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It’s the season for special hunt permit applications

HUNTING — Hunters hoping to fulfill their dreams in the fall hunts had better be thinking ahead.  Special permit application deadlines are coming up.

Special license drawing deadlines by state include:

IDAHO

  • April 30 for moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat. 

Info: fishandgame.idaho.gov

MONTANA

  • March 31 for multiple-season permits
  • May 1 for bison, moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat.
  • June 1 for the elk B, deer B and antelope.

Info: fwp.mt.gov .

WASHINGTON

  • May 20  — Deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep and turkey
  • July 15 for buying 2015 big-game raffle permit hunt tickets

Info: wdfw.wa.gov/hunting

Hunting rules adopted: 4-point rule dropped; baiting tabled

HUNTING – Proposals to restrict the use of bait for hunting were tabled by the state Fish and Wildlife Commission today, April 10, but the panel adopted a slate of hunting changes including elimination of a four-point buck rule in Northeastern Washington.

Many of the rules approved by the commission at the Tumwater meeting will expand hunting opportunities. Among them:

  • Adding two days to the modern firearm season for mule deer. 
  • Adding more opportunity for antlerless whitetail hunting in northeastern Washington, notably for youth, senior and disabled hunters.
  • Shifting archery elk season to start the Saturday after Labor Day to provide hunting in cooler weather. 
  • Doubling the amount of spring bear permits in northeast Washington.
  • Allowing elk hunters using muzzleloaders to hunt in more game management units.
  • Increasing moose permits to 170 from 136 in the northeast part of the state, where moose populations are near an all-time high.

The commission did not adopt a controversial proposal to restrict the use of bait when hunting for deer and elk, even though neighboring states such as Idaho already prohibit baiting. The panel directed the Department of Fish and Wildlife to work up new options for consideration next year.

The new rules will be in the 2015 Big Game Hunting pamphlet to be published this spring and online here.


Here's more information on some of the actions taken today from WDFW public information officer Craig Bartlett:

  • Two more days for modern-firearm mule deer season:  At hunters’ request, WDFW evaluated harvest levels and hunter-participation rates and agreed to propose two additional days of hunting. Those extra days will be added to the end of the season.
  • Later start for archery elk season:  Several years ago, the season was moved to early September, raising concerns about wildfire closures and meat-handling safety in late summer. Under the new rules, the season will start the Saturday after Labor Day and run for 13 days.
  • More GMUs for early muzzleloader elk season:  Historically, fewer game management units (GMUs) have been open to elk hunters using muzzleloaders than to other groups. Under the new rules, 27 more GMUs will be open to muzzleloaders.
  • Moose permits will rise in northeast:  With moose populations in northeastern Washington near an all-time high, we can make more tags available. Moose permit areas have also changed, creating even more hunting opportunities. 
  • More antlerless whitetail hunting in northeast:  Antlerless deer opportunities in northeastern Washington were dramatically reduced in recent years by the effects of some hard winters. Many of those hunting opportunities are being restored now that the herds are showing signs of recovery.
  • Maximizing multi-season deer permits: To make the most of multi-season deer permits, the Commission has authorized WDFW to sell permits that were not picked up by raffle drawing winners. These “left over” permits will be available on a first-come, first-served basis after Aug.1 to hunters whose names were not drawn.
  • Extended hunting seasons for cougar: The cougar harvest in most areas of the state never reaches the guidelines set in the Game Management Plan. This year’s hunting seasons will be extended into April to increase hunting opportunities wherever possible. However, hunters should be sure to check the hotline, because the late season is still subject to closure based on harvest results and the harvest guidelines.

Veterinarians to Idaho: Don’t risk importing parasitic worm with farmed elk

UPDATE:  Click here for news on the committee's Feb. 24 vote.

WILDLIFE — Despite adamant opposition and warnings by the Idaho Fish and Game Department director, the Idaho Legislature is continuing to pursue a controversial proposal that would ease restrictions on importing and transferring farm-raised elk that could expose wild deer, elk and moose to a deadly parasitic worm.

The rule change is scheduled for a vote on Tuesday in the Idaho Legislature's Senate Agricultural Affairs Committee.

This is not just an Idaho issue. Meningeal worms are a problem some scientists have dubbed as "ebola for wildlife."

If the committee approves the rule change, the ramifications will be potentially catastrophic to wild cervids and domestic animals, particularly white-tailed deer as well as mule deer, big horn sheep, exotic deer, elk, moose, caribou, llamas, alpacas, sheep and goats.

