Secretary Zinke Announces Distribution of $1.1 Billion to State Wildlife Agencies


Date: June 13, 2017

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke today announced $1.1 billion in annual funding for state wildlife agencies from revenues generated by the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration acts. State-by-state listings of the final Fiscal year 2017 apportionments of Wildlife Restoration Program fund can be found here and the Sport Fish Restoration Program fund here.

The announcement was made during day one of a four-day trip across the Northeast where Secretary Zinke met with New Hampshire Fish and Game Executive Director Glenn Normandeau, whose state will receive $8,146,960 through the acts. The meeting was part of a Pittman-Robertson Dingell-Johnson Grants Roundtable that focused on recreation and partnerships between New Hampshire and the Department.

“For nearly eight decades, the nation’s hunters and anglers have generated billions of dollars to protect wildlife and habitat simply by purchasing items that help them engage in the outdoor activities they enjoy,” Zinke said. “Their support has helped state wildlife agencies protect our country’s environmental legacy for future generations of hunters, fishers, recreationalists, and conservationists.”

The funds, which are distributed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, support critical state conservation and outdoor recreation projects. They are derived from excise taxes paid by the hunting, shooting, boating and angling industries on firearms, bows and ammunition and sport fishing tackle, some boat engines, and small engine fuel.

Allocations of the funds are authorized by Congress. To date, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has distributed more than $19 billion in apportionments for state conservation and recreation projects.

“The conservation and outdoor recreation gains made possible by this funding mechanism, which is unique to the United States, serves as the bedrock of wildlife conservation in our country,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Acting Director Jim Kurth.

The recipient state wildlife agencies have matched these funds with approximately $6 billion throughout the years, primarily through hunting and fishing license revenues.
Complete article can be found here

US Air and American Airlines Travel Information

In Jan 2017 American changed its rules to one bag! READ BELOW CAREFULLY!!
US AIR: Antlers will be accepted as checked baggage for a charge of $200 per direction. The following conditions of acceptance apply:
• Dimensions (H + W + L) must not exceed 120 in/305 cm (As a practical matter this is of no concern).
• On the CRJ aircraft the largest dimension cannot exceed 33 in/84 cm and the overall dimensions cannot exceed 99 in/252 cm
• On the Dash 8 aircraft the largest dimension cannot exceed 50 in/127 cm
• Head/skull must be completely clean and free of residue
• Points must be covered and protected (Butch suggests buying some foam pipe insulations and duct tape- most garden hoses are not wide enough- so go to a good hardware store.) Also, after protecting the tines have the guy at the airport wrap them. It is cheap- around $25 and really protects them. Allow a bit of extra time for that.
• 1 rack per ticketed customer (although we got our Coues into the same package with no issues)
• Can’t combine or cradle 2 or more racks (but I got by with a coues and a mulie nested.)
• Have a U.S. customs form 3-177 filled out in 4 copies- ask us!

Firearms: US Airways will allow passengers to transport firearms in accordance with Federal Law.
• Items of shooting equipment will be accepted as checked baggage only. You must have a form 4457 from US Customs obtained in advance. Ask us.
• A passenger who presents checked baggage that contains a firearm must declare the weapon and sign a written acknowledgement that the firearm is unloaded.
• Firearms must be packed in a manufacturer’s hard–sided container specifically designed for the firearm, a locked hard–sided gun case, or a locked hard–sided piece of luggage. Handguns may be packed in a locked hard–sided gun case, and then packed inside an unlocked soft–sided piece of luggage. However, a Conditional Acceptance Tag must be used in this case.
• Baggage containing firearms must be locked at all times and the key or lock combination retained by the passenger.
• A Firearm Unloaded Declaration form (available only at the airport on check-in) must be signed and placed inside the bag or gun case.
• Checked ammunition may not exceed 11 lbs/5 kg per person. Ammunition must be packed in the original manufacturing package or constructed of wood, fiber, plastic, or metal and provide separation for cartridges. Ammunition may be checked in the same piece of luggage as a firearm. No additional documentation is required for the ammo.
• There is no limit to the number of items contained in rifle, shotgun or pistol case, up to 50 lbs/23 kg, 62 in/157 cm in maximum.
• A passenger who presents a firearm to be checked to an international destination must be in possession of all required import documentation for their international destination city and any international transit points. It is the responsibility of the passenger to acquire the required documentation from the applicable government entity prior to travel (usually a consulate or embassy). Firearms will not be accepted for transport if international import requirements have not been met. (NOTE: WE at BMOA obtain your gun permits and hunting contracts. You must acquire your us Customs Form 4457 yourself, by bringing your firearm to their offices pre-departure! It is not difficult, just a pain.

