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Hikers, Hunters, and Trip Reports

Posted by Lauren Braden at Oct 21, 2010 02:59 PM |

Naches Peak bear

In the past few weeks, WTA's Trip Reports section has seen a few reports from hikers on their adventures to Yellow Aster Butte near Mount Baker; not surprising, considering this is a fabulous late-season hike for fall color and wildlife sightings. Also not surprising, hikers are seeing black bears on this trail, sometimes frolicking in a berry patch, sometimes running from a gunshot.

We've heard from hikers who feel strongly that the sharing of black bear sightings on public forums like WTA trip reports can cost those bears their lives. Here's a recent comment to WTA from hiker Mike Collins:

Hunters carried out a black bear to the [Yellow Aster Butte] parking lot on Saturday, Oct 16. Hikers are not the only ones clicking into these reports. With posting and reporting of bears the writer might as well paint a target on them. Hunting is allowed in this area. Give the bears a break and avoid posting where they are. Let hunters go out and look for scat the old-fashion way to find where bears are. Don't let them double-click their way to the bears' location.

This isn't the first time we've received such a complaint, and Mike even urges us to warn trip report posters ahead of posting their reports that hunters may use their trip report for finding bears.

I should state that WTA has no position for or against hunting on public lands. We have taken steps in recent years to alert hikers to hunting seasons for their own safety, and we regularly post tips to help hikers stay safe during hunting seasons.

What do you think? Should hikers who object to hunting black bear refrain from posting bear sightings in trip reports during hunting season? Leave a comment and let us know.

Comments

E-hunt

I think this is is a real possibility. Unfortunately posters should probably be guarded about their reports of wildlife. It is in the animal's best interest, hunter's best interest (keep 'em honest), and most importantly, our best interest; we do not need to attract Guns-n-Ammo to popular hiking areas.

See Whidbey Walker's disturbing account in a Yellow Aster Butte report. This is not a safe area to shoot.

Posted by:


D. Inscho on Oct 21, 2010 05:25 PM

E-hunt

Interesting blog, just happened upon it today to see if there was any rebuttle to our hunting on Yellow Aster Oct 16. Hunters are not stupid, we know where bears are without your help. High country, late in season last of the blueberries equals bears. Wish you wouldn't judge all hunters. We are very safety conscious hunters, the shot we did take was completely safe. We all have to share the resources of this great state. Hunters have just as much right to trails as hikers. If you are uncomfortable with this, you could always just hike in the National Park just down the road during hunting season.

Posted by:


Jlo on Oct 21, 2010 07:26 PM

E-butt(al)

Easy hackles. I see no judgements in this blog, just the simple observation that you were shooting in a heavily used area, subsequent to wildlife sightings in TRs. Your defensiveness has a revealing nature, like you were a bit self-conscious.

And this: "If you are uncomfortable with this, you could always just hike in the National Park just down the road during hunting season." Seems a bit like grade-school playground logic to me. Let's not forget, hunters kill hikers, twice in two years; the concern is justified. Hunters kill hunters; the fear is real. Hunters kill themselves...

Please visit the site again, but only to best understand where shooting might be in conflict with a heavily hiked area.

Posted by:


D. Inscho on Oct 24, 2010 12:44 AM

Re: Hikers, Hunters, and Trip Reports

Knowing about actual bear sightings is probably not much more useful than knowing where the berries are ripe. Should we start keeping that information secret as well? Seems silly.

If I were a hunter, I might keep an eye on this site not just for updates on the condition of access trails etc, but also to get an idea which trails are popular -- I doubt it's much fun hunting near a trail with dozens of noisy (and often poorly visible) hikers.

Posted by:


ejain on Oct 21, 2010 10:44 PM

Re: Hiker safety

I wish these hunters thought like you, but obviously these individuals were not utilizing TRs for such a safety-minded purpose. This is a well-known and heavily used area (not just the trail).

This is foremost a hiker safety issue, and discretion in reporting (huntable) wildlife sightings improves backcountry well-being.

It is a sad statement that bipeds clad nylon (not in fur) have to be worried about being targeted like that Salal picker in Shelton, or the Sauk Mtn hiker.

Posted by:


D. Inscho on Oct 22, 2010 10:33 AM

interesting

never thought of it like that. I love seeing bears in their element. I also get the hunting thing too. I ran into some really nice hunters who even gave me an orange vest last week.

