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Dove hunters: non-toxic shot required a some state areas

HUNTING — Starting this season, hunters are required to use non-toxic shot in their ammunition while hunting any type of birds at 29 pheasant release sites in Eastern Washington.

Please note if you are a dove hunter who will be looking for birds near these designated areas when the mourning dove season opens Thursday.

The first state-land non-toxic shot requirements in Eastern Washington were enacted last year near Pasco, where hunters of pheasants, quail and partridge as well as mourning doves in three units of the Sunnyside-Snake River Wildlife were no longer are allowed to use lead shot.

This year’s East Side restrictions at pheasant release sites are the latest in the state’s phase out of lead for hunting and fishing uses.

It was a federal rule that banned lead shot for use in waterfowl hunting nation-wide starting in 1986.

Idaho ends chukar survey flights that gave hunters forecast of season

BIRD HUNTING — The last good barometer Snake River region hunters have had on the hatching success of upland birds has ended. Idaho Fish and Game biologists will no longer conduct aerial chukar surveys, the agency has announced.

The agency has conducted annual chukar surveys since the mid-1980s primarily to provide a ‘forecast’ for the upcoming season. The data was not biological data used to set seasons, officials said in a press release.

Washington ended it's aerial chukar surveys in the 90s, mostly for reasons of expense.

The flights were axed after the officials scrutinized the agency's use of aerial surveys following a fatal helicopter accident last year along the Clearwater River last year that killed two fisheries biologists and the pilot. Several aerila surveys have been eliminated after a review was conducted to assess risk and cost in relation to value of biological information collected

Since 1984, Fish and Game biologists conducted helicopter surveys in late August or early September along a portion of Brownlee and Lucky Peak reservoirs to monitor chukar population trends.  The surveys laster expanded to other portions of the Snake and Salmon rivers.

The surveys offered sportsmen useful general trends in the fall population.

Without the surveys, biologists will rely more on collecting wings from harvested birds to obtain an index to production and estimate harvest from annual hunter harvest surveys.

Hunters warned about stumbling into marijuana plots

HUNTING– Elk hunters heading to the Blue Mountains are being warned to stay off the grass.

Enforcement agents last week busted a 25,000-plant growing operation in the Eckler Unit of the Blues Mountains southeast of Dayton, according to the Tri-Cities Herald.

Hikers who use trails are not likely to see the hidden plots of the illegal product.  But hunters who often bushwhack to find game are more likely to stumble into plots, where trouble could occur.

The  Seattle Times last week published an in-depth story on illegal marijuana growing operations on tribal lands in the Northwest.

Another recent bust occurred in Clackamas County, Oregon, and just this week a bust on plants totaling $25 million occurred on private timberlands in Northeast Oregon, the second of the year in Wallowa County, according to Northwest Sportsman Magazine.

Bucks looking ragged as they shed velvet

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Whitetail bucks are making that transition from growing velevet-covered antlers to hardened racks that will play into their stature for breeding.

Outdoor photographers Jaime and Lisa Johnson of Lincoln, Mont., keep track of such things. 

Check out their gallery.

Idaho wolf hunting season opens Tuesday; nonresident tags marked down

HUNTING — Idaho's second wolf season in history opens Tuesday, and it's a bargain for nonresidents.

Last month, the state Fish and Game Commission reduced the price of non-resident wolf tags to $31.75 to encourage more hunters to buy them.

Sales of resident and nonresident tags are down significantly from the first season, which was held two years ago.

There’s no quota on wolves this time around in most units controlled trapping will be allowed.

Idaho Fish and Game has all the details at its website here.


Court rejects appeal to put Idaho, Montana wolf hunts on hold

ENDANGERED SPECIES — A federal appeals court on Thursday denied a request by environmental groups to halt wolf hunts that are scheduled to begin next week in Idaho and Montana, the Associated Press reports.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the request by the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and other groups. The groups were seeking to cancel the hunts while the court considers a challenge to congressional action in April that stripped wolves of federal protections in Montana and Idaho, and in parts of Washington, Oregon and Utah.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy in Missoula reluctantly upheld a budget rider that was inserted by Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. It marked the first time since the passage of the Endangered Species Act in 1973 that Congress forcibly removed protections from a plant or animal.

Read on for more details.

Idaho sets fall waterfowl hunting seasons

HUNTING — The Idaho Fish and Game Commission adopted a 107-day waterfowl season for 2011-2012 during its meeting Wednesday.

A youth hunt was set for Sept. 24-25.

Read on for other details of bag limits and other seasons that begin in October.

