Washington elk hunters who draw special “any bull” hunting permits this year won’t be going hunting on opening day.
Only hunters with general spike-only elk tags will be afield on the opening of the Washington season on Oct. 25, said Rolf Johnson, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department elk program manager. Hunters who draw special permits won’t be allowed to hunt until Oct. 28.
Also this year, no antlerless elk permits are being issued for most Blue Mountains elk hunting area, with the exceptions of the Mill Creek watershed.
In the past, all bull elk hunters were able to go afield on opening day, while only the hunters who drew antlerless permits were required to wait three days into the general season.
“The (Fish and Wildlife) commission did this to help spread out hunting pressure,” he said. “Hunting pressure in the Blue Mountains is off substantially from what it used to be. But Washington still is known as a high hunter density state. We’ve got many times the hunter density of other states such as Montana and Wyoming, yet we have fewer elk. The commission believes we should retain the three-day separation.
Department records show that 80 percent of the bulls are taken in the first three days of the season. By having two opening dates, Washington has reduced that figure to 50 percent.
“In the old days, we had hunters surrounding herds,” Johnson said. “People were shooting from every direction, creating some unpleasant situations.
“Separating hunters helps us reduce pressure on elk, distributes hunters and makes the field safer.”