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Outdoors blog

Archive for October 2012

Idaho Wildlife Summit report posted online

IDAHO WILDLIFE — A report summarizing comments from some 500 participants in the three-day 2012 Idaho Wildlife Summit is available on the Idaho Fish and Game website.

The Summit convened in late August to facilitate conversation among Idaho hunters, anglers, trappers and other wildlife conservationists. Discussions and presentations covered:

  • the status and direction of wildlife management in Idaho
  • the need to keep it relevant to the changing values, needs, and interests of Idahoans.

The Summit also allowed wildlife managers and state officials and to hear and understand what citizens expect from their state wildlife management agency.

Why is the Clean Water Act only 40 years old?

ENVIRONMENT — I was in high school when the rivers were catching fire in Cleveland.

The  Clean Water Act, a series of amendments to a limp 1948 law, was approved by Congress 40 years ago and put into action by the Environmental Protection Agency. It helped put an end to such gross treatment of water resources, or at least make it illegal, and revive or protect fishing in many waters.

Environmentalists get a bad rap.  But in cases such as water pollution, the only regrets are that they weren't able to get the country's attention much sooner.

Read on for more benefits from a law that helps protect our most basic source of life.

Reel Rock 7 films free at Mountain Gear

CLIMBING — See mind-boggling vertical rock climbing feats in a FREE presenation of the Reel Rock 7 film tour starting 7 p.m., Nov. 1, at Mountain Gear, 2002 N. Division St.

National Parks offer free three-day weekend

PUBLIC LANDS — National parks will be waiving entrance fees to celebrate Veterans Day weekend, Nov. 10-12.

The Park Service is waiving fees for a total of 17 days in 2012. The Veterans Day weekend fee waiver is the last scheduled for the year.

Offering  free admission to national parks and other federal lands has been offered the past three years as a cost-friendly family vacation option in the economic slump.

Keep track of your deer tag from field to freezer

HUNTING — As sportsmen are bringing deer, elk and moose in from the field for processing, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department offers this clarification on how do deal with your big-game transport tag.

Where does my deer/elk tag stay if half my meat is taken to a butcher for processing and the other half remains at my home?

The meat cutter will require that your tag stay at the butcher shop, so make sure you get it back when you pick up your processed meat so you can attach it to the side of your freezer.

It is recommended that you make a photocopy of your tag to keep with the other half of your carcass (meat) until your tag is retrieved from the butcher shop.

Do not leave your tag with a taxidermist. It is not required. But it is a good idea to photocopy your tag and give the photocopy to the taxidermist, to prove that the mount is legal.


Read more here:

Be frugal with money for elk hunting, but spend lots of time

HUNTING — My friend, John, has bagged two bull elk in Idaho this year, owing to skill, luck and investing in resident and nonresident tags. His friends have made a lot of jokes on how much he's hated for showing us up, but of course we're all envious and praising his effort, if not directly to him. 

Here's his explanation:

Generally I am the beneficiary of the good luck of others in my hunting “co-op”. This year I get to bring the goods to larder. Also I may have more say in what sausages and fine meat snacks we decide to make.

Last year I spent about 50 days afield trying to get an elk, nothing in archery, rifle, muzzeloader or late archery, I had to eat tag soup not once but twice, cause I bought the extra non-resident tag to hunt all those seasons. It fosters my belief that you need to spend the days out there to have the luck, then you need to have some skill to capitalize on those lucky situations.

This year the stars aligned. Yee Haw.

Google mobilizes Street View to map, photograph backcountry trails

TRAIL MAPPING — Soon you'll be able to look intimately at a trail on your computer or smartphone before launching out to hike, bike or ride a horse on it.

Google has begun applying it's Street View technology to the backcountry.

In its first official outing, the Street View team is using the Trekker—a wearable backpack with a camera system on top (see video above)—to traverse the Grand Canyon and capture 360-degree images of the breathtaking natural landscapes.

Google staffers have been hiking with the Trekker to capture portions of the South Rim at Grand Canyon National Park, as well as the famous Bright Angel Trail, and South Kaibab Trail.”

Google said the new imagery would soon be making its way to Google Maps.

See details on the project in this report from the Associated Press. 

Broken cell phone still functions as survival tool

SURVIVAL — Although you should never depend on a cell phone to be your ticket safety in an outdoor survival situation, it has obvious benefits  — if the battery isn't dead, if it works, if you have coverage, etc.

But even if you cell phone was dropped and broken, it still has some remarkable potential as a survival tool, as this interesting Daily Infographic illustration details.

One point about the cool suggestion of using the phone's speaker magnet, a leaf and a piece of wire to make a compass:

This situation assumes there is NO WIND or that you can shelter the leaf from any influence by the wind.

Trail cam scores mountain lions’ family portrait

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Trail cams are opening our eyes to rarely seen intimate lives of reclusive animals.

There's no better example than the photo above of four cougars in Montana — likely a mother an her three adult-size offspring.

Drew Shearer, a Bitterroot Valley bowhunter, has been using a remote motion-detecting camera to scout for game in his hunting areas. Inadvertently, he's captured this photo and many other astonishing images of wildlife in the Sapphire Mountains that make even professional wildlife photographers lick their chops.

See the story and more photos from the Missoulian.

Hiker finds Mount Spokane dusted by snow

STATE PARKS — Warren Walker found this moody scene Monday on the trail near the Bald Knob picnic area on Mount Spokane.

Wolf management will require cooperation, more money

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Wolves continue to consume, among other things, a lot of time, money and attention in Washington. 

Read on for an Associated Press report that rounds up what state Fish and Wildlife officials are doing and proposing as we head into winter, a critical time for wildlife as well as for wildlife officials seeking funding from the Legislature.

Vote online to boost North Idaho wolverine study

WILDLIFE RESEARCH — The Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness once again is asking people to vote online before Sunday (Oct. 28) to help the group garner $27,600 in requested grants from Zoo Boise that would be applied to wolverine research in the Idaho Panhandle.

Visit the Zoo Boise projects website for details and to vote.

Review the the wolverine proposal and the other finalists and then vote for your two favorites in each category. The four projects with the most votes will each receive a grant from the total of $110,000 the zoo is awarding in 2012. One vote session per person is allowed.

The Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness has partnered with Idaho Fish and Game and the Idaho Conservation League on a proposal for an Idaho Panhandle Wolverine Study.

Wolverines (Gulo gulo) have been classified as ‘warranted but precluded’ for listing as a threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Only about 35 breeding wolverine females were known to be roaming the lower 48 states two years ago.

Read on for more details about the North Idaho project.

Deer hunter success rates up slightly

HUNTING – Eastern Washington deer check station results indicate that hunters have been filling their tags at a higher rate than last year.

And the last buck of the general season checked Sunday afternoon in the Methow area (left) sported the largest set of antlers measured at the Winthrop station in 17 years, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reports.

The Deer Park station on Saturday and Sunday checked 196 hunters with 53 deer. That count included 44 whitetails, 24 of which were antlerless deer harvested by seniors, disabled or youth hunters. The overall whitetail-mule deer success rate was  27 percent, up from 16 percent on the same weekend last year.

