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Mule Deer Foundation banquet Saturday in Spokane

WILDLIFE — The Mule Deer Foundation’s Spokane Chapter will hold its annual local fundraising banquet Saturday, April 11, with dinner starting at 6 p.m. at Mukogawa Fort Wright Commons, 4000 W. Randolph Rd.

The foundation’s Washington chapters have put nearly 150 percent of the money they raise at chapter banquets directly into on-the-ground projects because of matching money from the national organization, said state coordinator Dan McKinley.

The Mule Deer Foundation is dedicated to preserving mule deer habitat and boosting muley populations that are dwindling in many areas of the West despite being prized by wildlife viewers as well as hunters.

Most recently, the foundation has provided funding to state wildlife managers for projects such as re-seeding habitat charred by last year’s Carlton Complex fires, donating robotic deer decoys to wildlife police for curbing poaching and supporting researchers with funding and volunteer help.

Email: spokanechaptermdf@gmail.com

Info: muledeer.org

Kittitas County man charged for shooting, wasting 30-plus deer

POACHING — A clueless landowner, who described deer on his property as "rodents," has been charged with shooting and killing more than 30 deer over several  years and leaving them to rot on his property near Thorpe, Washington.

According to the Daily Record, Rodney Arnold Lang, 63, told Washington Fish and Wildlife police that he had a right to defend his property from deer that came into his land and orchard.

The man never filed a complaint or claim for any wildlife damage, department officials said.

He apparently followed only two of the three S's:  He Shot and Shut up, but he didn't Shovel.

Thanks go out to the neighbor who saw some carcasses and a pile of bones from the past and turned in the selfish poacher.

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.”

State proposes Whitman County land acquisition

WILDLIFE — The state may acquire a 94-acre parcel in the Palouse grasslands to help assure mule deer, pheasants, sharp-tailed grouse and other wildlife have a corridor connecting with other protected habitats in Whitman County.

 The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is taking public comment through Jan. 30 on a proposal to acquire the Pheasants Forever-Knott Property and for fish and wildlife habitat restoration and public recreation, including hunting.  The land would be donated by Pheasants Forever, a wildlife conservation group that's already secured the property.

Officials also are proposing to acquire 10 acres in Whatcom County for the Lower Nooksack River Project.

  • Information on both properties is available on WDFW’s website. The webpage also includes projects pursued in 2014.

The two proposals represent critical components of larger landscape restoration efforts in the Palouse prairie habitats of Whitman County and the lower Nooksack River, said Cynthia Wilkerson, WDFW land conservation and restoration section manager. Both projects would complement existing adjacent WDFW Wildlife Areas, she said.

The Whitman County parcel helps join the state's Revere Wildlife Area and the Escure Ranch area along Rock Creek managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The Whitman County property is being donated by Pheasants Forever. The Lower Nooksack River is funded through a National Coastal Wetlands Grant. 

Washington's Fish and Wildlife agency owns or manages about one million acres in 33 wildlife areas, along with 700 public water-access sites to boost wildlife and outdoor recreation.


Would you shoot an all-white deer adored by local residents?

HUNTING — That's the question of the day after a bowhunter legally tags a buck in Missouri that was more than just a white-tail.

The all-white whitetail was something of a celebrity in Cape Girardeau. Some locals felt a connection with it and would notice the animal on drives through the Southeast Missouri city.  It was hard to miss.

The hunter is getting bombarded with criticism for taking a particular animal that stood out so significantly to others.

Even though he had every legal right to do it, was it ethical?

Over in Idaho, our Huckleberries blogmaster is asking: Question: Would you have killed the albino deer, if given the chance?

Lower turnout at area deer checkstations

HUNTING — Fewer hunters turned in to hunter check stations north of Spokane over the weekend compared with last year, but the ratio of deer taken during the late whitetail buck season appears to be about the same.

Some hunters reported the cold snap that clicked in last week coupled with the upswing of the rut had deer moving.

