Montana Elk Habitat Protected, Open to Public Access

MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and U.S. Forest Service worked with a willing landowner to conserve two private inholdings of wildlife habitat and conveyed them to the Lolo National Forest. The 1,040-acre transaction took place just west of Lolo, a small western Montana town about 10 miles south of Missoula.

“We greatly appreciate YT Timber for asking us to conserve this land and help transfer it into the public’s hands,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “This acreage serves as both important winter range and a movement corridor for elk, moose, deer and other wildlife species.”

The transaction opens public access to the 1,040 acres and secures new access points to several thousand acres of surrounding public lands. In doing so, it alleviates challenges for hunters and others because of the area’s checkboard ownership pattern.

“This project secures the last remaining and intact wildlife movement zone across the north end of the Bitterroot Valley between the Bitterroot Mountain Range and Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness to the south and west, the Sapphire Mountain Range to the east and the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem to the north,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “Maintaining contiguous public ownership in this area ensures the protection of these larger movement corridors.”

In addition to providing prime wildlife habitat in the form of forested conifers, aspen and other vegetation, the two parcels feature key riparian habitat since more than one mile of Bear Creek, Camp Creek and Sleeman Creek, all headwater streams and tributaries of Lolo Creek below, cross the property. The transaction protects these spawning and rearing areas for native westslope cutthroat trout and other fish species.

The properties are within or adjacent to important segments of the Lewis and Clark  and Nez Perce (Nee Me Poo) National Historical Trails. The properties are also adjacent to portions of the Lolo Trail National Historical Landmark, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Thanks to its wildlife, habitat, public access, recreational, cultural and historical features and benefits, the project received critical funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

RMEF has a long, successful history over several decades working with the Yanke family and its timber companies to provide many conservation benefits in Montana. In 2000, the parties collaborated to protect and open access to the 32,000-acre Watershed Project near Anaconda resulting in the creation of the Mt. Haggin Wildlife Management Area, one of the state’s largest WMAs. At the time, it marked one of the biggest projects in RMEF history.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Founded more than 37 years ago and fueled by hunters, RMEF maintains more than 225,000 members and has conserved more than 8.2 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at or 800-CALL ELK.

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Deadline Approaches to Report Oregon Elk and Deer Tags

Below is a news release from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Big game hunters who purchased or were issued a deer or elk tag in 2021 must report their hunt by Tuesday, Jan. 31 at 11:59 p.m. PT (for any hunt that ended by Dec. 31, 2021).

Report online at ODFW’s Licensing system or at a license sale agent.

Failure to report by the deadline will result in a $25 penalty when purchasing a 2023 hunting license. Hunters should also report any other 2021 big game (cougar, bear, antelope) or turkey tags though there is no penalty for not reporting these tags.

Hunters need to report on every 2021 deer, elk, bear, cougar, turkey and pronghorn tag purchased or issued as part of a Sports Pac license—even if they didn’t harvest an animal or go hunting. E-taggers who validated their tag through the app or online also still need to complete a separate report.

Nearly 110,000 tags deer or elk tags out of 257,584 still need to be reported by the deadline. As of today, 64,851 buck deer tags, (out of 147,967 tags) 1,778 antlerless deer tags (out of 5,770) and 43,316 elk tags (out of 104,387) have yet to be reported and are due Jan. 31.

How to report

If you have never used ODFW’s online licensing system, it’s easy to set up your account and report online. Go to and use Verify/Look Up to find your profile which will include any tags you need to report.

Enter your ODFW ID number (printed on all licenses and tags) and follow the directions to set up your account. An email address is required. Once you have set up your account, click under Mandatory Reporting to complete your reports.

Hunters can also visit any license sale agent (businesses that sell hunting and fishing licenses) to report. License agents will not charge hunters a fee for this service. See a list of agents at

While ODFW Licensing staff can take reports by phone at (503) 947-6101, call hold times can be long and are expected to increase as the Jan. 31 reporting deadline approaches. Hunters are encouraged to report online or visit a license sale agent rather than calling.