Posted by:


Hikingqueen on Oct 22, 2010 08:41 AM

Hikers, hunters

I see both sides of the coin. I love wildlife and would hate to think an animal is being endangered by a trip report merely mentioning them, but at the same time, when I'm hiking, I love to see wildlife and I admit that I want to go to a specific trail because wildlife was mentioned being seen there.

Posted by:


Psalm104 on Oct 22, 2010 10:22 AM

Posting Animal Sightings

With all due respect, I have hunted, and hiked for many years. I have never nor do I know any serious hunters that have to peruse the hiking trip reports for their animal loction fix before heading to the back country. Please get serious....

Posted by:


Midge on Oct 22, 2010 04:29 PM

Serious shooting

Well, I'm serious, and it sounds as though you are serious. But apparently not all hunters are serious (about safety). It remains to be explained why hunters were shooting in a heavily hiked area, coincident with reported bear sightings on this site.

Posted by:


D. Inscho on Oct 23, 2010 11:03 AM

Hikers & Hunters

I would hate to think that My trail reports led directly to an animal being killed but after a conversation I had with a hunter on the trail this week, I won't stop posting my encounters.

The hunter I ran into down by Mt. St. Helens provided me with a lot of hunter/hiker info that I didn't know about the area I was in. He had the opinion that if he didn't have to work for his game then he shouldn't be hunting it. His attitude was fairly "old school" but surely represented a true "sporting" spirit of hunting.

One great part of my interaction with this young man was that he was the one that directed me to the wildlife in the area as I could hear them (elk) but couldn't see them. He directed me to a side trail that he had scouted while looking for deer but had only found elk and Mt. Goats. I ran into him later in the day after taking his advice and since I had only spotted goats he pulled out his binoculars and helped me find a beautiful bull elk in the meadows below us.

One couldn't have asked for a better hunter/hiker interaction!

Posted by:


Bullseye on Oct 23, 2010 08:09 AM

Great post to debate!

There are great arguments on both sides of the coin as a hunter and hiker myself I will let you that most back country hunters utilize the trails through out the summer to scout out their intended quarry and I doubt a bear sightning posted on here is going to endanger its life anymore than keeping it secret.

On the safety issue Weither its a packed area or not we are required to take a safety class before we can even apply for licenses so we are a very savy lot and take safety very seriously, im sure there are a few bad apples to that ruin it for us but for the most part we want to be to be able to utilize and cherrish the backcountry as much as any hiker without incident or conflict.

I hunted last September in Meandor Meadows area, and there were quite of few hunters crammed into that general area but also the PCT Trail runs through and I must of encountered 20-30 PCT hikers and I had a great time to talking to them about there travels while making sure I know what its in my scope before pulling the trigger.

There has always been a big line divided between hikers and hunters, it always seemed that if you did one you couldnt do the other without being looked down on or harassed. Its retarded there should not be a diveded line between the two. Hikers take great pride in keeping a mimalist camp and want to cherrish the wild for what it is but so do we so lets keep the peace.

Posted by:


BCHunt on Oct 23, 2010 08:57 PM

Bad apples

If this was about chatting up each other in a friendly way in the backcountry I'd have nothing to demur about the issue; most hunters can can be courteous. Courteous people can be careless. Courteous people can be stupid. There is a conflict specific to this thread, hunters were shooting in a heavily used area. Identifying a target is only one of the prerequisites of safe shooting; incidental ricochet or failing to have a safe backstop for your bullet is quite important. I'm saying at Yellow Aster, both of these prerequisites cannot easily be satisfied.

Hikers always lose with hunter/hiker use conflicts. Two deaths in two years with many other hunter-on-hunter incidents, AND the idiocy of self-inflicted injury. The Shelton salal picker and the woman hiking on Sauk mountain underscore the the fact that innocent hikers may be gunned down by a hunter at any time. Perhaps I would feel more magnanimous if hunters did not DEMONSTRATE such poor judgement, and most importantly, actually kill bipeds who aren't wearing fur. Maybe that trailside charm should backed up by a universal use of sound judgement; don't shoot in heavily hike areas like YAB.

Regarding your contention that there should not be a division between hikers and hunters. The thoughtful person would recognize a serious power differential between the two user groups. One has repeatedly taken the life of the other in the backcountry through careless and sometimes callous action. Seems rational for a bit of unease I'd say. When was the last time a hiker accidentally slaughtered a hunter, or another hiker for that matter? It feels silly for me even have to explain this; but if you lack sound judgement for these obvious things, what faith would I have in your judgement behind a sighting scope?

