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Palouse woman finalist for national Extreme Huntress title


HUNTING – Thia Anderson, a mother of three boys and nurse practitioner who works in Pullman, is among 10 finalists from across the country in the Extreme Huntress 2013 Contest presented by Tahoe Films.

She needs online votes from supporters by Jan. 1 to help her win the title and an Alaska brown bear hunting trip that will be filmed for TV.

Anderson, who volunteers as a hunter education instructor, wrote an essay that first attracted the judges’ attention in their quest to find the world’s most hardcore female hunter. Here's an excerpt:

"I am lucky to have many opportunities to hunt the way I love to hunt: unguided, spot-and-stalk on public land,” she said,noting that stalking a bear ranks as her most rewarding hunt so far.

”I spotted a bear on a ridge a half mile away, with one hour of shooting light left. While my husband watched with binoculars from the opposite ridge, I hurried down the steep canyon and up the other side and was able to stalk to within 75 yards and drop the tremendous 300-plus-pound color-phase boar with one shot.

"Being an extreme huntress is not about the number of animals taken, the size of trophies on the wall, or the exotic places visited. It is about having a passion to hunt that is so ingrained and intense that absolutely nothing will keep you from doing what you love the most. I am such a huntress and I have never met anyone, man or woman, quite like me."

Click here to check out the 10 finalists, VOTE and earn a chance to win prizes. 

Fence hangs up elk, briefly, at highway crossing

WILDLIFE — This video of a huge herd of wintering elk crossing a highway near Helena, Mont., has several interesting elements.

First, it's awesome to see so many wild elk after hunting so hard for them during the elk seasons and concluding that most of the elk in North America had vanished.

But after nursing my English Setter, Scout, through two gory run-ins with barbed wire during this year's bird hunting seasons (the latest is pictured at left), I was especially interested in seeing the elk hanging up in the barbed-wire fence before they could cross the highway. This is especially noticeable toward the end of the video.

I always hear that elk are hard on fences.

But it's pretty safe to say that the millions of miles of fences — especially barbed wire — stretched across our Western landscape are pretty darned hard on wildlife, too.

Hunters have incentive to file reports by Jan. 10

HUNTING — Hunters have a chance to win one of nine 2013 special hunting permits if they report this year’s hunting activities for black bear, deer, elk, or turkey to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife by Jan. 10.

Hunters who file their mandatory reports by phone or online by the deadline will be included in a drawing for five deer permits and four elk permits in various areas of the state. Those permits will be valid from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31, 2013.

To qualify for the drawing, hunters must submit a report for each black bear, deer, elk, or turkey tag they purchased and for each special hunting permit they received in 2012.

All hunters, whether successful or not, are required to submit hunting reports for those species by Jan. 31. Failure to meet the deadline can result in a $10 fine, payable before a hunter can purchase a 2013 license.

Dave Ware, WDFW game manager, said the annual hunting reports are an important source of information for managing the resource and developing future hunting seasons.

“The drawing for special permits is designed to give hunters an extra incentive to file their reports early,” said Dave Ware, WDFW game manager. “If everyone waits until the last minute, it creates problems with reporting.”

Hunters can report by phone (877 945-3492) or on the WDFW online reporting site.

Hunters should be prepared to give the game management unit they hunted and their individual WILD identification number, which is printed on license documents.

More information the WDFW’s incentive permit drawing is available on page 17 of the 2012 Big Game Hunting pamphlet.

Saturday is hunters’ last shot at wild turkeys

HUNTING — Late wild turkey hunting sesaons will close Saturday (Dec. 15) evening in designagted areas of Eastern Washington and North Idaho.

Washington late fall turkey season has been open since Nov. 20 in Game Management Units 105-142, 149-154 and 162-186. The limit is one turkey of either sex.

North Idaho's fall general season also will close Saturday evening in Game Management Units 1, 2 (except Farragut State Park and Farragut WMA) 3, 4, 4A, 5 and 6.

However, Idaho's fall general season will continue through Dec. 31 in units 8, 8A, 10A, 11, 11A, 13, 14, 15, 16, and 18. This hunt is open on private lands only. Hunters must have permission from the landowner.

DU restates zero tollerance for hunting violators

HUNTING — Ducks Unlimited officials in Idaho restated their zero-tollerance policy for illegal hunting tactics last week after a former volunteer chapter chairman from Hagerman was convicted of baiting ducks with corn.