ODFW offices remain closed to walk-in visitors due to Covid-19.

The information reported by all hunters helps ODFW determine harvest and hunting pressure for each hunt and is used to help set tags. This information is also available to hunters on the page at

Incentives to report: Drawing for special tag

As an incentive to report on time, every hunter who does is entered to win one of three special tags ODFW offers each year. Winners can choose a deer, elk or pronghorn tag that is valid statewide during a four-month season, similar to auction and raffle tags which people can pay thousands for.

Brandon Ake of Redmond won the 2021 inventive tag for reporting his 2020 tags on time and took a large bull in the Wenaha unit on his special tag.

“This was definitely a hunt of a lifetime with the incentive tag I didn’t even know existed until I won it—and the tag was free!” Ake said. “Definitely a good reason to report on time.”

(Photo credit: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)

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Elk Calf Rescued from Construction Ditch

Below is a Facebook post from the Oregon State Police .

On January 16, 2022, Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Sr. Trooper Rzewnicki received a call from dispatch that a landowner and contractor in the Knappa area (80 miles northwest of Portland) had reported a deer was stuck in a ditch he had dug for wires, leading to some new home construction.

When Sr. David Trooper Rzewnicki arrived, he found the animal still alive and stuck in the ditch and that the “deer” was a calf elk. The landowner thought that it had been in the ditch for at least 12-18 hours.

After a few failed attempts to free the elk, Rzewnicki got into the ditch, behind the calf elk’s head, and was able to wrangle the calf elk out of a ditch. A now muddy, Sr. Trooper Rzewnicki, reported that the calf elk appeared unhurt as it ran off into the woods.

(Photo credit: Oregon State Police)

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Five Elk Dead After Eating Toxic Landscaping Shrub

Below is a news release from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Despite a 2016 Blaine County ordinance restricting the planting of noxious plants, including exotic yew, three elk, two cows and one calf, were found dead on Tuesday January 18, 2022 after eating the toxic plant north of Hailey, Idaho, near the Valley Club. Two additional elk were found the morning of Wednesday January 19, 2022, a calf just north of Hailey, and a yearling in Sun Valley.

Elk calf killed by eating a yew bush that is toxic to wildlife

Fish and Game conservation officers who investigated the reported dead elk confirmed the presence of yew in the digestive system of all the elk but have yet to find the specific location of the plant or plants that were ingested.

Pieces of toxic yew taken from the digestive system of a dead elk

Several plant species are toxic to wildlife and pets, especially those in the yew family.

Residents should inspect the landscaping around their homes and remove all yew plants in an effort to keep wildlife and pets safe, especially during winter months when wildlife moves down into historic winter range, now occupied by community neighborhoods and private residences.

Homeowners should completely remove any yew from their yards. If removal is not possible until spring, the bushes should be securely fenced so that wildlife cannot get access to the plants, or the plants should be tightly wrapped with burlap.

A field necropsy of the elk showed that the elk were weathering the winter well, evidenced by ample rump and back fat reserves and healthy bone marrow which reflects the body condition of wildlife such as elk.

According to Regional Wildlife Manager Mike McDonald land owners need to be aware of the types of vegetation they purchase and plant on their properties. “I realize that it’s hard to dig up mature landscaping but everyone needs to do the right thing for wildlife, and even to protect your pets, by removing plants like exotic yew. It takes a surprising small amount of yew to kill an elk, deer or moose, which are all species that residents can see throughout the valley, almost daily.”

Yew toxicity

Many plants contain toxic chemicals which may be dangerous to humans, pets, and wildlife.  Yew is an evergreen tree commonly used in ornamental plantings or landscaping that contains highly poisonous chemicals known as alkaloid taxines. Two species of yew, Japanese and European, are particularly toxic.

All parts of ornamental yews except the arils, the material that covers the seeds, contain the toxic alkaloids. The arils are edible and sweet, but the seed is dangerously poisonous.