If Idaho gets meningeal worm, Washington State will be exposed, too.

Making this change in Idaho is nuts, considering that elk ranchers have safer alternatives.

  • The West just recently has had its eyes reopened to the threat of Chronic Wasting Disease in farmed elk in Utah as well as in Alberta.

This is not a time to roll the dice with a possible travesty that has no known cure for wild big-game populations. 

Don't take my word for it, or just the word of IFG director Virgil Moore. Listen to a pair of Idaho veterinarians who have clearly spelled out their opposition to the rule change in the following letter they've sent to Idaho lawmakers.

A Perfect Storm: Brainworm in Idaho’s Wildlife & Legislature
By Drs. Olin & Karen Balch, Cascade, Idaho

As Valley County veterinarians, we are alarmed about Idaho’s legislative rule proposal to downgrade meningeal worm restrictions for elk importation from east of the 100th meridian, essentially the eastern half of the US.  Current Idaho regulations prohibit elk importation from meningeal worm endemic regions.  The Senate Agricultural Committee chaired by Sen. Jim Rice is scheduled to vote on this issue Tuesday.

Likely, few Idahoans are familiar with meningeal worm disease or Brainworm.   Briefly, adult meningeal worms live in the central nervous system of white-tailed deer (definitive host) without harming that species.  The life cycle involves larva excreted in white-tailed deer feces; the larva then matures to an infective stage in a snail or slug (intermediate host).  Deer or other forage browsers inadvertently ingest snails or slugs carrying the disease while feeding.  Brainworm as a species is so successful that 80% of white-tailed deer in some eastern locations are infected.  Unfortunately, the adult meningeal worm living in the CNS is neither treatable nor identifiable.

Successfulness of numerous elk reintroduction efforts in eastern US have been marred by documented Brainworm mortality from 3% in Michigan, 24% in Kentucky, to 50% in Pennsylvania.  Scientific studies conclusively prove that elk can perpetuate this disease by shedding infective larva but do not necessarily die from Brainworm.  Brainworm in elk and mule deer is devastating; Brainworm in moose is catastrophic.  Minnesota moose population plummeted so drastically that the 2013 and 2014 Minnesota moose hunting seasons were cancelled.

Idaho has arguably the biggest US concentration of cervid wildlife (deer, elk, and moose), all of which can be infected with Brainworm.  We have abundant white-tailed deer, and our species of snail and slugs are suitable intermediate hosts.  We have all the makings of a perfect storm: 

1) the definitive host, white-tailed deer,

2) the intermediate host, slugs and snails, and

3) huge herds of wild cervids as previously-unexposed, vulnerable bystanders.  

The match would be a meningeal-worm infected captive elk introduced into some Idaho elk farm visited by white-tailed deer.  Once Idaho white-tailed deer are infected, Brainworm will be an unquenchable wildfire in Idaho’s wild cervids.

Elk breeders apparently feel that their livelihood is imperiled by their inability to bring in fresh elk genetics from eastern US.  We question why A.I. (artificial insemination) would not be the safe solution for obtaining new elk genetics; although seemingly all eastern US elk are descendants of western Rocky Mountain elk transplants.

We are baffled by elk farmer’s insistence that it is discrimination that elk meningeal–worm import regulations are not as lenient as import requirements of domestic animals (such as llamas, sheep, and horses) which can also be Brainworm infected.  However, these domestic animals have not been shown to pass viable larva capable of perpetuating the disease. 

As veterinarians, we believe animal import requirements should not be a matter of “fairness” but rather a scientific matter of the species’ specific physiology, the specific disease manifestation in that species, and the transmissibility of the disease to other animals or humans.   For example, horses and cattle can become rabid and transmit that almost invariably fatal disease, but are not required to have proof of rabies vaccination for import into Idaho.   Is it discrimination that dog owners must rabies vaccinate and show proof of vaccination to enter Idaho when similar requirements do not exist for owners of horses and cattle?

We are also baffled why state legislators are so willing to jettison the official June 23, 2014, written advice of IDFG Director Moore:  “It is imperative that the prohibition be maintained.”

Great expectations: elk season opens Saturday

HUNTING — Eastern Washington's modern firearms general elk season opens Saturday at 7 a.m.

Montana outdoor photographer Jaimie Johnson, in the photo above, gives hunters a  couple of things to dream about tonight.