Ducks Unlimited leaders condemned Steele’s hunting tactics, not only as a violation of the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act but also the ethics of fair-chase that govern hunting, the Associated Press reports.

Mond Warren, the group’s regional director in Nampa, called corn baiting akin to using salt to lure big game such as elk nearer to hunters’ scopes.

“We have a zero tolerance for any type of game violation,” Warren said. “It’s a very stringent policy, there’s no wavering on it. Our job is waterfowl conservation and wetland conservation.”

Warren might have used  better analogy.  Putting out salt or even bait for big-game  hunting is illegal in Idaho but legal in Washington.

Baiting for waterfowl and other migratory birds is strictly forbidden in all states by federal law.

 Read on for the entire Associated Press story about the baiting case.

Ducks Unlimited looking for helpers Thursday in Spokane

CONSERVATION — Ducks Unlimited is holding a recruitment meeting Thursday (Dec. 13) in Spokane for people interested in helping organize a fundraiser for wildlife habitat projects.

DU is a nonprofit (501.c.3), volunteer run, conservation organization, that covers the USA, Mexico and Canada.

Bernard Brown, DU's senior regional director for Washington, will meet with conservation-minded waterfowl enthusiasts from 5 p.m.-6 p.m. at O’Doherty’s Irish Grille, 525 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

Contact Brown at (509) 860-1510 or email Bernard Brown bbrown@ducks.org.

Should hunting regulations pamphlet include a calendar?

HUNTING — It's safe to say most sportsmen would rather not see the Washington hunting regulations pamphlet get any larger.

But Stevens County hunter Fred Phillips is adamant that something should be added:  a calendar.

Phillips has been writing back and forth to the agency trying to make his case FOR 10 YEARS, but officials have told him, among other things, it would cost money to add more pages to the pamphlet.  A staffer who answered from Olympia said they can't justify adding the extra element considering most hunters have a calendar on their wall, in their rigs or on their smartphones.

Here's Phillips' case:

So let's look at my request from a hunters point of view. First I must reserve vacation time from my employer for next years elk hunt, the 2012 pamphlet on page 46 tells me the season starts Oct 27, but no day, so I must look at calendar for the day.

if I wish to put in for special permits, I go to page 84 and it states I must have the application sent by May 18, but no day. and no calendar to look at.

If I am drawn for special elk season, page 52 informs me it starts Oct. 22. but no day.

This goes on and on in the pamphlet , all dates and no DAYS. A number of years I started getting myself a calendar every year and stapled it to the front page. But his year I said why should I do that? It would be NO trouble for the WDFW to add a calendar for the ease of hunters to utilize this document.

If you look at the 2012 pamphlet, page’s 19, 46, 48, 57 and 80 have more then ample room to incorporate a small calendar. 

Personally, I've never had an problem since I always seem to have a calendar around. BUT, if it's the wildly popular idea Phillips suggests, maybe the free enterprise system could take care of it. 

Perhaps an advertiser looking for a hook to get hunters to check out its ad should include a CALENDAR along with its message.  WDFW could make the stipulation that only one advertiser could sponsor the "calendar ad" each year and charge a premium for the privilege.


Colville Tribe: “Wolves starting to have an impact”

ENDANGERED SPECIES — No wolves have been killed yet in the first regulated wolf hunting season within the borders of Washington, the Colville Confederated Tribes report.

Although gray wolves are still protected by state endangered species regulations, the tribe opened a season two weeks ago to tribal members, with an overall quota of nine wolves in three sections of the 1.4 million acre reservation.

"Wolves are starting to have an impact," a tribal spokesman told the Seattle Times in this report.

Ex-duck group president sentenced for duck baiting

HUNTING - The former head of an Idaho group whose mission it is to protect ducks is being punished for using illegal methods to hunt them.

Charles D. Steele of Hagerman was sentenced today to a year of supervised probation, a $2,000 fine and 25 hours of community service in U.S. District Court, according to the Associated Press.

On Sept. 25, he pleaded guilty to violating federal bird-protection laws by baiting ducks placing corn on private farmland near Gooding to attract waterfowl — and enhance hunting opportunities.

The 48-year-old Steele is the former president of the Hagerman Chapter of Ducks Unlimited.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

While on probation, Steele is forbidden to hunt in the United States.

In some ways, now’s better than the good ol’ days for wildlife

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Of course there are ups and downs, but overall this isn't a bad time to be among the critters.

