B&C condones aerial spotting of game?

Bambistew

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Recently the Alaska Board of Game passed a proposal to ban the use of aircraft for spotting sheep with the intent to hunt them. This has caused quite a stir amongst the hunting populous, and rightfully so... its quite controversial. Nearly impossible to enforce, let alone get a conviction. Here's the wording...

a person who has been airborne may not take or assist in taking a big game animal until after 3:00 a.m. following the day in which the flying occurred; and from August 10 through September 20 aircraft may not be used by or for any person to locate Dall sheep for hunting or direct hunters to Dall sheep during the open sheep hunting season, however, aircraft other than helicopters may be used by and for sheep hunters to place and remove hunters and camps, maintain existing camps, and salvage harvested sheep. Restrictions in this paragraph do[DOES] not apply to
. . .
(C) a person flying on a regularly scheduled commercial airline, including a commuter airline;

The Board is having a hearing today to review the proposal and possibly rescind it, reverting back to the previous rule of no hunting until 3 AM the day following a flight, with no mention of spotting game.

I believe every state has some sort of rule concerning flying and hunting the next day. Alaska is a bit different in that some areas don't get dark, so the 3AM rule is basically a 3 hour window to hike in to kill the animal you spotted previously. Spotting game from the air and targeting a specific animal is prohibited by the ethics rules established by the Big Game Commercial Service Board, however the enforcement is lax, and the penalty is less than a slap on the wrist.

If you were to fly over a band of rams and noted that half of them were B&C rams, bulls, etc, would this be considered an ethics violation if you were to kill one of those rams? Apparently not in the eyes of B&C, you were just doing a "game survey." You didn't target a specific animal, yet you kill one of the animals you specifically spotted.

Residents with airplanes use them a lot to scout animals (can't blame them really), and they're squealing the loudest about this proposal, as well as quite a few guides. I think the wording needs a bit of help... otherwise if you look out the window on the way to the landing strip and spot a sheep... you better hope its not in the direction you intend to hunt.

Now to the topic that B&C affidavit contradiction. I was reading the public comments submitted to the Board, and noticed that B&C had submitted a comment. First lets preface their affidavit of "fair chase" as they call it.

For the purpose of entry into the Boone and Crockett Club’s® records, North American big game harvested by the use of the following methods or under the following conditions are ineligible:

I. Spotting or herding game from the air, followed by landing in its vicinity for the purpose of pursuit and shooting;
II. Herding or chasing with the aid of any motorized equipment;
III. Use of electronic communication devices to guide hunters to game, artificial lighting, electronic light intensifying devices (night vision optics), sights with built-in electronic range-finding capabilities, thermal imaging equipment, electronic game calls or cameras/timers/motion tracking devices that transmit images and other information to the hunter;
IV. Confined by artificial barriers, including escape‑proof fenced enclosures;
V. Transplanted for the purpose of commercial shooting;
VI. By the use of traps or pharmaceuticals;
VII. While swimming, helpless in deep snow, or helpless in any other natural or artificial medium;
VIII. On another hunter’s license;
IX. Not in full compliance with the game laws or regulations of the federal government or of any state, province, territory, or tribal council on reservations or tribal lands;

Here is their position on the matter...

BampC%20Aerial%20Spotting_Page_1_zpsmb5q2jst.jpg

BampC%20Aerial%20Spotting_Page_2_zps933gs2fe.jpg

BampC%20Aerial%20Spotting_Page_3_zpsoazxztap.jpg


Can someone help me understand their stance, and clarify what they mean in these letters? Seem to me that spotting game with the intent of killing is against their "fair chase statement", unless you follow the rules established by the state for aerial spotting/hunting. Apparently aerial spotting is in fact considered fair chase?

Consider this... you're hunting in the Brooks Range opening week (August 10-17) its daylight pretty much 23 hours a day. You spend all day flying looking for "the one", and keep tabs on him until 11-12pm... you land near by, hike for 2-3 hours, wait until 3am and boom.. .dead animal, your name in lights. Apparently this is A OK with B&C, no law was broken, and that was as fair chase of a hunt as you can get. Keep in mind that this wasn't a guided hunt, no "ethics" rules were broken.

