Posts tagged: hunting 2013
HUNTING — A few birds may still be hanging on at hunting sites for the Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement and Release Program.
The final release of farm-raised rooster pheasants was made a last week, just before Thanksgiving at sites near Fishtrap Lake, Sherman Creek Wildlife Area, Snake River and 20 other areas in the region.
Despite the non-toxic shot requirement enacted in 2011, these release public land sites have continued to be popular since the program began in the late 1990s. It's especially popular with hunters who don’t have access to hunt private land.
The first releases of the year occurred at all sites before the Sept. 21-22 youth upland bird season. Two additional releases were scheduled at the sites during the general pheasant season.
Only about half the sites were stocked with birds for the Oct. 19 opener, said Joey McCanna, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist. The other sites were stocked the following week, he said.
The agency does not divulge which sites will be stocked when.
This bit of chance and inconvenience dates back to the bad experiences agency staff had years ago when hunters often waited at designated sites for the game farm trucks to show up. In some cases, greedy hunters created dangerous situations, sometimes even blasting away as the birds were being released.
Times have changed in other ways since the early years of the Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program, when the Washington Legislature required 80 percent of the funding to be spent on releasing birds while the rest was earmarked for pheasant habitat efforts.
In 2008, about $270,000 was spent to release birds on the East Side and about $32,000 went to habitat.
That year, with legislative approval, Washington Fish and Wildlife managers approved a phased-in schedule to reduce the number of birds planted until the spending equaled about 50 percent for birds and 50 percent for habitat.
“We’re right about there this year,” McCanna said, noting that 11,350 rooster pheasants were released at the sites this year. That’s down from 11,820 last year and down from more than 20,000 birds in the initial years.
Hunter groups have supported the department’s emphasis on working with farmers to enhance habitat for wild pheasants. Methods include developing plantings that improve pheasant productivity on lands seeded into the federal Conservation Reserve Program.
HUNTING — Today's Outdoors column on the topic of hunting and trespassing generated a quick response from reader John Huckabay:
One question arises that I have never been able to get a straight answer on. You note that to enter private land in Washington to recover game is a violation. I believe that the law is also that it is illegal to waste game. If I shoot a bird on my property and it falls on a neighbors which law prevails?
Indeed, Huckabay is correct. The laws take that possibility into account, although a hunter who pushes the language too far could still get a ticket. See line (d) in the following full Washington state trespassing law as it pertains to hunters:
Unlawful hunting on or retrieving hunted wildlife from the property of another - Defense - Penalty - Forfeiture and disposition of wildlife.
(1) A person is guilty of unlawfully hunting on, or retrieving hunted wildlife from, the property of another if the person knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in or on the premises of another for the purpose of hunting for wildlife or retrieving hunted wildlife.
(2) In any prosecution under this section, it is a defense that:
(a) The premises were at the time open to members of the public for the purpose of hunting, and the actor complied with all lawful conditions imposed on access to or remaining on the premises;
(b) The actor reasonably believed that the owner of the premises, or other person empowered to license access thereto, would have licensed him or her to enter or remain on the premises for the purpose of hunting or retrieving hunted wildlife;
(c) The actor reasonably believed that the premises were not privately owned; or
(d) The actor, after making all reasonable attempts to contact the owner of the premises, retrieved the hunted wildlife for the sole purpose of avoiding a violation of the prohibition on the waste of fish and wildlife as provided in RCW 77.15.170. The defense in this subsection only applies to the retrieval of hunted wildlife and not to the actual act of hunting itself.
(3) Unlawfully hunting on or retrieving hunted wildlife from the property of another is a misdemeanor.
(4) If a person unlawfully hunts and kills wildlife, or retrieves hunted wildlife that he or she has killed, on the property of another, then, upon conviction of unlawfully hunting on, or retrieving hunted wildlife from, the property of another, the department shall revoke all hunting licenses and tags and order a suspension of the person's hunting privileges for two years.
