Latest from The Spokesman-Review
SHOOTING — Someone has gone to the effort of compiling video clips of shooting mishaps, including a lot of people getting thumped by high-powered guns.
Some incidents are humorous, some sad, some downright scary for the lack of thought and muzzle control.
It includes the the well publicized indicent of a firearms instructor discharging a handgun in class and several richochet near misses.
The clips also indicate that a lot of women are the butt of firearms shooting jokes, and they have the bruises and black eyes to prove it.
HUNTING — I had the privilege to hunt the Lower Coeur d'Alene River area with a yellow Lab named Gunner this weekend. It was a good day.
Tacoma News-Tribune outdoor writers take a shot a answering that question from a Western Washington perspective. Read their story here.
HUNTING — A Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife plan to turn a prized December elk hunt for Master Hunters into a permit hunt is ruffling the feathers of sportsmen who had a lock on the land used by elk coming off Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.
The plan is to use Master Hunters as on-call helpers to target elk causing damage to crops while developing a Landowner Hunting Permit Program to give more hunters access to the elk herd that must be kept from getting too large.
The Columbia Plateau Wildlife Management Association, which is being enlisted to help organize the landowners into this program, already has about six landowners and nearly 6,000 acres enrolled.
The agency, which is charged with protecting wildlife while providing the public with reasonable access to wildlife resources, already has changed a Master Hunter elk hunt in Western Washington that had become a trophy bull fest.
“Basically, we’re refocusing the program to have Master Hunters help the agency with damage problems rather than providing them with special hunts,” said Kevin Robinette, WDFW regional wildlife manager in Spokane.
It's not a done deal. The proposals have to be approved in Olympia and then by the Fish and Wildlife Commission in March
GET MORE DETAILS in today's Outdoors column.
Then stay tuned.
We thought that first big snowstorm just before Thanksgiving was the beginning of the predicted big snow accumulation associated with an El Ninia year.
However, to date, Idaho has accumulated only 73 percent of normal snowpack.
Check out this SnoTel chart to see where the snow is — and isn't.
Jim Hayden, Idaho Fish and Game Department Panhandle Region wildlife manager, says he needs a lot more snow in a hurry in order to do his winter aerial elk surveys.
Normal snowpack is needed to concentrate the elk on wintering areas and make them stand out for the count.
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — The last round of public comment on proposed 2012 fishing rules will be taken at the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting Jan. 6-7 in Olympia.
The commission also will consider increasing the number of multiple-season hunting permits available
Multiple-season hunting permits allow selected hunters to hunt for deer or elk during all general hunting seasons, rather than having to choose among archery, muzzleloader or modern firearm seasons. Hunting data show that the wider range of options increases hunters’ chance of success in the field.
WDFW has proposed increasing the number multiple-season hunting permits available each year to 8,500 deer permits and 1,250 elk permits. In 2011, WDFW conducted a drawing for 4,000 deer permits and 850 elk permits from among the hunters who paid an application fee.
State wildlife managers say increasing those permit levels will not pose a risk to Washington wildlife, adding that fees generated by applicants for a higher number of permits would be used to expand efforts to prevent property damage caused by wildlife.
See the Fish and Wildlife's complete meeting agenda.
See all the details and proposals on the WDFW 2012 fishing proposals web page.
Here are details of the specific proposal to allow bait fishing on the Kettle River:
BIRD HUNTING — The fog was packed into the Snake River valley today. Steelheaders were scattered up and down the river.
But Scout, my English setter, led up up above it all and nearly to the rim to find this first covey of chukars.
A great day in the field, and we're both bushed.
Must be time to go back to work after a great holiday.
OUTDOOR FOOD — Hey, a jerky of the month club is better than a fruit cake every month.
HUNTING – A veterinarian accused of poaching an elk in North Idaho has filed a federal lawsuit against state wildlife officials.
The Bonner County Daily Bee reports Roland Hall is accusing the Idaho Department of Fish and Game of civil rights violations, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, malicious prosecution and slander.
He filed a lawsuit earlier this week in U.S. District Court seeking an unspecified amount of damages. Hall previously filed a tort claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, indicating he would seek $500,000 in damages.
Hall says the state agency pressed to prosecute him on a felony poaching charge, which stemmed from a 2009 hunting trip. Although the charges were dropped, Hall claims the case was filed because of a vendetta against him over a long-standing dispute involving a lead and silver mine he co-owns.
