Latest from The Spokesman-Review
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.
PREDATORS — A quote to consider regarding the status of wolf control in Montana:
"Most hunters say 'I'm just not going to put aside my deer and elk season for wolves.' So it will be interesting to see if anybody shows up and if they'll be effective at harvesting wolves in a season that doesn't include other harvest opportunities."
Quentin Kujala, state Fish, Wildlife and Parks wildlife section chief, about hunters' interest in hunting just wolves now that big-game season has ended in Montana.
- Missoulian (Montana Standard)
HUNTING — Idaho's 2012 licenses, tags and permits go on sale Thursday, with sales of the popular nonresident Selway B elk tags starting at 9 a.m.
HUNTING– The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is accepting letters of interest through Dec. 18 for membership on the department’s Master Hunter Advisory Group.
Four positions are open on the 15-member volunteer group, which advises the state on issues affecting the department’s Master Hunter program and more than 2,000 master hunters statewide.
Applicants should email Lt. Eric Anderson, Master Hunter policy lead, at Eric.Anderson@dfw.wa.gov
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — After four years of development, extensive public review — and lingering controversy — the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider adopting a plan for managing wolves as they re-establish breeding packs on the east side of the state.
The commission, currently with seven citizen members, is scheduled to take action on the Fish and Wildlife Department’s recommended Wolf Conservation and Management Plan on Saturday (Dec. 3), the second day of a public meeting set for Dec. 2-3 in Olympia.
The agenda is posted at on the WDFW website
Key aspects of the proposed wolf plan establish recovery objectives for gray wolves in Washington, along with strategies for addressing their interactions with livestock and wildlife species such as elk and deer.
The plan does not necessarily come with permanent funding to pay for livestock losses or support the wildlife monitoring suggested by the plan.
WDFW began developing the plan in 2007 anticipating that gray wolves would naturally migrate to the state from Idaho, Oregon, Montana, and British Columbia. Since then, five wolf packs have been documented in the state – three in northeastern Washington and two in the north Cascades. Other packs are working along the Idaho-Washington border and at least one also is working along the Oregon-Washington border.
The gray wolf is currently listed as endangered throughout Washington under state law and as endangered in the western two-thirds of the state under federal law.
Since 2009, WDFW’s proposed plan has been the focus of 19 public meetings, written comments from nearly 65,000 people, a scientific peer review, and recommendations from the 17-member citizen Wolf Working Group, formed in 2007 to advise the department in developing the plan.
The wolf plan calls for allowing 15 breeding wolf packs before taking management measures to limit further growth of the packs. A discenting faction within the wolf working group recommends about eightwolf packs be tolerated before controling wolves.
- On Dec. 2, the first day of the meeting, the commission will consider proposals by WDFW to acquire land in four counteis, including Grant and Asotin counties to preserve critical habitat for fish and wildlife.
- In addition, WDFW will brief the commission on proposed new sportfishing rules for 2012-13. The proposals will be refined before the panel votes on them in February.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Despite considerable controversy over the proposed Washington Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, it's likely to be approved this weekend by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Read my previous blog post for links and details.
The major point of contention is the number of breeding packs that will be allowed before the state would be allowed to control the number of wolves through hunting or some other means. Hunters and livestock groups, looking at the experience of Montana and Idaho, would like to keep the number of breeding packs low — around eight — considering the amount of game and habitat available.
However, scientists commenting on the plan have sided with advocates of a higher number of breeding packs — around 15 — for genetic diversity and sustainability of the wolves.
I'll guarantee this much: Having too many wolves won't be good for anyone, ESPECIALLY the wolves themselves.
Lawsuits are likely down the road no matter which way the Fish and Wildlife Commission votes on Saturday. So, the panel's best course in order to make their best case in court is to side with the scientists.
Meantime, sportsmen are going to have to find a way to fund wildlife science to document the changes in big-game herds as wolves expand in order to take advantage of the plan's caveats for preventing declines in deer and elk numbers. Without that science, grumbling will be moot.
Need another perspective: Here's a Seattle Times op-ed column, Washington's Wolf Management Plan only a starting point.