Nineteen more hunters were checked this year than last year at Deer Park. The difference may be last year’s initial negative reaction to new four-point minimum in Units 117 and 121, ”and possible misunderstanding about antlerless hunting still being available to seniors, disabled, youth hunters,” said Madonna Luers, department spokeswoman in Spokane.

The Chattaroy station saw 67 hunters with seven deer for a success rate of only 12 percent. The station wasn’t operated last year so no comparison can be made.

Winthrop check station reported hunters had a success rate of about 20 percent during the general rifle season that ended Sunday.

”The last deer we checked for the season was a very large 9x10 point mule deer with a 33-plus-inch antler width,” said Scott Fitkin, district wildlife biologist.  ”This is likely the largest set of antlers seen at the check station in at least the last 17 years.  The lucky hunter harvested the estimated 4 ½ year-old animal in the Tripod Burn area which appears to be producing excellent summer deer forage 6 years after the fire.”

Hunting for white-tailed deer continues through Friday (Oct. 26) in Units 101, 105, 108, 111, 113, 124 for any buck and in Units 117 and 121 for 4-pt. mininim.

No more check stations are scheduled to be operated in northeastern Washington until the last weekend of the late whitetail buck hunt, which runs Nov. 10-19.

New rule: any hatchery steelhead OK on Hanford Reach

FISHING —Starting immediately, anglers can keep any hatchery steelhead on the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department has just announced.

This action removes the requirement for both an adipose fin clip and ventral fin clip for hatchery steelhead retained prior to Nov. 1. The Lower Hanford Reach will remain open for hatchery steelhead fishing after Oct. 31 under the current permanent regulation listed in the fishing rules pamphlet (Page 74) and is scheduled to run through March 31.

Read on for more details from WDFW.

New rule puts bite on people who feed bears

 WILDLIFE LAWS — Feeding black bears has always been a bad idea, but starting this year, it's also against the law in Washington.

Two new state laws went into effect in June that prohibit – intentionally or otherwise – leaving food or food waste in places where it can attract bears and other wild carnivores.

“This is the time of year when bears are looking to build up as much fat as possible to get through winter,” said Mike Cenci, deputy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife police chief. “Putting food scraps out for them or leaving garbage cans or pet food exposed is an open invitation for them to pay you and your neighbors a visit.”

It's also an invitation for Fish and Wildlife police officers to visit and give you a ticket.

Read on for more details from the WDFW.

Pronghorns give North America distinction

WILDLIFE — I go home to my hunting roots in Montana every year at this time, and the photo below (click continue reading) by Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson illustrates one of the reasons why.

A photo I made from my annual Montana hunting trip, above, illustrates several more reasons.

Read on for a few biological pointers on why the pronghorn (also called antelope) is so special.

Hanford salmon on the bite in October

FISHING — The first half of October has produced good fishing for chinook salmon on the the Hanford Reach of the Columbia.  Here's the Oct. 1-14 creel report just posted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

WDFW staff interviewed 659 anglers from 276 boats  with 353 adult Chinook and 167 jacks this past week.  An estimated 1,548 adult fall Chinook and 732 jacks were harvested (1.9 chinook per boat).  A total of 2,890 anglers trips were made to the Hanford Reach to fish for fall Chinook this past week.  All areas continue to report strong catches.

For the fishery, August 1 through October 14, an estimated 8,451 adult Chinook and 3,567 jacks have been harvested. 

The current in-season run forecast for the Hanford Reach estimates the 2012 fall Chinook return at 69,000 adults.

Stevens Pass celebrates 75 years with $1 MIL improvements

WINTER SPORTS — Stevens Pass Ski Area, up U.S. 2 from Leavenworth, will be opening for the 75th season this winter after investing more than $1 Million in improvements. Among them:

Trail Brush Cutting & Glading– Normally overrun by brush, even the Corona Bowl, the Aquarius zone, and the area in between Wild Katz and Double Diamond runs have been cleared. 

Terrain Park Expansion– About 40 new, non-snow features are being set at the Terrain Park and two new satellite parks are being added, including features for lower level riders.

New Snowcats– Three new Pisten Bully 400 Park Cats were added to the fleet.

Flex Ticketing – Instead of traditional all-day or half-day afternoon tickets, skiers and snowboarders at Stevens Pass can enjoy 4 or 8-Hour Flex Tickets, which are good any time of the day and don’t begin until the guest takes the first run. Come and go as you please and get the full value of a ticket.

6 & Under Ski Free – This season, families can bring their children, ages six and under, up to explore the mountain free of charge.  Guests should purchase or renew their child’s pass online to ensure season long direct-to-lift access. 

Mobile App – New this season, Stevens has partnered with veteran winter resort mobile app builder Resorts Tapped out of Jackson Hole, WY. Free for both iPhone and Android, this app lets users track all aspects of their day including vertical feet, distance traveled, top speed, and more.  Using the “check-in” feature, guests can locate themselves on the digital trail map and pinpoint their friends.  The app also produces a simulated playback at the end of the day so visitors can relive their routes and share them with family and friends.  Beyond tracking, the Stevens Pass app provides users easy access to weather conditions, webcams, trail updates, and social networks. 

Idaho Fish and Game chats online with hunters

SPORTSMEN ONLINE — Idaho Fish and Game officials sat down Friday with 158 waterfowl hunters from all over the state, answering their quesstions about waterfowl hunting and management — and nobody had to leave their officer or home.

The agency's first online chat. For example:

Comment from Duckhunter:

Will Idaho ever move to a split season for water fowl hunting?

IFG's Waterfowl biologist JEFF KNETTER:

It is entirely possible that Idaho could have a split season; however, when we conducted a survey of Idaho waterfowl hunters in July, 75% of survey respondents favored a continuous season.

Click here to scroll through a replay of the first chat, which covered waterfowl rules, biology, management and issues.


Orienteers invite families to navigate through Manito Park

View Larger Map

ORIENTEERING — The Eastern Washington Orienteering Club will celebrate haunting season in the fifth annual Vampire O event Saturday (Oct. 20) at Manito Park.

Participants will search for control points by headlamp or flashlight, but they must be constantly on the lookout for “vampires” who can rob them of points and cause them to turn to the dark side themselves.

  • Register starting at 6 p.m.  Mass start at 6:30 p.m.
  • Meet near the parking lot off Grand Avenue at 18th Street.

Bring the family and dress for Halloween fun. 

Liberty Lake Park trail closing briefly for renovation

TRAILS — Beginning Monday (Oct. 22) through Friday (Oct. 26) the popular 7-mile loop trail at Liberty Lake Regional Park will be closed for trail renovation that includes blasting.

Rock will be removed in an area to widen and level the trail.

The work is being funded with a $36,860 grant from the Washington State Recreation & Conservation Office. In addition to blasting work, the grant is funding bridge replacement, interpretive signage, habitat restoration, and other trail improvements along the popular loop trail.

The Washington Trails Association, Backcountry Horsemen, and the Lands Council are project partners.

See more details in Monday's SR story.

Click here for information or updates or contact Spokane County Parks, Recreation, & Golf, (509) 477-4730.

Oregon making big-game tags available to military

HUNTING — Giving up the chance to apply for big-game hunting permits is one of the many sacrifices military personnel make for their service.