Transporting somebody’s elk can get you pinched

HUNTING — Helping a friend or family member haul a deer or elk out of the mountains can get a person a ticket without proper documentation. Same goes for transporting or sharing game fish.

Idaho rules say any person who transports any wildlife or fish for another person or receives any wildlife or fish for cleaning, processing, as a gift, or for storage must have a written proxy statement signed by the person who killed the animal specifying the numbers and species  of wildlife, date taken, hunter’s name and address, license, tag and permit numbers. The tag should remain attached to the carcass.

A proxy form is available on Page 102 of the 2014 Big Game Seasons and Rules, all other seasons and rules brochures, or on the Fish and Game website.

Washington's big-game hunting rules pamphlet says on page 81:

If you transport or possess wildlife (or parts) killed by someone else, you must possess a written statement showing the name, address, license, permit or tag number; the number and kind of animal provided, the date killed, county, and area it was taken in, and the hunter’s signature.

Washington's fishing rules pamphlet says on page 12:

You may not… possess another person’s Game Fish unless it is accompanied by a statement showing the name, address, license number, date, county, and area where it was taken, and the signature of the angler who harvested it.

Washington hunting rules meeting in Colville Sept. 10

HUNTING — An additional public meeting to discuss Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife proposals for 2015-17 hunting seasons is scheduled for7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 10, in the Colville Ag Trade Center at the Northeast Washington Fairgrounds, 317 West Astor Ave, Colville.

Hunting issues that have been discussed online, in Spokane and at other meetings across the state in August include:

  • Antler point restrictions on white-tailed deer, including the four-point minimum for whitetails in Units 119 and 121;
  • Antlerless deer opportunity for youth, senior, and disabled hunters; 
  • Spring and fall black bear seasons;
  • Special permit drawings and the  emphasis on bonus points;
  • Baiting of big game;
  • Hunting equipment, including non-toxic ammunition, expandable broadheads and crossbows.

Fish and Wildlife officials from the regions and Olympia headquarters have conducted a series of meetings on the hunting proposals in Spokane, Moses Lake and Ellensburg and western Washington meetings cities. 

WDFW Eastern Region Wildlife Program Manager Kevin Robinette said the Colville meeting will be conducted by regional staff only, with emphasis on northeast Washington hunting issues.

The proposals are available online, where comments can be provided through Sept. 22.

Comments received will be used to develop specific recommendations for 2015-17 hunting seasons, which will be available for further review in January. 

Final recommendations will be presented to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission for adoption next spring.

Deadline looms to apply for Okanogan deer hunts

HUNTING — Eighteen lucky hunters will have an opportunity to hunt for deer this fall on the 6,000-acre Charles and Mary Eder unit of the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area in northeastern Okanogan County.

But the deadline to apply for the opportunity is midnight on Wednesday, Aug. 13.

Hunters can submit an application for the “limited-entry” deer hunt on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website  or by contacting the agency's northcentral region office, (509) 754-4624.

Winners of the random drawing will receive access permits to the area near Oroville. Of the 18 access permits available this year, six will be reserved for bowhunters, six for muzzleloaders and six for hunters using modern firearms.

“This is part of our effort to provide quality hunting opportunities in Washington,” said Matt Monda, WDFW northcentral regional wildlife manager. “This drawing is open to the general public without any additional fees beyond the cost of a hunting license and the standard tags.”

Hunters are allowed to take only one deer, as authorized by their general hunting license.

Deer-hunting seasons for the area are Sept. 1-26 for bow hunters, Sept. 27-Oct. 5 for muzzleloaders, and Oct. 11-19 for hunters using modern firearms.

The results of the drawing will be available on WDFW’s website the last week of August. Hunters who are drawn will receive an access permit and a boundary map in the mail.

Idaho hunters still waiting for controlled hunt drawing results

HUNTING - Some big-game hunters who applied for Idaho controlled hunting permits got all excited last week when Washington announced the results of its 2014 big game hunting permit drawings.

But Idaho hunters are still weeks away from getting the good/bad news and planning their vacations accordingly.  Says Idaho Fish and Game:

Q: When will the deer, elk and pronghorn drawing results be available?

A: Successful applicants will be sent a post card to the address listed on their hunting license by July 10. Results will also be available on the Fish and Game website

Washington big-game permit drawing results available

HUNTING — Some Washington hunters will be celebrating tonight. Others will be crying in their beer.