So if this is their stance, wouldn't it also apply to all states who also have a time limit between flying/spotting/and hunting? If so why even both with such a "fair chase" statement, since it would be an illegal harvest anyway? Their stance seems a bit wishy washy to me.

I won't go into the use of drones and their animosity towards them... seems funny that using a drone to spot animals with the intent to kill them is wrong, yet spotting them with a "manned" drone is no big deal.
 

BuzzH

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A buddy and I talked about this very thing last night.

Here's my take on it.

I personally don't care in the slightest regarding the impact the regulation will have on hunters entering animals in B&C. I really couldn't care less one way or the other, that is up to the B&C club to decide and I support their decision either way. Their club, their rules...period.

What I'm concerned about is how using aircraft/drones for scouting purposes impacts wildlife, hunting opportunity, season length, etc. I have no problem with using aircraft to access otherwise inaccessible blocks of public lands, the plane at that point is no different than using a truck to access a trailhead.

What I think is total B.S. though, is the unfair advantage that is gained from scouting from the air for specific animals. Anyone that's hunted sheep, goats, moose, etc. in AK knows that aerial scouting is a huge game changer on killing an animal, or not, and in particular trophy sized animals. If anyone tells me otherwise, they're full of B.S. and I will call them on it.

What this boils down to is how flying is impacting the resource and how it impacts hunters as a whole. IMO/E, if AK continues to allow flying and scouting at the current levels, then I see a future of all sheep hunting going limited quota there. Is being able to scout from the air more important to AK residents than being able to hunt sheep every year? That's the question that they should be asking themselves.

Its no different in the lower-48. Wyoming Non-resident hunters bitch and complain about being limited in Region G (just one example) via low tag quotas. Well, a good part of the reason is that a lot of the best bucks are being skimmed by a couple outfitters that fly extensively in that country. Its primarily NR's that are hunting with these clowns, and getting the biggest buck on the mountain, trumps ethics and limits opportunity for all...every single time.

That's exactly why WYBHA has taken the lead on getting drones banned as well as cleaning up State Statute and Regulation regarding flying to scout here in Wyoming. By this time next year, flying to scout will be illegal from August 1-January 31 in Wyoming. Personally, and as a board member of WYBHA, we feel that maintaining ethics and giving wildlife a fair chance is more important than what B&C says in regards to trophy entry. If we don't put limits on technology somewhere, hunter opportunity, season lengths, and wildlife will all suffer...no two ways about it.
 
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Topgun 30-06

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I agree 100% with what BuzzH is saying, but the problem many have is putting it on the books with no real way of enforcing something like that because it's basically leaving it strictly to the ethics of the hunters. We all know that a lot of what some call hunting nowadays isn't ethical or is certainly stretching the term. If a guy is flying in or out of his outfitting camp with supplies or ferrying hunters back and forth and sees game that is within his legal territory there is no way I can see that he won't make note of it and use it to the advantage of those paying big money to hunt with him. Unless a prosecutor could prove without a shadow of a doubt that a person flew at a certain time and then has tagged an animal taken within that 24 hour "no hunt" time period I don't know how it would ever be enforced. We have so many laws and regulations in this country on the books now that are just "feel good", rather than enforceable, and this looks like another that will be that way. I agree with the theory, but having been in a LE type job for over 30 years before I retired in 2002 it is darn hard to have a Prosecutor take a case that they don't feel is 100% cut and dried winnable and I don't think there would be many cases like we're talking about that would be. Hunting has changed so much over the last 60 years since I started with my Dad that I really wonder where it will all end up what with this flying subject, LR shooting at game that isn't even in the same county as the hunter and has little chance if it's spotted, etc. It seems like there is just more and more stuff that is negatively affecting the sport that I knew as I grew up and it's very disheartening to see the way things are going and what people will do just for the sake of shooting an animal!
 
