HUNTING -- Although there's still plenty of deer hunting opportunity remaining in 2013, the general modern rifle seasons in Eastern Washington ended in many units on Sunday with mixed results.
Bottom line: Mule deer success rates are up in the Okanogan region while hunters still struggle in their odds of bagging a mulie or whitetail in northeastern Washington.
One other point: The number of hunters who take time to stop in at check stations conveniently located on U.S. 395 near Deer Park and U.S. 2 near Chattaroy remains low. The information collected by state biologists and volunteer hunter education instructors is valuable to wildlife management, which ultimately is geared to improving hunter success in future years.
Following are summaries from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:
Northeast Washington stations at Deer Park and Chattaroy:
A total of 405 hunters stopping at the stations on Oct. 13, 19 and 20 killed 62 deer (56 whitetails, 6 mule deer) with hunters also checking in forest grouse, waterfowl and one each: moose, cougar, coyote and bobcat.
Check station participation continues to be low, as are success rates. In 2012 the same check stations on these 3 week-end days had a total of 408 hunters checked with 79 deer including 67 white-tails and 12 mule deer.
A 16% success rate for this early part of the season in northeast WA is very typical (since the '80's, these early check stations have documented from 5 to 20% success rate among hunters.) It's during the late season, Nov. 9-19, in GMUs 105, 108, 111, 113, 117, 121, 124, when success rates are much higher (20-30%).
Okanogan station at Winthrop:
Biologists Fitkin and Heinlen ran the Winthrop deer check station for the final weekend of the general modern firearm season. Over two weekends we checked 252 hunters with 78 deer. The total number of hunters checked is almost identical to last year; however, the number of deer checked this year is up noticeably, indicating a significant increase in hunter success despite the mild weather. In addition, 44% of the checked bucks were in the 4 ½ years old or greater age category as compared to 30% in 2012. These check station numbers suggest late permit hunters should look forward to excellent hunting opportunity.