HUNTER EDUCATION — Some of Washington's volunteer hunter education instructors have been grumbling about new procedural rules and a trend toward replacing instructor firearms in classroom settings with guns that have disabled firing pins.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department might seem a little overbearing and unreasonable in this trend — until you read what happened in an Idaho hunter ed class last week: Here's the Associated Press report:
BOISE — A hunter education instructor in eastern Idaho was dismissed after a loaded handgun brought to class for a demonstration was discharged by a student.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game says no one was injured when the weapon was accidentally fired during the class late Monday in Soda Springs.
The agency prohibits instructors of hunter education courses from bringing live ammunition into the classroom and local police were asked to investigate. Police reported that the volunteer instructor brought the gun and ammunition to class for use as a teaching tool.
After the demonstration, police reported a student who was unaware the gun was loaded discharged the weapon and hit the head of a mounted mule deer.
The instructor was dismissed and counseling made available to the students.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — The party's over for elk. Bull moose have given up on the girls. Deer are losing their urges and getting serious about consuming enough calories to endure the winter.
Meanwhile, bighorn sheep are getting it on.
December is the peak of the rut for the masters of rock ledges, as the males earn their names by ramming heads together to determine who's the fittest to breed.
The bighorn ram pictured above is lip-curling at the beginning of December much as the whitetail buck was as it entered its peak of breeding in November.
Wildlife photographer Jaime Johnson of Lincoln, Mont., captured the similar behavior of both animals with his camera.
When bucks or rams come to where a doe or ewe has urinated, they often curl their lips to trap the female's odor in their nose and mouth and analyze the scent for clues to the female's estrus stage.
HUNTING — Oregon is the first state in the nation to integrate hunter education registration with license sales, according to a report by outdoor blogger Bill Monroe for Oregon Live.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has cleared the path to end the last-minute lack of a required hunter-education course before a youth heads to the field.
In the past, kids and parents have often waited until too late to register or take the courses, most of which are administered in late winter, spring and early summer, before hunting seasons begin. Monroe explained.
Some of that wrinkle was ironed out with the addition of an online course and workbook that cuts out attendance at a classroom session, Monroe said. But the course's field day remains a requirement for completion and registration is still required.
That just got easier last week with the addition of a fast, virtually effortless online registration feature.
Students and/or their parents may now go online and choose to take the hunter education course entirely in a classroom setting or by independent study (online or by workbook). Independent students must pass a required field day that includes live fire exercises before getting certified.
Youngsters or their parents may also register at any license sales agent or department office that sells licenses and tags. Previously, they had to email or telephone class instructors.
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Jay Kehe, 57, of Omak has been appointed to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission as one of the three required East Side representatives on the nine-member panel.
Kehne is a conservationist, sheep farmer and hunter. Along with a 30 year career with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, he’s the Okanogan outreach coordinator for Conservation Northwest, and a member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Mule Deer Foundation.
Kehn gave this perspective on his outlook as a commissioner who will be deciding fish and wildlife policy for the state, in an interview for a blog post by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman Magazine:
"Bottom line is, I was a hunter and fisherman before I was anything. I then became a wildlife biologist and then a soil scientist and then spent 30 years working with farmers and ranchers. So my training is to look at things from a scientific perspective, but be sensitive to the very real concerns of ranchers and never never forget my hunting roots. My hunting buddies would disown me if I did that," Kehne says.
Here's more on Kehne from the Wenatchee World.
BOWHUNTING — Idaho archers have about two weeks to shop for a whitetail buck before Christmas.
Rutting activity lingers in the West as Idaho Panhandle bowhunters take their last shot in a season that opens Saturday in selected units and runs through Dec. 24.
They're too late for a chance at the bruiser pictured above, taken by Spokane dog trainer Dan Hoke at the edge of a clearcut near Lake Pend Oreille while the rut was still hot and heavy just before the rifle seasons ended.
But hunters and wildlife watchers are seeing more of the same across the region. In fact, bucks in some areas appear to be in a peak phase of covering ground.
In Eastern Washington, where most of the archery buck hunting opportunity will end Dec. 15, Brandon Enevold of Spokane says bucks are still defending areas in pursuit of late-estrus does.
Read on for his recent field observations and those of a local farmer
WATERFOWL HUNTING — Mikal Moore, state waterfowl biologist, compiled data Wednesday from the season’s first aerial waterfowl surveys over the Columbia River Basin on Monday and Tuesday.
Bottomline: Northerns are here.
“There a lot of new birds in the area, probably recently arrived, that seem to be staging in large groups at well-established reserves and private hunting clubs”, she said. The ducks were not yet well distributed and widely available to hunters, but many opportunities exist, she said.
Waterfowlers will want to read on for details from her observations.