Results of the state's big-game special permit drawings for deer, elk and moose, etc., are available online

You'll need your WILD ID and you'll have to remember your birth date to get your results.

I didn't get my hopes too high, and it's a good thing.   I was eight for eight — NOT  DRAWN.

Washington delivers hunting rules to your smartphone

HUNTING — Washington hunters have the option to download the state's 2014 hunting regulations into their smartphones.

The cool thing is that the application will zero in on the unit from which the phone is being used, if you desire. 

The cautious reminder:  you need to be in a cell phone coverage area for the app to work — and your batteries must be charged!

Cost: $5.99.

 

Drones can’t be used in hunting for record-book game

HUNTING — Not even a queen can use drones to help her bag a record-book big-game trophy.

The Missoula-based Boone and Crockett Club, North America’s oldest hunting and conservation organization, has announced that any game scouted or taken with the help of drones or other unmanned aerial vehicles is ineligible for entry into its records program.

“Boone and Crockett likes to, as much as possible, set the standard for fair chase,” said Richard Hale, the chairman of the club’s big game records committee.

The club defines fair chase as the ethical, sportsmanlike and lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging wild, native North American big game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals.

“These drones, like all technology, have advanced rapidly. We need to be responsive to the way technology is changing things,” Hale said Sunday, adding that several states, including Colorado and Alaska, have already moved to ban the use of drone-aided hunting.

Curbing the use of technology is not new for the Boone and Crockett Club.

In the 1960s, the group declared that trophies taken with the use or assistance of aircraft, including spotting or herding game, would be ineligible for its prestigious records.

“We already don’t allow things like trail cameras that could send an image to, say, your phone, or pursuing game in a vehicle,” Hale said.

He said if Boone and Crockett or even state wildlife agencies take a wait-and-see approach on new technology, companies and other groups can develop an entrenched interest in seeing such technology stay legal, and lobby against any moves to limit them later on.

The Boone and Crockett Club was founded by Theodore Roosevelt in 1887 to promote the proper management of wildlife and encourage hunting sportsmanship. Its international headquarters is in Missoula.

Idaho hunting proposals posted online

HUNTING — The Idaho Department of Fish and Game's proposed changes for the 2014 big game hunting seasons are available online for public review and comment.

The proposals are listed by region.

Panhandle hunters will see proposals to increase opportunity for hunting antlerless whitetails as well as proposed increases in antlerless elk controlled hunts. 

Other proposals would turn up the heat on Panhandle predators, with increases in opportunity for bears and mountain lions to reduce impacts on elk.  In Unit 4A, for example, IFG proposes letting hunters take up to two bears and use electronic calls in the process.

Only those seasons and hunts for which changes are proposed are listed.  All others will remain the same as they were during the 2013 hunting season.

Public comments received by March 9 will be summarized and presented to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission at their March 20th meeting in Boise where big game seasons will be set.

Bighorn hunter says international guide stole his trophy

HUNTING — A short story version ran in the paper Saturday telling of a Montana big-game hunter who's suing a Canadian outfitter and a world-renowned hunting guide in Tajikistan for stealing the trophy horns of a rare wild argali sheep known as the “Marco Polo.”

He accuses the outfitters with switching his trophy with lesser horns as they were shipped to the USA.

The story is intriguing, since all of these guides are big-wigs at the annual Safari International conventions.

Click "continue reading" to see the entire story from the Associated Press.

Montana youth elk hunt an embarrassment to the sport

HUNTING — A mess of elk were slaughtered or wounded in a youth elk hunt that was marred by greedy adults last week in the Bitterroot Valley south of Missoula

The story by the Ravali Republic is among the saddest reports on sport hunting I've read all year.  

Click "continue reading" and check it out if you want to ruin your day.

Video captures angst of not drawing big-game hunting tag

HUNTING — Anyone who's tried to get a coveted big-game hunting tag in a state special permit drawing will relate to the satire in this video. Be sure to watch it all the way through to the clever ending.  

I howled with laughter.

5 reasons for hunters to score their big-game trophy

HUNTING — Congratulations! You finally killed that trophy specimen that eluded you for many seasons and countless hunts. You made celebratory stops at your buddy’s house and then the local meat processor. The taxidermist is next. But, unlike your previous hunts, this time there’s another consideration—entering your trophy into the Boone and Crockett Club’s records book.