(5) Any wildlife that is unlawfully hunted on or retrieved from the property of another must be seized by fish and wildlife officers. Forfeiture and disposition of the wildlife is pursuant to RCW 77.15.100.
HUNTING — There's sad news in this comment by Capt. Dan Rahn in the weekly Washington Fish and Wildlife police report for far-eastern Washington following the opening weekend of elk hunting season:
Every officer commented on the overall decline in hunter numbers combined with an apparent aging of the hunter population as a whole.
On the other hand, it's good news for the hunters who continue to pursue elk — less competition overall, and especially in the hard-hunting spots where many elk tend to hide during the season.
HUNTING — If you've witnessed what a bullet from a hunting rifle does to the inside of a deer or elk, you'll be shocked by this blurb in the weekly Washington Fish and Wildlife police report rounding up enforcement activity from the opening weekend of elk hunting season.
Officers are investigated a hunting incident near Lacrosse in Whitman County. The victim was a 12 year old male who had a rifle bullet pass through his chest narrowly missing his heart. The 12 year old was doing well and was being held in the hospital overnight for observation.
Full details have not been released, but the Whitman County Sheriff's Office said the Pullman boy was accidentally shot on the morning of Oct. 26 while on a hunting trip with family members. He was transported to Whitman Community Hospital in Colfax by personal vehicle. The boy was later transported to Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane for observations with what was believed to be serious by non-life-threatening injuries.
HUNTING — Congratulations! You finally killed that trophy specimen that eluded you for many seasons and countless hunts. You made celebratory stops at your buddy’s house and then the local meat processor. The taxidermist is next. But, unlike your previous hunts, this time there’s another consideration—entering your trophy into the Boone and Crockett Club’s records book.
The Boone and Crockett Club records program is the only North American harvest data system that collects information on all species of free-ranging native North American big game taken in fair chase.
Getting listed in the world’s most distinguished hunting-records book involves official measuring, paperwork and a $40 processing fee, all detailed at www.boone-crockett.org, but the rewards are considerable.
Read on for the club's top five reasons to enter a trophy in “the book.”
WILDLIFE WATCHING — A reader called today wondering if the animals he saw west of Spokane recently were wolves or coyotes.
He didn't have a photo to help with the identification and he didn't measure tracks, so there's no way to tell for sure.
The chart above gives some distinguishing features to note when you see canines in the field.
Here's some elaboration from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists:
One of the greatest differences between the two species is size, which can be difficult to estimate determine at a distance. A gray wolf is much larger than a coyote. Wolves weigh 80 to 120 pounds, while coyotes weigh 20 to 50 pounds. Track size measures about four by five inches for wolves, compared to two by two and a half inches for coyotes.
Ear shape is also much different; wolves have somewhat rounded ears while coyotes have taller, pointed ears. Wolves have a broader, shorter snout, while coyotes have a narrow more pointed nose. A wolf’s howl is long and drawn out, while a coyote produces a shorter, yapping sound. Fur coloration can be quite similar between wolves and coyotes and therefore is not a good characteristic for separating the two species. For more visual comparisons, visit: Wolf Identification: Physical Appearance of Wolves.
Large dogs and wolf-dog hybrids can also be mistaken for wolves, although they usually act more familiar with people. Wolf-dog hybrids can be unpredictable and aggressive. Some hybrids have been released into the wild, living like feral dogs. Distinctions between these hybrids and wild wolves can sometimes be made only by DNA testing.
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 — Outdoors blog posts were downscaled the past 10 days while I focused on filling my elk tag with hunting partner Jim Kujala.
After eight days in our Blue Mountains camp and on the sixth day of the season, I finally dialed in on the elusive elk and scored.
Lot's of work after that shot: 10 hours to get the meat boned-out and packed up and out of a canyon to a closed road and carted back to camp.
Next was 6 hours of meat trimming on the tailgate of the pickup while Jim continued to hunt.
Then another 4 hours of cutting, wrapping and freezing at home. Yum, maybe that's why elk tastes so good to me.