Posted by:


D. Inscho on Oct 24, 2010 12:26 AM

Bad apples

Your entitled to your opinon but slaughtered seriously, thats such a strong word. You make it sound like were going on a on murdering spree where you are the marked targets and want nothing better to do than shoot a piece of lead at you.

It seems to me that everybody on the hiking side of the coin are far more judgemental and love to throw out irrational statements before looking into the whole picture.

You must think where all just a bunch of fat rednecks that like to drink beer and shoot everything we see, that is crap. Those kids that shot the hiker last year shouldnt have been in the woods period they were breaking the law, they were under age. Hunters are some of the most caring people out there and spend more time being conservationist than shooters.

Trust me we would rather stay away from people when we are up there because for one game is easier to find when it feels safe and two we dont want to deal with negative liberal people like you who are quick to judge.

Posted by:


BCHunt on Oct 24, 2010 07:46 AM

Irony sandwich

The irony of your accusation of stereotyping "You must think where all just a bunch of fat rednecks that like to drink beer and shoot everything we see, that is crap." sandwiched with your own observation "...we dont want to deal with negative liberal people like you who are quick to judge." is just too delicious to ignore.

Way to shoot yourself in the foot...

Posted by:


D. Inscho on Oct 24, 2010 11:07 AM

It's immaterial

As someone who grew up in Enumclaw in prime hunting country, I can say with some assuredness that the hunters would be on those trails even if the WTA website did not exist. If no one ever mentioned bear sightings or bear droppings, those bear would still be hunted and killed on the same trails.

Let's be honest, they've been doing this for a long time and don't need us to tell them where to find bear.

Those who have concerns about bear hunting should focus their energies on making it illegal, not on trip reports that don't change anything either way.

I want to be very clear. Those hunters are out there. Reminding fellow hikers that there are bear and hunters is a great public service to safety. The hunters aren't going away simply because you leave it out of your report and someone could get hurt because they weren't aware.

Posted by:


geologirl on Oct 24, 2010 10:12 AM

tossing the bear with the bathwater

"...that the hunters would be on those trails even if the WTA website did not exist." Your statement underscores the concern, hunters disregarding the folly of hunting in a heavily hike area like YAB.

IF the claims made in this thread are true: hunters don't need TRs to find their game; hunters want to avoid being in the same area as hikers; then why were folks hunting in this area rife with posey-sniffers? There is a lot of bear country out there that is devoid of hikers...

Perhaps the hunters at YAB were lazy; they didn't want to go to a place where they had to pack out the meat very far. That kind of classless sloth can easily translate to e-hunt via TRs. Mebee you don't do it, but there are all sorts out there. The Sauk killing was on a popular trail.

And BTW, thanks for offering the false choice of illegalizing bear hunting; obviously it is an attempted distraction from the valid debate of hunter safety.

Posted by:


D. Inscho on Oct 24, 2010 11:28 AM

ALWAYS POST BEAR SIGHTINGS

Why single out bears? What about deer and goats and fish too? Let's not post reports about any wildlife sightings during hunting season(s). Seriously? I can't believe this is even an issue - regardless of what side of the fence you are on....
I think people that are opposed to hunting could instead be spending more time writing letters and educating our elected representatives of the benefits of abolishing all hunting in the State of Washington. These animals are far more valuable alive than they are dead. The WDFW points out that revenue generated from wildlife viewing is 5 times as more lucrative than hunting these beautiful creatures. Write letters, educate hunters, lobby for larger protected areas, and ALWAYS post accurate trip reports of wildlife - if you are opposed to hunting you owe it to the animals to post reports - this is their habitat and you should be letting everyone know where they live.

Posted by:


above the clouds on Oct 24, 2010 11:36 AM

Always? Never? Black? White?

I may be wrong about this, but I don't see any comments opposing hunting. I thought this was a debate about possible use of TRs for hunting, and the consequent hiker/hunter safety concern.

I oppose poor judgement and unsafe hunter behavior.

Posted by:


D. Inscho on Oct 24, 2010 11:46 AM

Always? Never? Black? White?

