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Mon., Oct. 22, 2012, 1:10 p.m.

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.

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Rich Landers writes and photographs stories and columns for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including Outdoors feature sections on Sunday and Thursday.