Oregon is trying to change that.

Oregon soldiers like U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. James Nash can't plan a trip home to hunt because the randomness of their leave schedules mean they can't apply in advance for most big-game tags, says Mark Freeman, outdoor writer for the Medford Mail Tribune.

But starting this year, they'll have a chance to hit the woods should they find themselves visiting home in the fall, thanks to Nash.

“After a year's prodding from Nash and his father, Enterprise rancher Todd Nash, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has created a new program that allows Oregon service men and women the ability to get controlled deer and elk tags over the counter should they find themselves home during hunting season,” Freeman writes.

Call it the Nash Rule, and it's likely the first program of its kind in the nation to grant exceptions for deployed soldiers on leave.

Read on for the rest of Freeman's story.

Conservationists sue over Salmon River dredge permit

RIVERS — An environmental group has filed a lawsuit against Idaho after officials including Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter approved a plan to dredge the Salmon River for gold, the Associated Press reports. 

The Idaho Conservation League on Tuesday asked a 4th District Court judge to require Idaho to approve a reclamation plan before signing off on any mining projects. 

In September, Grangeville miner Mike Conklin was awarded a five-year lease by the Idaho Land Board giving him sole access to a half-mile stretch about 13 miles downstream of Riggins. 

The Boise-based environmental group contends Otter and other board members ignored laws meant to protect Idaho’s water, arguing that miners who use gasoline-powered suction dredges often leave big holes in the riverbed that damage valuable habitat for salmon and steelhead.

Some anglers opposed Conklin’s permit, saying it will hurt fishing.

Chip in for field day at Turnbull Wildlife Refuge

REFUGES – Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge and Spokane Audubon Society are organizing an annual work party and potluck for Saturday, (Oct. 20) in the ongoing community effort to restore native riparian habitat to benefit birds and other wildlife species.

Volunteers will plant hundreds of native saplings to plan before installing fencing to protect the trees from deer, elk and moose browsing.

Work will start at 9 a.m. followed by the potluck at noon.

Meet at Turnbull Refuge headquarters. Drive five miles south of Cheney on Cheney-Plaza Road; turn left on Smith Road and drive two miles to the headquarters.

Groups should register in advance. Info: 235-4723

Bird dog is angler’s best friend

FISHING/HUNTING — Having trouble finding birds to shoot during the upland bird hunting season?

No worries. Put that bird dog to use retrieving a fish dinner.  Video shows how easy it is.

Deer hunters posting decent opening weekend success

HUNTING — A little rain helped quiet the woods a bit in some areas for Saturday's deer season opener in Eastern Washington, but some areas were still snap, crackle pop.

Nevertheless, hunters were bagging deer at about the same rate as last year in NE Washington.

The Deer Park check station saw 114 hunters on Sunday with 12 deer (9 whitetails, 3 mule deer) for a 10-1/2 % success rate. Last year the same check station on opening weekend checked117 hunters with 7 deer.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife also ran a Chattaroy check station  for the first time in years to help gather deer body condition for a research project.  That station  on Sunday checked 66 hunters with 9 deer for a 13.6% success rate.

WDFW eforcement staff reported “slow” opener, particularly in northeast GMUs (some speculate some hunters are using other areas that are open to any buck, rather than the 4-pt. minimum in popular GMUs 117 and 121).

A friend and his daughter hunting Lincoln County Saturday saw few deer hunters — but tons of geese.

Okanogan Deer Harvest: The Winthrop deer check station saw 127 hunters with 17 deer. These numbers are almost identical to check station data from last year, and are in line with anecdotal observations of good success and lower than average hunter numbers being reported by enforcement agents in the district. Prospects for the remainder of the season should get even better with periodic valley rain and mountain snow expected through next weekend.


Radical Reels adrenaline flicks coming to North Idaho

FILMS– Radical Reels, the high-action, adrenaline-packed off-shoot flicks from the Banff Mountain Film Festival are coming to North Idaho this week, including a debut appearance in Coeur d’Alene.

See the high pucker-factor video trailer here.

The shows are scheduled:

Wednesday (Oct. 17) at the Kroc Center in Coeur d’Alene. Doors open 5 p.m.; films start at 6.

Thursday (Oct. 18) at the Panida Theater in Sandpoint. Doors open 6 p.m.; films start at 7.

The 11 films on this year’s tour include skateboarding on bobsled courses, kayakers on an adventure from Mexico to Iceland, speed climbing on outrageous rock routes, BASE skiing and a humorous candid look at people using headcams.

Proceeds from the North Idaho Films, sponsored by Mountain Fever, will be donated to the Kroc Center and the Independence Ski Race Team.

Tickets are $13 in advances at shops in the Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene areas. Leftovers will be sold for $15 at the door.

Yosemite’s Night Skies photography makes brilliant case about light pollution

WILD LANDS — A superb video with stunning images and videos of the night sky helps point out that wild lands such as national parks are rare places where people can get a great view of the stars and planets without being washed out by civilization's lights.

Enjoy this video with all its stars, moon rises, shooting stars, streaking satellites and people offering their insight on what's out there.

Volunteers pack mountain of debris off South Hill bluff trails

TRAILS — A great turnout of 67 volunteers worked this morning to pack tons of branches and debris off the bluff below High Drive in an effort to make the popular South Hill trails more resistant to a major fire.

The branches have been trimmed and piled by a smaller group of dedicated volunteers organized this summer by the Friends of the Bluffs.

By noon, the amount of material piled up along High Drive for city crews to pick up was impressive.

The bluffs are in better shape for their effort and the slope and neighborhoods are safer.

Sponsors offered some neat prizes to help reward the volunteers. 

  • Info: Diana Roberts at WSU Spokane County Extension, email or phone 477-2167.

Steelheading opens Tuesday on Upper Columbia and tribs

FISHING – Starting Tuesday (Oct. 16), hatchery steelhead fisheries will open on the mainstem upper Columbia, Wenatchee, Icicle, Entiat, Methow and Okanogan rivers, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced today.

In addition, the Similkameen River will open to hatchery steelhead retention beginning Nov. 1.

All of these fisheries will remain open until further notice.

Jeff Korth, regional fish manager for WDFW, said approximately 18,000 adult steelhead are expected to return to the upper Columbia River this year – enough to allow the department to open area steelhead fisheries.

However, wild steelhead are expected to return in lower numbers than last year, requiring additional constraints on those fisheries.

“We carefully manage these fisheries to protect naturally spawning steelhead listed under the federal Endangered Species Act,” Korth said. “These fisheries traditionally remain open through the winter, but with lower numbers of wild steelhead and tighter allowable impacts on those fish we may have to close early.”

Korth said anglers should check WDFW’s website throughout the season for any regulation changes.

Read on for details about the fish you can and cannot keep, and specifically where fishing is allowed.

Hunters boost deer research by stopping at check stations

HUNTING — Spokane-region hunter check stations will be staffed this weekend, with biologists sampling the harvest for data important to managing deer herds.

Look for the stations at truck scales along Highway 395 at Deer Park and Highway 2 south of Chattaroy.