The Boone and Crockett Club records program is the only North American harvest data system that collects information on all species of free-ranging native North American big game taken in fair chase.

Getting listed in the world’s most distinguished hunting-records book involves official measuring, paperwork and a $40 processing fee, all detailed at www.boone-crockett.org, but the rewards are considerable.

Read on for the club's top five reasons to enter a trophy in "the book."

Elk hunter returns to work; faces high expectations

HUNTING — "Did you get your elk?" a colleague asked this morning as I returned to the office after eight days away in the Blue Mountains.

"Yes," I nodded enthusiastically.

"How many?" my co-worker continued.

I grimaced slightly.

"I'm not a hunter," he noted.

Outdoors scribe back to blogging after bagging elk

HUNTING — Outdoors blog posts were downscaled the past 10 days while I focused on filling my elk tag with hunting partner Jim Kujala.

After eight days in our Blue Mountains camp and on the sixth day of the season, I finally dialed in on the elusive elk and scored.

Lot's of work after that shot: 10 hours to get the meat boned-out and packed up and out of a canyon to a closed road and carted back to camp.

Next was 6 hours of meat trimming on the tailgate of the pickup while Jim continued to hunt.

Then another 4 hours of cutting, wrapping and freezing at home.   Yum, maybe that's why elk tastes so good to me.

 The clean, hairless scraps from all the boning and trimming sessions went into bags bound for the butcher to be ground into smoked German sausage and the best hamburger money can't buy.

Lesson relearned: Always have a weather-band radio in camp, especially when you're hunting for more than a week in high areas of the Blue Mountains and Yakima region where a sudden big storm — like the one forecast for last night — could make getting out of the mountains hazardous.  The area-specific weather reports were very helpful in our day-to-day hunting strategies, and prompted our sensible departure a day earlier than planned.

 

Cow elk hunt has its moments for readers

HUNTING — Numerous comments have come in regarding my Sunday Outdoors feature, "Milking the Cow Elk Tag," a story about what to do with the most coveted permit you never hear a hunter brag about.

Following are phrases in the story that are triggering most of the "right on" and "I remember when" comments in the reader response:

“Can’t eat antlers,” my dad often said. Living through the Great Depression instilled that attitude. It served our family well.

I’ve never seen a cow elk featured on the cover of Field & Stream or Outdoor Life, yet every ordinary-guy elk hunter I know applies for a cow tag.

Maybe this is why hunters don’t gloat when they draw a cow tag. How humiliating would it be if you didn’t fill it.

My luck changed on the last morning of the season, verifying once again that getting into elk is all about putting in the time.

Following an elk down a slope in the Blue Mountains is like flirting with your best friend’s spouse. There’s no easy way out of the situation, and you make things much worse if you score.

E=mc2: That is, Eating quality equals Miles wild meat must be packed out by muscle power multiplied by the number of Contour lines crossed, squared.

I left the mountains, not with a rack to hang on the wall, but with a trophy for the freezer.

Officers bag bull elk poaching suspect in Pend Oreille County

POACHING — Officers from three enforcement agencies worked together to make a case and a male suspect has been charged for illegally killing a trophy bull elk in Pend Oreille County.

Charles I. Fraley, 27, of Ione has been charged by the county prosecutor with unlawful big game hunting in the second degree, according to District Court clerks.  Fraley's arrainment is set for Friday, Oct. 11, at 1 p.m.

While the illegal killing of a bull other hunters dream a lifetime of tagging is upsetting, the interesting part of the story is the teamwork of three agencies to make the citation. 

According to a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife enforcement report:

WDFW Officer Don Weatherman responded to a report of a trophy bull elk being shot with a rifle during the archery season near Ione. A Pend Oreille County Sheriff's Deputy already had a person of interest standing by to speak with Weatherman when he arrived on scene.

Weatherman interviewed the male subject, who had driven into the area where the 6x6 trophy elk had been shot. In the meantime, the Sheriff's Deputy and Border Patrol Agents, who were also on scene, went in search of shell casings in an area of interest and were successful in locating evidence critical to the case!

The Border Patrol Agents also assisted with the use of a tracking dog to backtrack the subject's activities away from his vehicle.

After interviewing the subject, the young male admitted to shooting the bull with his rifle, which was stashed in the woods after the elk was shot and before he returned to his vehicle. The subject then took officers to the rifle as well as the area where he had fired the deadly shot.