2017 Warning to Hunters Flying to Mexico on American Airlines/American Eagle
We normally fly US Air to Hemosillo. BUT-If you are traveling to Mexico on American Airlines (AA) flights operated by American Eagle, be aware that as of Jan 2017 you will be restricted to only one (1) checked bag unless you fly first class/business class. Apparently dozens of hunters flying to Sonora, Mexico, for a deer hunt have been ambushed with this restriction upon check-in. Some hunters managed to upgrade their flights on the spot to get the additional baggage allowance, while others had to reschedule flights to do so. Some hunters have had to leave bags and gear behind.

According to the American Airlines website the company enforces seasonal limitations on checked baggage to some destinations from November 19, 2016 – January 8, 2017. However, those restrictions are now year-round for American Eagle flights going to Mexico. The only exception currently is for first-class and business class tickets. No oversized or overweight bags either, no matter what class you fly. Also important to note is that you will not be able to travel with boxes, which is defined as “any container that isn’t normally used for transporting items for air travel; this includes plastic tubs, containers and coolers.”

If you are scheduled to hunt in Mexico and are traveling on an American Eagle flight, contact your travel agent immediately. You will likely need to upgrade your flight and may need to change your travel dates. Be careful about changing arrival cities because if your firearm permit says arrival in Hermosillo- any arrival at a different Mexican city will subject you to possible arrest and weapons confiscation!! ALSO- Remember, if you are traveling with a firearm, your operator must meet you at your arrival city to handle the clearing of your firearm. Otherwise you will run into big problems with Mexican authorities.

Discussion on Elephant Hunting

We here at Hunt Nation recently got an email from a client, expressing serious doubts about our conservation ethics when advertising elephant hunts in Africa. Butch responded and we thought his answer was worth sharing.
Dear XXXX: I want to thank you for being so forthright in your feelings about hunting elephants. As you probably well know, most of us who are serious about hunting, are also very serious about conservation. I have often asked non-hunters or anti-hunters this question: “Why would hunters ever want to exterminate a specie? That is the end of the sport we love.”

So to the contrary, we try to help species multiply. We do by paying for licenses and by making donations and by paying excise taxes on our sporting purchases. I am sure you — as well as most hunters –already know all of this. And most of us take great pride in the comeback of the deer, the elk, the turkeys etc. We know that our hunting money has really helped, and continues to help wildlife-big time.

I have hunted Africa a number of times. I have hunted Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique etc. And I read a lot- and by a lot I mean that for the last 50 years of my life I have read an average of 20 magazines  a month, every month, running to tens of thousands of pages, plus many books on hunting. I have been hired to give expert testimony on hunting issues in federal and State Courts. I have dealt for 16 years with African hunts and African citizens and African safaris. So I think I have some expertise on the value of hunting as it relates to conservation in that country.

Realize please that Africa is just like the US — in that hunters money funds conservation over there too. But it is often a very direct link in Africa. In the US the money usually gets funneled thru government organizations and NGO’s, whereas in Africa it often goes directly to the local villages and communities. It also goes to the safari companies, who typically may employ 15 to 30 locals per camp. And their wages are far above the norm for the area. A local benefit.