The clean, hairless scraps from all the boning and trimming sessions went into bags bound for the butcher to be ground into smoked German sausage and the best hamburger money can't buy.
Lesson relearned: Always have a weather-band radio in camp, especially when you're hunting for more than a week in high areas of the Blue Mountains and Yakima region where a sudden big storm — like the one forecast for last night — could make getting out of the mountains hazardous. The area-specific weather reports were very helpful in our day-to-day hunting strategies, and prompted our sensible departure a day earlier than planned.
HUNTING — Although most hunters are law-abiding, some are cited for infractions. Here are the Top 10 reasons some hunters go home with a ticket rather than meat for the freezer, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks game wardens.
WILDLIFE — Most hunters know the difference, but in casual conversation it's not uncommon to hear reference to something like a bull elk with “horns” that raked the sky. An elk has antlers, but the colloquial term “horns” rolls easier off the tongue.
Nevertheless, even sportsmen have misperceptions about what it takes to grow antlers and why not every deer and elk that reaches maturity will sport massive headgear, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists.
Here are some basics.
Antlers grow on male members of the deer family, including deer, elk and moose. They fall off each year during winter and grow back during spring and summer.
Horns are permanent growing features on the heads of mountain goats, bighorn sheep and bison.
Genetics and nutrition play major roles in horn growth. Generally, genetics determine the form of antlers while nutrition dictates their size. Some deer or elk simply lack the bloodlines to grow trophy-class racks of multiple points and width no matter what they're fed.
A study of white-tailed deer compared the offspring of yearling bucks with relatively large branched antlers versus yearlings with only spikes. Because both sets of deer were captive in the controlled experiment they were fed identical diets. The yearlings with larger antlers sired only 5 percent spikes, while the spike yearlings produced 44 percent spike antlered yearlings.
However, one study of mule deer has shown that in wet years, which mean increased availability of food, there are fewer spike bucks and larger number of yearlings with forked antlers.
Bottom line: The highest scoring trophy big-game usually are produced from a combination of good genetics and nutrition.
HUNTING — I traded emails a few years ago with a local hunter named Dennis regarding the feelings we experience when we are skillful and/or lucky enough to fill our big-game tags. I've kept his last note as a reminder of the fence many sportsmen walk as we make the ultimate decision to squeeze the trigger:
Being a hunter, and growing older makes for constant reflection in my justification for pursuing and dispatching warm-blooded animals. Many of my friends have quit as they age. I guess we tend to become more in touch with our mortality, and find ourselves wanting to preserve life rather than ending it.
I harvested a nice mature buck this year, and although I hit him hard in the vital zone, I had to follow up and apply the coup de grace. I told my son just how I felt standing there, that it gave me no pleasure to put an end to that animal's life. Were it not for the great tablefare it provided, and the time I got to enjoy with my son in the field, I would have left the rifle in the cabinet and found something else to do.
HUNTING — Bears are still out and active throughout the fall as hunters are out for deer and elk hunting — a potentially hazardous mix.
Being bear aware is particularly important for hunters because stalking and harvesting game increases a person’s chance of bumping into bears, says Jamie Jonkel, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks bear management specialist.
“When travelling through dense brush or field dressing an animal, be extra aware and do what you can to warn wildlife of your presence,” Jonkel says. “Always have bear spray close at hand.”
Jonkel says this has been an especially busy fall for grizzly bear activity, especially in Western Montana.
He offers these safety tips for hunting in bear country:
HUNTING — The code of ethics among hunters is eroding, as this Eastern Washington sportsman graphically points out in the following message to Washington Fish and Wildlife police:
Here are pictures of the deer that I shot Saturday, Oct. 19, near Rock Lake. I shot the deer about 9:30 a.m. and processed it and put it into game bags. The hind quarters I hung in a tree about 50 yards from where I shot the deer and the rib cage I set on a stump. I left the head lying by the gut pile. I took the front quarters back to the truck (.85 miles according to my GPS) to get my pack frame.
