up camp and scout. In the early morning hours of Oct. 10, they began Julie’s third year of deer hunting.

Along the way they saw a new fence, brightly covered in orange paint with a no-trespassing sign.

“We completely avoided it,” Julie said. “We knew better. We just went the opposite direction.”

By 9:20 a.m. Julie, who is hearing impaired, got her first buck. They dragged the deer down the mountain the same way they had come up. Quickly they became exhausted, Hileman said. They quartered the deer and left the carcass behind.

The following day, Hileman was met by a Fish and Game warden asking where the two had been hunting. The warden had received a complaint from a landowner that he heard shooting to the south of his property, which the landowner said was someone else’s private land.

Hileman explained where they had gone, which he had also explained to the landowners who questioned him earlier.

The landowner also took the warden to the carcass Hileman had left.

Turns out, they left the carcass on private property. But Hileman and Julie say it was unmarked and unclear that it was private property.

But Idaho’s trespassing laws were updated during the last legislative session. The changes brought mixed opinions from rural landowners, sportsmen and law enforcement.

The new law changes how landowners mark private property. Previously, they had to post no-trespassing signs or orange paint every 660 feet, according to an August press release from Idaho Fish and Game.

Under the new law, a person should know land is private if: the property is associated with a residence or business; cultivated; fenced or enclosed in a way that delineates the private property; unfenced and uncultivated but is posted with conspicuous no-trespassing signs or bright orange fluorescent paint at all property corners and boundaries where the property intersects navigable streams, roads, gates and rights-of-way entering the land and posted in a way that people can see the postings.

Before the law was changed this year, trespassers could only be charged with a criminal trespassing offense if they committed another offense, such as killing livestock or game illegally or damaging property.

Wardens have discretion on when to cite someone with trespassing or when to give them a written or verbal warning, said Roger Phillips, spokesman with the Idaho Fish and Game. Hileman said being the responsible party, he was given a citation.

If convicted, Hileman faces up to six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine, but no less than $500, according to the law. In addition, he will have his hunting license suspended for a year, but that is not due to the new legislation.

The law says there must be enough signage for a reasonable person to understand it’s private land. This “reasonable person” standard allows for leeway in the bill’s enforcement, Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, who sponsored the bill, previously told the Idaho Press.

Though Boyle didn’t know the specifics of Hileman’s situation, she said the “reasonable person” standard should protect a person from a criminal charge if the property isn’t properly marked. She said the new law actually increases the standards for landowners posting private property.

“I would hope that people on both sides would be reasonable,” Boyle said Wednesday.

If a hunter has questions about private property while scouting, they should go and ask. There are apps hunters can use that show private land and who the landowners are, she said.

Hileman said the warden asked him why he wasn’t using a GPS. It is a hunter’s responsibility to know when they are on private property.

Hileman said that if the land was private, it should have been clearly marked. As far as they knew and understood, they had no reason to believe they were trespassing.

Brian Brooks, the executive director of the Idaho Wildlife Federation, opposed the trespassing bill as it went through the Idaho Legislature earlier this year.

“Michael’s experience is exactly what we warned would happen as an unintended consequence of the law,” he told the Idaho Press.

Hileman said they won’t be back.

“An area we have been successful and hunted for 30 years and we won’t go back ever,” Hileman said. “Never.”

Hileman created a GoFundMe “Help fight trespassing ticket” to help pay for traveling to and from court dates and, if necessary, attorney fees.

The address is https://www.gofundme.com/help-fight-trespassing-ticket.

After 30 years of hunting in the same area, a father is fighting a trespassing charge

KAMIAH, Idaho — For three decades, Michael Hileman hunted on the same area of Bureau of Land Management land in central Idaho near Kamiah.

Every year he and his friends harvest deer, supplying Hileman, a Kuna resident, with food for five children and his wife.

But this year was unlike the rest — something Hileman blames on Idaho’s new trespassing law that took effect July 1.