Elephants have two problems, and neither one is related to legal hunting of them. Problem #1 is poaching. People are poor, and some are greedy. I read the article deploring the wanton killing and loss of elephants(thank you for that by the way).  I believe it supports my views on what the problems really are. Here is a key quote:

In northern Botswana, the Linyanti river’s proximity to Namibia’s Caprivi Strip — a thin finger-like stretch of the country just 30 kilometers (18 miles) wide in parts — makes it an ideal target for gangs of poachers. “Poachers can act with impunity here, because there is nothing blocking their movements,” explains Chase. “These borders are open to wildlife, and within a matter of minutes [they] can be in three different countries.”

I noted that most of the article discussed poaching, which in many areas is out of control. Now, having hunted many of the countries discussed in that piece, here is what I know and have seen. Take Mozambique. A good safari operation there pays for, equips, finances and directs anti-poaching patrols.  They spend many tens of thousands of dollar to do so- and it works. I have seen the result first hand. Now- realize if that if hunting were banned ( as happened in Botswana to elephant hunting)- all of those valuable poaching patrols are gone. Poachers now have full run of the forest, with no controls. The decline in Botswana ellephants was predicted by a number of conservation and safari organizations who understood that patrolling the concessions hunted – would disappear on the day the season was closed.

A good piece appears on-line discussing the rampant poaching in Kenya where there is no legal hunting at all. So no anti-poaching patrols there– unless the local communities jump into the breach. See: .
Also realize that in many areas, the funds gained from a safari done on communal lands, means money gets paid for the rights to hunt- much like when we lease land to deer hunt. The community covets that money, so now if a few crop raiding ellies hit them, they likely leave them alone as those animals (where there is legal hunting)– are money in their pocket, which is often more useful then some lost crops. Money they desperately need.

And the meat is ALWAYS donated to the villages, who often are desperate for fresh meat. I have seen them hacking a rotten elephant apart to capture all the meat- and we could smell it from a half mile away! So where there is legal safari hunting nothing goes to waste; the elephants then have a real monetary value to the locals, plus the poaching patrols protect the herds, and the locals have no reason to want to eliminate them. If run properly, the Safari system works to protect and enhance conservation efforts.

So it is clear that poaching is one of the biggest problems, but the really big problem in Africa is birth control. Many of the women will have 4 to 8 children, children they depend on in their old ages to feed, clothe and look after them as they age. They need those big families. The rate of human expansion in Africa is off the chart. Elephant habitat is disappearing fast- and it multiplies upon itself. Here is a quote from the Dec 12, 2015 Economist (

“Alarmingly, population growth in Africa is not slowing as quickly as demographers had expected. In 2004 the UN predicted that the continent’s population would grow from a little over 900 million at the time, to about 2.3 billion in 2100. At the same time it put the world’s total population in 2100 at 9.1 billion, up from 7.3 billion today. But the UN’s latest estimates, published earlier this year, have global population in 2100 at 11.2 billion—and Africa is where almost all the newly added people will be. The UN now thinks that by 2100 the continent will be home to 4.4 billion people, an increase of more than 2 billion compared with its previous estimate. If the new projections are right, geopolitics will be turned upside-down. By the end of this century, Africa will be home to 39% of the world’s population, almost as much as Asia, and four times the share of North America and Europe put together.

I did a quick bit of on-line research to see birth rates by country and here are a few:
US:                      13 births per thousand people
UK:                      12 births
Tanzania:           37 births
Mozambique     39 births
Zambia                42 births.

These birth rates may ultimately cost Africa much of its wildlife by loss of habitat, and that includes elephants who require vast open lands to roam and feed in. Sport hunting cannot help with that massive population problem- and no solution exists at this time except to try and educate the local inhabitants. But as long as they need those big families to support them in their elder years- the growth will continue, and all the game will ultimately lose out.

But for the time being, the Safari company anti-poaching patrols and payments to the local communes do help; however we desperately need to figure out how to stop the huge population explosion and resultant loss of habitat.

Meantime, we know that the safari system benefits elephants by furnishing protection from poaching. And of course, local populations are monitored closely and concessions can be closed if elephant populations decline drastically. Safari companies know that and it spurs on the anti-poaching patrols.

