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Wednesday, June 26, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Outdoors blog

Dry landscape hampers some deer hunters, but not all

A mule deer buck is brought in by a hunter to the Methow Valley check station operated by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife during the October opening of the general deer hunting season. (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)
A mule deer buck is brought in by a hunter to the Methow Valley check station operated by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife during the October opening of the general deer hunting season. (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)

HUNTING -- Looking at some of the nice bucks taken on the Oct. 11-12 opening weekend of the Washington modern rifle deer hunting season can prompt sportsman to rethink their grousing about the lack of perfect conditions.

Sure it was dry and warm. Success rates were not great.

But some hunters who put themselves in the right places at the right times were handsomely rewarded, as the photo above indicates.

The Deer Park check station last weekend saw 81 deer hunters with nine deer compared with last year’s 91 hunters bringing in 12 deer.

"Officers thought weekend hunting pressure was about normal," said Madonna Luers, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman in Spokane.

Kevin Robinette, department regional wildlife manager, expects more hunting action and success with cooler, wetter weather predicted for this weekend -- and especially during the late buck season that runs Nov. 8-19 in northeastern Washington units 105, 108, 111, 113, 117, 121 and 124

The Winthrop Check Station interviewed 106 hunters on opening weekend compared with 107 last year, suggesting hunting pressure is about the same in the Methow Valley. 

"On the other hand, we checked only 20 deer as opposed to 30 last year indicating success rate is down," said Scott Fitkin, area wildlife biologist. 

"My guess is that the reduced success is mostly a function of the exceptionally mild weather we’ve had thus far this fall, and changes is deer distribution and hunter distribution caused by the (2014 Carlton Complex) fires.

"Many hunters chose to hunt new areas this year in response to the fires and thus may be less efficient."

"As for deer distribution, I suspect a lot of deer are still up pretty high given the weather. However, some deer are being taken in the burned areas, so hunters shouldn’t immediately discount those areas. 

"Off and on rain with some high country snow is forecast for this week so conditions and success rates should improve for the remainder of the general season.

CHECK IN AT A CHECK STATION

Hunters have compelling reasons to take a few minutes to stop into a hunter check station in Washington or Idaho.

Deer Park and Chattaroy check stations are scheduled to be staffed by WDFW biologists, master hunters, hunter education instructors and university wildlife students this weekend for the close of the general season in northeastern Washington.  Check stations also will be staffed during the late buck hunt -- Nov. 15 at Chattaroy off Highway 2 and Nov. 16 at Deer Park off Highway 395.

The Winthrop Check Station will be open this weekend at the Red Barn off Highway 20 at the west edge of Winthrop.

 

 

 




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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