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Washington developing game management plan; meetings set

HUNTING — The public is getting a chance to help shape the Washington's game management plan at a series of public “open house” meetings scheduled by the Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) this month.

The public can also comment on key aspects of the six-year plan via an on-line survey, from today through July 18.

The meetings are scheduled to run in Eastern Washington from 7 p.m.-9 p.m. as follows:

  • June 17 – Wenatchee, Red Lion Inn Wenatchee , 1225 N. Wenatchee Ave.
  • June 18 – Kennewick, Red Lion Inn Kennewick, N. 1101 Columbia Center Blvd.
  • June 19 – Spokane, Double Tree by Hilton Spokane City Center, 322 N. Spokane Falls Court..

Once adopted, the plan will be used by WDFW to guide development of hunting seasons and other management policies in future years, said Dave Ware, WDFW game program manager.

“We want to hear people’s concerns, especially those that address significant conservation or management issues,” he said.

  • Key issues in the draft plan include:
  • Hunter recruitment and retention.
  • Hunter access to timberlands.
  • Possible new rules requiring the use of non-toxic shot. 
  • New proposals for managing predator/prey relationships.
  • Developing a plan to manage wolves after they are no longer classified as an endangered species.

Ware said comments received at the public meetings and from the online survey will be used to develop additional recommendations, which will be available for further review.

Final recommendations will be presented to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission for a public hearing in August and adoption in September.

Late whitetail buck season closes today

HUNTING — The late whitetail buck season for modern rifle hunters in select northeastern Washington units closes today at 4:45 p.m.

The the snow that blanketed hunting areas last weekend for the closing days apparently have been good for hunters.  

“Weather conditions for 2013 created great conditions for late season hunting over 2012," said  says Kevin Robinette, Department of Fish and Wildlife regional wildlife manager in Spokane. "Participation at our check stations increased also.”

Indeed, the number of hunters checking in to the stations at Chattaroy and Deer Park last weekend (303) was up about 40 percent from last year while the number of whitetails they had bagged (84) increased by about 80 percent.

The overall hunter success rate last weekend was about 28 percent compared with 21 percent on the last weekend of the season last year.

Whitetails get a bit of a respite now as the their breeding season peaks.

But the late archery season opens on Monday.


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.

Okanogan deer show up at check station — dead and alive

HUNTING — Mule deer numbers seem to be improving, as predicted, in the Okanogan County area as indicated by the number and size of bucks that came into check stations on opening weekend.  

Some deer checked in and checked out voluntarily (click Continue reading to see both photos).

Here's the initial report from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife… more to come:

General Deer Opener –Biologists Fitkin and Heinlen ran the Winthrop deer check station for opening weekend of the general modern firearm season.  We checked 107 hunters with 30 deer.  These numbers suggest a reduction in hunting pressure, but a significant increase in success as compared to last year’s opening weekend.  Thus far, we’re also seeing a higher than average percentage of the harvest in the >4 ½ year old age class as expected including one nice 30” wide buck (see photo). Prospects for the rest of the season remain good, although mild weather will likely keep deer well distributed on the landscape.  Hunters who harvest animals on the weekend are encouraged to bring their deer to the WDFW Deer Check Station located at the Red Barn in Winthrop (some are even showing up on their own).

Formula offered for tagging a West Side blacktail buck

HUNTING — Whitetail bucks are famous for taking advantage of thick cover to live long and grow big racks.

But even the white-tailed deer of Eastern Washington and North Idaho could take a lesson from Western Washington blacktails, where the average hunter can expect to devote something like 30 days in the field per buck.

Click "continue reading" for a report by Alan Thomas of the Vancouver Columbian on what it takes to to west of the Cascades and make a blacktail hunt successful.

Bucks won’t be standing around this weekend

HUNTING — The general hunting season for white-tailed deer opens today in most North Idaho areas.

Saturday is the opener for modern rifle season in most of Eastern Washington.

Washington 2013 hunting season dates summarized

HUNTING — Washington's hunting seasons are cranking into high gear this month.

Washington's hunting regulations pamphlets have all the details.

But follow this link for a handy summary of the 2013-14 Washington hunting seasons.

Idaho restricts motorized vehicle use for hunting

HUNTING — While public land managers have restrictions on where motor vehicles can be driven, Idaho also restricts some hunters from using vehicles such as ATVs in some areas to curb conflicts between motorized hunting and other sportsmen and landowners.

The restrictions are south of the Idaho Panhandle.

The Idaho Fish and Game’s motorized hunting rules apply to big game animals, including moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goats, in designated units from Aug. 30 through Dec. 31.

Between these dates and in the designated units, specific to all big game hunting, hunters may use motorized vehicles only on established roadways that are open to motorized traffic and capable of being traveled by full-sized automobiles.

Motorized hunting use restrictions apply to units 29, 30, 30A, 32, 32A, 36A, 37, 37A, , 45, 47, 49, 50, 51, 52, 52A, 53, 56, 58, 59, 59A, 66, 66A, 69, 70, 72, 73, 75, 76, 77 and 78.

The rule does not apply to upland game animals or birds in hunts within the designated units.

Panhandle still holds big bulls, but young bull numbers down, biologist says

HUNTING — Jim Hayden, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional wildlife manager, speaks frankly in a post he just made to update the status of elk and elk hunting on the Idaho Panhandle.

  • Antlerless elk hunting remains severely curtailed, but there are signs of improving population trends in the St. Joe region.
  • Numbers of younger bulls including spikes appears to be down, but the percentage of old bulls is high, so Hayden expects to see some wall hangers coming out of North Idaho this fall.

Read on for his complete post, plus his encouragement for hunters to participate in the development of Idaho's statewide elk management plan for the next 10 years.

IFG will hold an online chat for sportsmen to monitor or ask questions regarding elk management on Thursday, 5 p.m.-7 p.m.

Hikers, berry pickers sharing woods with hunters this month

HUNTING/HIKING — August is a prime month for backpacking in the Inland Northwest and it's also the month in which some hunting seasons open, luring sportsmen with bows or rifles into the same mountains.

Danger levels are very low, but safety-minded hikers wear some bright clothing this time of year.

In Washington:

Black bear hunting seasons opened Aug. 1 in Western Washington and much of the Casdades and Columbia Basin zones. The Northeastern B and Okanogan zones will open Aug. 15.

More seasons, including forest grouse and morning dove, will open Sept. 1.

In Idaho:

Archery seasons for mule deer, white-tailed deer and elk open Aug. 30 and run through September.

In the warm weather of summer, hunters should consider hunting in the higher country. Hunters have an ethical and legal obligation to salvage the edible portions of their kill. But meat spoilage is an important concern during hot weather.

The key to preserving meat is starting the cooling process quickly. Game animals should be skinned immediately and quartered in most cases and transported quickly to cold storage facilities. Early season hunters may consider using large ice chests to keep game meat cool and clean. Removing meat from the bones also helps speed cooling. 

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.