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BuzzH

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I agree 100% with what BuzzH is saying, but the problem many have is putting it on the books with no real way of enforcing something like that because it's basically leaving it strictly to the ethics of the hunters. If a guy is flying in or out of his outfitting camp with supplies or ferrying hunters back and forth and sees game that is within his legal territory there is no way I can see that he won't make note of it and use it to the advantage of those paying big money to hunt with him. Unless a prosecutor could prove without a shadow of a doubt that a person flew at a certain time and then has tagged an animal taken within that 24 hour "no hunt" time period I don't know how it would ever be enforced. We have so many laws and regulations in this country on the books now that are just "feel good", rather than enforceable, and this looks like another that will be that way. I agree with the theory, but having been in a LE type job for over 30 years before I retired in 2002 it is darn hard to have a Prosecutor take a case that they don't feel is 100% cut and dried winnable and I don't think there would be many cases like we're talking about that would be.

That's a bunch of B.S. There isn't a law on the books of any sort that is 100% enforceable...do we just do away with all laws because sometimes they aren't prosecuted? How many poaching cases are successfully prosecuted each year? Sure as hell not all of them. But it would be impossible to prosecute a single one if the laws didn't exist.

It doesn't take much to prove if someone is scouting via aircraft. Most every hunter in the woods these days has a cell phone or camera of some sort on them.

Also, there was a case successfully prosecuted last year involving aircraft that has resulted in a loss of hunting privileges for a year and a $1500 fine.

There is no longer a 24 hour waiting period in Regulation, so you're confused about that. Regulation will now mirror Statute, which is crystal clear in its intent of banning the use of aircraft for scouting, hunting, etc. The 24 hour wait regulation in Wyoming was illegal, as Regulation can not weaken Statute, which it did.

WYBHA did not ask to create a new law, only remove illegal wording in Regulation. The citizens of Wyoming were smart enough, a long time ago, to already pass the law to stop aerial scouting for hunting. All we had to do was remove the conflicting Regulation.

In discussions with the WYGF and AG, it was determined that adding the dates of banning in Regulation (and removing the 24 hour language) would clarify the intent of the Statute (to make the use of aircraft illegal for hunting/scouting game animals).

Finally, this law, like any other, will never be followed by everyone. But, having the law on the books is the only way to ever get a prosecution. There is no way to prosecute someone if no law exists.

I can assure you that the outfitters currently using aircraft for scouting are going to be on notice, video cameras will be ready, and the B.S. going on currently in the Wyoming Range is coming to a screeching halt.
 

Topgun 30-06

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That's a bunch of B.S. There isn't a law on the books of any sort that is 100% unenforceable...do we just do away with all laws because sometimes they aren't prosecuted? How many poaching cases are successfully prosecuted each year? Sure as hell not all of them. But it would be impossible to prosecute a single one if the laws didn't exist.

***Good old Buzz and I'm surprised it took you so long to hop right on me again! Where did I say there was anything that is 100% enforceable? Answer---I didn't! Where did I say all laws should be abolished? Answer---I didn't! NO, we keep laws on the books, but we also try to have laws that are enforceable and then prosecute violators to whatever extent a jurisdiction has the manpower to find the violators and do so!

It doesn't take much to prove if someone is scouting via aircraft. Most every hunter in the woods these days has a cell phone or camera of some sort on them.

***Baloney! If it was as simple as you say all these people that violate the law would be prosecuted. Just seeing a person flying and calling it in isn't going to result in a prosecution and if you think it is you had better quit smoking whatever you're on! All a rancher/outfitter has to say is he was checking his fences, cattle, etc. Unless there is a minimum flight ceiling and person is caught below it and is obviously circling looking for animals I doubt there would be a prosecution. Even then it would probably be hard to have those restrictions when you're also dealing with Federal aviation requirements.

Also, there was a case successfully prosecuted last year involving aircraft that has resulted in a loss of hunting privileges for a year and a $1500 fine.

