From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 2 - April 10, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Food storage, contested carcasses discussed

by Cat Urbigkit

Clayton Voss of Lazy TX Outfitting in Dubois told his fellow outfitters Friday that it appears the U.S. Forest Service will probably move forward this spring with the expansion of the food storage order on national forest lands in western Wyoming.

Voss was speaking at the spring convention of the Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association in Pinedale last weekend. His report generated a response from Jim Allen of the Diamond Four Wilderness Ranch of Lander. Allen said while the food storage order is currently in place in portions of western Wyoming, such as in the official grizzly bear recovery zone, "the rub lies with the expansion of the food storage order to the south," including the Wyoming and Wind River Mountain ranges.

"This organization voted one year ago, unanimously," Allen said, to oppose the expansion of the food storage area "into non-grizzly areas."

Allen said: "It's a waste of time and money. We're against it. It's a rotten deal. ... When it comes, throw a fit."

Cokeville outfitter Sharon Dayton broached another topic of concern. He told of problems encountered by several hunters who had other hunting parties claim and steal their harvests during last fall's hunting season.

Dayton said a 13-year-old boy managed to shoot his first spike elk, which began to roll down the slope. The boy was using a two-way radio to communicate with other members of his hunting party when he heard members of a second hunting party radio that they saw an elk was down. By the time the boy and his hunting partners arrived on the scene, the second party had claimed the elk and took it away. Thus, the 13-year-old's first elk hunt turned sour.

It wasn't an isolated incident, Dayton said. Just a few miles away, a 75-year-old man had a similar problem, also losing the elk to another hunter who wrongfully claimed it, Dayton said.

Dayton told the outfitters that Wyoming needs to have a law making it illegal to remove a contested animal. He suggested that if one hunting party contests a downed carcass, that carcass shouldn't be removed from the site until a game warden or other law-enforcement officer arrives on the scene to investigate.

When asked if there were other states with such laws on the books now, Dayton responded that he wasn't aware of any.

"We might be pioneering on this," Dayton said.

B.J. Hill of Swift Creek Outfitters/Teton Horseback Adventures in Pavillion said that as he listened to Dayton's story, his blood pressure began to rise as he recalled a similar situation.

Hill told a story involving a six-point bull elk (scoring 320) brought down with much effort by one of two hunters affiliated with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

"The bull was one of those black-horned elk that had been in the thick timber," Hill described. "Its tips were perfectly white. ..."

Hill said after an intensive hunt involving 21 rounds, the hunter brought the big bull down, but another party arrived at the carcass first, contesting ownership of the trophy. Hill said arguments began and it nearly erupted into a backcountry brawl.

"I had to back off and say whoa," Hill said.

Although he knew that the other party was in the wrong, and was in fact "unprofessional and unethical," Hill said, "I looked at my two hunters and said: 'This is not worth the hassle. Let them have it.' "

Hill said when he later asked a game warden about such incidents, he was told that "whoever can win the fist fight" gets the carcass.

"This is not the way to handle this," Hill said, agreeing that Wyoming should pursue a law to protect innocent parties in contested carcass cases. Several other outfitters expressed their agreement, stating that if nothing happens to help resolve these problems, someone may end up getting shot in a fit of temper over a contested carcass.

The outfitters agreed to have a committee consider the issue, and will confer with Wyoming Game and Fish Department and legislative representatives about the issue.

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