Yew plant that is toxic to both wildlife and pets

The yew seeds are eaten by thrushes, waxwings and other birds, which digest the soft fleshy covering of the seed and disperse the hard seeds undamaged in their droppings.

In mammals, the digestive process can break down the leaves or seed coat and release the taxines into the body. This can have fatal results if yew berries are eaten without removing the seeds first.

Grazing animals, particularly cattle and horses, are also sometimes found dead near yew after eating the leaves. Dried branches can be fatal.

Ornamental yews and related plants are toxic to a variety of animals including horses, cattle, dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, deer, elk, and humans.

Ornamental yews are highly toxic with only a small handful of needles needed to kill horses, elk or dogs.

Blaine County ordinance

Information gathered from the Blaine County website show that in February 2016 the Blaine County Board of County Commissions unanimously passed County ordinance number 2016-01, declaring certain plant species as County noxious weeds, prohibiting the sale, planting, and possession of any plant on the County noxious weed list, and providing penalties for violations.

Plants included on the County noxious weed list include Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata), European or English yew (Taxus baccata), and Chinese yew (Taxus chinensis) and their hybrids.

Ordinance 2016-01 became effective March 2, 2016.

The ordinance is a response to the fact that during the winter of 2015 and 2016 foraging wildlife consumed toxic yew plants in residential areas that led to the death of at least twenty elk throughout Blaine County.

Yew has been blamed in the death of untold numbers of wildlife across Idaho over the past several years with deer, elk, moose and pronghorn falling victim to the toxic plant.

The Board of Blaine County Commissioners found that toxic yew plants pose an imminent danger of injury to wildlife and a more broad danger to pets and livestock. Therefore, the Commissioners took the action of eradicating toxic yew plants from residential areas to promote the public health, safety, and welfare.

The Ohio Gulch Transfer Station accepts yew debris free of charge, but the yew must be separate from other yard debris. Due to the extreme toxicity of yew, proper removal includes removing all traces, no matter how small, of the plant.

(Photo credit: Idaho Department of Fish and Game)

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Info Sought in Southern Utah Elk Poaching Case

Below is a news release from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

Utah Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officers are seeking information after a bull elk was recently shot and left to waste in Kane County.

DWR officers received a report of an individual shooting at a group of elk on Dec. 12 near County Road 3035 on the Glendale Bench, east of Glendale, Kane County. A witness saw two individuals in a black truck stopped on the road. One of the individuals got out of the truck and shot toward a group of bull elk.

When officers responded, they located a dead bull elk that had been shot within 125 yards of the area where the individual had fired the shots. The animal had been left to waste.

The individuals were described as adult males, one around 20 years old and the other around 30 years old.

Anyone with information regarding the killing of this elk, or any other wildlife-related crimes in Utah, is encouraged to report it to DWR conservation officers in one of the following ways:

  • By calling the UTiP Hotline at 800-662-3337
  • The UTDWR Law Enforcement app
  • By texting 847411
  • Online through the DWR website

(Photo credit: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)

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Pennsylvania Receives More than $500K in Conservation, Hunting Heritage Funding

MISSOULA, Mont. — The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its partners contributed $541,893 in grant funding to support wildlife habitat enhancement, scientific research, hunting heritage and other projects in Pennsylvania. RMEF directly granted $48,722 that leveraged an additional $493,171 in partner funding.

“These grants help maintain and enhance wildlife habitat in the core of Pennsylvania’s elk range,” said Blake Henning. “They also assist a dozen different conservation and outdoor projects including youth hunts, recreational shooting squads, hunter education, field days and other activities.”

Fifteen projects benefit Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Berks, Cameron, Cassia, Centre, Chester, Clearfield, Clinton, Crawford, Dauphin, Delaware, Elk, Erie, Lancaster, Lehi, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Montgomery, Montour, Philadelphia, Potter, Sullivan, Washington and Westmoreland Counties. There are also two additional projects of statewide benefit.

There are 14,474 RMEF members and 29 chapters across Pennsylvania.