***One case---WOW! We're also talking about Alaska here on this thread, not Wyoming!

There is no longer a 24 hour waiting period in Regulation, so you're confused about that. Regulation will now mirror Statute, which is crystal clear in its intent of banning the use of aircraft for scouting, hunting, etc. The 24 hour wait regulation in Wyoming was illegal, as Regulation can not weaken Statute, which it did.

***I know about Wyoming---see above as this thread is about Alaska!

WYBHA did not ask to create a new law, only remove illegal wording in Regulation. The citizens of Wyoming were smart enough, a long time ago, to already pass the law to stop aerial scouting for hunting. All we had to do was remove the conflicting Regulation.

***See above comment!

In discussions with the WYGF and AG, it was determined that adding the dates of banning in Regulation (and removing the 24 hour language) would clarify the intent of the Statute (to make the use of aircraft illegal for hunting/scouting game animals).

***See above comment again!

Finally, this law, like any other, will never be followed by everyone. But, having the law on the books is the only way to ever get a prosecution. There is no way to prosecute someone if no law exists.

***See above comment!

I can assure you that the outfitters currently using aircraft for scouting are going to be on notice, video cameras will be ready, and the B.S. going on currently in the Wyoming Range is coming to a screeching halt.

***One last time---see above comments, as we are discussing Alaska here, not Wyoming! Your "coming to a screeching halt"prediction is also probably about as accurate as your 90/10 and 60/40 to 40/60 predictions that went down in the Wyoming Legislature this last session, LOL! I initially stated that I'm 100% in agreement with you regarding what we're talking about and all we're disagreeing about is semantics and how it can be enforced, which IMHO will be a lot more difficult than you think. How many cases have you prosecuted in your forestry career? You can't be an expert in everything you discuss, even though you obviously think you can!
 
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JM77

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Actually, it seems the discussion is centered around how the B&C Club seems to be waffling on their "fair chase" statement on use of aircraft.

So I think what Buzz is saying is very relevant.
 

BuzzH

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Topgun,

Jeff and I were 100% responsible for the recent clarification in Regulation regarding hunting/scouting from aircraft in Wyoming. We worked in cooperation with WYGF leadership, AG, and WYBHA to get this done as well as banning drones (just had to add them to the definition of aircraft). But, it wouldn't have happened without Jeff and I pushing the issue via our involvement with BHA.

So, I would have to say that we probably know a bit about how and why the changes were made.

Just curious as to your level of involvement in this issue, didn't catch you in the meetings, multiple phone calls, etc. that took place to get this done.

You can try to downplay the changes/clarification all you want, but there is no longer any ambiguity in Statute and Regulation. Its not my job to enforce and prosecute law breakers. My job, in this case, was to clear the path for prosecuting those that want to break the law via illegal scouting/hunting from aircraft. Like I said, the Statute was already in place.

That's what we wanted, and that's what we accomplished...end of story.

As to your opinion on how easily it can be prosecuted? Jimmy crack corn...
 

Bambistew

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What I think is total B.S. though, is the unfair advantage that is gained from scouting from the air for specific animals. Anyone that's hunted sheep, goats, moose, etc. in AK knows that aerial scouting is a huge game changer on killing an animal, or not, and in particular trophy sized animals. If anyone tells me otherwise, they're full of B.S. and I will call them on it.

I did some digging on this a while back... I didn't look at the "trophy" size of sheep harvested (but will some time). What I did see that was quite interesting. I compared guided NR who accessed their hunt with a plane, vs residents who owned a plane vs paid an air taxi to fly them in. There is really no way to know if these stats are accurate (harvest reports are not 100% accurate, people lie), but I think it paints a pretty clear picture.

NR harvest rate (guided with plane transport) is about 70%
Resident harvest rate, private plane is about 40%
Resident harvest rate, air taxi is also about 40%

The differentiators is this... The average time of the hunt/harvest is as follows:
Guided NR days to harvest 4.9
Resident with private plane 4.1 days
Resident with air taxi service 5.7 days


Its obvious that having a plane and using it to scout makes killing sheep considerably easier. I would contend that the higher number for guided hunts is due to them obeying their ethics rules?