The stations will be open five days this season: Sunday, Oct. 20 and 21, and Nov. 17 and 18.

Biologists will determine the age and health of the deer as well as gathering information for a major whitetail study under way in northeastern Washington.

However, the state won’t be sampling for chronic wasting disease at the stations, so the lymph nodes won’t have to be removed from the carcasses.

The agency will be testing only animals that show CWD symptoms, such as emaciation or abnormal behavior.

A federal grant that funded the more extensive CWD testing of the past expired last month, said Kevin Robinette, WDFW regional wildlife manager.

Steelhead harvest season opens Monday on Clearwater

FISHING – The fall steelhead harvest season opens in the Clearwater River drainage on Monday (Oct 15) with a few twists in the fishing rules from previous seasons.

The seasons opens on the main stem of the Clearwater River above the Memorial Bridge, the South Fork Clearwater River, the North Fork Clearwater River below Dworshak Dam and the Middle Fork Clearwater River below Clear Creek.

The steelhead harvest season on lower Clearwater and Snake rivers already is open.

The limits on the Clearwater are two a day and six in possession while the limits on the Snake and Salmon rivers are three a day and nine in possession.

Only steelhead with a hatchery-clipped adipose fin may be kept.

New rules that took effect last year allow anglers to transport anadromous salmon and steelhead without the head and tail attached. However:

  • The fish must be recorded on the angler’s salmon or steelhead permit.
  • The processed fish must have the skin attached, including the portion with a healed, clipped adipose fin scar.
  • Fish must be packaged in a way that the number of harvested fish can be determined.
  • The fish must be processed ashore when the angler is done fishing for the day.
  • No processed salmon or steelhead may be transported by boat.
  • No jack salmon may be processed in the field.
  • Processed salmon or steelhead count toward an angler’s possession limit while in the field or in transit.

See Idaho Fish and Game’s “How to fish for steelhead” videos.

Elk rut winding down; bulls headed for deep, dark woods

HUNTING — Just in time for the the big-game rifle seasons, the elk rut is winding down and the big bulls will be slinking away from their harems to recover and hide in thick dark woods — wherever they can avoid attention from huners and wolves.

Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson caught the the bull above in September, during the peak of its glory — and vulnerability. 

Now the bull's world is all about surviving through winter.

Washington wildlife commission’s wolf hearing detailed

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman magazine monitored the entire presentation and comment period of Friday's Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting devoted to Washington's wolf management activities.

I listened to the webcast from Olympia, too, but reading Walgamott's blow-by-blow blog post on the presentations and the 41 three-minute testimonies from the public — plus the resulting website comment string — is more entertaining and requires less caffeine to endure.

Smart hunters in blaze orange stand out in the crowd

HUNTING — Washington’s main deer hunting season opens Saturday, three days after Idaho hunters got the head start.

You can tell the difference between hunters from the two states. Washington hunters must wear fluorescent orange clothing during the modern rifle big-game seasons. Most Idaho hunters wear camouflage.

Growing up in Montana, where blaze-orange clothing has been required since I started hunting as a grade-schooler, I’m comfortable being highly visible to other hunters while being nearly invisible to big game.

Orange camo clothing is highly efficient. I’ve verified that during plenty of close encounters with unwitting deer and elk.

The first lesson my dad gave me is still the best and most basic advice for getting close to big-game, and it works regardless of whether you’re wearing blaze orange:

A hunter should be seen and not heard – and always strive to be still and downwind.

Who’s reffing the game between wolves and everyone else?

ENDANGERED SPECIES — A few callers say they're scratching their heads trying to figure out the point of today's outdoors column regarding wolves.

Here's a hint: Wolves need a lot of fresh meat year round in order to survive.

The Yellowstone model has spawned a myth that elk and moose — the wolf's favorite meal — are overpopulated throughout the West and that wolves will bring the ecosystem into balance.  

But in Northeastern Washington, there's no over-population of elk, moose or deer.

Unless wolves are managed, they will continue to multiply and reduce game population to even lower numbers. Then, left to natural processes, the wolf numbers will go bust, but not before they turn to preying on livestock as their last-ditch effort to survive.

Either way, wolf management is the better option if you really care about the future of wolves.

Read a detailed account of Washington wolf management update and resulting public comment during the Oct. 5 Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting in Olympia.

Turnbull cygnet makes first short flight

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The ducks that were hatched this spring have been flying for months. But ducks and even geese aren't the largest of all native North American wildfowl. 

The trumpeter swans that hatched in mid-June at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge have required the entire summer and several weeks of autumn to grow, muscle up and feather out enough to flap their 15- to 20-pound bodies into the air from a dramatic running-on-top-of-the-water takeoff.

Carlene  Hardt has been following the Turnbull trumpeters closely this year and she has captured good photos of their development.

“The cygnets have all their flight feathers and could fly anytime,” Hardt reports this week. On Sunday, one of the cygnets made a very short flight with the parents! The other two have not shown any interest so far but I am sure they will soon.

“The parents leave for about an hour each day. I wonder if they leave them so long to encourage them to learn to fly so they can follow!”

Even the adult turmpeters were flightless during a portion of the summer. They swam closely with their offspring at Middle Pond near the refuge headquarters while they molted their feathers.

Trumpeter swans are typically gray when they hatch. Cygnets steadily lose their gray plumage and molt in pure white feathers by the time they are one year old. The change is not complete in the Turnbull birds.

Cygnets require 110-120 days from the time they hatch to the time they fledge — a moment that appears to be arriving this week at Turnbull.

Once they get the hang of it, these trumpeter swans will be able to fly between 40-80 miles per hour. They are susceptible to collisions with wires, especially when they migrate, but they offer an irresistible reason to crane our necks skyward for a look.

Click “continue reading” to see the difference in the Turnbull cygnets' wing development from the third week of August to the first week of October, as shown in Hardt's photos.

Trailwise parents organize online to hike with kids

HIKING — A group of trailwise parents in Spokane has started leading group hikes for families and children. Anyone who likes to hike with families is welcome to join them!

It's a free Meet Up group that organizes online. They call themselves the Big and Little Rock Hikers.

 Last week they were on a treasure hunt at Slavin Conservation area.

Coming up:

  • Sun. Oct. 14th, Hike & Scavenger Hunt with Clues, to Big Rock & Beyond, led by Gary (age 10) and Kathy Kalich.
  • Sat. Oct. 20th, Beaver Dam Hike w Biology Expert & GU Professor Sue Niezgoda, Liberty Lake Trail.

5 deer dead in Lincoln County poaching spree

POACHING — Five deer were shot, killed and left to rot north of Reardan around Oct. 4, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife police said today.

It’s the second five-deer spree-poaching case the agency has investigated in the Spokane Region in two weeks.

The Lincoln County deer included three bucks and two does shot with small-caliber firearms in and near an alfalfa field.

In late September, five whitetails were found dead in another case north of Spokane Valley after spotlighting activity was noticed near the intersecton of Farwell and Peck roads. Two fawns in that case had been run over by a vehicle; the others shot.

It's honorable to rat on scumbag poachers, but you can also earn hefty rewards or bonus points offered for information leading to arrests in these cases.