“We salute our volunteers who organize and host banquets to raise this vital funding that goes back on the ground to further our mission in Pennsylvania,” said Kyle Weaver, RMEF president and CEO. “They also assist researchers and take part in other on the ground volunteer activities.”

Since 1991, RMEF and its partners completed 524 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Pennsylvania with a combined value of more than $27.8 million. These projects protected or enhanced 27,957 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 10,189  acres.

Below is a list of Pennsylvania’s 2021 projects, shown by county.

Beaver County

  • Provide funding for the Aliquippa Bucktails Youth and Family Day. Participants take part in shotgun and rifle shooting, archery, firearms safety and other activities.

Bedford County

  • Provide funding for youth between the ages of 12 and 16 to participate in a pheasant hunt at the Bedford County Sportsmen’s Club. Participants work with dogs and their handlers, and learn how to dress out birds.
  • Provide funding for participants on the Cambridge Springs High School trap shooting team. Those participating in the Pennsylvania High School Clay Target League learn about firearm safety while developing self-confidence, skills and discipline (also benefits Erie County).
  • Provide funding to support the Everett Area School District High School rifle team.
  • Provide funding for the Everett Sportsman Junior Rifle Club. Participating youth take part in indoor competitive rifle shooting. RMEF volunteers serve as club instructors.

Cameron County

  • Create 15 acres of herbaceous habitat on previously timbered land and maintain 79 acres of established openings with mowing, fertilizing and seeding on State Game Lands 14, the heart of Pennsylvania’s Elk Management Area.
  • Provide funding for the Sinnemahoning Sportsmen’s Youth Field Day. Youth receive instruction about gun safety and shooting, fly tying and other hands-on educational activities.
  • Revitalize a four-acre herbaceous opening to increase early seral habitat used by elk and other wildlife within the Sproul State Forest. Treatment includes removing competing vegetation followed by the application of lime, fertilizer and planting with a mix of plants preferred by elk.

Clearfield County

  • Enhance a newly-created 23-acre herbaceous opening by applying lime, fertilizer and then seeding to establish wildlife forage. Forest openings in the Moshannon State Forest benefit elk, black bear, turkey, white-tailed deer, ruffed grouse, American woodcock, songbirds and other wildlife.

Crawford County

  • Provide funding for the Lake Edinboro Sportsman’s League’s Youth Clay Target Shooting Development program that teaches youth ages 11 to 18 safe and responsible firearm handling, shooting skills and competition (also benefits Erie and Mercer Counties).

Elk County

  • Provide funding to conduct a study using location data from GPS-collared elk to support the development of habitat models that identify elk habitat selection patterns (also benefits Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, McKean, Lycoming and Potter Counties).
  • Provide funding for Elk County Sportsmen for Youth Field Day. Participants ages 10 to 14 take part in .22 rifle and shotgun shooting, bird dog handling, archery, fishing and other activities.
  • Provide volunteer manpower to assist the Pennsylvania Game Commission with capturing and tagging elk calves as part of an ongoing scientific study.

Lycoming County

  • Provide funding to Consolidated Sportsmen of Muncy Creek to stock 12,000 trout in Muncy Creek and its tributaries including Big Run, Laurel Run and Rock Run for youngsters and others to catch (also benefits Cassia and Sullivan Counties).

Westmoreland County

  • Provide funding for the Youngwood Sportsmen Association to host a Youth Hunter Education Challenge. The program, for youth who successfully completed hunter safety training, includes training and competition in eight skills including firearms shooting, archery, safety and animal identification.


  • Provide funding for the Pennsylvania Naturalist Program, which builds a corps of volunteers who provide education, outreach and stewardship toward the conservation of natural resources.
  • Provide funding for the Wildlife Leadership Academy, a program designed to empower high school students from across the state, selected for their academic performance, community service and interest in wildlife conservation, to become ambassadors in order to ensure a sustained wildlife legacy for future generations.

Project partners include the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and various other conservation, business and civic organizations.

