Posts tagged: Blue Mountains
HUNTING — “Did you get your elk?” a colleague asked this morning as I returned to the office after eight days away in the Blue Mountains.
“Yes,” I nodded enthusiastically.
“How many?” my co-worker continued.
I grimaced slightly.
“I'm not a hunter,” he noted.
HUNTING — Numerous comments have come in regarding my Sunday Outdoors feature, “Milking the Cow Elk Tag,” a story about what to do with the most coveted permit you never hear a hunter brag about.
Following are phrases in the story that are triggering most of the “right on” and “I remember when” comments in the reader response:
“Can’t eat antlers,” my dad often said. Living through the Great Depression instilled that attitude. It served our family well.
I’ve never seen a cow elk featured on the cover of Field & Stream or Outdoor Life, yet every ordinary-guy elk hunter I know applies for a cow tag.
Maybe this is why hunters don’t gloat when they draw a cow tag. How humiliating would it be if you didn’t fill it.
My luck changed on the last morning of the season, verifying once again that getting into elk is all about putting in the time.
Following an elk down a slope in the Blue Mountains is like flirting with your best friend’s spouse. There’s no easy way out of the situation, and you make things much worse if you score.
E=mc2: That is, Eating quality equals Miles wild meat must be packed out by muscle power multiplied by the number of Contour lines crossed, squared.
I left the mountains, not with a rack to hang on the wall, but with a trophy for the freezer.
WILDLIFE — As mentioned in today's outdoors column about elk management in the Blue Mountains, Washington wildlife managers report good results from a program that signs contracts with farmers and ranchers to improve elk habitat and reduce big-game depredation issues on their lands.
One of the tactics is to plant “lure crops” to attract elk to higher elevation plots so they won't be so tempted to come down and ravage expensive crops such as garbanzo beans.
Remote camera photos such as the one above show elk using these food plots. Here's the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlfie field report that went with this and other photos:
Elk Lure Crops: Conflict Specialist Rasley met with two farmers on Wilson Hollow in Walla Walla County “regarding no elk damage.” Both farmers said, “This is the first time in over 20 years we have not had 60 plus head of elk in our garbs.” They asked what the reasoning was and Rasley showed them both where all 68 head of elk are living now; in our newly planted lure crops some five miles up the road.
HUNTING — I'm feeling pretty smug this week after checking out the special hunting permit lottery results and seeing that I drew a coveted Blue Mountains antlerless elk tag.
Most years I wish calamities on camo-clad brethren who draw tags while I sulk in the huge pool of losers.
But the game is only begun. Now it's time to be sure everything is planned out, from the camp sites to the scouting and most important — the physical conditioning for hunting day after day in the steep canyons of the Blues.
The last time my hunting partner, Jim, drew a bull tag, he started working out in June in a well-planned schedule with a backpack and increasingly longer distances and heavier loads.
A hunter waits years to draw a tag for a special opportunity to harvest an elk. You don't want to waste the chance.
My workout program kicked in high gear last weekend as I helped my daughter move all her belongings out of a SECOND STORY apartment.
I commute to work on my bicycle, riding 14 miles round trip up and down the South Hill.
I'm planning at least four major backpacking trips and numerous dayhikes through the summer.
And that, in my experience, is just barely enough to get me on track for seriously hunting the Blues and being in shape for comfortably packing out the meat if I'm lucky enough to score.
What are you doing to prepare for elk season?
NATIONAL FORESTS — State and national forests are beginning to enact fire restrictions as the heat wave dries out the woods.
Beginning today, restrictions are being enacted on the Umatilla National Forest of southeastern Washington.
At this time firewood cutting is still allowed.
But if the heat continues, expect more restrictions on the Umatilla and other national forests.
HUNTING — Outback Outfitters guide Jon C. Wick, 46, of Summerville, Ore., and Tod L. Reichert, 72, of Salkum, Wash., have pleaded guilty to criminal violations in a 2007 Blue Mountains elk hunt involving Washington’s coveted “Governor’s tag.”
Reichert purchased the Eastern Washington Any Bull Elk-Governor's Auction Tag for approximately $47,000. Reichert hired Wick for scouting and guiding services.
Reichert also hired a helicopter service to spot elk for the hunt, which is unlawful in Washington and most other states.
In December 2007, Reichert killed a trophy elk in the Umatilla National Forest with Wick's assistance outside the area the Forest Service had authorized Wick to provide outfitter-guiding services.
Reichert later falsely claimed that Wick had provided no professional services during the hunt or been paid any money for his services.
In 2008, Wick again provided professional outfitter-guiding services in the Umatilla National Forest to the purchaser of the 2008 Governor's Tag, which cost approximately $65,000. At that time, Wick did not have Forest Service authorization to provide the guiding services.
Reichert’s sentence includes a $5,000 fine and two years probation during which he cannot enter a national forest.
Described as “a strong supporter of elk hunting and improving elk habitat,” he has killed several record-book bulls by outbidding other rich trophy hunters to get coveted tags, including $40,000 for the 2007-08 New Mexico Governor's Tag, $19,000 for the 2001 Oregon Governor's Tag, $16,000 for the 2003 edition, and an unpublished amount for the 1999 California tule bull elk tag.
Read more details about this man's debatable contributions to the sport of elk hunting in this report by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman Magazine.
Wick’s sentencing is set for Sept. 13.
FORESTS — The Washington Department of Natural Resources has discovered a new infestation of Douglas-fir tussock moths that occurred last summer in the Blue Mountains of Washington and Oregon.
Light defoliation caused by the moths was mapped across 9,000 acres of the Umatilla National Forest, with Washington accounting for 7,800 acres, according to a DNR press release and following report from the Associated Press.