WATERFOWL HUNTING — After mechanical “Robo Duck” decoys were invented in the late 90s, Washington waterfowl hunters enjoyed a few seasons to sample their effectiveness.
Many hunters liked what they saw as the wings caused movement in the air and water to lure waterfowl from afar.
But a majority of sportsmen and wildlife managers thought they were so effective they could eventually lead to reduced limits or shorter seasons.
In 2001, the Fish and Wildlife Department conducted a casual survey of hunters and found that 34 percent opposed use of mechanical decoys, 46 percent would be in favor of using them if it did not result in loss of hunting opportunity and 20 percent favored mechanical decoys unconditionally.
A 2006 survey found 40 percent opposition, 49 percent in favor if no restrictions resulted and 11 percent in favor unconditionally.
This fall, sportsmen on the Washington Waterfowl Advisory Group voted 7-5 to support a proposal reinstating use of battery-operated or other electronic decoys. This would bring Washington into alignment with Idaho and Montana, which have no restrictions on mechanical decoys.
The proposal made the list of items being considered for the 2012-2014 Washington hunting regulations.
In November, the WDFW conducted one more email survey among hunters who had purchased state waterfowl license endorsements in the past two years. Of the 3,500 responses:
- 29 percent opposed use of electronic decoys,
- 57 percent favored their use if they did not lead to hunting restrictions,
- 14 percent favored their use unconditionally.
More public comment will be taken on revised proposals in January before the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission consider the hunting rules package again in March.
Ardent waterfowl hunter Kent Contreras of northeastern Washington said he’s on the fence, along with most hunters.
“They definitely are effective at bringing in ducks and geese,” he said while hunting Saturday. “I’ve heard from hunters in other states who say mechanical decoys become less effective the more waterfowl see them. But motion in a decoy spread is always effective.”
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Larry Carpenter, a Mount Vernon boat dealer and long-time sportfishing enthusiast, and Jay Kehne, an Omak conservationist, sheep farmer and hunter, have been appointed to vacant positions on the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.
The commission is a nine-member panel that makes policy for the state Fish and Wildlife Department and sets rules such those for hunting and fishing seasons.
The announcedment was made today by Gov. Chris Gregoire's office.
Carpenter is likely to be a strong voice for salmon and steelhead sportfishing.
Kehne likely falls in the category of wolf advocate, considering he’s the Okanogan outreach coordinator for Conservation Northwest, but he has a well-rounded resume of credentials.
Here's some insight from a "Living with Wolves" program report by Scott Sandsberry of the Yakima Herald-Republic.
During his 31-year career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Kehne’s worked to provide conservation assistance to farmers and ranchers. He’s worked with conservation easements involving counties as well as the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Kehne is the replacement for Spokane’s George Orr, who retired from the commission at the end of his term a year ago.
PREDATORS — Hunters and trappers are making a little progress in reducing the number of wolves in Idaho, with North Idaho hunters doing better than they did during the last wolf season in 2009-2010.
Here's this week's update from Jim Hayden, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional wildlife manager in Coeur d'Alene.:
Wolf harvest in the Panhandle is at 25 to date, slightly higher than we had in all of the 2009/10 season. During 2009, we had 24 hunter kills by the end of March. (There were also 4 illegal kills in 2009, giving us the final tally of 28.)
The wolf trapping season has been open for 3 weeks. Only 1 wolf has been reported taken by trapping in the state so far (in the Clearwater), although many trappers may have still been deer hunting (season closed last Thursday).
PUBLIC LANDS — The public and wildlife soon will be sharing a new chunk of an elk-friendly ranch and Grande Ronde River access in southern Asotin County. The 2,200-acre parcel bordering the Grande Ronde River was approved for acquisition Saturday by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.
The land, accessible off the Grande Ronde Road between Boggan’s Oasis and Troy, Ore.,will be the first phase of what is planned to be an even larger acquisition over about 10 years from Milton (Mike) Odom II and the 4-0 Livestock and Land Company LLC.
The area is tentatively being called the Mountain View Project, said Bob Dice, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department wildlife area manager in Clarkston.
The acquisition brings the total acreage in the Blue Mountains Wildlife Area Complex to more than 68,000 acres, Dice said. The other units in the complex include the Chief Joseph, Asotin Creek and Wooten wildlife areas.
Read on for more details.
POACHING — Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials are seeking help in identifying who was responsible for poaching a bull elk near the intersection of Bunco and Nunn Roads.
The elk was killed sometime between 9:30 p.m. on Sunday (Dec 4) and 6:30 a.m. on Monday (Dec. 5). The culprits removed the head and much of the meat from the carcass, which was killed in a private field just off the Bunco Road.