Montana wildlife numbers better now than 50 years ago

Most of Montana's suite of wildlife species are doing better than they were 50 years ago. The reasons for the resurgence are mixed, with federal protection of some species playing a part, protection of habitat another. — Billings Gazette

Practical outdoorsman eyes wedding dress in closet

HUNTING — I'm thinking this man isn't hunting; he's running scared.

On the other hand, I've always thought it would be cool to haul out my game on a train.

Hunter earns reward for turning in gate-busting ATVers

HUNTING — A national sportsman's conservation group has paid a $500 reward to an Idaho bear hunter who provided the information game wardens needed to cite hunters using all-terrain vehicles in habitat protected from motorized traffic.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is a national group of outdoorsmen and women who value hunting and fishing in the peace and quiet of natural conditions, said Holly Endersby, BHA acting director who lives in Pollock, Idaho, in announcing the reward.

The case dates back to spring of 2011, when Ted Koch and two friends were hunting for black bears on the Nez Perce National Forest. They planned to hike into an area where roads had been closed to vehicles, but hike-in hunters were allowed.

As they hiked in, they observed hunters on ATVs driving around the locked gate. They also found bait stations the hunters had left behind.

“We planned to enjoy a quiet evening looking for bears,” Koch said. “Instead, the evening was shattered by noise and exhaust where it did not belong.”

Koch lived in Boise at the time of the hunt, but has since moved to Reno, Nev. He pointed out that he and his hunting partners own dirt bikes or all-terrain vehicles, but stay within the bounds of the law.

“Hunters and wildlife alike need some places entirely apart from the noise and disturbance of motor traffic,” Koch said. “Owning an ATV does not mean you can re-write the rule book.”

Koch noted the license plate numbers of the hunters’ vehicles, took GPS readings, recorded the date and time and wrote detailed descriptions of the riders. He reported the incident to Roy Kinner, a senior conservation officer from Idaho Department of Fish and Game in Grangeville.

“Mr. Koch gave us exactly the kind of information we needed to launch a successful investigation,” Kinner said. “I don’t usually get that kind of high quality information.  It was just priceless.”

In the end, three hunters pleaded guilty to the road closure violations and were fined $500 each. Other charges of leaving bear bait too close to a stream were dismissed.

BHA has a dedicated reward fund for aiding the conviction of law-breakers who abuse public hunting and fishing areas with motorized vehicles.

Feds consider hunting season on Yellowstone-area grizzlies

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Federal authorities are laying groundwork for possible trophy grizzly bear hunts around the Yellowstone area as soon as 2014, the AP reports.

It's the surest sign yet that more than 30 years of federal protection for grizzlies in the area is nearing an end as their population recovers.

Feds consider possible trophy hunts for grizzlies around Yellowstone

Federal authorities are laying groundwork for possible trophy grizzly bear hunts around the Yellowstone area as soon as 2014, the AP reports, in the surest sign yet that more than 30 years of ederal protection for grizzlies in the area is nearing an end. Officials stressed that any grizzly season would differ significantly from the aggressive wolf hunts now underway in Idaho and Montana, and would not be aimed at reducing grizzly numbers. "It would be a very careful, limited hunt," said Chris Servheen, grizzly bear recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A federal-state committee that oversees grizzly bears will consider adopting a pro-hunting policy during a meeting next week; click below for a full report from AP reporter Matthew Brown in Billings.

Colville Tribe opens wolf hunting season on reservation

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Wolf hunting has arrived in Washington.

Although gray wolves are still listed by the state as an endangered species, the Colville Confederated Tribes have opened a wolf hunting season for tribal members on a portion of their reservation, according to the 2012 Tribal Member South Half Gray Wolf Regulations posted on the tribe's website.

Tribal officials aren't answering calls from the media, but Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman magazine has put together a detailed report on this milestone in wolf management.

The Tribal Council approved a season that opened last week on the south half of the 1.4 million-acre reservation in Okanogan and Ferry Counties where at least two and possibly three packs roam.

At least 12 wolf packs have been identified across Eastern Washington.

The minimum number of wolf packs have not been formed to trigger steps toward a hunting season in Washington outside the reservation, according to the state's Gray Wolf Conservation and Management Plan.

Nine permits are available to Colville tribal members, according to the online regulations. The season is posted to run through Feb. 28 or until  hunters have met the quota.

This fall, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officers set another milestone in the process of wolves reestablishing themselves in the state by killing an entire wolf pack that had been attacking cattle in northern Stevens County.