Call the agency’s regional office in Spokane, (509) 892-1001. 

Dead moose near Harrison Lake prompts warning

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — A fresh moose carcass was discovered TODAY along the Selkirk Crest’s popular Harrison Lake Trail prompting local Forest Service officials to issue a wildlife hazard warning.

No conflicts between humans and wildlife have been reported, but officials recommend that hikers choose another trail and avoid traveling within the vicinity of the carcass, which is likely to attract large carnivores.

The carcass is a half half mile from the trailhead and is likely to attract wildlife including predators such as grizzly bears and mountain lions.

It is unknown what caused the moose’s death, said Jason Kirchner of the Panhandle National Forests.

Info: Sandpoint Ranger District, (208) 263-5111.

Photographer finds Cabinet Mountains in full glory

MOUNTAINS — The Cabinet Mountains near Libby, Mont., were beaming in all their glory Tuesday.

“This is the Bull River, near the giant cedars, with Ibex and Little Ibex peaks in the background,” said Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson.

He was out for a little fresh air, and it looks as though he found it — along with some clouds rather than plumes from fires.

“I’m hoping the smoke is on the way out,” he said. “I’m tired of the smoke.”

11-pound rainbow wins OktoberFish derby at Pend Oreille

FISHING — Mike Perry of Garfield Bay topped the field of 105 anglers last weekend to win the the two-day Bayview OktoberFish Derby on Lake Pend Oreille.

Perry landed a rainbow trout weighing 11 pounds, 3 ounces to top the second place fish weighing 10 pounds, 3 ounces caught by Rick McCorkle of Athol.  Rory Bergere of Spoakne placed third with a 9 pound, 6 ounce rainbow.

Ken Olson of Coeur d’Alene won the prize offered for catching the most mackinaw with 11 fish totaling 32 pounds.

Bandannas, prizes ready for South Hill bluffs work party volunteers

TRAILS — If you're a hiker, biker, dog walker or neighbor to the trails on the South Hill below High Drive, Saturday (Oct. 13) will be a great time to roll up your sleeves and show a little appreciation.

The Friends of the Bluffs are organizing a Firewise Community Event, 9 a.m.-noon, to haul piles of branches and brush up the slope.  All summer, volunteers have been pruning trees on the Bluff to reduce fire risk and improve forest health.

Hauling the debris up the slope will be good workout for a good cause. The firewise effort, led by specialists, will make the bluffs less prone to major fire that could wipe out the scenery for decades — and possibly torch a neighborhood.

Volunteers will assemble at High Drive and 33rd Ave.

The first 50 volunteers who RSVP and come out to help haul branches this Saturday will receive a cool, collectible bandana that depicts the Bluff’s arrowleaf balsamroot. Prizes will be awarded at noon.

RSVP to Diana Roberts at WSU Spokane County Extension, email or phone 477-2167.

Families and kids at least 10 years old are encouraged to participate. Please wear sturdy work clothes and gloves.

Sockeye regaining ground throughout Columbia region

FISHERIES More than a century after their runs up the Cle Elum River were wiped out by dams, the sockeye are spawning again this year, thanks to a boost from fisheries programs.

Meantime, the Yakama Nation is in the fourth year of spearheading an effort to reintroduce this prized salmon species back into the Yakima River Basin. 

Sockeyes bound for the Wenatchee and Okanogan rivers were trapped at Priest Rapids Dam about three months ago and trucked them to Lake Cle Elum for release. A total of 10,000 wild sockeye were released in the lake this year, a number that has grown steadily each year because of the abundance of the Columbia River sockeye run. The Yakama Nation plans to harvest fish at Priest Rapids after the overall run reaches 80,000 fish.

Ultimately, the program seeks to establish a self-sustaining run of Yakima River sockeye that will allow for a sport fishery.

The total Columbia River run this year approached 600,000 fish as daily counts set June records at Bonneville Dam.

See more in this report by the Yakima Herald-Republic.

Washington promotes reductions in bass, walleye, catfish

FISHING — A little more pressure will be applied to nonnative fish species such as bass and walleye if fishermen accept fishing regulations changes for 2013 proposed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The agency is taking public comments through Dec. 15 on a range of proposals, including suggestions to increase or remove daily bag limits on nonnative fish species such as smallmouth bass and walleye that prey on imperiled native salmon and steelhead.

Promoting more harvest of these species might actually improve fishing for smallmouth and walleye, which tend to be overpopulated in some waters, said Chris Donley, state inland fish program manager.

The jury's out on how much impact the rule would have on walleye and smallmouths since a relatively small portion of fishermen keep their limits of those species at existing levels, he said.

The proposed rule changes would remove the daily catch limit for channel catfish and the daily catch and size limits for bass and walleye in portions of the Columbia and Snake rivers and their tributaries to assist with recovery efforts for salmon

 WDFW is recommending nearly 70 sportfishing rules proposals. Among them:

  • Remove the daily catch limit for channel catfish and the daily catch and size limits for bass and walleye in portions of the Columbia and Snake rivers.

A second option under that proposal would also remove existing limits for those fish, but restrict anglers to three bass larger than 15 inches in length and one walleye larger than 24 inches in length.

The proposed changes are designed to increase the harvest of abundant bass, walleye and channel catfish, which prey on juvenile salmon and steelhead that are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The proposed new bass and walleye regulations include Columbia waters upstream from McNary to Priest Rapids Dam, the Yakima River and its tributaries, the Snake River upstream to the Idaho-Washington border, the Yakima, Okanogan, Walla Walla, Palouse, Tucannon and Grande Ronde rivers in Washington.

  • Increase catch limits for walleye on Lake Roosevelt and the Spokane Arm of Lake Roosevelt, where there is an overabundance of the species. The proposed change is designed to allow a variety of other fish species to grow in numbers by reducing the walleye population through an increase in recreational fishing opportunities.
  • Change the opening day of more than 100 resident trout streams to the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.
  • Allow the use of two fishing poles, with the purchase of a two-pole endorsement, on 50 additional lakes throughout the state.

Fisheries manager explains

The idea is to “focus the harvest on the fish that are doing the most damage,” Donley said. Studies indicate that bass 15 inches long or smaller prey heavily on salmon and steelhead smolts, while larger bass look for bigger fish to fry. Likewise for walleye.

Donley said that federal, state, tribal and other stakeholders have made “tremendous investments” in habitat, harvest, hatchery and hydro system improvements to help boost the survival of ESA listed salmon and steelhead stocks.

“It would be irresponsible not to look at this as one of the factors” that are hindering salmon and steelhead recovery, Donley said.


Dec. 15: Deadline for public comments on proposed 2013 fishing regulations.

January 2013: The last public testimony on the proposed regulations will be at the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission’s January meeting in Olympia.

February 2013: The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will vote on the proposed regulations.

  • Printed copies of the proposals and comment forms are available from the WDFW Fish Program, (360) 902-2672.

Steelhead still running over dams in good numbers

FISHING — Steelhead continue their parade up the Snake River and over the dams. They're moving over Lower Granite Dam, the last before they hit Idaho waters, at the rate of about 2,200 a day.