About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:

Founded more than 37 years ago and fueled by hunters, RMEF maintains more than 225,000 members and has conserved more than 8.2 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at or 800-CALL ELK.

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New Film Explores Barriers to Big Game Migration

Below is a news release from the University of Wyoming. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation provided major support for the film as well as a traveling interactive, Invisible Boundaries.

A new wildlife documentary puts the spotlight on obstacles that elk, mule deer and other hooved mammals face during their migrations, and how people are working together to help animals keep moving.

Produced by the Wyoming Migration Initiative (WMI) at the University of Wyoming, the short film, “Barriers,” gives close-up views into the struggles of animals, along with the hopeful story of how migration data and maps can help conserve herds long into the future.

The film explores three major types of migration barriers: fences that animals have to jump or crawl under; roadways with busy traffic; and new developments in wildlife habitat.

Animals often risk injury or death when they encounter such barriers. Over the long term, migration barriers can contribute to habitat loss and declining populations.

“Almost everyone who spends time in open spaces has encountered the remains of an animal that suffered from one of these barriers,” says Gregory Nickerson, “Barriers” co-producer. “We hope this film makes clear that research and technology can help us move beyond just accepting these losses. People have the tools to help animals keep moving.”

While WMI produced the film, footage contributions came from dozens of filmmakers and agencies. It illustrates state-of-the-art migration science, corridor mapping and collaborative conservation efforts.

The film draws on years of cooperative research findings from long-term trail camera and GPS collar studies. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department and many other public agencies and nonprofits contributed to these studies. Together, the research has revealed how our growing human footprint can negatively affect migratory populations.

One of the goals of the film is to help the audience visualize the effects of migration barriers as if they were right there with the animals. “Some of the scenes are hard to watch,” Nickerson says.

Viewers will see fawn mule deer and bull elk getting caught in fences, and pronghorn avoiding fences altogether. A clip showing the aftermath of a deadly elk-vehicle collision is overlaid with a graph of the upward trend of such accidents in Wyoming.

Some of the barriers can only be visualized through migration maps. Animations produced by “Barriers” film editor and WMI Research Scientist Patrick Rodgers show how a pronghorn makes an unexpected detour around a 9-mile-wide natural gas field, and how migration data can help site wildlife road-crossing structures.

The film documents the teamwork involved in resolving wildlife barriers, whether it is stakeholders meeting to identify solutions or volunteers retrofitting a fence to be wildlife-friendly. The stewardship on public and private working lands includes ranchers, hunters, outfitters, recreationists, biologists and agency managers.

While much of the film focuses on elk, mule deer and other big game in the American West, the film also shows how biologists around the globe are using similar methods to study and conserve migratory ungulate populations.

Migration researchers worldwide contributed to the film, including footage of caribou in Canada, khulan in Mongolia, wildebeest in Zimbabwe and guanaco in Argentina.

“Barriers” and a companion traveling exhibition were produced with major support from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF).

“Increasing our knowledge of migration corridors and movement areas is critical to ensure the future of elk and other wildlife,” says Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “This film highlights the unique challenges faced by wildlife species and helps identify sensitive areas they use. As a result, biologists and game managers can take appropriate actions for the benefit of wildlife, ranching, hunting and other recreational activities.”

Other supporters of the film include the Knobloch Family Foundation and the George B. Storer Foundation. The Muley Fanatic Foundation’s Southeast Wyoming Chapter provided funding for motion-activated cameras to document mule deer interacting with fences and roads.

“Barriers” is available to view on WMI’s social media channels and to stream at:

Vimeo —

YouTube —

To learn more about WMI, go to

(Video credit: University of Wyoming/Wyoming Migration Initiative)

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Colorado Wolves Strike Again, Kill Ranch Dog

Three weeks after wildlife officials confirmed Colorado’s first livestock kill by wolves in decades, wolves killed a ranch dog in northcentral Colorado.

