“Elk are the bright spot in northeastern Washington big-game herds – but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to hunt,” said Dana Base, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist in Colville.
“I’m convinced we have more elk than at any time in the past 20 years in the three northeast counties, and certainly they are more widely distributed.”
But elk are very difficult to hunt in the region’s dense foliage and mix of public and private land, he said.
The most successful elk hunters up here are those who work in the woods,” he said. “Their passion is elk. They spend winter weekends looking for antler sheds. They babysit them year-round.”
Hunters from other parts of the state look at the more generous rules – notably the chance for a general tag holder to shoot a branch-antlered bull – and they think hunting northeast will be a piece of cake, he said.
“Usually it’s a rude awakening. It’s a needle in a haystack.”