That's exactly why WYBHA has taken the lead on getting drones banned as well as cleaning up State Statute and Regulation regarding flying to scout here in Wyoming. By this time next year, flying to scout will be illegal from August 1-January 31 in Wyoming. Personally, and as a board member of WYBHA, we feel that maintaining ethics and giving wildlife a fair chance is more important than what B&C says in regards to trophy entry. If we don't put limits on technology somewhere, hunter opportunity, season lengths, and wildlife will all suffer...no two ways about it.

I agree whole heatedly.

I don't really care what B&C says either, just find it odd that their holier-than-thou stance on spotting game from the air, is really just a suggestion. Drones are evil and so is long range, etc.
 
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Topgun 30-06

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Well I see Frick and Frack are on here tag teaming again just like on MM! You two must be joined at the hip and/or have each other on speed dial, LOL! It also looks like you both, and especially BuzzH, just want to argue because it's me posting because I haven't posted anything here saying I disagree with anything you are doing in Wyoming. I know all about what you two have done regarding flying in Wyoming to spot game, including the usage of drones, and have FYI backed you 100% on those needed changes. You both certainly know that from the posts I've made on MM on the threads discussing it! Therefore, all in this latest post that BuzzH has posted back at me all about Wyoming is baloney because he has known my position all along and it doesn't differ from his or Jeff's! It's also getting old every time someone outside Wyoming that is interested in helping out on the various issues gets put down by your usual BS question asking how many meetings we've attended out there, etc, like you continue to do in your put downs and then have the nerve to question why people can't work together! Look in the mirror BuzzH because you aren't helping things at all when you keep blowing your own horn while putting most everyone else down! I personally don't see any waffling by B&C after reading their letter, as it appears they are saying that they would look at each Alaska situation that may be presented to them just like they always do on game submitted to them for consideration in their book. As far as I'm concerned the various "books" should have never been started showing the names of the person who took the animal, but rather just the animal itself should be honored! If the latter was the case, a lot of this "make the book" crappola would cease! I also have a hard time comparing the huge percentage of people flying up in Alaska and that have to rely on planes to Wyoming where people are taken into the back country on horseback for hunts. Yes, a lot of people are spotting game in both states from the air and I don't like it any more than the two of you do and have said so! However, I think it will be a lot harder to prosecute anyone in Alaska for a violation as compared to Wyoming because of the necessity of having to use planes to get around up there compared to Wyoming. Even in Wyoming IMO it will be hard to prosecute anyone for illegal use of planes or drones for spotting game with all the other uses they have and that people could say they were using them for. Finally, I really have to laugh at the Jimmy crack corn comment since that's the only comment I get when I asked how many cases BuzzH has prosecuted in his forestry career to make him such an expert while I did several hundred without losing a case in my 30 years in LE. Oh well, just another condescending remark that I'm getting use to every time I read a post with his name on it! Have a good evening gentlemen, as we really are arguing about nothing in the scheme of things other than the probable difficulty I think officials will have in enforcing whatever is on the books regarding drone or planes when they can't even enforce illegal "on the ground" shed collecting on the winter range from what I keep reading on various websites! If they can't do that it makes one wonder how they'll enforce anything involving what we're talking about, but I guess BuzzH has it all figured out and will tell them how to do it!
 
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JM77

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Topgun

Enforcement has definitely been in the conversation during this whole process. There is agreement between myself, G&F and BHA(Buzz & Tim Brass at that point) that there will be those who will abuse their right to fly. Simply saying that it is not enforceable, frankly to me is a 'cop 'out' when the whole reason this is being attempted is to help the resource, which invariably helps hunters and brings back common sense ethics to our sport.

To their credit, the Wy G&F has 100% support in this, knowing it's hunting ethics we're dealing with. I remember your support also Mike.

