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Early hunters too often lack foresight

Fall hunting seasons don’t generally open with a bang.

Although black bear hunting started a month ago in some portions of the region, the first widespread hunting seasons in Idaho and Washington opened with a whimper on Wednesday.

The seasons for mountain grouse and doves almost always open with a whine and moan.

I’m talking about the whimpering of hunters who went into the high country looking for blue grouse and realized within an hour or so that it might have been wise to do a little preseason conditioning.

A little dog training might have been a good idea, too.

You can spot them today as their dogs lay footsore in the fronts of pickups parked in the ATV dealer parking lots.

I’m also talking about the hunters who started whimpering a week before the dove season opened, when the traditional bout of cool, wet weather in late August convinced most of the fair-weather birds to pack their bags and head south.

If you got a limit Wednesday, you’re either a liar or a game hog.

No. I’m not too bitter about having to work on opening day.

Okay, I’m a liar, too.

State rules differ: Idaho and Washington have the same season for blue, ruffed and spruce grouse — Sept. 1-Dec. 31. But there area several notable differences for hunters if they hunt both states

“The daily limit of mountain grouse is three in Washington and four in Idaho.

“The possession limit after the first two days is nine of any species in Washington and eight in Idaho.

Shooting hours in both states are one-half hour before sunrise to a half hour after sunset. Washington bird hunters should note then when they go for others species, such as upland and migratory birds must, they must stop hunting at sunset.

Scraping the bottom: For the first time, Oregon is prohibiting recreational anglers from catching any more rockfish, lingcod or greenling. The ban will last for the rest of the year.

Oregon coastal anglers recorded a massive August haul that nearly exceeded the state’s 377-ton year limit for both recreational fishermen.

Sport anglers kept about 24 tons of black rockfish a week, Department of Fish and Wildlife officials said.

Even though they can still fish for salmon, halibut and tuna, some charter companies say the decision to ban saltwater fishing just before the Labor Day weekend will be devastating.

Captains are contacting people who planned to fish this weekend. Some may opt to fish for chinook salmon, halibut or tuna, but many people will simply cancel because those trips are generally longer and more expensive.

Angling comments needed: Public comments on proposed fishing rule changes are being sought by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department.

The package of 18 sport-fishery rule proposals, which could take effect next spring, can be viewed at rule_proposals.htm.

One proposal would drop the ventral fin clip requirement for steelhead caught in the Hanford area and Ringold bank fishery.

Another proposal would standardize the bass rules on the entire Touchet and Snake rivers to: “Daily limit five, no maximum or minimum size, no more than three over 15 inches may be retained.”

Say cheese: After a vandal repeatedly defaced an expensive sign at the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge east of Colville, a refuge enforcement officer concealed a remote video camera to gather evidence.

He got some good footage of characters that prowl in the night down the refuge road, even though the vandal wasn’t among them.

The candid camera documented a moose and her calf, as well as a lynx.

Hunters scrutinizing ATVS: The Summer 2004 issue of Fair Chase, the official magazine of the Boone and Crockett Club, includes a piece about the efforts by Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth to develop new rules governing the use of ATVs, dirt bikes and other off-road vehicles on America’s National Forests.

“Recently, the conservation community witnessed a rare example of political courage when U.S. Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth announced a rulemaking to control the growing abuse of off-highway vehicles on Forest Service lands,” writes Paul Hansen, Izaak Walton League of American executive director.

“The Chief is going where others have feared to tread.”

The article highlights how poorly managed and irresponsible off-road vehicle use is “destroying wildlife habitat, disrupting hunts, polluting the air and water, destroying tranquility, or leaving permanent scars on the landscape.”

Mr. Hansen concludes, “Americans can continue to enjoy OHV use on our national forests, but do so in a way that doesn’t destroy these forests or the ability of others to enjoy them.”

As the Forest Service prepares proposals for public comment on a forest-by-forest basis, however, no definite date has been set for enacting clear regulations on a national basis.

Plan on another hunting season of conflicts between the motorized and non-motorized groups.