I guess I'm going to have to set the record straight about the shot taken on the Yellow Aster Butte trail. Obviously the one doing all the ranting wasn't even there that day so doesn't have all the facts. We were the first on the mountain that a.m., when multiple groups of hikers started coming so we had are lunch on the trail and decided to head home. Then the bear that we had been watching way up high munching on blueberries was harrassed or spooked by all the yelling on the top of the trail above him. With all his grace and athleticism he raced downed the mountain, it was very amazing to watch this animal. He ended up running right by us, we were by ourselves then, I think we were the only ones being quite. He was 180 yards away paused momentarily in a avalanche shoot when we shot at him. He was a very clear target and there were no hikers remotely close to him where they would be in any danger of being shot or hit by a richocet. The background was the mountain, nearest hiker 400 yards above and 200 yards to the left on the next hill over. Get the picture the only one in danger was the bear!
We are very safety conscious and very respectful of nature. As for safety, during hunting season for hikers. It states on some of the trail heads to wear bright colors or orange during hunting season. It is the law that hunters where orange during an active rifle season. Hikers should do this also for safety also. We all must share our resources. We spoke with a bunch of people that day and everyone was very cordial and even had comments how safety conscious were were, so I'm offended we have been bashed for being up there. That was the third time up there in a matter of 3 weeks. The previous 2 times there wasn't a sole on the trail but us.
It would be great if one knew which was going to be the "popular trail" that day so you could avoid it.
I have the utmost respect for hikers and hunters who climb around in the backcountry. Most pick up after themselves and are there for one thing, to enjoy nature!

Posted by:


Jlo on Oct 24, 2010 12:30 PM

ALWAYS POST BEAR SIGHTINGS

I wasnt going to write anymore, I already put in my two cents but I couldnt avoid this one.

Look right now this state is over populated by humans and animals by the lack proper management. Hunters primary job is to keep animal numbers within reason so that we can view them in there natural state. Without hunting the numbers of predators and non predator animals grow to alarming rates (which they already are) which will lead to over cramming of the small areas that they call home. Eventually it will lead to devouring there food sources to the point of unnatural death by starvation or other causes and without those animals our predators ( cougars, bears ect) will then turn to us for food.

So how is hunting immoral? We cant stop our greedy over population and at the rate where going they will only have the few wildernesses left to call home which are too small area for all the animals to co exsist without destroying each other.

So if you want to write letters go ahead but look into both sides to make educated decisions, that goes fishing as well.

To go with what I already stated, look over the last few years how many sightings of bears have been in the city limits, or how many coyotes have caught where they shouldnt be.

Posted by:


BCHunt on Oct 24, 2010 12:26 PM

Hikers, hunters, and trip reports

Wow, this has turned into quite a conversation. I think everyone should remember that the comments here are not respresentative of everyone in either the hiking, hunting community, or those that overlap both. All groups consist of folks that cover the spectrum from extremely responsible to extremely ir-responsible.

Do some amount of hunters use trip reports ... of course they do. Trips reports are just another resource. I hike alot and know several trails that during the right time of year almost guarantee a bear sighting. I am very selective about who I share that knowledge with.

Are hikers safe when hunters are in the area ... No one is completely safe in any area where guns are being fired. Why do you think firing ranges are setup the way they are. It is to control the field of fire as much as possible. When hunting the field of fire is entirely controlled by the hunter. All of us humans do make mistakes in judgement and decision making from time to time regardless of how much training we have had.

Should hunters be banned from certain hiking areas? The public lands belong to all of us including hunters, mountain bicylcists, horseman, and motorcycle riders. Put the shoe on the other foot and contemplate banning hikers from areas open to hunting. Historically hunters have been some of the best conservationists this country has ever known. Additionally, I have cleaned plenty of hiker garbage up and as a trail crew volunteer repaired plenty of hiker damage to trails. As I said before, all groups have their good and bad apples.

We all need to be as responsible as possible participating in our activities and focus our energies on standing up against ir-responsible actions.

So, that indicates two questions here. One, is it responsible to post animals sightings in trip reports. Two, is it responsible to hunt in the Yellow Aster Butte area.

First trip reports, I call a toss up. Many hikers use these to either see or avoid animals when chosing hiking trails and over-night camp sights. A YAB report I commented on stated the person decided not to spend the night after seeing what he thought was a grizzly with a cub. Let your conscious be your guide when choosing information for your trip report and ask yourself why you are sharing that info.

