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The Growing Problems Of "Buddy Hunting" & ATVs
(posted December - 2008)
 
An increasing conflict out West is ruining once-in-a-life-time hunts for hunters fortunate enough to draw special permits in the limited drawings. If you plan to apply in any of the permit drawings for next season, you need to know about the issues surrounding this conflict, the alternative solutions and what you can do to prevent them from ruining your hunt.

 I’m talking about the growth of what I call “buddy hunting.” My son, Mark, learned the hard way about the problem of buddy hunting when he drew a permit this year in Utah. It took him 13 years, but he finally drew an elk permit in the Boulder Plateau/Kaiparowits unit — known as a tough place to hunt but also home to 400-class bulls. This unit is a Limited Entry Unit where only 32 rifle permits are allowed in a huge area covering thousands of square miles. He considered this his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, not only because he would probably never draw a permit there again (and still be in condition to hunt), but also because the low hunting pressure promised a quality outdoor experience. Mark was dedicated to work hard in finding a trophy bull. His guide was a local very familiar with the unit, but more importantly, glad to have a client willing and able to hike up to 14 miles a day and climb as much as 4,000 feet to access “honey holes” where a big bull might hide. What they actually found was far from expected.

 The night before the opening, they passed camp after camp surrounded by as many as 14 vehicles, including nearly as many ATVs. There were literally hundreds of people waiting for opening morning (remember, there were only 32 tags issued). Even though Mark’s guide knew the whereabouts of one huge bull in the low country, they knew that it was going to be a zoo there and decided to hunt the backcountry instead. On opening morning, after hiking for two hours in the dark, they were passed on the trail by two people riding ATVs, who bugled and continued on up the ridge in a cloud of dust. Neither of these “hunters” carried a rifle, but were “buddy hunting” for someone else in the hopes of finding a bull.....


  


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