Idaho voters asked to make hunting, fishing, trapping a right

ELECTIONS — Idaho voters in November will consider whether to upgrade hunting, fishing and trapping from traditional privileges to rights protected by an amendment to the state's constitution.

Sen. Lee Heider, R-Twin Falls, who crafted the amendment, said it's time to protect Idaho’s heritage, especially against the steady pressure from animal rights groups. He says the amendment will protect the hunting, fishing and trapping heritage from future attempts to erode Idaho’s wildlife management laws.

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission supports the amendment.

The trapping portion of the proposed protections has stirred the most controversy.

Idahoans Against Trapping launched a campaign against the amendment effort earlier this year, arguing that trapping is cruel and inhumane, and shouldn’t be protected in the constitution.

A “yes” vote supports adding the following section to the Idaho constitution:

“The rights to hunt, fish and trap, including by the use of traditional methods, are a valued part of the heritage of the State of Idaho and shall forever be preserved for the people and managed through the laws, rules and proclamations that preserve the future of hunting, fishing and trapping. Public hunting, fishing and trapping of wildlife shall be a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. The rights set forth herein do not create a right to trespass on private property, shall not affect rights to divert, appropriate and use water, or establish any minimum amount of water in any water body, and shall not lead to a diminution of other private rights.”

Read on for statements for and against HJR 2, as prepared by the Idaho secretary of state.

Region’s steelhead topic of fly fishing program

Fly fishing – John Shewey, veteran angler and author, will present a free program on fly fishing for steelhead, 7 p.m. Wednesday at St. Francis School, 1104 W. Heroy, for the Spokane Fly Fishers. 

No harm in hatchery salmon having wild time

FISHERIES — Recent reports from a new fisheries study goes against the grain of previous science by suggesting there's no harm in hatchery salmon spawning with wild salmon — at least not the first time.

See Columbia Basin Bulletin's detailed report.

Sockeye first in 45 years to upper Deschutes River basin

FISHERIES — The first observed spawning sockeye salmon in the Metolius River in more than 45 years was reported on Sept. 27 by an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist. 

The Metolius joins the Crooked and Deschutes rivers in central Oregon’s Lake Billy Chinook above the Pelton-Round Butte hydro project, which has for that half century blocked upstream passage of anadromous fish – salmon and steelhead that are born in freshwater, mature at sea and then return to spawn in their natal streams.

The three rivers become the Deschutes, which flows about 100 miles downstream from the dam complex before entering the Columbia River.

Seet the Columbia Basin Bulletin's detailed report.

Alaska hunter’s bull moose puts all other game in perspective

HUNTING — Moose are the largest of North American big-game animals.

But the size of a trophy bull tagged recently by a hunter in the Brooks Range emphasizes that the moose we see in the Inland Northwest are pip-squeaks compared with the Alaskan variety that stand about 7 feet tall at the shoulders.

Bob Condon, 73, of Soldotna, Alaska, was in a remote, fly-in area when he bagged the bull that's sure to make the record books.

The bull weighed more than 1,500 pounds.

The antlers — 10-inches in circumference at the base with a spread of 73 inches and palms large enough to cradle a grown man — weighed 98 pounds alone.

Condon reportedly made a great 400-yard shot, and his comeback from five heart bypass surgeries as well as being attacked by a big bull moose in recent years, is compelling.

Read the full story from the Redoubt Reporter of Soldotna.

Better days will come this season for bird hunters

HUNTING — I took Scout, my English setter, out for two, short, early morning hunts this weekend to celebrate the opening of the quail and partridge seasons.   Emphasis on short.

It's simply too dry and warm out there to be working a dog too hard.

In case you missed it in the Sunday Outdoors section, dog trainer Dan Hoke of Dunfur Kennel near Cheney has some excellent early-season tips for hunting with bird dogs.

But I did see enough birds on my short hunts to be optimistic that late hatches produced a decent crop of quail, Huns —  and even pheasants.  (I saw two young roosters that still weren't feathered out.)

November and December will be prime time.

Diva Night opens door to outdoors for women

OUTDOOR PURSUITS — This is a great evening of presentations and activities to help women get involved in outdoor pursuits.  Be sure to pre-register at REI-Spokane store website.

Video: Bowhunter enjoys close encounter with bull elk

Montana Bull Elk Taking it out on a Tree from Bob Legasa on Vimeo.

HUNTING — North Idaho bowhunter Bob Legasa was in postion to put a nice bull elk in the freezer a couple weeks ago when it came to the calls of his hunting partner.  

But when he realized the elk was a hair smaller than the bull he wanted to tag this fall, he relaxed his bow and enjoyed the thrill of being 15 yards of a 600-pound animal with raging hormones.

Tips needed in poaching of 5 deer north of Spokane

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WILDLIFE ENFORCEMENT — Five white-tailed deer were killed and left to rot north of Spokane Valley on Sept. 28 in a poaching case state wildlife police are still investigating.

Spotlighting was reported around 1 a.m. near the intersection of Farwell and Peck roads. Two fawns killed in the incident apparently were intentionally run over, officers said.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife police are looking for more tips. Report poaching incidents by phone at (877) 933-9847, or text message to TIP411.

Weekdays, call (509) 892-1001 and ask for Officer Jason Snyder.

Persons providing information that leads to the arrest of the person(s) responsible for these poachings may be eligible for a reward of up to $2,500 from WDFW and Conservation Northwest.

Informants may remain anonymous.

Video: Powder Whores free tonight at Mountain Gear

Powderwhore's “Choose Your Adventure” Trailer. from Powderwhore on Vimeo.

WINTER SPORTS — If you're in the mood — for skiing and snowboarding — check out the great flick, Powder Whores, to be screened tonight, 7 p.m., at Mountain Gear, 2002 N. Division. It's free!

Salmon fishing to close on Wenatchee, mainstem Columbia rivers

FISHING — Salmon fishing will close on the Wenatchee River and portions of the Columbia River after sunset on Sunday, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department announced today.

Locations:  Wenatchee River from the mouth (confluence with the Columbia River) to the Icicle Road bridge near the west end of Leavenworth, and mainstem Columbia River from Rock Island Dam to Chief Joseph Dam.

Species affected:  Chinook and sockeye salmon.

Reason for action:The salmon fishery is approaching allowable limits of incidental impacts to ESA-listed steelhead under the Permit 1554, which covers the summer chinook and sockeye fisheries. 

Other information:  The fall chinook fisheries below Rock Island Dam and the summer chinook fishery in the Chelan River are not affected by this closure.  Please check WDFW's “Fishing in Washington” rules pamphlet and emergency regulations on the department's website for details on all permanent fishing seasons and regulations for those waters.

Road re-routed off Middle Branch LeClerc Creek

PUBLIC LANDS — The U.S. Forest Service has completed a 2.25 mile reroute of Forest Road 1935000 (Middle Branch of LeClerc Creek) north of Newport and east of the Pend Oreille River as part of a larger road relocation and restoration project to benefit water quality and fish habitat.

The re-routed section of road begins near the new bridge crossing of the Middle Branch of LeClerc Creek and has been relocated away from the bottom of the drainage in order to improve the riparian and stream habitat. The old section of road is currently being decommissioned and is no longer open to motor vehicle use. The decommissioning of the 2.6 miles of road along Middle Branch LeClerc Creek includes the removal of fish passage barriers at 4 locations, restoring the stream channel at each of those four stream crossings as well as floodplain re-establishment and re-contouring the road.