PREDATORS — A southwestern Montana sportsman’s group is hoping to encourage wolf hunting in the Bitterroot Valley by holding a drawing for a rifle from among the names of those who successfully bag a wolf in December.
Ravalli County Fish and Wildlife Association President Tony Jones tells the Ravalli Republic the drawing is an effort to get enough hunting pressure to fill quotas set for wolves in two areas where elk populations have been declining.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials virtually eliminated elk hunting opportunities in the southern Bitterroot Valley after several years of poor elk calf survival.
Quotas totaling 54 wolves have been established in the East and West forks of the Bitterroot River. A total of 17 wolves had been shot by Friday.
HUNTING — John Roland retrieves my duck while we were waterfowling by canoe today.
Who needs a dog?
Best of all, after the hunt I sent him back to his master and let her feed him.
HUNTING — Don Gunter of Post Falls had all the tools for going out to fill the coveted Idaho moose tag he drew this year: Rifle, pickup, knives and saws, strong hunting partner…
But he also was prepared for the bigger job of handling a moose.
After passing up three bulls, he finally took this beauty where he could use the winch on his ATV to drag it whole into the back of his pickup.
To complete the job, he had a tractor front loader at home to raise the carcass for skinning.
He looks to be the perfect moose hunting partner for the next guy to draw a tag for an animal that easily weighs 800 pounds.
HUNTER SAFETY — Wearing fluorescent orange clothing already was a requirement for hunters in Montana when I passed my hunter education course and bought my first hunting license in the 1960s.
I know some guys think only scaredy cats wear hunter orange, especially in Idaho and Oregon, where sportsmen don't have the courage to enact minimum hunter orange requirements for modern firearms seasons.
Although Idaho's statewide hunting accident rate is low, more than 70 percent of recorded incidents are caused by hunters mistaking other hunters for game animals.
Hunter orange clothing requirements virtually eliminate mistaken for game shooting accidents.
Hunter orange clothing requirements virtually eliminate mistaken for game shooting accidents.
And the impact on modern-firearms big-game hunting is nil, something that was confirmed to me again last week as I sat on a stand during the late whitetail buck hunt.
I was wearing a fluorescent orange fleece jacket with a camouflage pattern. A whitetail doe came out of the woods and angled through a slight opening in the woods to within 25 yards just upwind of where I sat leaning against a tree. At one point she looked right at me before twitching her tail, nibbling the brush and taking her sweet time walking on past.
I've lost track of how many times I've had the same experience with deer, elk and antelope.
Hunters who can hold still and take advantage of the wind have nothing to fear from hunter orange clothing, but a lot of life to gain if a foolish hunter is in the area.
Here are best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving in the form of a short story you'll find heartwarming, or perhaps a bit of a heartburn. It was passed on to me from a reader.
A game warden was driving down the road when he came upon a young boy carrying a wild turkey under his arm. He stopped and asked the boy, 'Where did you get that turkey?'
The boy replied, 'What turkey?'
The game warden said, 'That turkey you're carrying under your arm.'
The boy looks down and said, 'Well, lookee here, a turkey done roosted under my arm!'
The game warden said, 'Now look, you know turkey season is closed, so whatever you do to that turkey, I'm going to do to you.
If you break his leg, I'm gonna break your leg. If you break his wing, I'll break your arm. Whatever you do to him, I'll do to you. So, what are you gonna do with him?'
The little boy said, 'I guess I'll just kiss his butt and let him go!'
HUNTING ACCIDENTS — The widow of a man fatally shot by a hunter who mistook him for a bear in September has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the hunter and three Western Washington companies, reports the News-Tribune in Tacoma.
Although a jury acquitted the shooter of manslaughter charges — a bit of pure luck from the perspective that hunters should always positively ID their target — the case is going back to the courts.
All of this could have been avoided and a life saved with a little forethought, a hunter orange vest and a bit of patience on the hunter's part.
Read on for the rest of the story by TNT reporter Adam Lynn:
HUNTING/POACHING — Three Australians on a North Ameican hunting trip have been sent packing, but not before Idaho officials fined them thousands of dollars for elk poaching and told the bad apples they could never return to hunt in Idaho and virtually anywhere else in the United States.
