As a hunter, I normally keep my eyes on the mountains. In May, however, my focus turns to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s big game proclamations in search of the best hunting tags, which are offered via lottery each spring. Anticipation of the hunt reaches its crescendo each fall, but my eagerness to hunt catches fire in May.
Hunting at its heart is about family traditions built over sharing secret hunting spots and campfire tales of success and failure. It’s about lean meat or “tag soup,” depending on the year. Healthy game herds are the essential underpinning of our hunting pastime.
With those herds in mind, I write today to encourage public lands managers to update the plans that guide how public lands are used. Deer, elk, and pronghorn need room across a vast landscape to search for food and security, yet the current land plans were written in the 1980s and have little to say about migration, much less direction for how to assure those routes remain unbroken. On the Salmon-Challis National Forest and adjacent Bureau of Land Management property, for example, there are 13 mapped migration routes and countless undiscovered routes.
I ask our public land agencies to update their current management plans and address migration by incorporating the wealth of data revealed by IDFG GPS collars. Updating those land plans will make sure my kids and grandkids will enjoy the anticipation of pouring through the regulations in search of the best hunting tags.