IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - The bugle of the majestic elk has sounded. The grunt of the deer has been heard, and hunting season is finally here. While archery season has been bringing hunters out for a while, Monday brought the first shots of the general rifle season for deer.
Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials are taking some extra time to remind us unless we have special permission to be on private land, we need to stick to the public land.
"It is the hunters responsibility to know where they are, whether they're on private or public ground. And there's a lot of tools and applications that you can use to to find that out. So you can either download an app on your phone. There's lots of them available that have land status available. There's GPS cards that you can buy. There's all sorts of programs available. Or there's just your your standard, old fashioned map and compass, which can work, too, if you're knowledgeable and and know how to use them," said James Brower, the Regional Communications Manager for the Upper Snake Region for Idaho Fish of Game.
He says the penalties if found trespassing during hunting season can be severe.
"It really depends on the situation, but it can be up to a one year license revocation if you committed that act three times within a 10 year period, then it can even be a felony offense potentially," he said.
Brower says in the event of a downed animal on private land without permission is not poaching but just a trespassing issue. However, if the animal was taken illegally, meaning you didn't have a tag of license of the species killed, that could be poaching.
A good reminder for experienced hunters and those that are fairly green is that sometimes an animal can be wounded and die on private land. If that is a case with your animal, Brower says you still will need permission to go look on that land.
"If you do shoot an animal and it does happen to cross over into private property, the law in Idaho is you do need permission to access private ground. So just because you have an animal that that's down on somebody else's property does not give you or us even the right to go and retrieve that animal. So the best thing to do is to contact that landowner and ask for permission to gain access to your animal."
Brower has an important message for any hunter hoping to hunt on private land this year.
"Make sure that you have permission every year. And it's a really good idea to have that that permission written down on a piece of paper. That way nobody can change their mind. There's no confusion. Always a great idea to just have that in written form. Verbal is okay, but that doesn't always hold up. Sometimes things change. Sometimes your behavior may have prompted that landowner to revoke that permission, and it's just always a good idea to have those things written down."
He adds the earlier in the year you plan ahead and get permission, the better.
"A good time to ask is as well before the season starts and that gives you the opportunity to really build those relationships with those landowners and not show up on their doorstep at 5 a.m. in the morning wanting to go hunt on their land, make sure you do it at a reasonable time of day and that you're very approachable. Don't show up with your hunting camo and a gun. When you go to ask a landowner for permission, you know, give them a phone call first, if you can. Knocking on doors. It's not always a bad thing, but make sure you do it at a pretty reasonable and respectful time."
Brower adds public land will have markers as the transition from public to private land will occur. They can range from fencing, orange markings on trees, orange ribbons on trees and any housing visible on the land may indicate the land you're hunting on may in reality be private.
Brower says plan ahead and have updated maps on you so you can be better prepared year round.