Charges have been filed.
 
All of the meat was salvaged and donated to the Ione Food Bank. 
WDFW Capt. Dan Rahn, who held off making any comment until charges were filed and a court date was set, said it's unusual for Wildlife agents, sheriff's deputies and Border Patrol to come together on a case.
 
"Usually we're all spread thin and scattered about," he said. "But in this case all three agencies just happened to have personnel in the area at the right time."

Bear awareness needed during early season hunt

HUNTING — After several recent human-bear encounters in Idaho and Wyoming, wildlife managers are reminding hunters and others heading into the region’s backwoods to properly store their food and garbage to keep conflicts with the curious and ravenous predators to a minimum.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials say anyone who leaves food out is baiting bears.

The animals have a tremendous sense of smell and become habituated to humans if they discover people are associated with easy meals.

The agency urges hunters to keep a clean camp, store garbage in bear-resistant containers or high in trees — out of reach of black bears and grizzlies.

In mid-August, four people in and near Yellowstone National Park were injured in separate bear encounters, though all escaped with minor bite and scratch wounds. 

So you drew an elk tag: now what?

HUNTING — I'm feeling pretty smug this week after checking out the special hunting permit lottery results and seeing that I drew a coveted Blue Mountains antlerless elk tag.

Most years I wish calamities on camo-clad brethren who draw tags while I sulk in the huge pool of losers.

But the game is only begun.   Now it's time to be sure everything is planned out, from the camp sites to the scouting and most important — the physical conditioning for hunting day after day in the steep canyons of the Blues.

The last time my hunting partner, Jim, drew a bull tag, he started working out in June in a well-planned schedule with a backpack and increasingly longer distances and heavier loads.  

A hunter waits years to draw a tag for a special opportunity to harvest an elk. You don't want to waste the chance.

My workout program kicked in high gear last weekend as I helped my daughter move all her belongings out of a SECOND STORY apartment.

I commute to work on my bicycle, riding 14 miles round trip up and down the South Hill.

I'm planning at least four major backpacking trips and numerous dayhikes through the summer.

And that, in my experience, is just barely enough to get me on track for seriously hunting the Blues and being in shape for comfortably packing out the meat if I'm lucky enough to score.

What are you doing to prepare for elk season?

Washington big-game hunting permit drawing results available

HUNTING — Check in and cheer or cry:   The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife special permit drawings for 2013 have been conducted.  

To view your drawing results, visit the WDFW website.

2013 Wash. hunting rules adopted by commission

HUNTING – Allowing lighted nocks for bowhunting was among 17 measures adopted for the 2013 hunting seasons during the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting Saturday in Oympia.

Jim Sutton of Spokane has worked for several years to get the commission to approve the use of electronically illuminated nocks, which can be helpful in retrieving arrows. Traditional bowhunters had originally opposed the any use of electronics in primitive weapon seasons, but Sutton argued that lighted knocks had no impact on harvest success.

Some of the other new rules will:

  • Restore archery hunts for antlerless elk in Yakima County in game management units 352 (Nile) and 356 (Bumping).
  • Rescind the five special hunting permits previously available for the Tieton bighorn sheep herd, which the state recently eliminated to prevent the spread of a deadly outbreak of pneumonia.
  • Restrict importation of dead game animals from Missouri, Texas and Pennsylvania, which are among a number of states with deer and elk populations known to harbor chronic wasting disease.  

All 17 hunting rules approved by the commission will be included in the 2013 Big-Game Hunting pamphlet, which will be available in sporting goods stores and other license vendors late this month.

Reserve private land hunting spot on new Wash. online site

 HUNTING – Although the signs went up on enrolled fields last fall, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department’s new Quality Hunt Reservation System didn't come online until today — just in time for the spring gobbler season that runs Monday through May 31.

Selected private lands enrolled in access agreements are available to hunters who can book reservations up to three weeks in advance.

By this fall, the agency expects hold drawings for reserving the most popular areas as hunters catch on.

Officials also say they want to hear your comments by email at wildthing@dfw.wa.gov.

Idaho sets 2013 big-game hunting seasons, rules

HUNTING — A general cow elk season will not return in North Idaho, but controlled permits for antlerless elk hunting will be increased statewide under the 2013 hunting seasons for deer, elk, pronghorn, black bear, mountain lion and gray wolf adopted today in Boise by the Fish and Game Commission.