New elk bowhunting rules cost Montana millions of dollars

BIG-GAME HUNTING — The 2011 archery elk permit drawing results are in, and for some it was a day of reward and excitement. For others there was disappointment in not drawing a permit for this year. For Montana it was an economic bloodletting.

The details are spelled out in an op-ed piece published in the Missoulian by Mac Minard, executive director of the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association.

“More than $16 million in economic activity has been lost due to residents and nonresidents who wanted to archery hunt in Montana but could not draw the permit. Limitations on permits are not based on conservation concerns, as all of the hunting districts involved are either at or over published population objectives for elk.

“In 2008, in a very controversial decision, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission decided to move from unlimited to limited archery elk permits for the Missouri Breaks. The rationale given included a number of factors, none of which had to do with abundance (or lack) of elk as populations are larger than desired. This action spurred a furious debate, but in the end it passed with no one really knowing what the impact would be.

“Then in 2010 the commission further reduced archery hunting opportunity in 22 additional hunting districts where elk were at or over the management objective. Taken together, 29 hunting districts, or 36 percent of the land mass of Montana, are now managed under a limited permit system. All of them enjoy an abundance of elk.

“Now, in 2011, we find that 1,854 resident hunters and 1,989 nonresidents, who had already obtained hunting licenses, put in for archery permits but were not drawn. These 3,843 hunters would have come to rural Montana to hunt and would have spent money on motels, restaurants, travel and incidentals that provides desperately needed economic activity and benefits families in communities that are struggling financially.”

Read on for more of Minard's commentary.

West Nile virus found in Yakima mosquito

OUTDOOR HAZARDS — The state Health Department says the West Nile virus was found in a mosquito collected Tuesday in Yakima County — the first sign of the disease this year in Washington.

No human cases have been identified this year, but there were two last year, and a 38 people in the state were sickened in 2009 by the virus, which is carried by birds and mosquitoes.

Most people bitten by a mosquito with the virus won't become ill, but some people with weak immune systems risk serious illness.

The department recommends wearing bug repellant and long pants and long sleeves when outdoors.

Commission boosts cougar hunting opportunity in six counties

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission today voted to increase cougar hunting opportunities in six counties.

Meeting via telephone, the commission amended cougar hunting regulations for a pilot project that authorizes cougar hunting with the aid of dogs. The project had expired and was not extended this year by the Legislature.

The commission increased cougar hunting opportunities without the aid of dogs in Klickitat, Chelan, Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties to continue to meet management objectives in those areas.

In addition, the commission modified the criteria for determining when cougars are removed to address public concerns about pet and livestock depredation and personal safety. The change allows for cougar removals when complaints confirmed by WDFW staff in a given game management unit exceed the five-year average.

WDFW game managers recommended the amendments to cougar hunting regulations as an interim measure until the 2012-14 hunting season package is developed.

Public discussion of the 2012-14 hunting seasons is scheduled to begin this month, including a Spokane meeting on Wednesday. 

Click here for more information about future commission meetings.

Little controversy over wolf control in Idaho?

Quote of the week:

“There's a lot of people who support wolf recovery and wolves in Idaho, but I really believe that the pro-wolf part of Idaho has kind of shut up.”
Carter Niemeyer, who spent decades working as a wolf management specialist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, discussing Idahoans' attitude toward wolves.
- Missoula Independent


Most Washington fishing-hunting license fees increase Sept. 1

PAY TO PLAY – Washington’s first general hunting-fishing license fee increase in a decade kicks in Sept. 1.

Now’s the time to buy and save on most licenses – but you might want to hold off on buying some youth, senior or disabled licenses, which will decrease in cost. And the endorsement that allows angers to use two rods while fishing some waters will decrease substantially.

All of the new license fee prices are available on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website.

But here’s a sampling of increases for resident fees (nonresident increases are much more substantial):

  • Deer, elk, bear and cougar tag package, currently $81.20, will increase to $93.50.
  • Small game license, $38, will increase to $38.50.
  • Freshwater fishing license, $24, will increase to $27.50.
  • Combination fishing license, $48.20, will increase to $52.25.

Decreasing:  Examples of fees that will go down starting Sept. 1 include:

  • Senior freshwater fishing license, $8, will decrease to $5.50.
  • Two-pole endorsement, $24.50, will decrease to $14.30. 

Field & Stream announces Best of Best hunting gear

HUNTING — Field & Stream magazine has just announced the 27 winners among 150 products it's editors tested for their annual Best of the Best hunting gear roundup.

Here's a sneak peak at the list of top products ranging from bows to trail cams. 