Also know that certain areas in Africa have far too many elephants for their limited habitat. Elephants knock over and kill trees to feed, often meaning the literally eat away their protection. So they are forced to move into native areas and conflicts ensue, and elephants will ultimately lose. It requires intensive management to balance herd reduction with human encroachment.

Not a happy situation, but for the time being the safari companies are the elephants best friend. Stopping the legal hunting of elephants means stopping the anti-poaching patrols- and elephants and other game loses.

I hope this attempt to explain the situation is helpful. Best wishes.
Butch Manasse- Vice President Hunt-Nation

Wyoming Draw Results & More Opportunities

Wyoming allows you to go on-line and buy cheap preference points for antelope ($30); deer ($40) and elk ($50). Sheep ($100) and Moose ($75) can also be purchased. Points are general and not tied to any area- so buy them, and use them when you decide where to hunt. Points accumulate so long as you buy them at least every two years. These are available starting July 1. Buying points really helps- and you should do it for your kids too. Must be at least 11 to buy for them. Often even a single point will make a big difference in your draw odds for antelope, deer and elk.  Money well spent!

To purchase points – Go to:

  • July 1: Preference points go on sale
  • July 1: Applications open for fall turkey
  • July 6: Full price leftover licenses for elk, deer, and antelope go on sale
  • July 13: Reduced price leftover licenses for cow/calf elk, doe/fawn deer, and doe/fawn antelope go on sale


Hunt Nation- 2016 Best of Cheyenne Award

Press Release


Butch’s Hunt Nation Receives 2016 Best of Cheyenne Award

Cheyenne Award Program Honors the Achievement

CHEYENNE May 18, 2016 — Butch’s Hunt Nation has been selected for the 2016 Best of Cheyenne Award in the Tours-Operators & Promoters category by the Cheyenne Award Program.

Each year, the Cheyenne Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Cheyenne area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2016 Cheyenne Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Cheyenne Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About Cheyenne Award Program

The Cheyenne Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Cheyenne area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Cheyenne Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

SOURCE: Cheyenne Award Program

African Lions- An Explanation of Management Issues

We are indebted to the author and to African Indaba for a wonderful explanation of the issues with lions in Africa. Extremely insightful and must reading!!

African Indaba » Carnivores, Sustainable Use, Zimbabwe » Culling to Conserve: A Hard Truth for Lion Conservation  From  the April 2016, Volume 14-2 issue:

People that don’t live in Africa tend to learn about wildlife conservation in easy-to-understand terminology. But safeguarding animal species like lions is often more complex than mainstream media sound bites would have their audiences believe.

The National Post recently reported that management from Zimbabwe’s Bubye Valley Conservancy was considering a controversial move to cull upwards of 200 lions out of a rough population of 500 in order to ensure the reserve’s wildlife biodiversity.

It was also reported that since the growing calls to end trophy hunting, due in large part to the killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park last year, conservancies like Bubye are no longer seeing the funding necessary to adequately cover conservation costs, which includes fence maintenance, financing local schools and health clinics, and providing meat to local people.

Given the many challenges conservationists face in Africa, coupled with culling and trophy hunting being such contentious issues, I decided to reach out to Dr. Byron du Preez, a Bubye Valley Conservancy project leader and member of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), in the Department of Zoology at Oxford University.

Specifically, I was hoping for clearer answers regarding the potential paradox that increasing calls for hunting bans in Africa have on existing lion populations, and how that may be playing out within the recent culling conundrum. Fortunately, Du Preez went one step further by clearing up what was initially reported, clarifying the proposed cull, explaining how culling works, and elaborating on the dangers of promoting single species management. The following is his official statement:

Clarification on the Proposed Lion Cull: I am an independent scientist working on the Bubye Valley Conservancy, focused on lion ecology, which actually means just about every aspect of the ecosystem, such is the influence that lions have. I am neither pro- nor anti-hunting. I simply focus on practical conservation solutions that actually work in the real world.