The new seasons also include an increase in pronghorn tags and expanded wolf hunting and trapping seasons. 

Wolf hunting on private lands in the Idaho Panhandle will be allowed year round.

  • Details of the 2013 big game hunting seasons will be posted on the Fish and Game website. The 2013 Hunting Seasons printed brochure will be available at license vendors in late April.

Read on for highlights of rule changes provided by the Idaho Fish and Game Department.

Montana big-game hunting applications due March 15

HUNTING — Time's running out for hunters planning to make applications for Montana's special deer and elk hunting permits and non-resident combo licenses. 

The deadline is Friday.

See details here.

Minor changes offered for North Idaho big-game hunting rules

HUNTING — The general season cow elk hunt is not proposed to return in the Idaho Panhandle this fall as Idaho Fish and Game managers stay fairly conservative with their recommendations for 2013 big game seasons.

Increases in controlled hunts for antlerless elk and deer are proposed, but for the most part seasons will stay the same as last year for mule deer, whitetails and elk.

Biologists will be on hand to explain the season proposals and gather public comment during an open-house meeting 4 p.m.-8 p.m. on March 7 at the Best Western Plus on the corner of Highway 95 and Appleway in Coeur d’Alene

Proposals for Idaho's 2013 big-game hunting seasons and an online comment form have been posted on the Fish and Game Department's Website.

Jim Hayden, IFG regional wildlife manager, said the elk seasons would resemble last year's hunts in North Idaho with minor tweeks to the controlled huntfor antlerless elk:

"The net result for next year's antlerless elk hunting would be no cow harvest in Units 4, 4A, 6, 7, and 9, lower than average harvest in Unit 1, and near average in Units 2, 3, and 5, where depredations are becoming a bit of a concern."

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission will set final big game hunting season rules at the quarterly meeting in Boise on March 18. 

Speak up, get on the list

As the old saying goes, the world is ruled by those who show up.

Two years ago, IDFG mailed out a questionnaire on hunting seasons in Unit 1 to a random selection of Unit 1 elk hunters.  The process provided a statistically valid cross-section of hunters’ opinions, and proved to be a tool IDFG jused in decision-making.  That effort is being expanded this year, and 1,000 hunters who purchased hunting licenses in the Panhandle Region will receive a survey in the mail.  Their comments will help make decisions for the 2013 seasons. 

Idaho seeks comments on big-game hunting seasons

HUNTING — As wildlife biologists try to wrap up winter surveys, the Idaho Fish and Game has scheduled  public meetings around the state to discuss proposals for 2013 big game seasons and rules.

Some of the proposals likely to emerge include:

  • Increased black bear season length and mountain lion bag limit and season length in the Panhandle.
  • Youth/disabled vet extra tag hunt on private lands in the Clearwater Region.
  • Reallocating A tags from nonresident to resident in Diamond Creek elk zone in the Southeast Region.
  • Reallocating capped Salmon elk zone from nonresident to resident in the Salmon Region.

Comments taken at the meetings will be summarized and presented to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission at the March 19 meeting when big game seasons are set.

The Panhandle Region has scheduled an open house meeting, 4 p.m.-8 p.m. on March 7 at the Coeur d’Alene Inn, Best Western Plus on Appleway at US Highway 95 in Coeur d’Alene.

Clearwater Region meetings are as follows:

  • Grangeville: Senior Citizens Center, Feb. 26
  • Moscow: Latah County Fairground Exhibit Building, Feb. 27
  • Lewiston: IDFG Regional Office, March 5
  • Orofino: IDFG Clearwater Hatchery located NW of bridge in Ahsahka, March 6.

Wildlife enthusiast to tell birders why he’s a hunter

HUNTING – “I hunt therefore I am (what)?”

Everyone might have a different word to fill in the blank in that phrase: condemnable, capable, cold-hearted, complete….

Fill in he blank as you see fit, but not before you give me a shot at explaining why an animal lover and wildlife conservationist would chose to be a hunter.

I’ll be giving a program on the topic Wednesday (Feb. 13) for the Spokane Audubon Society’s open meeting, 7:30 p.m., at Riverview Retirement Community, Village Community Building, 2117 E. North Crescent Ave.

  • Click here for directions to the meeting location.

Sportsmen are among the most ardent year-round wildlife watchers and they contribute generously to wildlife conservation.

Moreover, animals are delicious.

But those are just a few of many reasons I hunt.