Second hunting Yellow Aster Butte or any other high volume hiking area such as Maple Pass. I thing is ir-responsible. Personnally, I would not hunt there. Field of fire (background) is not good at either. I just hiked YAB October 7th, but didn't post a trip report because there were plenty. I did comment on someone else's trip report bear sighting clarifying that the person did not see a grizzly. I saw a few black bears that day including one which would have been an easy shot from the trail. Background was lousy for shooting a high powered rifle as the top of YAB was the next thing in sight. If you have ever hiked YAB and shot a firearm, please review that entire trail in your mind and determine yourself where you have a safe field of fire. Remember to keep track of where the tarns are, the trail up Tomyhoi Peak, the trail to Gold Run Pass, the way trail over Keep Kool Butte to Welcome Pass, and just how far your bullet will go if you miss or accidently discharge your weapon. Myself, I can't see shooting a gun there.

Lastly, I grew up hiking, hunting, and fishing. I do wear an orange light weight joggers type vest that fits over my backpack when hiking in hunting season. I think that is a responsible thing to do. I also carry year around a rescue whistle. If I hear shooting when hiking, I use the whistle. I don't mind sharing the outdoors with hunters or anyone else. I do wish the hunters would not use an area such as YAB, Maple/Heather Pass, or Sauk Mountain. Just way too many hikers. However, those are their public lands too; So, I do what I can to keep myself as safe as possible. All of us that care about the conservation of public lands and wildlife need to work together and not get bogged down in strife with each other. We are greatly outnumbered by those who just see public lands as natural resources to be exploited in the future.

Posted by:


Marty; Have saw, will travel. on Oct 24, 2010 02:09 PM

Hikers, hunters, and trip reports

I am really surprised reading some of the comments on here and the perceived us vs. them mentality displayed so openly. I want to set something stright; there are people out there who are both diehard backpackers and also hunters. I have been a long time WTA member, as well as a 20 year member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and also a certified WA State Master Hunter and have been backpacking in the NW for over 40 years. Like it or not, there are going to be times when hunters are in areas where hikers are present, let me give you a prime example. There are many special permit draw opportunites in WA for Big Game. A unit I have been putting in for for years and a good friend drew this year is Elk Area 5058, West Goat Rocks for Bull Elk September 20-30. We all know Goat Rocks is a very poplular hiking area, even in the fall. However this is a Popular trophy elk area, only 5 permits for rifle are drawn each year out of 647 applicants. The Margaret unit north of Mt St Helens is the #1 elk hunting permit area in the state. My point is- many times we are not just choosing to go into a poplular hiking area to hunt, that is just where some of the high quality hunt opportunities exist. Most of these hunts are tough physically; I am trying to draw a Mt Whittier tag for elk, and no pack stock, mt bikes, or game carts are allowed. You have to pack out a 700+ lb elk on your back. My scouting trips alone into the backcountry require a 50 lb pack,which I have done many times. I also believe the majority of us are very responsible and safe. I will not shoot a bear, elk, deer, or other big game animal without closely evaluating the animal first to see if it is legal in a branch antler restriction area for example, and secondly I am lookng for mature animals,and third I am making sure I can shoot safely (what is behind the animal I am shooting at. You can't be doing that by shooting at the first thing you see. I would recommend hikers who are non-hunters go to the WDFW website and read the online regs under the hunting icon. Education is the key to understanding each other better and making the outdoors safe for everyone.

Posted by:


BluesDude on Oct 27, 2010 09:11 AM

Hikers, hunters, and trip reports

You make a good point about the permit system. I hope that the beginning and end of my post made it clear that I was stating my personnal opinion. I, repeat I, would not hunt Yellow Aster Butte. I did not say that hunting should not be allowed at Yellow Aster Butte or anywhere else.

Quite frankly jlo's post about his hunt makes it clear that he was there early in the morning; i.e. no or fewer hikers, animals possibly on the move; that he quit hunting when the area got crowded; and only shot in taking advantage of the spooked bear situation; and understood his field of fire. All in all, reads pretty responsible.

I do wonder about the logic of going hunting at Yellow Aster Butte on a Saturday, but that's my personal views of propriety coming into play.

I am quite sure that I know the area where the shot was taken and in fact have pictures of the bear from my October 7th hike. The bear had the entire berry field to its' self and looked big enough to keep it. I also watched the bear most of the day just as jlo had been doing. I was hiking on a Thursday and only shared the trail with a couple that continued on to Tomyhoi Peak. Just me and the bears all Thursday afternoon. There was more than one around that day.

I certainly agree with you that eductation and understanding are keys to sharing the outdoors. I would like to also add that walking a few miles in the other fellows shoes would help.

Good post. Thanks BluesDude. Marty

Posted by:


Marty; Have saw, will travel. on Oct 27, 2010 07:08 PM