All three paid thousands of dollars in fines and restitution in an Elmore County courtwhile forfeiting two hunting rifles before the long plane trip back home.
Read on for the details from Idaho Fish and Game.
HUNTING/POACHING — Hunters relished wintery conditions that coincided with the onset of the rut last week. Conditions were good for filling a tag in the final days of the late rifle whitetail buck hunt, which ended Saturday in northeastern Washington.
Poachers seemed to like the conditions, too. Washington Fish and Wildlife Department police made 48 arrests and issued 24 warnings during the past week in the Spokane Region.
Failure to tag a deer or using someone else’s tag on a deer were common infractions, but officers also were ticketing for violations including littering and road-hunting to spotlighting and shooting bucks that didn’t meet the new four-point minimum in Units 117 and 121.
Read on for details about just a few of the more interesting citations and investigations area officers had to deal with in the past week.
PUBLIC LANDS — Montana is considering the sale of 7,280 acres of its lands in northeastern Montana’s Daniels County, 49 tracts ranging from 5 to 360 acres, according to the Billings Gazette.
“Over the years, landowners and others in Daniels County have urged the Department (of Natural Resources and Conservation) to initiate sale of lands due to the large amount of state land in the western half of the county,” Hoyt Richards, Glasgow Unit manager for the DNRC’s Trust Land Management Division, wrote in an email.
Roughly half of western Daniels County is in state ownership, designated as a large block of blue lands on maps. The state land piled up in Daniels County by a quirk of fate. When the federal government granted states every section 16 and 36 in each township to be held in trust for educational purposes, areas such as national parks and reservations were excluded.
Read on for more of the story by Gazette Outdoors reporter Brett French.
DEER HUNTING — I saw my first buck yesterday as I walked my dogs near my house at 4 a.m. — in my neighbor's driveway just south of Spokane. Nice five-point whitetail with nose to the ground, lifted only to let my dogs know he'd take them on if they came any closer.
Then I drove with a friend for an hour north to try to find another buck during daylight where I could hunt.
Indeed, I got into deer. Had one buck walk 40 yards upwind of my stand at 9:45 a.m. — nose to ground just like the one near my house — but I couldn't quickly make a positive ID that he had at least four antler points on one side. He didn't respond to calls. He was on a quest.
The rut is on and the bucks are active as Washington's late whitetail buck season ticks down. The season ends at the close of hunting hours on Saturday. (North Idaho hunters have until December.) Conditions couldn't be better, although deer numbers clearly are down from the good ol' days.
Note: The photo above shows a fine whitetail buck taken a few days ago near Omak by Shawn Ankney. Here's the report from Jason Verbeck of Okanogan Outfitters:
The whitetail but has begun around here. I thought you'd enjoy this great buck that was taken from around our area. The mule deer migration also has just begun. The whitetail buck (above) is a monster, huh. Washington state is very underestimated for the quality of our bucks. Personally I am happy with it staying that way.
OUTDOOR MEDIA — The Field & Stream magazine bloggers have posted several items of notable interest to Inland northwest sportsmen, including a national story from Congress that directly impacts our wildlife resources.
SPORTSMEN'S ACCESS — Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officials say they plan to use a $1 million federal grant and at least $400,000 from big-game hunting application fees to improve recreational access to private lands in Eastern Washington.
WDFW is one of 11 agencies nationwide to qualify for funding fromthe U.S. Department of Agriculture in the second round of the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program, established under the 2008 federal Farm Bill.
The public can read details and post comments through Dec. 15 at this website.
“Hunters consistently rank access to suitable hunting areas as one of their top concerns,” said Nate Pamplin, assistant director of the WDFW wildlife program. “With the additional federal funding, we’ll be able to build on current state efforts to expand hunting opportunities for years to come.”
WDFW also received a three-year $1.5 million grant to expand access to hunting and fishing on private lands throughout the state during the first round of the program. The department is currently using that funding to establish contracts with landowners to open their lands to outdoor recreation.