Also, the latest case of harassment while flying in central Wy and the subsequent harsh penalties is sending the message that abuse with aircraft won't be tolerated. How many pilots will risk hunting privileges? How many commercial operators will risk violations and possibly FAA problems?

When hunters on the ground know scouting with aircraft is illegal I am confident that descriptions and numbers will be turned in to the G&F, when the activity is witnessed. Simply flying to and from locations doesn't rise to the occasion of a violation. However, low flying, circling aircraft will be highly suspect.

IMO, this "new" regulation in Wy will decrease this activity greatly, leaving those few that do it even more obvious.
 

BuzzH

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Exactly...this whole issue is about protecting the wildlife resource as well as our hunting opportunities, season lengths, etc.
 

Joe Hulburt

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I watched a program this year where they were flying in search of grizzly dens then dumping the hunters to wait for the bear to come out of the den. I normally don't pay much attention to personal preference of what is "Fair Chase" but that rubbed me wrong. People are getting too far away from the point of "the hunt" when they need guaranteed easy success. Not good for the future of hunting IMO. To me that is what this law is about.....at least trying to give the impression of honest fair chase hunting even though it is impossible to enforce.
 

Topgun 30-06

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Jeff--- I'm not saying it isn't enforceable, but it will not be easy to stop what is going on if a guy doesn't voluntarily comply is all I'm saying. Most laws on the book, regardless of whether they are speed limits on the highway or what we're talking about, are made in the hopes that 99.9% of the populace will voluntarily obey the law in question. That seems to be happening less and less as the years go by and speeding is a good example of that with a huge percentage of the population not obeying the limits. I would hope the WY G&F is 100% behind what they are supposed to enforce, but that really doesn't do much good if they don't have the personnel to even follow up on calls on their hotline about illegal shed collectors. I'm sure you have read the comments on the MM Wyoming Forum thread regarding the guy calling in and being told they would investigate the violation he was reporting in a day or two and he was calling in right while the violation was happening! I guess I'm just skeptical about the G&F being able to successfully get a case into and through court the way a lot of Prosecutors are so politically motivated nowadays. With ranchers and outfitters having the clout in the state that they do it may be harder to prosecute a flying case than some seem to think. Maybe I'm wrong and I hope I am, but I guess the older I get the more cynical I'm becoming the way society is getting so complacent about so many things. I believe you're talking about the guy buzzing the elk herd that he filmed and then posted on the net. He deserved whatever he got and then some for that stupid act and I hope it gets plenty of publicity and does as you mentioned. The only way we can stop a lot of poaching and other game violations we're talking about is if we can get some decent cases through the various courts and send potential violators a message that if they get caught they will be in deep dodo with severe penalties imposed! You may well be right on your last couple comments and I certainly hope you are! Have a good evening!
 

Bambistew

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The proposal stands... No aerial spotting of dall sheep in Alaska during the hunting season. Not sure when it will go into effect, but I think it starts this year. I suspect this is just the start. Moose and bears will likely be up next. Well maybe not bears, we hate bears (or I'm supposed to).

It will be interesting to see what happens to the harvest stats.
 

BuzzH

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Bambistew,

Thanks for the update on all this, I will be interested to see where this all goes as well. The stats you provided are also pretty interesting.

I know flying is a more common practice in AK and more accepted there. But, in the lower-48 its really just now becoming an issue and we're addressing it.

I witnessed flying to scout twice last hunting season, once in Wyoming and once in Montana. I confirmed the flying I witnessed in Montana was for scouting, as I talked to a hunter that knew the pilot. The pilot told him that there were not any elk on the portion of the CMR that he flew the morning I saw him.

Really takes a lot away from a hunt when some asshat flies around looking for elk...in country that isn't hard to find elk in anyway.
 

Oak

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I'm anxiously awaiting the press release about an asshat here in CO that was just convicted of wildlife harassment for using a helicopter to scout for deer. It's going to be a good day. :)
 
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