We are hopeful that we will be able to translocate some lions, although all previous attempts to translocate lions out of the Bubye Valley Conservancy have been derailed by factors entirely out of our control. However, if the species was in as much trouble as the sensationalist reports like to focus on, one would think that it would be a lot easier to find new homes for these magnificent animals than it actually is. ‘There is basically no more space left in Africa for a new viable population of lions.’ The fact remains that habitat destruction is their biggest enemy, and there is basically no more space left in Africa for a new viable population of lions.

The Science of Culling: A cull is not a once-off fix (neither is translocation, nor contraception), but would be more of an ongoing management operation conducted on an annual basis. When given adequate space, resources, and protection, lion populations can explode, such as they have done on the Bubye Valley Conservancy.

Reducing numbers to alleviate overpopulation pressure does nothing to permanently solve the problem, nor halts the species’ breeding potential; [it] only slows it down for a relatively short time until their population growth returns to the exponential phase once again.

Culling is a management tool that may be used for many species. That includes: elephants, lions, kangaroos, and deer, basically animals that have very little natural control mechanisms other than disease and starvation, and that are now bounded by human settlements and live in smaller areas than they did historically.

As responsible wildlife managers who have a whole ecosystem full of animals to conserve (not just lions), we have therefore discussed culling as an option for controlling the lion population, but have agreed that, for now, this is not necessary just yet and we will continue to try and translocate these animals until our hand is forced.

As already mentioned, there is very little space left in Africa that can have lions but doesn’t already. Also, where lions do occur, especially in parks and private wildlife areas, they often exist at higher densities than they ever did historically.

This is mainly due to augmented surface water supply resulting in greater numbers of non-migratory prey that now no longer limit lion nutrition and energy availability, allowing the lion population to rapidly expand.

For example, successful hunting to feed cubs all the way through to adulthood and independence is one of the greatest stresses for a lion, and often results in dead cubs and reduced population growth. In turn, a high density of lions can severely reduce the density of their prey, ultimately leading to the death of the lions via disease and starvation—far more horrific than humane culling operations conducted by professionals.

The Dangers of Single Species Management: Lions are the apex predator wherever they occur, and as such exert a level of top-down control on the rest of the ecosystem. Lions prey on a wide variety of species, and we are starting to see declines in even the more common and robust prey such as zebra and wildebeest—not to mention the more sensitive species such as sable, kudu, nyala, warthog, and even buffalo and giraffe.

Apart from their prey, lions are aggressively competitive and will go out of their way to kill any leopard, cheetah, wild dog, or hyena that they encounter, and have caused major declines in these species, not just on the Bubye Valley Conservancy, but elsewhere in Africa where lion densities are high. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), cheetah are listed as vulnerable, and wild dogs are endangered.

It is easy to simply focus on the number of lions remaining in Africa that has fallen steeply over the last century from ~100,000 to ~20,000 today, but which is directly linked to the reduction in available habitat.

Simply focusing on increasing the abundance of one species at the cost of another cannot be considered a conservation success—assuming that holistic conservation for the benefit of the entire ecosystem is the end goal—no matter how iconic that species is.

Luckily, lions kill lions, resulting in more lion mortality than any other species—including man on the Bubye Valley Conservancy—and in an ideal world the lion population would level off at a putative carrying capacity where lions control their own numbers (deaths from conflict equal or exceed new births). However, it is possible and probable (man-made water points increase the carrying capacity of — and therefore also the competition and conflict between — all wildlife species) that this would still be at the cost of certain other sensitive species.

Ecosystem stability is related to size (and conversely ecosystem sensitivity is inversely related to size) and smaller areas need to control their lion numbers a lot more carefully than large areas such as the Bubye Valley Conservancy, which is over 3,000 square kilometres [1,160 square miles]. In fact, small reserves in South Africa alone culled over 200 lions in total between 2010 and 2012, according to the 2013 report from the Lion Management Forum workshop.

Understanding Carrying Capacity: The Bubye Valley Conservancy does not rely on trophy hunting to manage the lion population. I will discuss the economics of hunting in brief. The most recent and robust lion population survey data calculate a current lion population on the Bubye Valley Conservancy of between 503 and 552 lions (it is impossible to get a 100 percent accurate count on the exact lion number — which also changes daily with births and deaths).