It's not clear whether the cold weather had something to do with the lower turnout of hunters.

Here's the check station report from Kevin Robinette, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife regional wildlife manager:

The final Northeast Washington Deer Check Stations concluded this weekend with voluntary check stations at the Chattaroy weigh station on Saturday and at the Deer Park weigh station on Sunday.

Weather was sunny and cold.  WDFW Biologists Dana Base and Annemarie Prince  led the efforts with assistance from other agency staff and a cadre of volunteers.

At Chattaroy (Nov 15) the crew interviewed 52 hunters and inspected 11 white-tailed deer (2013 numbers were 88 hunters with 22 whitetails).

At Deer Park (Nov 16) 93 hunters were interviewed with 25 white-tailed deer (2013 – 134 hunters with 30 deer).

Eastern Washington's late buck hunt continues in selected units through Nov. 19.

Video: research camera catches cougar killing deer

PREDATORS — A camera fixed on a deer's neck to study what it eats also gave University of Washington researchers a glimpse of how the deer was eaten — by a mountain lion.

The short video below shows the whitetail feeding in the snowy woods as a mountain lion attacks and takes the prey down for the kill. The real-time action is quick. A 1/4-speed slow-mo replay in a YouTube post by American Hunter offers viewers time to clearly see the predator.

Experts say most cougar attacks are ambushes, as this video shows.  But it's also notable that the attack is head-on rather than from the side or rear.

Justin Dellinger, a PhD candidate at the University of Washington, has been conducting the research that seeks to document the impacts Washington's growing wolf population has on deer.

  • Dellinger currently is fundraising on his website to keep the research going through 2017.  His online effort, which already has raised more than $12,000, ends Saturday, Nov. 15.

As gray wolves are naturally recolonizing Washington State, Dellinger's project is taking advantage of the rare opportunity to study ecosystem responses when a top predator returns.

So far, the project has placed neck cams on 48 deer and GPS collars on 43 deer.  Dellinger's goal is to collar another 280 deer for the research.

Although the project has been on the ground for only two years, it's generated considerable interest among scientists and the public.  Public TV already has zeroed in on the study with a documentary, “Wolves and the Ecology of Fear.”
Click here to watch the video

How to de-bone deer meat in 8 minutes

HUNTING — Most hunters eventually have to bone-out a big-game animal in the field or while butchering their meat back home.

Here's a video that sets the bar for how it's done: A butcher bones out a deer carcass in less than 8 minutes. Whew!

The man in his video clearly has been around a knife for a long time; he's made a business out of it.  

Here's an observation for mere mortals from my experience:

Most of us field dress only one or two big-game animals a year at most.  Don't expect to have this man's speed or skills.

I've bagged elk the last two consecutive years and each time I had to think through the process of field dressing and boning out the meat. It was not automatic.

Most important is being absolutely safe with the sharpest knife you may have worked with all year.

I tend to work slow. I'm often by myself working with a slippery carcass and often under less than desirable outdoor conditions and on a slope to boot.  Cutting yourself with a very sharp knife in a remote area can be a serious inconvenience.

Watch the video and learn… but be careful out there.

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.

Dry landscape hampers some deer hunters, but not all

HUNTING — Looking at some of the nice bucks taken on the Oct. 11-12 opening weekend of the Washington modern rifle deer hunting season can prompt sportsman to rethink their grousing about the lack of perfect conditions.

Sure it was dry and warm. Success rates were not great.

But some hunters who put themselves in the right places at the right times were handsomely rewarded, as the photo above indicates.

The Deer Park check station last weekend saw 81 deer hunters with nine deer compared with last year’s 91 hunters bringing in 12 deer.

"Officers thought weekend hunting pressure was about normal," said Madonna Luers, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman in Spokane.