When he and his 16-year-old stepdaughter, Julie, joined other hunters in their usual camping spot, they were met by landowners with binoculars and questions about where exactly they were hunting.

The BLM land is near private property. In previous years, Hileman has gotten permission to enter landowners’ private property while hunting. Never was he “harassed,” as he put it, by landowners while camping on BLM land.

Hileman and Julie arrived at camp Oct. 8, two days before hunting season, to set up camp and scout. In the early morning hours of Oct. 10, they began Julie’s third year of deer hunting.

Along the way they saw a new fence, brightly covered in orange paint with a no-trespassing sign.

“We completely avoided it,” Julie said. “We knew better. We just went the opposite direction.”

By 9:20 a.m. Julie, who is hearing impaired, got her first buck. They dragged the deer down the mountain the same way they had come up. Quickly they became exhausted, Hileman said. They quartered the deer and left the carcass behind.

The following day, Hileman was met by a Fish and Game warden asking where the two had been hunting. The warden had received a complaint from a landowner that he heard shooting to the south of his property, which the landowner said was someone else’s private land.

Hileman explained where they had gone, which he had also explained to the landowners who questioned him earlier.

The landowner also took the warden to the carcass Hileman had left.

Turns out, they left the carcass on private property. But Hileman and Julie say it was unmarked and unclear that it was private property.

But Idaho’s trespassing laws were updated during the last legislative session. The changes brought mixed opinions from rural landowners, sportsmen and law enforcement.

The new law changes how landowners mark private property. Previously, they had to post no-trespassing signs or orange paint every 660 feet, according to an August press release from Idaho Fish and Game.

Under the new law, a person should know land is private if: the property is associated with a residence or business; cultivated; fenced or enclosed in a way that delineates the private property; unfenced and uncultivated but is posted with conspicuous no-trespassing signs or bright orange fluorescent paint at all property corners and boundaries where the property intersects navigable streams, roads, gates and rights-of-way entering the land and posted in a way that people can see the postings.

Before the law was changed this year, trespassers could only be charged with a criminal trespassing offense if they committed another offense, such as killing livestock or game illegally or damaging property.

Wardens have discretion on when to cite someone with trespassing or when to give them a written or verbal warning, said Roger Phillips, spokesman with the Idaho Fish and Game. Hileman said being the responsible party, he was given a citation.

If convicted, Hileman faces up to six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine, but no less than $500, according to the law. In addition, he will have his hunting license suspended for a year, but that is not due to the new legislation.

The law says there must be enough signage for a reasonable person to understand it’s private land. This “reasonable person” standard allows for leeway in the bill’s enforcement, Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, who sponsored the bill, previously told the Idaho Press.

Though Boyle didn’t know the specifics of Hileman’s situation, she said the “reasonable person” standard should protect a person from a criminal charge if the property isn’t properly marked. She said the new law actually increases the standards for landowners posting private property.

“I would hope that people on both sides would be reasonable,” Boyle said Wednesday.

If a hunter has questions about private property while scouting, they should go and ask. There are apps hunters can use that show private land and who the landowners are, she said.

Hileman said the warden asked him why he wasn’t using a GPS. It is a hunter’s responsibility to know when they are on private property.

Hileman said that if the land was private, it should have been clearly marked. As far as they knew and understood, they had no reason to believe they were trespassing.

Brian Brooks, the executive director of the Idaho Wildlife Federation, opposed the trespassing bill as it went through the Idaho Legislature earlier this year.

“Michael’s experience is exactly what we warned would happen as an unintended consequence of the law,” he told the Idaho Press.

Hileman said they won’t be back.

“An area we have been successful and hunted for 30 years and we won’t go back ever,” Hileman said. “Never.”

Hileman created a GoFundMe “Help fight trespassing ticket” to help pay for traveling to and from court dates and, if necessary, attorney fees.

The address is https://www.gofundme.com/help-fight-trespassing-ticket.