“Buster was part of my family,” Carlos Atencio told the Colorado Sun. “It’s a huge loss. He was a staple on the ranch.”

Colorado Parks and Wildlife said the attack took place on January 9, 2022, near North Park, a remote community just south of the Colorado-Wyoming border. A second ranch dog survived puncture wounds to its back, side and stomach.

The CPW Commission passed a resolution that allows ranchers to use nonlethal means such as rubber bullets and flagging to haze wolves away from their livestock, however that does not apply to pets.

CPW is still in the process of determining how it will release wolves onto the Colorado landscape after an initiative approving the action to do so barely passed at the polls in November 2020.

“In just a few weeks they’ve killed a heifer and a dog,” Atencio told the Colorado Sun. “What’s going to happen when they start reintroducing these guys?”

(Photo credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

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Info Sought in Idaho Elk Poaching Case

Below is a news release from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

On the morning of January 9, 2022, two cow elk were shot out of season along the Big Salmon Road near Riggins, Idaho. This stretch of road receives a fair amount of morning traffic from sportsmen and public alike. Much of the meat was salvaged prior to Fish & Game being notified.

It is probable that motorists or sportsmen noticed the shooter’s vehicle along north bank of Salmon Road near Lake Creek Bridge and could offer information leading to the arrest of those responsible.

Anyone having information about these poaching incidents is encouraged to call the Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) hotline at (800)632-5999 or IDFG Senior Conservation Officer Ethan Bishop at (208)799-5010. Anyone providing information can remain anonymous.

(Photo credit: Idaho Department of Fish and Game)

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Quieter Is Better

by Fred Eichler

 Suppressors may well be the most misunderstood and mythologized piece of gear in modern big game hunting. Here’s what they actually do and how they can make you a better hunter.   

As a physically small kid, my son Trent was always a little spooked by a rifle’s recoil. Being a slight boy, even at 14, Trent still flinched and struggled with anything larger than a .223. The then newly released 6.5 Creedmoor was the largest caliber rifle he would shoot. I decided to install a suppressor on the 6.5 in the hopes that it would reduce the sound and recoil enough for him to shoot comfortably and confidently. This ended up being a game-changer, and after some quality time on the bench, he killed his first bull elk with that rifle and suppressor.

Hollywood has given the impression that silencers are used for killing people with no more sound than a faint pfft. Unfortunately, the general public and many politicians have bought into this false narrative. This perception is about as accurate as watching the movie Jaws and thinking all sharks are looking to eat people.

The truth is suppressors are far from silent. That is one of the reasons many people in the outdoor industry refuse to call them silencers. As their name suggests, suppressors simply dampen the sound of a gunshot. They do not eliminate it. In many European countries (which have lax suppressor laws compared to the U.S.), it is considered rude to shoot without a suppressor because of the increased noise pollution.

Suppressors are becoming more common as more hunters and shooters seek ways to protect their hearing. The main advantage to suppressors is that they reduce the decibel level of a gunshot enough to lessen the risk of hearing loss. They also keep your shot from being heard a mile away. And almost every shooter appreciates the reduced recoil that a suppressor delivers because of the additional weight to the end of the barrel and the reduced propellant gasses that are released.

Brandon Maddox, CEO of Silencer Central, one of the nation’s leading companies producing and advocating accurate awareness of suppressors, recognizes that hunters are the primary community who can overturn this misinformation.

“The first step in the eradication of preconceived notions is the education of hunters. And, as ownership of silencers increases, the mystery and falsehoods will gradually disappear,” Maddox says.

I’m a huge fan of suppressors because less noise and lighter recoil help reduce flinching in both new and experienced shooters. If I have a group of kids or new shooters on my range, they all want to shoot the rifle with the suppressor.

“A good suppressor will make a high caliber rifle feel like a rimfire,” says Maddox. “The national trend is moving toward lighter rifles, which normally means more recoil. A suppressor eliminates recoil more than a muzzle brake.”