Kevin Robinette, department regional wildlife manager, expects more hunting action and success with cooler, wetter weather predicted for this weekend — and especially during the late buck season that runs Nov. 8-19 in northeastern Washington units 105, 108, 111, 113, 117, 121 and 124

The Winthrop Check Station interviewed 106 hunters on opening weekend compared with 107 last year, suggesting hunting pressure is about the same in the Methow Valley. 

"On the other hand, we checked only 20 deer as opposed to 30 last year indicating success rate is down," said Scott Fitkin, area wildlife biologist. 

"My guess is that the reduced success is mostly a function of the exceptionally mild weather we’ve had thus far this fall, and changes is deer distribution and hunter distribution caused by the (2014 Carlton Complex) fires.

"Many hunters chose to hunt new areas this year in response to the fires and thus may be less efficient."

"As for deer distribution, I suspect a lot of deer are still up pretty high given the weather. However, some deer are being taken in the burned areas, so hunters shouldn’t immediately discount those areas. 

"Off and on rain with some high country snow is forecast for this week so conditions and success rates should improve for the remainder of the general season.


Hunters have compelling reasons to take a few minutes to stop into a hunter check station in Washington or Idaho.

Deer Park and Chattaroy check stations are scheduled to be staffed by WDFW biologists, master hunters, hunter education instructors and university wildlife students this weekend for the close of the general season in northeastern Washington.  Check stations also will be staffed during the late buck hunt — Nov. 15 at Chattaroy off Highway 2 and Nov. 16 at Deer Park off Highway 395.

The Winthrop Check Station will be open this weekend at the Red Barn off Highway 20 at the west edge of Winthrop.




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.

Photos: Bucks and bulls in prime condition this week

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Big-game headwear is in the spotlight this week as Montana outdoor photographer Jaimie Johnson

gives us a look at what's been developing all summer.  The photos (above) of a bull elk plus pronghorn, mule deer and whitetail bucks were snapped this week.

Most hunters know the difference, but in casual conversation it's not uncommon to hear reference to something like a bull elk with "horns" that raked the sky. An elk has antlers, but the colloquial term "horns" rolls easier off the tongue.

Nevertheless, even sportsmen have misperceptions about what it takes to grow antlers and why not every deer and elk that reaches maturity will sport massive headgear, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists.

Here are some basics.

Antlers grow on male members of the deer family, including deer, elk and moose. They fall off each year during winter and grow back during spring and summer.

Horns are permanent growing features on the heads of mountain goats, bighorn sheep and bison.

Exceptions include:

  • Male and female caribou, which are in the deer family, both have antlers.
  • Antelope have horns but they shed the outer covering or sheath each year.

Genetics and nutrition play major roles in horn growth. Generally, genetics determine the form of antlers while nutrition dictates their size. Some deer or elk simply lack the bloodlines to grow trophy-class racks of multiple points and width no matter what they're fed.

A study of white-tailed deer compared the offspring of yearling bucks with relatively large branched antlers versus yearlings with only spikes. Because both sets of deer were captive in the controlled experiment they were fed identical diets. The yearlings with larger antlers sired only 5 percent spikes, while the spike yearlings produced 44 percent spike antlered yearlings.

However, one study of mule deer has shown that in wet years, which mean increased availability of food, there are fewer spike bucks and larger number of yearlings with forked antlers.

Bottom line:  The highest scoring trophy big-game usually are produced from a combination of good genetics and nutrition.

Deer problems expected on charred Methow winter range

WILDLIFE — At least one farmer already is experiencing deer damaging an alfalfa field in otherwise charred landscape in the Methow Valley region, according to the latest report from the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department's wildlife program.

The Carlton Complex fires burned and leaped across more than 256,000 acres in July and August, the largest fire covering recorded in Washington. And to add to the issues, mudslides and flooding has resulted from recent thunderstorms over the denuded landscape.

Department biologist say significant portions of mule deer winter range have been burned. Some has been burned badly, but the burning varied in intensity and some areas are starting to sprout green and recover with the rains. Seed is being ordered for revegetating some areas.