Read on for funding sources and details.

Parched into October: When has it been this bad?

“We have not seen wildfire conditions this bad in October in a lifetime,” Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark said Thursday.

“I’m concerned that the shorter days and colder weather will lull some people into thinking it’s safe to build campfires or bonfires. We need everyone to be cautious, alert and aware of the burn restrictions.” 

Virtually all state and federal agencies have extended restrictions on burning — including no fires outside of grated pits in designated campgrounds — at least through Oct. 15.

Steelhead, salmon spreading from Columbia up to Salmon River

FISHING — Good catches of steelhead and chinook salmon have been reported this week from the Lyons Ferry area of the Snake, the Lewiston area, the Grande Ronde River and all the way up to the Salmon River at Riggins.

Water conditions are getting prime and fish are spreading their wealth to anglers, even though the runs aren't up to average.

Here's the upstream report on the Salmon River from Amy Sinclair of Exodus River Adventures in Riggins:

Salmon River flow this morning is 3640 CFS, water temperature is 57 degrees and the river is crystal clear.

Colder night-time temperatures should be ideal for cooling the water temperature down and getting more steelhead into the area.

The prime steelhead fly fishing is late September to mid October while water temperatures are warm and have the fish aggressive. Standard or typical steelhead fishing with spin or bait rods/reels is best in the fall from mid October until early December. Best spring steelheading is from early February to mid March.

Wildlife Commission to get wolf management update

ENDANGERED SPECIES — An update on the status of gray wolves in Washington, including a wrap-up of the state's September effort to eliminate the Wedge Pack in northern Stevens County, will be presented Friday to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in Olympia.

Nate Pamplin, Fish and Wildlife Department assistant wildlife program director, and Steve Pozzanghera, the agency's Spokane Region manager, are on the meeting's agenda to brief the commission on issues related to the state’s Wolf Conservation and Management Plan at 1 p.m.  

The meeting location was changed this week to the Columbia Room inside the Capitol Building as officials got the sense they would need a larger room.

The commission will take public comments starting at 3:15 p.m. Representatives of pro-wolf groups, the livestock industry and conservation organizations have indicated they'll be represented at the meeting.

The meeting will be televised via webcast.  

Meantime, in states where wolves have been delisted and wolf management has commenced:

Wolf trapping seasons will begin in both states later in the fall.

Bears pick up pace of Camas High School x-c team

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — Bear sightings have sent Camas High School cross-country teams running two times in recent weeks.

The x-c meets were moved after bears were sighted at Lacamas Park, a forested 330-acre park.

Police say they’ve received numerous reports of bears at the park and they’ve notified the state Fish and Wildlife Department.

Perhaps its a coach's plot to pick up the pace.

Moose on the loose around town

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — Moose are looking for love this time of year, and, as in humans, it can make them goofy.

This is OK when they're out in the woods, but it's not uncommon to see moose around Spokane, Post Falls, Coeur d'Alene and other towns in the region. 

Give moose a wide berth. Enjoy them from a distance.

Here's a report from Spokane's South Hill by Robert Estuar:

Might be time to remind people to be wary of moose off the South Hill bluff. I mountain bike the trails about 4 times per week and I've seen moose on 4 separate occasions over the past 3 weeks.

Yesterday around 6 pm, I happened on 3 moose (looked like a cow and 2 calves) about 25 feet off the trail. I've seen the moose on the lower trails -southwest of the powerlines.

Great to have wildlife sightings so close to home but I worry about problem interactions with people and their dogs.

Garden expert Pat Munts offers more on the subject today in this column.

Wedge Pack wolves average size, scales show

ENDANGERED SPECIES — The seven Wedge Pack wolves killed by Washington Fish and Wildlife officers in August and September were healthy, but not necessarily beefy from their diet of livestock.

Read this report by Northwest Sportsman editor Andy Walgamott for updates and details on the weights of the carcasses assessed by the WDFW veterinarian.

Timely tips on fly fishing for steelhead

FLY FISHING —Red's Fly Shop near Ellensberg offers these Wade Fishing Tips for Steelhead:

Step downstream. Not only is this good etiquette but it is good steelheading. Most trout fisheries are best approached hiking upstream, most steelhead deliveries are best made downstream whether you are swinging a fly or nymphing. Take a step down after each cast. Start a little higher in the run than you think you need to and fish a little further down than you think you need to.

Tippet choice. You only need a few rolls of tippet. For swinging flies use 8 or 10 pound Maxima Ultragreen depending on water clarity. For nymph fishing use Rio Fluoroflex Plus 1X for your biggest flies, 2X for all others including egg patterns. For extremely clear water you can use 3X but be prepared to lose a few flies and fish! Start with a Tapered Steelhead/Salmon Leader.

Fly Selection. You don't need 87 different fly patterns to successfully fish for steelhead. You need about 4-6 that you are confident in and know their behavior so that you can steer and control them like a familiar vehicle. Make sure you have flies that possess the following attributes. You need a dark heavy fly, dark lightweight fly, light colored heavy, light colored lightweight, and a few in between. If you nymph fish, a few big dark stoneflies and a few middle of the road flies, and get a handful of #12 Holo Prince Nymphs.

Don't overthink it! If you have done some trout fishing then you are already fishing well enough to catch a steelhead. Don't spend too much time changing flies, depths, tippets, or sinking rates on your line. Keep your
fly fishing smooth, clean, and in a way that will ambush a steelhead. Keep your fly in the water.

Twice fast is better than once slow. Fishing a run twice fast or even three times is better than fishing it once slow. If the fish doesn't take the first presentation then it wasn't “ambushed”. Better to step downstream,
finish the run, change flies or depths and start again at the top. If the fish chased, but was not hooked, or was simply ignoring the fly then give the fish a short break. Constant harassment doesn't produce very many fish. One good fresh presentation does.

Look for shade. Steelhead love shadows, even if it is just a small piece of shade. Also, try to fish runs that hang onto the shade longest in the morning and get shady earliest in the afternoon. These fish will be
typically be more aggressive than fish holding in direct sunlight.

Shooting salmon can make your head ache

DARWIN AWARD CANDIDATES — We're not making this up:

Man accidentally shoots self while 'fishing' on Deschutes River — Tacoma News Tribune

A Thurston County man told deputies he accidentally shot himself in the head with his .22-caliber rifle Sunday afternoon while he was “fishing” for salmon on the Deschutes River, according to a sheriff's report.

Experts tapped for Avalanche Safety Workshop in Whitefish

WINTER SPORTS — Snow is coming to the mountains, and the most savvy backcountry travelers are gearing up physically as well as on their snow-travel skills.  Here's a good start:

The 2ndannual Northern Rockies Avalanche Safety Workshop, Oct. 13, 2012, from 7:30 am until 6:30 pm at the Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish, MT.

The one-day event mixes avalanche professionals and winter backcountry enthusiasts. The program is headlined by six speakers with varied experiences, backgrounds and expertise in avalanche forecasting, theory, information processing, emergency decision making and other up-to-date backcountry information.  