  • Best New Rifle #1: Montana Rifle Co. American Standard Rifle (ASR)
  • Best New Rifle #2: WinchesterModel 70 Safari Express
  • Best New Big-Game Ammo: WinchesterPower Core 95/5
  • Best New Shotgun: Remington Versa Max
  • Best New Shotshell: WinchesterBlind Side
  • Best New Fixed-Blade Knife: Ontario Knife Company Blackbird SK-5
  • Best New Folding Knife: Benchmade 915 Triage
  • Best New UTV: 2011 Can-Am Commander 1000XT
  • Best New ATV: 2012 Kawasaki Brute Force 750 4x4i EPS
  • Best New Trail Cam: Primos Super Model Game Camera and Photo Viewer
  • Best New GPS: Bushnell BackTrack D-Tour
  • Best New Hunting Pack: Cabela’s Bow and Rifle Pack
  • Best New Boots: Magnum USA Sidewinder HPi in MultiCam
  • Best New Outerwear: ColumbiaSportswear Omni-Heat Electric Wader Widgeon Interchange
  • Best New Muzzleloader: Traditions Performance Firearms Pursuit Ultralight
  • Best New Muzzleloader Bullet: PowerBelt AeroLite
  • Best New Binocular: Swarovski CL Companion 8x30mm
  • Best New Spotting Scope: Zeiss Dialyt Field Spotter 18-45x65mm
  • Best New Rangefinder: Leica Rangemaster CRF 1600
  • Best New Scope: Minox ZA5 1.5-8x32mm with Versa-Plex Reticle
  • Best New Handgun: Browning 1911-22 A1
  • Best New Bow: Hoyt Carbon Element
  • Best New Crossbow: TenPoint Carbon Fusion CLS
  • Best New Treestand: X-1 Stand
  • Best New Safety Harness: Tree Spider Speed Harness, Live Wire Descent System
  • Best New Blind: L.L. Bean Stowaway Hunter’s Blind
  • Best New Decoy: Carry-Lite Bob'n Tail Tom Turkey

Oregon Conservation Fund a misnomer, groups say

PREDATOR CONTROL — Oregon's new fund to boost predator control is appallingly misnamed environmental groups say.

Even Governor John Kitzhaber complained of the name when he signed the measure into law, according to a Northwest Public Radio report.

Few people would balk at contributing at face value to the “Wildlife Conservation Fund.”

But Brooks Fahy of Eugene-based Predator Defense calles the name is a sham. It's “offensive, because it's just the opposite. It should be the 'Wildlife Destruction Act,” Fahy told correspondent Chris Lehman.

The newly created Wildlife Conservation Fund targets hunters. Starting in January, hunting license buyers can volunteer a donation when they apply for their license.

Most of the money will be funneled toward an existing U.S. Department of Agriculture predator control program, Lehman reports.

Among other things, the federal agents kill problem coyotes and bears, a program supported by many sportsmen, ranchers and timber companies.

Environmental groups urged Governor Kitzhaber to veto the measure. The governor signed the bill, but said he was concerned about quote “truth in labeling” when it comes to the name of the fund.

On the web:

Oregon House Bill 3636

Governor Kitzhaber's Statement

Environmentalist’s Letter to the Governor.


Photo shows Imnaha wolf pack has at least one pup

ENDANGERED SPECIES — While lots of eyes and camera lenses are out there trying to get a handle on the growth of northwest wolf packs, a remote camera in Oregon came up with at least one solid find: The Imnaha wolf pack in northeast Oregon was parading past the camera with at least one of this year's pups in tow.

A black-colored pups was photographed July 16 by an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife camera.  It's traveling with the Imnaha pack’s alpha female (its mother). So far, photographs and visual observations have turned up only one pup for the Imnaha pack this year, but more pups may be found.

Oregon Fish and Wildlife has made other photos of the pack available here.

At least three members of the Imnaha pack dispersed from the pack in the past few months, biologists say, including one collared female that moved into Washington last winter when she was 1.5 years old.

“Wolf packs are dynamic and rarely stay the same size over time,” noted Russ Morgan, ODFW wolf coordinator. “A pack can be healthy despite these natural fluctuations in numbers, as long as a breeding pair of wolves, the alpha male and female, is maintained.” 

Washington waterfowl seasons set

WATERFOWLING — Duck and goose hunting in Washington this fall will be roughly the same as last year under the season adopted last week by the state Fish and Wildlife Commission approved.

Statewide duck hunting season will be open Oct. 15-19 and from Oct. 22-Jan. 29.

