September 17, 2009 in Sports

Hunting swift targets

By The Spokesman-Review

Hunting seasons for some of the smallest and most difficult targets in the Inland Northwest opened on Sept. 1.

Mourning doves and forest grouse already are fair game in Idaho and Washington, as well as cottontail rabbits and snowshoe hares.

Hunting for raccoons also opened Sept. 1 in Washington, although the species can be hunted year-round in Idaho.

Stevens and Okanogan counties usually are the state’s top forest grouse producers, state surveys show. However, Dana Base, a Washington Fish and Wildlife Department biologist in Colville, didn’t want hunters to get their hopes up.

“Forest grouse continue to be way down in this area,” he said. “I’d like to see the limit reduced to two and the season start delayed until mid September to reduce the hunting pressure on hens and chicks.”

Surveys indicate hens and chicks are a high percentage of the dusky (blue) grouse killed in the first two weeks of September because the birds lag behind the males in dispersing to high areas.

Dove seasons run through Sept. 30.

“We see most of the (hunting) effort on doves in the first week of the season, or the first day,” said Don Kraege, WDFW migratory bird manager. “After that, it drops off. We also usually get a cold front that comes through in September, and birds tend to move out.”

That statement was verified last year, when Washington’s season was extended two weeks through September.

“Our surveys showed no significant change in harvest rates despite the two-week extension of the season,” said Mikal Moore, WDFW biologist.

The largest number of doves harvested in 2003-2007 seasons were in Grant and Yakima counties. Doves typically leave roosts in trees in the morning to feed in harvested grain fields. They return in the afternoon or early evening.

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