Anyone with information regarding this crime can contact:
- Citizens Against Poaching Hotline at (800) 632-5999.
- IDFG Regional Office at (208) 769-1414.
- or their local Conservation Officer.
Callers may be eligible for a monetary reward, and may remain anonymous.
WATERFOWLING — Tank, a bruiser black Lab, races back with a mallard drake before the ripples smooth out in the decoys on the Pend Oreille River Saturday.
Temperatures in the teens didn't even nick the the dog's enthusiam for rounding up all the ducks and geese Kent Contreras could bring down from his Avery Outdoors layout blind.
After every retrieve he returned, settled down steady by Contreras and looked out as if to say, "Bring it on."
The original plan was to hunt a slough that had been luring ducks by the hundreds. But the cold temps sealed the slough in ice, forcing the Newport-area pair to hunt the open water of the river.
HUNTING — The fat lady has sung for deer hunting seasons in Montana and for rifle hunters in Idaho, but late seasons are still giving hunters a few shots at whitetails in designated areas of eastern Washington.
And the rut's still on to some degree throughout the region.
Remember, the Nov. 20-21 peak of whitetail conceptions pegged by research in the northwestern states is only the top of the bell curve. As we move into the holidays, the season's breedings are on the downhill slope, but there's still action out there for bucks — and hunters.
The Idaho archery hunts open Dec. 10.
With just days remaining in most of the eastern Washington late bowhunting seasons, Chris van Kempen tagged the nice wall-hanger above by taking advantage of the buck's lingering desire to make sure every doe is bred and every competitor is challenged.
"I went out this afternoon got into my stand and did a few rattling sets," he reported Friday. "On the third set, I was able to rattle this buck in to 30 yards! It was awesome I was only in the stand for about a hour and 20 min."
Yes, I have the urge to kick Chris out of jealousy, too — but not before giving him a high-five.
PREDATORS — While the sheep will always face predators, falling victim to a wolf hasn't been a looming concern for livestock growers in Blaine County, Idaho, where a Defenders of Wildlife project is showing encouraging results.
Four years ago, Defenders began monitoring how many sheep were lost to wolves within the Wood River Valley. The Phantom Hill pack was moving through the county, taking sheep at higher rates than normal.
See what's transpired in this story from the Magic Valley News.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Grizzly 399 and Grizzly 610 — 399's daughter from 2006 that is now full-grown and raising cubs of her own — thrilled visitors to Grand Teton National Park this summer as they raised this year's cubs by roads in the Wyoming park.
But the two bear mothers have been squabbling recently over a bison carcass and elk carcasses left behind by hunters.
Read the story from the Jackson Hole News & Guide.
WILDLIFE — Yesterday I ran the True/False portion of a quiz to let you test how much you know about the white-tailed deer that flourish from our yards to wheatfields and from river bottoms to modest forest elevations across the nation.
Here's Part 2 of the DEER QUIZ prepared by Whitetails Unlimited to see how much you know about the whitetail's biology, behavior and history.
PART 2: Multiple Choice
1) Deer are a member of the Cervidae family. What other animal is not included in this family.
2) The scientific name of the white-tailed deer is "Odocoileus Virginianus," and was named in 1832. What does "Odocoileus Virginianus" mean?
a) "Ocean Virgin"
b) "Odious Vinegar"
c) "Hollow-tooth Virginia"
d) "Outdoor Vigorous"
3) Modern deer have two toes. How many toes did the deer's ancient ancestors have?
4) In the wild, deer can live as long as:
a) 7 years
b) 11 years
c) 18 years
d) 24 years
5) When deer run from danger, they flip their tail up and expose the white underside. What evolutionary purpose does this serve?
a) The white color confuses the predator, since deer are usually brown to grey in color.
b) The tail alerts other deer and provides an object for fawns to follow their mother.
c) The white looks like an eye, making the predator think the deer is running the other direction.
d) When deer run, blood pressure rises causing blood vessels in the tail to inflate.
6) Under good conditions, how much food would an average adult deer eat per day?
a) 1-3 pounds
b) 5-9 pounds
c) 11-15 pounds
d) 17-21 pounds
7) Does will normally have one fawn the first year they breed. After this, how many fawns will they normally have?
8) Newborn fawns weigh about 4-6 pounds. How long does it take for them to double their weight?
a) One week
b) Two weeks
c) One month
d) Two months
9) Deer are very adaptable, and have evolved into a number of subspecies. How many subspecies are there in North America?