Session topics range from technical (recent developments in stability and fracture propagation tests) to personal (Elyse Saugstad’s real life survival story.)  The full schedule for the day is available online

“The Workshop is about learning, networking, seeing old and making new friends,” said Ted Steiner, NRASW chairman.  “It's also a time to remember that winter is on the way, get excited about getting outside, and most importantly, remember we need to be safe and educated when traveling the backcountry.  We need to come home to our families and enjoy season upon season of future winter endeavors.”

 Read on for more details about the speakers and registering for the event.

Veteran fisherman impressed with girl’s honesty

FISHING — Anglers are accustomed to a little fudging on the sizes and numbers of fish their friends catch. In my circle of friends, I pretty much divide everything by two.  Simple math.
But Jim Kujala had to reboot his piscatorial sensibilities last weekend while hosting a young girl on his boat for the Cast For Kids event at Clear Lake.
More than 50 kids were there, enjoying the day with volunteer mentors even though the fishing at Clear Lake was typically inconsistant during the day.
Kujala, a perennial volunteer from the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, was able to put his boat into some fish and topped off the day with an even sweeter highlight. As he put it:
I had a third grader girl and her mother fishing with me and for the girl it was one missed bite and one of the bigger, if not the biggest, fish of the day — a brown trout. When it came time to take a picture, I asked her if she wanted to hold both of the brown trout in my live well. Her answer: “But I only caught one.”
Let me tell you about praising her for an example of ethics exhibited by a person of her age! What a thrill for me to observe something like that!

Campfire ban extended at Lake Roosevelt

PUBLIC LANDS — No campfires will be allowed at Lake Roosevelt National Recreation area except at designated grated campfire sites at least through Sunday.  See the park's announcement issued Monday: 

In accordance with the 2012 Superintendent’s Compendium, Acting Superintendent Natalie Gates has extended the ban for campfires on the exposed lakebed through midnight on October 7, 2012.

Campfires in park-provided fire grates at developed campgrounds are allowed.  The use of gas and propane barbeques and self-contained stoves is allowed in the recreation area. 

Campfires are never allowed on the beach area above the exposed lakebed.

Whitetail bucks playing make-believe with their antlers

WILDLIFE — The mating season for white-tailed deer is a month or more away, but bucks already are tuning up.

Montana wildlife photographer Jaime Johnson has been noticing bucks testing their new growth.
For the past week, we’ve noticed the whitetail rattling antlers. Nothing serious, more for fun.
Tonight we observed these bucks jousting. One would watch while the other two rattled antlers.
Then they would switch and the observer would join in while another watched.

Roskelley: Wedge pack’s demise was done deal months ago

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Former Spokane County Commissioner (and current candiate) John Roskelley of Spokane claims the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife was not being genuine with the public in its handling of the summer wolf attacks in northern Stevens County and ultimately the elimination of the Wedge Pack.  Here's Roskelley's take, as posted on my Facebook page:

The WDFW rushed this decision to exterminate the Wedge Pack to avoid having to deal with the public or legislators like Sen. Rankin. I stopped at the meeting in Colville Thursday night; the WDFW got their nose bloodied by McIrvin and other Stevens County ranchers; the agency decided on a quick and dirty fix; provided the news media with their excuses for their action; used Conservation Northwest and the Cattlemen's Association as justified supporters; pretended to hunt the wolves by foot; and then proceeded to do what they intended all along - wipe the wolves out quickly via helicopter and sharpshooters before the public woke up and some organization filed an injunction to get it stopped. The WDFW agency people had their mind made up weeks ago, but they knew better than to let the public in on something this controversial before it was a done deal.”

Study downplays impacts of hatchery-native salmon interbreeding

FISHING — Scientists are rewriting some of their findings regarding the competition in native streams between wild and htchery salmon.  See the report from the Oregonian:

Idaho study: No problems with hatchery, wild salmon interbreeding

A long-term study of summer chinook in Idaho's Johnson Creek found that the interbreeding of hatchery salmon with wild salmon had no ill effects, thus supporting “hatchery supplementation” of salmon populations done by tribes in the Northwest for years.

Impact of fires on wildlife won’t be known until spring

WILDLIFE LANDS — Wild fires continue to char and in some cases nuke forests and other wildlife habitat in scattered areas around the Inland Northwest.  But the future isn't all black.

Before-after-photos at Naneum Lake (above) hint at the impact of the Table Mountain Fire, which has spread over thousands of acres along with other forest fires in the Ellensburg-Leavenworth-Wenatchee area. The fires were ignited by lightning storms around Sept. 9, 2012.

Some areas have been reopened to public access, but hunters need to check ahead with the Forest Service, DNR and Washington Fish and Wildlife Department for closures to distinct areas in the Wenatchee region.

This photo comparison doesn't look good, but Washington Fish and Wildlife experts say the damage/benefits to the Colockum elk herd won't be known until next spring when they can assess the ratio of hot-burned areas with the areas that  were lightly burned or skipped-over by the flames.

The fires ultimately will be good for wildlife.

The question is whether the recovery will be measured in years or decades.

Teen girl dons camo for turkey, dress for date


HUNTING — Alyssa Donelan, a sophomore at Central Valley High School, had a busy Saturday — with more than one date.

She donned camouflage clothing and left home at 5 a.m. to go turkey hunting with her father, Jim. When the turkeys stood them up in the morning, Alyssa move on to a remarkable transition.

She was out of her camouflage and into the hair dresser by 1 p.m.

By 5 p.m. she'd transformed from Rambo to ravishing just in time for the arrival of Sawyer Starnes, a senior, who picked her up for the CV homecoming dance.

The day was dubbed a success, but Alyssa still has an unfilled turkey tag, and an ego that needs a little buffing.

While Alyssa and five girlfriends slept in after a post-dance sleepover at her house, her dad and brother left home at 5 a.m. on Sunday. The boys returned with a turkey about 10:30 a.m., just as Alyssa and the other girls were waking up.


Night fishing produces for Snake steelheaders

FISHING — Jeff Holmes of the Tri-Cities photographed this nice catch — a couple of nice catches, actually — while moonlight fishing for steelhead Saturday on a Snake River middle impoundment with his wife, Erika.

One of many fish the Holmes's caught and released this weekend, this bright B-run hen wen 29.5 inches — and into the cooler.

Here we go: legislators chime in on eliminating wolf pack

ENDANGERED SPECIES — While state and federal officials have killed at least 74 wolves related to livestock attacks in Montana this year, killing wolves is new in Washington.

After six wolves in the cattle-attacking Wedge Pack were eliminated in northern Stevens County last week, Washington legislators are suddenly waking up to the issue that 's been simmering for years.

And, of course, the first comments are shrill.

See the NBC News report.

See the KING 5 TV News report.

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News, field reports and insights on the Great Outdoors.

Rich Landers – hunter, animal lover, hiker, paddler, angler, naturalist and conservationist – has been covering the outdoors beat for more than three decades. His versatility and field research as a trails and waterways guidebook author help him connect issues to a wide range of interests.

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Rich Landers (@SRoutside) Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.

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