Grazing permits have been effected and department staff is working with some farmers and orchard operators who are scrambling to replace burned fences to keep deer out of their crops.

Hunters will have to appreciate this portion of the report on this week's activities:

Specialist Heilhecker visited with a landowner in Tonasket who is experiencing deer damage to her alfalfa field. This individual called last year at this time with the same concerns of not being able to get a third cutting. Specialist Heilhecker issued a kill permit and a damage permit valid until the start of general season and reminded her that she needs to open her land to some public hunting. Whether public hunting is allowed on the property will more closely monitored.


Photo: Buck shaping up to be a trophy

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Whether you're a hunter or a wildlife watcher, there's no doubt that this buck is shaping up to be a heart-stopper.

The elegant brute was photographed in its late velvet stage of antler development on Monday by Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson.

Question:  Is it a mule deer or whitetail?

The photographer says it's a white-tailed deer.

Photo: Whitetail buck in velvet

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A promising sight to behold.

Thanks to Western Western Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson for this week's antler-development update.

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

Lone fawns rarely deserted by Mother Deerest

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A wildlife population explosion takes place around this time every year and anyone can stumble onto a baby critter virtually anywhere outside. 

"Wild bird and mammal species typically produce young in the spring and early summer," says Phil Cooper of the Idaho Fish and Game Department. "This allows the young to have time to gain the strength and size needed to survive the challenges of winter, or the rigors and dangers of fall migration."

Wildlife managers make little attempt to hover and protect individual fawns and calves being born to deer, elk and moose this spring. Nature is geared to some surviving and some perishing to the benefit of other wildlife.

Wild animal newborns are particularly vulnerable to predators in the first few days of life until they are able to run or fly well enough to escape predation.

Predators such as wolves, mountain lions, bears, bobcats, eagles, raccoons, skunks, weasels and other species need to eat to survive. Nature provides for them.

But nature shouldn't have to provide for domestic dogs and cats.

Pet owners can reduce wildlife injury or death to wild newborns during this critical period by keeping pets confined.  Although pets may have plenty of food available, their predatory instincts can take over when allowed to run at large. 

People also can help young wildlife by leaving them alone.

Every spring,  fish and wildlife agencies around the region receive several calls a day about deer fawns that people see, with no doe visible in the surrounding area, Cooper said.  Callers are often convinced that the fawn has been injured, abandoned or orphaned.

"While fawns are occasionally injured or orphaned, they are never abandoned," he said.  "An adult doe has extremely strong parenting instincts and will not abandon a fawn."

Wild parents often leave their offspring for long periods while they hunt or gather food.  A doe can leave her fawn hidden in the grass for eight hours until she determines the time is right to return and nurse.

Hanging around a fawn or calf you might discover in the field likely will likely push a doe or cow farther away and deter it from returning.

"IDFG has had fawns brought in by people who say, 'I stayed there and watched it all day, and the doe never came back,'" Cooper said. "Without realizing it, the presence of a person likely kept the doe in hiding."

"If you find a seriously injured animal; or, in those extremely rare instances where you know with certainty that a wild animal has lost its parent, intervention may be appropriate.  Contact the Idaho Department of Fish and Game for instructions on the next step."

It is illegal to confiscate young wildlife and attempt to raise them on your own, he said, noting that cute babies can become a burden or a danger to people as they mature.

Fawn photo: Big-game birthing season underway

WILDLIFE WATCHING — "This is the first fawn we’ve seen this year – we took a couple quick images and moved on – mom was still working on having another one!" says Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson.

Wildlife officials in Washington, Idaho and Montana all are issuing reminders to leave fawns alone if you find one.  Even though they may seem abandoned, it's normal for whitetail or mule deer does to stash their fawns motionless in a hiding spot for up to 8 hours before returning to feed.