Washington freezes Master Hunter Program enrollment

HUNTER EDUCATION – With current enrollment nearing 2,000 hunters, the Master Hunter Permit Program administered by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has stopped accepting new applications for membership until further notice.

The enrollment freeze is designed to give the department time to absorb an increase of nearly 30 percent more certified master hunters over the past four years and clearly define the program’s role, said Sgt. Carl Klein, WDFW program manager.

“Since 1992, the program has produced a highly skilled pool of volunteers that assist the department in controlling wildlife damage,” Klein said. “Now we need to make sure we can utilize the skills of all master hunters.”

Klein said WDFW often calls on master hunters to participate in hunts designed to remove problem animals that damage property or threaten public safety. To maintain their certification, master hunters are required to participate in volunteer projects, ranging from maintaining elk fences to restoring wildlife habitat.

Mike Britton, chair of WDFW’s Master Hunter Advisory Group, said he supports the department’s review of the program.

“There is an urgent need for WDFW to identify priority volunteer needs and to actively engage master hunters in meaningful work,” he said.

Montana game wardens share bizarre stories from the field

WILDLIFE ENFORCEMENT — "Sorry, officer, but I thought that llama was an elk — even after I gutted it out and put it in my pickup."

Sound like a tall tale? Nope.  Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks employees have seen some doozy cases over the years, as you'll read in Montana game wardens share some of their stranger tales, published in the Missoula Independent.

Indicentally, the 2009 llama incident mentioned above was well reported at the time.

Most Dworshak facilities closing for season

BOATING — Most of the recreation facilities at Dworshak Dam and Reservoir are buttoning up for the winter.

Dam View, Grandad and Canyon Creek campgrounds, and Merrys Bay day-use area are closed for the season and will reopen in the spring 2013 as weather conditions allow.

Dent Acres campground will remain open until Dec. 15, weather permitting, to accommodate late-season hunters.

Big Eddy, Bruces Eddy and the fishing wall area below the dam will remain open for use during the winter season. 

Roads accessing recreation areas can be challenging and icy during inclement weather.

Info: (208) 476-1255 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Could hunters save animal-infested suburbia?

WILDLIFE — The good news: Wildlife populations in the U.S. have experienced an astonishing resurgence.

The bad news: All those animals are now our neighbors.

See the story: America Gone Wild in the Wall Street Journal.

Trapping banned in popular national forest area in Montana

PUBLIC LANDS — Traditional uses can be overpowered by heavy public use of popular public lands.

Agreement puts trapping off-limits in area of Montana national forest

The Bass Creek Recreation Area in the Bitterroot National Forest gets the second highest number of visitors in the forest in Montana each year. On Thursday, the 1,600-acre recreation area was officially declared a trapping-free zone.  — Ravalli Republic

Public should be loud in opposition to silencers on guns

HUNTING — Wyoming lawmakers will decide in coming months whether to follow a growing national trend and allow the use of silencers on hunting guns — a practice already permitted in 39 states.

See today's story here.

The law is being promoted by companies that make the silencers, and as you'd expect, they say there's no reason for a ban on silencers.

I beg to differ.

I've read and written hundreds of stories about poaching. A common thread in the successful prosecution of those criminals is that nearby landowners or witnesses were alerted to the illegal activity by hearing the report of the firearms. 

The story of a dog killed near Newman Lake recently help's illustrate the point.

 The public cannot continue giving poachers the edge on law enforcement and expect officers to hold the tide in the favor of wildlife.

Silencers are unnecessary for hunters, but for poachers, they're a dream come true.

Rabbits, bears, cougars must be well-cooked, too

HUNTING — While we're on the subject of parasites and other buggers in the meat of the fish and game sportsmen might bring home from the field, here are a couple of subjects I did not cover in today's outdoors column:

Rabbits should be well-cooked before consumption to avoid tularemia. See details.

Bear and cougar meat should be well-cooked before consumption to avoid trichinosis. See details.

Parasites are natural in ducks, fish; but they’re still nasty

HUNTING/FISHING — My outdoors column this week discusses some of the disturbing parasites waterfowl hunters and anglers have discovered in the ducks and fish they've harvested in the Inland Northwest.

They're natural; been around for a long time, and in most cases the game and fish are still safe to eat — as far as we know — as long as you cook the meat to at least 180 degrees.

But would I eat visibly parasitized meat?  What do you think?