Carrying capacity is an extremely fluid concept, and changes monthly, seasonally, and annually depending on all sorts of factors including rainfall, disease (of both predator and prey), and economics.

It is estimated that 500 lions eat more than U.S. $2.4 million each year (the meat value used is a very conservative $3 per kg – compare that to the price of steak in a supermarket, and then remember that the Bubye Valley Conservancy used to be a cattle-ranching area, and if wildlife becomes unviable, then there is no reason not to convert it back to a cattle ranching area once again).

To give the question of carrying capacity a fair, if necessarily vague, answer, I would personally estimate that the upper carrying capacity of lions on the Bubye Valley Conservancy would be around 500 animals—assuming that they are allowed to be hunted and therefore generate the revenue to offset the cost of their predation.

Remember, lion numbers can get out of hand. And if there was no predation, then thousands upon thousands of zebra and wildebeest and impala would need to be culled to prevent them from over grazing the habitat, leading to soil erosion, starvation, and disease.

The ecosystem is a very complex machine and whether anyone likes it or not, humans have intervened with cities, roads, dams, pumped water, fences, and livestock. The only way to mitigate that intervention is by further, more focused, and carefully considered intervention, for the sake of the entire ecosystem.

It is important to bear in mind that the wildlife here, and in the majority of other wildlife areas in Africa (hunting areas exceed the total area conserved by Africa’s national parks by more than 20 percent), does not exist as our, or anyone else’s, luxury.

The Bubye Valley Conservancy is a privately owned wildlife area, or to put it another way, it is a business. The fact that it is a well-run business is the reason why it is one of the greatest conservation successes in Africa, converting from cattle to wildlife in 1994 (only 22 years ago) and now hosting Zimbabwe’s largest contiguous lion population at one of the highest densities in Africa, as well as the third largest black rhino population in the world (after Kruger and Etosha).

This is only possible because it is a business, and is self-sufficient in generating the funds to maintain fences, roads, pay staff, manage the wildlife, pump water, and support the surrounding communities—all extremely necessary factors involved in keeping wildlife alive in Africa.

Author: Michael Schwartz

Michael Schwartz, a freelance journalist and African wildlife conservation researcher, is also an honorary member of the Jane Goodall Institute and International Institute for Environment and Development’s Uganda Poverty Conservation Learning Group..

Tips on Judging Black Bear Size

Big bears are the toughest, meanest sons-of-a-guns in the valley and they act it. Watch a human bully walk down the street, he walks with a swagger and an attitude. A big bear walks the same way. He doesn’t fit and start at every sound like a small bear will. A big bear doesn’t have to; he believes he’s got nothing to fear. Once you’ve spotted your bear on the prime feeding spot during prime time, it’s time to get serious about how that bear is behaving.
It is important to note that long before you judge the size of the bear, you must judge the sex of that bear. A big, old sow will have all, or more correctly, almost all of the physical characteristics of a big, old boar. She’ll have the nasty looking face that’s seen one too many FIGHTS in the ring, the potbelly and the sway back. The one thing (besides the obvious) that she won’t have, except in exceptional cases, is the “I’m the biggest and baddest son of a gun in the valley” behavior that determines sex more effectively than if that bear was wearing a bikini.
Watch to see if the bear stands on his hind legs and rubs his back on a tree, that’s a boar. If it walks along and straddles small trees, wiping its scent on that tree, it’s a boar. If it stands up and breaks saplings over its shoulder, it’s a boar. If it encounters another bear and gives chase, it’s a boar and if it is following a smaller bear, it’s a boar.
Believe it or not, if the bear has attitude, meaning if it displays any of the above behavior and is feeding on the best food source during the best part of the day, I will have already made up my mind for my client to take the bear. No looking at ears, head, belly or tail, if we’re close enough, and the bear is about to disappear. I’ll call the shot and live with the consequences. That’s how important “location” and “attitude” are.
The simple fact of the matter is, no matter how much longer I look at that bear, I’m still not likely going to be any surer about the size of the bear’s skull than I was when I first determined it was a boar! It isn’t like judging any of the horned or antlered game—there’s nothing to look at, and it’s like judging the size of a whitetail buck’s antlers when those antlers are inside a burlap sack. It can’t be done, or at least not accurately.