Film: fascinating insight on obstacles to migration

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Last week, Wyoming researchers released their report on the longest mule deer migration in the world, which was happening virtually unrealized for who knows how long.

This amazing short video, using remote camera photography, illustrates the man-made obstacles these mule deer must endure to continue this historic 150-mile route each year from summer to winter range. 

We should think about this Wyoming Migration Project every time we put up a fence or build a road.

Nailed! Deer poacher, 25, sentenced to 5 years, $24K

POACHING — "The man who wore a T-shirt reading 'Damn I’m Good' while hoisting the severed head of one of many trophy Okanogan bucks he poached during a 2012 and 2013 killing spree was sentenced to five years in jail and over $24,000 in fines," reports Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman.

The Omak Chronicle and Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune report that Garret V.J. Elsberg pled guilty to eight counts of first-degree unlawful hunting of big game, seven counts of second-degree unlawful hunting, possession of a firearm, and one count of second-degree unlawful hunting of big game.

“These were the most flagrant acts of poaching in my 25 years as a game warden,” said Jim Brown, former Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife police officer and now the agency's region manager in Ephrata.

Walgamott has a full roundup of information about the case involving this young man gone wrong. 

Wyoming mule deer log longest migration

WILDLIFE WATCHING — A Wyoming herd of about 500 mule deer travels 50 miles from the Red Desert to the southern end of the Wind River Range, where it joins about 5,000 more deer to walk another 100 miles. It is the longest recorded mule deer migration in the world, according to the Wyoming Migration Initiative.

The research, presented today at the University of Wyoming in Laramie is more evidence to support the importance of migration corridors for the survival of our wildlife, a cause for future-wise wildlife and sportsmen's groups for years. 

“Migration corridors and habitats where big game animals rest and forage during migration are critical pieces in a complex habitat puzzle that is key to the health of populations of mule deer and other big game animals," said Ed Arnett, director of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership Center for Responsible Energy Development. "If we do not safeguard all the pieces of that puzzle, including important habitats associated with migration, big game populations likely will decline and impact both our outdoor traditions and our hunting-based Western economy.”

The University of Wyoming's study and others like it will help point out the highest priority areas to target with conservation dollars for easements, habitat enhancement and other management  projects to best conserve these important areas for migration, he said.

  • The TRCP has proposed that the BLM should incorporate explicit language on big game migration corridors and associated habitats into its planning handbook to improve landscape planning and balance the needs of big game with energy development and other potential impacts

Video cam captures spectrum of critters in Stevens County

WILDLIFE WATCHING — How many species of critters will pass the lens of a trail camera positioned at one spot in Stevens County, Wash.?

You'll be surprised.

Keep your eye open for the bobcat.

Video: buck survives horror story to be rescued by hunter

WILDLIFE WATCHING — You think you had a bad night?  How would you like to be tied to one of your rivals while coyotes chewed him up?

I've seen quite a few fascinating videos of hunters rescuing bucks or even bull elk after their antlers had been locked in a battle.

This one isn't the most exciting of those available on YouTube, but it just boggles your mind to think about what the buck went through during the night.

Check it out if you want to see a whitetail buck being rescued after it locked horns with another buck that wasn't nearly so lucky.

Out-of-staters rally against coyote hunting derby

PREDATORS — An out-of-state group has triggered more than 500 emails to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife protesting the annual Save our Fawns coyote hunting derby underway in northeastern Washington.

See the story by Northwest Sportsman editor Andy Walgamott.

Organizers say the derby is a way to give struggling deer herds a better chance to recover.

Fish-game cops need help with poaching cases

HUNTING/FISHING — Poaching is a live and well in the region's mountains and streams, and state fish and wildlife officers in Washington and Idaho are looking for help making cases.   Two in particular include:

Entiat bucks:  A $2,000 reward is being offered by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife  for substantial information leading to charges filed against the person(s) involved in poaching trophy class deer.