The first suppressor was invented by Hiram Maxim in 1908 to help reduce the noise of his gunshots so he wouldn’t disturb his neighbors when he was shooting. Despite popular belief, suppressors were originally designed to lower gunshot noises while target shooting and hunting, not for military or law enforcement use.

Suppressors are relatively simple devices made up of a series of stacked baffles or monolithic baffles designed to modulate the speed and pressure of the propellant gas from the muzzle. The best analogy I’ve heard is to think of popping a balloon with a pin versus pinching the end then slowly relaxing your grip to let the air out. Same end result, a deflated balloon, but by releasing the air in a more controlled way and through a larger opening, the sound is quieter. The large suppressor chamber is much wider than the diameter of the firearm’s bore and causes less gas to be released at once.

Using a suppressor reduces sound by about 30 decibels. That’s basically the equivalent of putting on good-quality headset-style ear protection. The propellant gasses are still exiting the suppressor behind the bullet similar to popping a cork on a champagne bottle. Reduced sound will vary based on the type of ammunition you use, but in most elk hunting calibers with most factory rounds, suppressors cut noise by roughly 25 percent.

This technology also has the virtue of presenting hunters and shooters in a positive light by reducing the impact on others that are hunting or enjoying the amazing opportunities we have in the United States on public land who don’t want the serenity of their outdoor experience interrupted with a gunshot heard from potentially miles away. Maddox adds that a suppressor will allow you to continue to communicate with hunting partners without having to wait for the ringing in your ears to stop.

One disadvantage to suppressors is that they are expensive. They currently range from a low of about $300 to $2,500 dollars. You’re also required to purchase a federal suppressor tax stamp, which is an additional $200 dollars per suppressor. Plus, you may have to pay a gunsmith to have your barrel threaded to mount a quick-connect adapter or threaded for a direct mount. Fortunately, suppressors are becoming popular enough that many new rifles now come threaded for mounting a suppressor or quick-connect adapter.

The other primary drawbacks are the confusing regulations surrounding suppressors and the wait time to obtain your permit from the federal government, which can range from six months to two years. They are currently legal to hunt with in 42 states. Unfortunately, suppressors are illegal to even own in California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. Interestingly enough, these are also some of our more populated states that would benefit from some noise pollution reduction.

Another potential sticking point is that to use a suppressor, it must be licensed in your name or you must be with the person it is licensed to. So much for loaning your family heirloom to your son or daughter if you’re not with them. You also need to keep the permit for your suppressor with the firearm or on your person when using it in the off chance an officer requests the license. Federal laws and state laws can become muddied here, but to play it safe, keep your tax stamp with the weapon.

There are other ways to license your suppressor. These involve either a trust where members of that trust can use the suppressor or licensing it through a business where employees or independent contractors associated with the business may shoot with the equipment. Because the constantly changing laws and regulations surrounding suppressors are often difficult to understand, I recommend seeking legal advice, so you don’t ever find yourself in a jam.

If you are interested in purchasing a suppressor, try working through one of the larger suppressor companies.

Maddox states it plainly: “When buying a silencer, the paperwork is the largest obstacle. Ask anyone why they don’t have a silencer and they will tell you because of all the paperwork.”

But by purchasing your suppressor through well-established companies like Silencer Central, you get the peace of mind of knowing they are ensuring the entire process is accurate and legal.

If you want to buy just one suppressor, I recommend that you grab a .30 caliber size so you can use it on any .30 caliber rifle as well as any smaller caliber rifles you have. In a perfect world, you match the suppressor to the specific caliber of the rifle you plan to use it on, but you can still decrease noise by using a larger caliber suppressor on a smaller caliber rifle. I bought two when I purchased my first suppressors about 10 years ago. I purchased a .22 caliber and a .30 caliber so it would cover most of my firearms.

Despite the fact that suppressors are highly regulated, and the long wait currently associated with purchasing one can cause you to pull your hair out, I feel the positives strongly outweigh the negatives. After all, your hearing is priceless. And who doesn’t like a gun that kicks like a grasshopper instead of a mule?

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