Pamplin said the new $993,231 grant will be used to expand hunting and fishing opportunities in Eastern Washington in several ways:
- Provide incentives to private landowners to allow hunting on forested properties in Kittitas, Klickitat, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens and Yakima counties.
- Work with landowners in Columbia, Garfield, Lincoln, Walla Walla and Whitman counties to improve habitat enrolled in both the federal Conservation Reserve Program and WDFW access programs, as I described in this story about research to help boost CRP's benefits for pheasants.
- Initiate a “Feel Free to Fish” program in southeast Washington, paying private landowners for shoreline access to river fisheries.
WATERFOWLING — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department has a new waterfowling website ready for hunters to take advantage of the best forecast fall flight of ducks since 1955 — and the foul weather that's ushering them southward and into our region.
The site has information for new or returning waterfowl hunters, ranging from the basics of duck and goose identification to details on hunting locations, equipment, licensing requirements and handling harvested waterfowl.
One portion of the site is devoted to helping hunters zero in on places to hunt waterfowl. The information isn't necessarily specific. Hou'll still have to go out and do your homework.
The site also is a quick stop for hunters checking on waterfowl regulations and seasons, especially for the more confusing seasons for Canada geese. Goose management in much of Estern Washington restricts hunting to Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays, but late fall and winter bring added opportunity on holidays including the Thanksgiving holiday Nov. 24-25, the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 16.
POACHING — A 64-year-old Idaho North Idaho man has agreed to pay more than $13,000 in restitution and fines and will lose his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for life for illegally obtaining a Montana hunting license and killing a trophy bighorn sheep in north-central Montana, the Associated Press reports.
Roger J. Woodworth of Hayden, Idaho, was sentenced Nov. 6 by District Judge Nels Swandal as part of a plea agreement with Fergus County prosecutors, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials.
FWP officials say Woodworth illegally bought a Montana resident hunting license in 2009, then applied and was drawn in the lottery for a bighorn license in the Missouri River Breaks north of Lewistown, where he shot the ram.
A tip led to the charges against Woodworth, who was required to give up the bighorn sheep trophy mount.
HUNTING — A grand jury in Salem, Ore., indicted a bear hunter Monday on a criminally negligent homicide charge in the shooting death of a hiker near Silver Creek Falls State Park.
If convicted, 67-year-old Eugene Irvin Collier of Turner could be sentenced to 10 years in prison.
KVAL reports Collier was hunting with his 12-year-old grandson on Oct. 25 when Collier mistook the hiker for a bear and shot Christopher Ochoa, a 20-year-old from French Camp, Calif., and a Marine reservist who was due to report for active duty later the same day.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — The Oregon Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that conservation groups have a good chance of overturning a state order to kill wolves blamed for attacking livestock, and issued a stay that will remain in force until the lawsuit is settled, according to the Associated Press.
The ruling filed in Salem set one condition: that conservation groups post $5,000 security against any livestock losses while the case is pending.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife issued an order in late September to kill two members of the Imnaha pack in Wallowa County, including the alpha male, after confirming by radio tracking collar data that the pack was responsible for another cattle kill in Wallowa County.
Conservation groups sued to challenge it, arguing the Oregon Wolf Management Plan, which allows wolves to be killed to reduce livestock attacks, does not comply with the state Endangered Species Act.
DEER HUNTING — The silence has been broken. Some of my Rut Reporters in northeastern Washington have been virtually mum this season as they searched for big bucks. Even rutting activity has been spotty with big buck movements mostly after dark. Until now.
Hunters are buzzing. The excitement is palpable.
The rut appears to be on in a big way almost across the board in Eastern WA, North Idaho and throughout Montana.
Colville hunter Kevin Scheib has been patiently monitoring his trail cams since July, when he documented a few big bucks that disappeared as soon as the September archery seasons started.
Just this weekend, the big ones began to show again. Scheib caught a photo of the hot buck above out in the open well before the end of legal shooting time. Read what Scheib reported, and then tell me where you think he'll be in these last few days before northeastern Washington's late whitetail buck hunt ends on Saturday:
"Now it's on like donkey kong. This guy is swollen and hot for teacher. He came in chasing three does; the first mountain buck I've seen coming out in the lowlands."