My wife met me where I had parked my pickup and we went in to get the rest of the deer. It took 1.5 hours from the time I left to when I returned and found all that was left was the gut pile.
Whoever took the meat cut the rope out of the tree.
It is a sad day when someone steals a man's deer.
Anyone with tips or information about this wildlife crime can qualify for a reward by calling the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department's poaching hotline, (877) 933-9847 or the Spokane Region office at (509) 892-1001.
What's going on out there?
Reader's Letter: Respect lacking in outdoors
HUNTING — During the first week of the main big-game hunting seasons, Idaho Panhandle hunters reported seeing a lot of moose and grouse and they saw more elk and elk sign than the past few years, according to reports for Idaho Fish and Game Department hunter check stations.
The number of elk calves seen varied. Some hunters reported a lot of calves with groups of cows while others reported few or no calves.
But hunters saw a lot of spike elk, which typically means good overwinter calf survival.
Most deer taken in early October in the Panhandle are incidental to elk hunting. Deer hunting success is gauged by what happens during the November 1 to December 1 part of the deer season.
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.
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.
PUBLIC LANDS — For sportsmen of all persuasions — and the businesses and economy they support — this is a troubling trend that's accelerating in Montana:
Disputes over public access across private land in Montana on the rise
The Public Land/Water Access Association, which advocates for public access to public lands, said private landowners in Montana are increasingly blocking access to roads across their lands that have existed for decades, and PLWAA is tracking at least 10 such closures in Darby, Fergus, Madison, Meagher, Ravalli, Sweet Grass, Teton and Toole counties.
—Great Falls Tribune
HUNTING — Robert Estuar and his 11 year-old son, Tomas, took a gamble on whether roosters would be stocked at the Fishtrap release site for Saturday's opening of the Eastern Washington pheasant season.
But they found birds and made the best of the day with their yellow Lab, Bella.
HUNTING — Hunting dusky grouse with a pointing dog is one part bliss and several parts misery and despair.
Duskies — the name given a decade ago to the former “blue grouse” east of the Cascades — are notoriously fickle about holding to a point.
They might hold, as did the one pictured above, or they may not.
They might fly up in a tree and look at you or they may flush at the hint that you're coming their way and rocket downhill a quarter mile into the timber.
They like high ridges and openings at the edges of timber. Often the terrain is rocky.
It can be tough going — and tough shooting.
I liken dusky hunting to a chukar hunt with timber mixed in to increase the shooting difficulty factor.
I was one for three on Saturday with two other birds flushing a full 40 yards away from Scout's solid point.
HUNTING — Mule deer numbers seem to be improving, as predicted, in the Okanogan County area as indicated by the number and size of bucks that came into check stations on opening weekend.
Some deer checked in and checked out voluntarily (click Continue reading to see both photos).
Here's the initial report from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife… more to come:
General Deer Opener –Biologists Fitkin and Heinlen ran the Winthrop deer check station for opening weekend of the general modern firearm season. We checked 107 hunters with 30 deer. These numbers suggest a reduction in hunting pressure, but a significant increase in success as compared to last year’s opening weekend. Thus far, we’re also seeing a higher than average percentage of the harvest in the >4 ½ year old age class as expected including one nice 30” wide buck (see photo). Prospects for the rest of the season remain good, although mild weather will likely keep deer well distributed on the landscape. Hunters who harvest animals on the weekend are encouraged to bring their deer to the WDFW Deer Check Station located at the Red Barn in Winthrop (some are even showing up on their own).
HUNTING — Whitetail bucks are famous for taking advantage of thick cover to live long and grow big racks.
But even the white-tailed deer of Eastern Washington and North Idaho could take a lesson from Western Washington blacktails, where the average hunter can expect to devote something like 30 days in the field per buck.
Click “continue reading” for a report by Alan Thomas of the Vancouver Columbian on what it takes to to west of the Cascades and make a blacktail hunt successful.