Guns and cold temperatures, water and dogs, boats and darkness – they all contribute to making waterfowling rife with hazards. The biggest safety issue for waterfowl hunters is “way too much gear, way too big of a dog and way too small of a boat,” said John Devney of Delta Waterfowl in Bismarck, N.D.
Hunting in country inhabited by bears, cougars and wolves poses a challenge to sportsmen to be wary, and to clean up their act. Hunters who kill a big game animal should be aware that the gut pile and carcass attracts bears, wolves and other scavengers. Hunters in grizzly bear habitat should try to remove the meat the same day they kill the animal, according to Idaho Fish and Game Department officials.
Black bear hunters can test their bear species identification skills through a new interactive program on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website, wdfw.wa.gov. The site includes information on how to identify black bears and grizzly bears, and gives hunters a chance to test their identification skills.
A lot of “educating” can be done during the special youth upland bird and waterfowl seasons in Idaho and Washington. Since only youths under the age of 16 can shoot during these brief hunts that precede the general seasons, adults have to focus their attention on the kids.
Washington state’s first general hunting-fishing license fee increase in a decade kicked in at the beginning of September. Procrastinators are spending more money if they purchase their licenses after that date, although a few license fees decreased.
By most measures, last year’s first-ever elk hunting season on Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge was a success. Hunter success rates generally were high, not only for the 63 hunters who drew tags to hunt on the refuge, but also for the hunters in Game Management Unit 130 outside the refuge.
Eastern Washington hunters heading into the field this fall shouldn’t expect dramatic changes from last year’s game populations. Here’s the general trend from state survey information, some of which is still being gathered.
Washington’s new Discover Pass, required on vehicles accessing most state lands, might impact some sportsmen even though they get a parking permit when they buy their hunting and fishing licenses. The Discover Pass, created by the 2011 Washington Legislature, is generally required for vehicle access to state lands, including state parks, campgrounds, boat launches, trailheads and wildlife areas.
Idaho elk hunting may have bottomed out in 2009, followed by better times for hunters that ought to continue this season. Elk harvest had declined for four years but went from 15,800 tagged elk in 2009 up to 17,792 in 2010.
The last good barometer Snake River region hunters have had on the hatching success of upland birds has ended. Idaho Fish and Game biologists will no longer conduct aerial chukar surveys, the agency has announced. The agency has conducted annual chukar surveys since the mid-1980s primarily to provide a “forecast” for the upcoming season. The data were not biological data used to set seasons, officials said in a news release.
HUNTING -- Washington Fish and Wildlife Department biologists and staffers have posted on the agency's webesite their observations on prospects for hunting this fall. There's information for districts across the state ranging from canned to to detailed. Check it out before you plan your hunt....
HUNTING -- See 12 pages of updates and tips for hunters heading into the field for the 2011 hunting seasons in our annual hunting section, coming in the Thursday paper and online at spokesman.com/outdoors.