There is one last general appearance tip to judging black bears that makes the top three in importance, and that is scale. A big bear looks big . . . but so does a closer, smaller bear. Here’s a quantitative example of this. If the bear is 150 yards away but the hunter thinks the bear is 200 yards away, the hunter will overestimate the bear’s relative size by somewhere near 25 percent. In other words, the hunter is in for a serious case of ground shrink when he walks up to his bear. Get as close to the bear as you can. The closer the bear, the less chance there is of misjudging the distance to the bear, and thereby misjudging the bear’s relative size.

When I’m guiding, if the bear my client and I are judging fails any one of the above general conditions, then I will normally let the bear walk. It’s tough and I’ve been wrong before, but at least there isn’t a dead small bear lying on the ground. Call it a personal aversion to profuse apologies. If it does pass all the above criteria, and there is time to get fancy on the judging, I’ll use every second I have to confirm what I already know. Normally I’ll tell my hunter to be ready to shoot because at that particular instant I believe it’s a big bear worth tagging, but the longer I can look at the bear the higher the odds that I’ll be right.
1) Body Shape: Do you wear the same size pants as you did when you were in high school? Be honest, does your spouse poke you in the belly once in a while and tell you to cut back on the Twinkies? Bigger bears are older bears, and like most of us, they don’t have the svelte bodies they once did. They tend to look “heavy” and out of shape. Remember, they monopolize the best feed and habitat, and therefore exert less energy to live.
2) Head Shape: A big bear (boar) will have a deeper, wider and longer snout than a smaller bear or a female. His ears will appear to be wide apart and small. If he is aware of you and looking your way, his ears won’t stand up on top of his head like a dog’s ears, they’ll seem to be aimed out to the side of his head. A big bear will have well developed “bulging like Arnold,” biting muscles on the top of his head.
3) Legs: A big bear will have massively developed front shoulders. His shoulders will look big and burly. A sow’s wrist will pinch in directly above the foot. Not so with a boar. The lower forearm, wrist and the foot on a big boar are all the same width. A big bear often appears to have shorter legs because the body is so much thicker, but keep in mind that the best-scoring bears for the records book are often the lankier looking, longer-bodied bears.

We’ve got a saying around camp, “Let Boone and Crockett sort them out,” and we live by it. There isn’t a guide or hunter in the world who can accurately call the skull measurement of a black bear. It’s impossible. There are simply too many variables that affect the final dried measurement. Sorry if it bursts any bubbles or offends other guides or hunters, but after outfitting for hundreds of black bears and seeing thousands upon thousands of them, I stand by what I said.
There are bears that have meatier heads; bears that look great and are great trophies, but that don’t score well. There are others that have short skulls, block-headed beasts that look impressive, but that don’t score well at all and there are lanky, skinny bears with donkey faces that score like the devil, but that a hunter seriously looking for a records book bear wouldn’t walk across the street for. Black bear morphology is just too darn diversified to make a science out of judging. Trust me, I’ve been on both ends of the surprises when it comes to the actual score of the black bear I just told my hunter to take.
The best way to hunt for a records book boar is to simply shoot the bear that looks good to you and that hopefully you’ll appreciate. If it’s got a nice hide, be happy with your animal. If it has long claws and weighs a ton, good for you and congratulations. If it isn’t as big as you’d like, don’t fret, you’re not alone and the rug on your wall will still look great.

From Boone and Crockett.

Quebec Reduces Caribou Limit

If you have a caribou hunt booked for 2016 or later, be aware of a new regulation change just now implemented! The Quebec Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks has announced that for the 2016-2017 hunting season, hunters will be allowed to take one caribou per hunting license. While you may purchase two licenses, your second caribou cannot exceed 40 cm (15.75 inches), meaning a cow or a spike bull. You may want to buy a single license, unless you want the second ‘bou for meat.