  • Waterfowlers: The photo above shows a mallard infested with the sarcocystis parasite, better known as "rice breast." 
  • Fishermen: Click on the document attached to this blog post to see the pamphlet "Common Parasites and Diseases in Washington Fish," prepared by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
  • Hunters note that the meat of rabbits, bears and cougars also must be thoroughly cooked to prevent exposure to serious diseases: tularemia and trichinosis.


Foggy memories of a pheasant hunt

HUNTING — If you were running away from your troubles, the Palouse was a good place to be pheasant hunting on Tuesday. Visibilty was minimal.  A good place to hide.

Hunting partner Torsten Kjellstrand caught a photo of me (photo above) through the fog cruising the edge of a wheat field trying to catch up to our dogs.

Unlike planes at the Spokane airport, pheasants have no trouble taking off in the fog, but we're using the visibilty issues and lack of instruments for our limited success in getting many roosters to "land" for our dogs to retrieve.

Elk hunter kills charging grizzly bear on a Thanksgiving to remember

Elk hunter in Wyoming national park kills charging grizzly bear

In what is being categorized as a first, elk hunters shot and killed a charging grizzly bear in Grand Teton National Park on Thanksgiving morning, according to the Jackson Hole Daily.

How hunters wear out their welcome, Part 1


HUNTING — Last week my outdoors column pointed out the benefits and responsibilities of getting permission to hunt on private land.

A few days later, I noticed this report from the area Fish and Wildlife Police weekly activity summary. In case you don't get the point, most landowners frown on game hogs and illegal hunting activity even if they initially were generous enough to hunt on their land.

From Region 1 wildlife enforcement Capt. Dan Rahn:

 Officer Spurbeck received a report of three bucks that were shot legally but only the back-straps were removed from the carcasses.  Officer Spurbeck met with the reporting party who showed Officer Spurbeck the three carcasses.  The reporting party gave Officer Spurbeck the names of the people who were hunting on the reporting parties land with permission.  Officer Spurbeck contacted Officer Leonetti to interview the subjects in Pierce County. 

Whitetails mark holiday with Thanksgiving courtship

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Here's a rut report from eagle-eye Curlew resident Foster Fanning to go with his photo, above:

Pursuing passions in the wild…

Had a unique opportunity to watch a whitetail stag in courtship with a young doe Friday. A ruckus in the cottonwood grove across the Kettle River from my home caught our attention. Three whitetail deer were running, the does flashing the ‘danger’ signal they are named for. Watching for a moment we sorted out that a large four-point male was in pursuit of one of the young does.

They had dashed down off the river bank, splashing through the shallows and across the gavel bar. The doe managed to double back and before the buck realized and changed direction she had again jumped off the river bank and made her way under a hanging rootwad and rapidly dropped to the ground and went completely still and silent. The buck caught her scent and doubled back himself but ended up momentarily losing track of the subject of his lust. He walked the riverbank sniffing the air.

About that time I had set up camera and tripod in my yard across the river. The buck as well as pursued doe, now in hiding, took note of me. My presence wasn’t enough to throw him off the chase, but things slowed quite a bit.

I caught this image of the courtship, showing part of the story; the buck in pursuit, the doe in hiding and the proximity of their courtship. End of the story, as far as we could see was the doe springing to her feet and fleeing into the brush, almost tempting the buck with how close she passed to him. Of course, he took off in hot pursuit.

It will give me a pause to wonder when I view next year’s spotted fawns if maybe, just maybe…

Giving thanks for wild turkeys

WILDLIFE — Wild turkeys adapted vigorously to introduction efforts throughout Idaho and much of Washington in the 1980s.  They're interesting, fun to hunt and delicious.  They're also fun to watch, as you can see in this short video from Idaho Fish and Game.

Hunters use muscle power to get out their game

HUNTING — Three of my friends this season showed how muscle power can be a workable alternative to horsepower when it's time to pack out big game from the  mountains. 

  • Click continue reading to check out all three photos:

Kyle Hanson and his father, Dan, use a canoe to paddle out a whitetail buck they bagged along a northeastern Washington stream.

Jim Kujala uses a game cart to help me haul out the elk I shot in early November in the Blue Mountains. We boned out the meat and loaded it into four bags along with the hide, proof of sex and spike antlers. We pulled the cart briefly cross-country to closed logging roads for two miles out to a main road.

Pat Behm has a new twist on a "bicycle rack" as he pedals out of the mountains on his  mountain bike.  Behm and his hunting partner, John Karpenko, boned out the meat, stuffed it into their packs and carried it all out down a gated road to a main road.

"The hunting area was open to all, you just have to work a little smarter to get there," Karpenko said.