Most of the defoliation occurred in the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness Area, but it may spread and increase in severity this year, the state Department of Natural Resources said Monday.
Officials say another tussock moth outbreak that affected 1,600 acres in eastern Spokane County in 2011 will likely end this year.
In nearby northern Idaho, approximately 68,000 acres with tussock moth defoliation were recorded in 2011 and that outbreak may spread this year, the DNR said.
The defoliation can reduce growth, cause top-kill, and may make some trees vulnerable to attack by bark beetles. An outbreak typically kills up to 40 percent of the trees in an area.
The outbreak in the Blue Mountains primarily affects grand fir, subalpine fir, Douglas-fir, and some spruce.
Recreation can be affected in areas with tussock moth present because the hairs found on caterpillars, cocoons, and egg masses are a skin irritant to many people, the DNR said.
The last outbreak in the Blue Mountains occurred from 2000-2002.
Outbreaks typically collapse within two to four years due to a buildup of natural enemies, such as disease and parasites.
The Washington DNR said new damage becomes most noticeable in July and is often worst in the tops of trees.
PUBLIC LANDS — The public and wildlife soon will be sharing a new chunk of an elk-friendly ranch and Grande Ronde River access in southern Asotin County. The 2,200-acre parcel bordering the Grande Ronde River was approved for acquisition Saturday by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.
The land, accessible off the Grande Ronde Road between Boggan’s Oasis and Troy, Ore.,will be the first phase of what is planned to be an even larger acquisition over about 10 years from Milton (Mike) Odom II and the 4-0 Livestock and Land Company LLC.
The area is tentatively being called the Mountain View Project, said Bob Dice, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department wildlife area manager in Clarkston.
The acquisition brings the total acreage in the Blue Mountains Wildlife Area Complex to more than 68,000 acres, Dice said. The other units in the complex include the Chief Joseph, Asotin Creek and Wooten wildlife areas.
Read on for more details.
POACHING — An Island City, Oregon father and son were arrested last week by Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Division troopers following an investigation into the unlawful taking of two bull elk in the Wenaha Wildlife Management Unit in northeast Oregon.
The Wenaha Unit is considered a premier controlled branch antler bull elk hunting unit for which only 20 tags are issued during archery season. This is a very difficult tag to obtain, and for most hunters it may be a once-in-a-lifetime hunting opportunity.
Read on for details from an Oregon State Police press release via Northwest Sportsman Magazine:
HUNTING– Elk hunters heading to the Blue Mountains are being warned to stay off the grass.
Enforcement agents last week busted a 25,000-plant growing operation in the Eckler Unit of the Blues Mountains southeast of Dayton, according to the Tri-Cities Herald.
Hikers who use trails are not likely to see the hidden plots of the illegal product. But hunters who often bushwhack to find game are more likely to stumble into plots, where trouble could occur.
The Seattle Times last week published an in-depth story on illegal marijuana growing operations on tribal lands in the Northwest.
Another recent bust occurred in Clackamas County, Oregon, and just this week a bust on plants totaling $25 million occurred on private timberlands in Northeast Oregon, the second of the year in Wallowa County, according to Northwest Sportsman Magazine.
TRAILS – A November storm left a nasty surprise for Forest Service trail crews heading out in the Blue Mountains this summer.
“There’s more timber down this year than I’ve seen in the 30 years I’ve been on trails,” said Rich Martin, trails coordinator for the Pomeroy District. “We were averaging 50 downed trees per mile.
“On the trail from Teepee Trailhead to Oregon Butte, we had to get a fire crew in to help us out or we’d have never got the three miles cleared out to get the lookout (staffer) in there.
“One poor contractor bid the job on the Wenaha River trail last year and came in and couldn’t believe the mess the winter left him. But he had some strong boys with him and they just pulled out of there this week.
“The Wenaha River trail is cleared out and there’s been a lot of other reconstruction work, but you couldn't ride a horse across the river until late July this year because of all the water coming down — and it just kep coming.”
Read on for other projects underway, some of which will be especially good news to hunters:
HIKING — A Tuesday report from the Blue Mountains indicates that the snow is gone in “most” of the critical areas, but Umatilla National Forest crews are just completing their work to clear roads and now they're starting to getting out to clear trails.
Here's the report from John and Diane Latta of Spokane after they hiked the trail to Oregon Butte:
“Great views from the lookout and other points along the trail. You can see the Seven Devils, Wallowas and Elkhorn Ridge.“The road is logged out all the way to the very nice Teepee Treailhead. The recent big fires have not affected the area in the slightest. We did find probably 100 blowdowns blocking the trail, many in large groups. We managed to find our way around, over and under them to make it back.“The old trail over West Butte avoids some of the worst blowdowns, but there are still plenty to contend with to get to the Lookout. The camping sites near Oregon Butte Spring are covered with blowdowns as well.“Only minimal patches of snow in the woods that will probably melt in the next few days.”
POACHING — Jason Locke, 37, of Kennewick has pleaded guilty to poaching a bull elk and using his wife's special hunting license illegally, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department reports.
Locke was fined a total of $11,345, including a $6,000 criminal wildlife assessment penalty for taking a trophy-size bull elk.
Two other men – David E. Myles, 50, of Richland, and Brian E. Badgwell, 40, of Pomeroy were charged for helping transport the illegal game.
Locke is also facing poaching charges in Chelan County, and allegations that he guided Columbia River steelhead trips without a commercial license.
Washington Fish and Wildlife police were able to make the case thanks to tips from a concerned citizen.
Read on for more details on this case.