Muley Fanatic Foundation Presents Award to BMOA


MFF-Award-e1448286930844-300x225  The Muley Fanatic Foundation, a 501 C (3) non-profit conservation organization, was established in 2012 by Joshua Coursey and Joey Faigl. Headquartered in Green River, Wyoming, MFF aims to ensure the conservation of mule deer and their habitat and to provide supporting services to further the sport of hunting and sound wildlife management.

MFF currently has 9 Chapters and operates with a simple model of efficiency that allows each of the Chapters to retain 70% of their net earnings. Equally important, each MFF Chapter is charged with the duty of developing their own local volunteer Project Allocation Committee (PAC) to allocate their raised revenue in their backyard. To date MFF has put nearly $800,000 on the ground since its inception. Such allocations include but are not limited to: science based research, fencing projects, highway overpasses, invasive weed control, riparian development, predator control, youth education, forage treatments, prescribed burns and conservation easements.

While multiple projects have been sought out to further the MFF mission, one of the key cornerstones of MFF has been from the beginning to be a proactive proponent for obtaining the latest science available. “With a steady decline of mule deer over the last 20 years it is clear that we need to better understand the variables limiting mule deer numbers. There is no simple answer. An ever changing landscape with shrinking habitat, predators, development, drought, disease, competition and changes to migration movements are all having an impact on mule deer,” said Coursey.

In an effort to bring science to the forefront, the Muley Fanatic Foundation is leading the charge to launch the largest mule deer research project of its kind being dubbed, The D.E.E.R. (Deer Elk Ecology Research) Project, which is slated to begin in late 2015. Being led by the University of Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and Wyoming Game and Fish Department, the project will measure factors impacting mule deer reproduction, evaluating habitat selection on seasonal ranges, monitoring the movement and distribution of mule deer and elk and their migration routes, and identifying what is limiting the recruitment of adult male mule deer in population.

VZM.IMG_20151123_085434-300x225  The four year PhD project will cost nearly one and a half million dollars and will include a number of new and innovative techniques used to meet the goals of the project. The methods that will be used are adult capture and monitoring, fawn capture and monitoring, study of diet composition, study of resource selection, and study of male recruitment. To complete all of these tasks some of the technology that be used include four different type of radio collars, vaginal implant transmitters, helicopters capturing, satellite monitoring and lab analyses.

The unique component of this project is that it is truly a grassroots effort being kick started by the Muley Fanatic Foundation. Efforts to cover the costs associated with this game changing research project will largely be funded through a variety of innovative raffles known as Buck Fever Raffles.

If interested in starting a MFF Chapter in your neck of the woods, please don’t hesitate to contact the Muley Fanatic Foundation to learn more. The Muley Fanatic Foundation operates under the mission statement of: To ensure the conservation of mule deer and their habitat and to provide such supporting services to further the sport of hunting and sound wildlife management.

Get Your WY Preference Points By 10/31


WYOMING PREFERENCE POINTS ON SALE NOW- The days of being able to draw Wyoming hunting licenses or just waiting for the left over list to come out are over. Every year it’s more and more evident that if you are wanting to hunt Wyoming non-resident big game, you need to be collecting preference points now (plan ahead). The points went on sale July 1, and will be available until October 31, on the Wyoming Game and Fish website
These points improve you drawing odds, and will make it possible to hunt in areas that you would never have the opportunity to hunt in. Preference points can also save you money in the long run, by making it possible to draw at the regular licenses rate rather than the special rate, this could save you as much as $500 on an elk licenses. Some outfitters in these hard to draw areas are starting to refund some or even all of your point expenses when you book with them.
Youth points are a bargain only $10, buy them now for your children. This is an awesome way to insure your children or grandchildren will have some spectacular hunts in our great state.

  • Nonresident Antelope $30.00
  • Nonresident Deer $40.00
  • Nonresident Elk $50.00
  • Nonresident Youth Antelope $10.00
  • Nonresident Youth Deer $10.00
  • Nonresident Youth Elk $10.00
  • Nonresident Bighorn Sheep $100.00
  • Nonresident Moose $75.00