10) In 1900 the total population of white-tailed deer in North America was estimated to be 500,000 animals. What is the estimated population of white-tailed deer today?
b) 5-10 million
c) 20-30 million
d) 75 million
Read on for the answers.
WILDLIFE — A male black wolf shot by a southeastern Montana rancher Sunday had traveled hundreds of miles from its former home range in Wyoming, officials say.
The 2-1/2-year old wolf was far from home — 300 in a direct line and many more on ground. That’s not an unusual distance for a young wolf to travel, Mike Jimenez, wolf recovery project leader for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Wyoming, told the Billings Gazette.
“It’s a prime age for dispersal,” Jimenez said, as a male seeks a breeding partner.
Although the average distance that wolves will go when seeking a mate is closer to 50 to 65 miles, one wolf in 2008 traveled roughly 3,000 miles in a journey from near Bozeman to Vail, Colo., write's Gazette Outdoor reporter Brett French. Others have been documented traveling from Idaho to Oregon and from Montana to British Columbia.
“They’re impressive when they get a mind to move,” Jimenez said.
The 98-pound wolf killed near Hammond as it worked the rancher's sheep had been collared last winter north of Jackson, Wyo., as a member of the Gros Ventre wolf pack. He was listed as wolf No. 751.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah bird hunter was shot in the buttocks after his dog stepped on a shotgun laid across the bow of a boat.
Box Elder County Sheriff's Deputy Kevin Potter says the 46-year-old Brigham City man was duck hunting with a friend when he climbed out of the boat to move decoys.
Potter says the man left his 12-gauge shotgun in the boat and the dog stepped on it, causing it to fire. It wasn't clear whether the safety on the gun was on at the time.
Potter says the man was hit from about 10 feet away with 27 pellets of birdshot. He says the man wasn't seriously injured, in part because he was wearing waders. The man was treated at a nearby hospital.
WILDLIFE — How much do you know about the white-tailed deer that flourish from our yards to wheatfields and from river bottoms to modest forest elevations across the nation?
The whitetail is the most popular big-game animal in North America, prized by hunters and wildlife viewers alike. It's a prime example of an animal that adapts and perseveres.
Take this DEER QUIZ prepared by Whitetails Unlimited to see how much you know about the whitetail's biology, behavior and history.
PART 1: True / False
1) Deer are strong swimmers, in part because they have a layer of hair that is hollow, providing buoyancy in the water.
2) Deer have existed for 20 million years, and have had the same basic form for the last one million years.
3) Deer can run in excess of 35 miles per hour.
4) Deer can leap over fences eight feet tall.
5) Deer can cover 30 feet in a horizontal leap.
6) Just like humans, deer have a set of "baby teeth" that fall out and are replaced by permanent teeth.
7) You can tell how old a male deer is by how many points there are on his antlers.
8) Deer use their antlers during the winter to dig for food under the snow.
9) When antlers grow, they are covered with "velvet," a soft, fuzzy tissue. This velvet is the only regenerating skin found in mammals.
10) Like cows, deer have four stomachs.
11) Deer can eat poison ivy without ill effect.
12) Deer are native to every state in the U.S.
13) The reason fawns are born with a pattern of white spots is so the mother can recognize her offspring.
14) Deer have extraordinary senses, including sight, hearing and smell.
15) Newborn deer have no scent, and the mother will place the fawn by itself in a secluded spot for protection against predators.
Read on to see the answers. Tune in tomorrow for Part 2 of the DEER QUIZ.
HUNTING — It ain't over 'til it's over, as the saying goes.
The whitetail rut might be winding down in some areas, but it's still a positive factor for hunters who have tagged big bucks in the past couple of days.
Bowhunters in eastern Washington's late archery season are effectively using calls and scents for bucks on the prowl.
Before climbing into his stand for the afternoon on Sunday, Joel Enevold said he freshened nearby scrapes with Tink's 69 doe-in-rut buck lure. He barely got settled in his stand at 1 p.m. before he spotted the "split brow-tine" buck he'd been seeing in the trail cam photos. The bruiser was working a scrape. The buck slowly but surely kept coming in, sniffed the air below Enevold's stand and posed for a storybook archery shot that dropped him five yards from where he was hit.
"This buck is the largest I have taken since the age of 15 and I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to harvest such a great animal," he said.
Meantime, his brother passed up two 4x4 bucks that afternoon. "Both bucks were grunting up a storm, and one buck decided to stop 20 yards away and shred a tree for a few minutes," Brandon Enevold said. "Bucks seem to be actively searching for does and traveling with their noses close to the ground."
He's confident his time will come before the season expires.