Two mule deer bucks were shot from Mud Creek Road in the Entiat Valley during the first two weeks of January 2014. The poacher(s) attempted to hide the deer, leaving the antlers and meat to waste (though they likely planned to return later to retrieve the antlers).

  • Contact Officer Oswald, (509) 630.0536, or email eric.oswald@dfw.wa.gov.  All reports will be confidential and the reporting party's identity will be protected.

Clearwater steelhead: On Friday, Feb. 28, poachers left their mark at the Ahsahka boat ramp on the North Fork of the Clearwater River, according to Idaho Fish and Game oficials. 

A call to the Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) hotline led an Idaho Fish and Game officer to the scene where six steelhead had been left to waste.  Six female fish were all over the 28 inch length limit and one still had an adipose fin indicating it was most likely a wild fish. All fish had been gutted and thrown alongside the boat ramp near the water’s edge.  The persons reporting the crime said they had been fishing earlier in the day at that same location and the fish were not there.  They returned to go fishing in the afternoon and found the fish that had been left to waste. 

One of the people reporting the crime stated, “Those fish could have feed my family for quite a while…  but instead someone saw it fit to catch and kill illegal fish and then waste the meat.”  Someone knows who did this.  It was likely more than one person.  Without the help of a responsible honest person, these dishonest violators will get away with stealing the wildlife resource that belongs to the people of Idaho.

  • Contact CAP hotline, (800) 632-5999 or Officer Dave Beaver, (208) 791-5118.  Anyone providing information can remain anonymous.  

Dalton Gardens Holds Off On Deer

The Dalton Gardens City Council decided Thursday night to send a draft ordinance on deer feeding back for revisions, following significant public comment and council discussions. The public input included some support for the draft ordinance and also concerns about enforcement of such an ordinance. There was also some concern about turning neighbors against each other through reporting violators. Mayor Dan Franklin proposed the council members each forward specific recommendations for changes to the city’s land planner Cheri Howell, and the council agreed to provide the feedback. More than 30 people from the public attended the meeting, many of whom provided comment/David Cole, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: In towns like Helena, Mont., deer are such a nuisance that city officials order dozens shot. Is this a better approach than penalizing residents in Dalton Gardens who are feeding them?

Dalton Gardens Targets Deer Feeders

Item: Draft ordinance: Don't feed the deer: Dalton Gardens City Council considers ban with possible $100 fine for violations/David Cole, Coeur d'Alene Press

More Info: The Dalton Gardens City Council tonight is scheduled to discuss a draft ordinance that if passed would ban deer feeding in the city. The purpose, according to a draft posted on the city's website, is to halt an increase in the population of the animal by eliminating feed and attractants. The draft ordinance said deer pose a public safety threat because of vehicle-deer collisions. It also cites spread of disease and damage to landscaping and gardens.

Question: Do you support/oppose this ordinance?

Trail Cam proves wildlife around when hikers aren’t

WILDLIFE WATCHING — In December, Parks Canada posted this time-lapse video from a trail camera in Waterton Lakes National Park spanning over a four-month period when the area was closed to hikers as a result of flood damage.

See how the animals took advantage of a human-free trail and used it for an easy travel route.

How many species do you count?  

Photo: Is this Chewelah buck too big to be real?

WILDLIFE WATCHING — I received this photo from a reader in northeastern Washington.  It's labeled simply, "Chewelah buck."

Is it too big to be true?

Whitetail buck advertises half-off sale

WILDLIFE WATCHING — The whitetail deer antler shed season has begun, according to Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson.

Deer, moose and elk will be dropping their antlers one at a time through February to make room on their heads for next season's crop of what I understand is the fastest-growing tissue among mammals.

Velvet sprouts will be evident in May and the new antlers will be in full velvet bloom in August before the blood flow dries up and they start hardening.

The big bulls and bucks then will rub off the velvet and polish the antlers as they rake brush and saplings in preparation for the rut.