“Courage, awe, respect, precision, patience”: These were the virtues that Hemingway honored in the hunter. From his perspective, hunting was a way to explore our humanity and man’s relationship to nature. This community values his words, and we believe that the vast majority of Idaho hunters view hunting through his eloquent lens.
For the hunter, Hemingway is ever-present. Among most hunters, there is thoughtful planning to go out into the breathtaking Idaho wilderness and take animals honorably and ethically.
In Ketchum, Sun Valley, Hailey and Bellevue city limits, hunting is prohibited. That is because hunting close to where people live is inherently unsafe.
For this reason, and for those of us who live outside the city limits, hunting season can bring an impending dread. In neighborhoods such as Hulen Meadows, Gimlet and Rainbow Bend, we hear gunshots at night and quickly text neighbors: “Did you hear that?” “Was that shot close to you?” “Sounded like it was on the river?”
Every year those of us who live outside city limits worry about a stray bullet. Or an arrow. In Hulen Meadows seven years ago, a hunter shot at elk from his truck in broad daylight. Terrified kids in a loaded school bus witnessed the entire scene from across the street.
This September, a majestic bull elk was shot by bow in Gimlet and Rainbow Bend, by two different hunters, on two different days, in two different locations. There were many witnesses, given that neighbors only had to look out their windows. Even though this occurred near homes, it was “lawful hunting,” but it was certainly not safe.
You know where this is going. The shots we worry about are not from the hunters described by Hemingway, which comprise the vast majority of hunters in Blaine County. They are from people who want an effortless “hunt.” They brag on Facebook about how “easy” it is to get a rack in our neighborhoods. Of course, they don’t admit to their friends that it’s “easy” because these elk are habituated to people. It’s “easy” like shooting an animal in a petting zoo would be “easy.” But it’s not honorable. And again, it’s certainly not safe.
One day, they will accidentally shoot a child or a beloved pet. That is why in Blaine County, Ordinance 4-2-1 was passed, which states that you cannot shoot within 1,000 feet of a dwelling. This was smart and it protected us. However, the Idaho Legislature quickly “gutted” this ordinance. Hunting is still lawful, as long as there is private property permission, no matter the distance. We understand that Idaho is not advocating for hunting near people’s homes, but the state law, which overrules our local ordinance, does not forbid it.
To be clear, the County Sheriff and the Department of Fish & Game have been our allies and they are truly sympathetic to the situation, but this stuff happens fast and the incidents are becoming too common.
We don’t have a call to action yet, but we do hope you share our safety concerns. We live in neighborhoods with children, grandparents, friends and pets. With hunting season upon us, we are worried. The hunters, with no allegiance to Hemingway’s honor code, will be back. And they have no apparent concern about the residents who live nearby.
Should anyone feel at risk of being accidental game in their own neighborhood?
This guest opinion was submitted by representatives of the Hulen Meadows HOA, Gimlet Masters Association and Rainbow Bend HOA.