A special youth hunting weekend is scheduled Sept. 24-25.

Special limits for hen mallard, pintail, redhead, scaup, canvasback, goldeneye, harlequin, scoter and long-tailed duck will remain the same.

Goose hunting seasons vary by management areas across the state, but most open Oct. 15 and run through January 2012.

Details on the waterfowl hunting seasons will be available later this week on WDFW’s website.

Duck production surveys indicate a great crop of waterfowl in the western U.S.

Idaho seeks comments on waterfowl seasons

HUNTING — Waterfowl hunters are being asked to responded to a survey on Idaho hunting season options by the end of the week.

“We’ve had some requests for more late season duck hunting, and we’re asking hunters statewide to weigh in on which way they’d like to go,” said Jim Hayden, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional wildlife manager in Coeur d'Alene, noting that the Coeur d'Alene area is in Area 2 for both ducks and geese.

Duck production surveys indicate a great crop of waterfowl in the western U.S., so it's worth chiming in on seasons.

Taket he quick survey here

Read on for details on the proposals currently under consideration.

Bonners Ferry man charged with killing grizzly

POACHING — Jeremy M. Hill, 33, of Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho, has been charged for killing a grizzly bear, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced today.

The information filed today in United States District Court alleges that on May 8, 2011, Hill shot and killed a grizzly bear that was on his property in Bonner’s Ferry. The grizzly bear is classified as a threatened species in the Lower 48 states, according to the Endangered Species Act of 1975, and protected by federal law.

The charge of killing a threatened species is punishable by up to one year in prison, a maximum fine of $50,000, and up to one year of supervised release.

The case was investigated by the Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

West Side timber company starts new fee access for hunters

FORESTS — Hunting access is taking a new twist this season in Southwest Washington as Rayonier starts selling permits for entry to some of its lands most coveted by sportsmen.

The timber company’s new hunting permit program for 46,000 acres near Grays River in Pacific County follows fee-access programs initiated several years ago by Potlatch in Idaho and Inland Empire Paper Co. in Eastern Washington and Idaho.

However, Rayonier’s program is more restrictive and expensive, according to a Longview Daily News story.

Rayonier is selling 175 permits to enter its 31,000-acre Fossil Creek area Aug. 15-Dec. 31 for a flat $225.

Though private timber companies like Rayonier have restricted access to their lands in recent years, they haven’t charged hunters they do let in.

“Hunting is going to become a rich man’s sport,” said Vern Eaton of Longview, who has been active in hunting access groups. “I hate to see it come,” he said.

Read on for more details from the story by outdoor writer Tom Paulu.

Rain, floods spurred ducks to reproduce

HUNTING– With the duck factories of North America producing a record high number of waterfowl, Montana and Idaho waterfowl hunters have something to look forward to this fall.

This year, 10 primary duck species on the traditional spring survey areas totaled about 45.6 million—a record high for the survey that dates back to 1955, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recent surveys.

That’s an 11 percent increase over 2010 and 35 percent above the 50 year long-term average.

“This year all parts of the 'duck factory' kicked in,” said Jim Hansen, the Central Flyway coordinator for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.  “Just about all of the north central U.S. and Prairie Canada have been wet, but certainly it came with flooding that has been terrible.”

Mallards, the most sought-after species in Montana, were up 9 percent from last year at 9.2 million—22 percent above the long-term average.

Pintails, which have been in decline, showed a 26 percent increase and were 10 percent above the long-term average.

Redheads reached a record high, 106 percent above the long-term average.

Montana wolf tags on sale Monday

HUNTING — Montana's wolf-hunting licenses will go on sale Monday, Aug. 8.

Licenses will be valid within 14 specifically defined wolf management units. Hunters must obtain permission to hunt on private lands, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials say.

Idaho's tags already are on sale, but interest is far lower than the first season two years ago.

Read on for Montana details.

Sportsman Channel features Washington’s No. 1 bighorn hunt


BIG-GAME HUNTING — The 2010 scouting effort and hunt to bag Washington's No. 1 California bighorn sheep will be featured on the Sportsman Channel's SOLO Hunters program on Aug. 7.

The episode follows Arron Roth and his wife, Angie, as they log 23 scouting trips in Eastern Washington and finally harvest a Chelan County ram that scored 190 6/8 Boone and Crockett points.

SOLO Hunters hunt for the challenge of a hard fought DIY (do it yourself) hunt despite the elements or terrain. The show features  no-frills hunts in which the sportsmen rely on their feet and hunt off their backs or on land that they have researched, scouted and mastered for their rare opportunity to take a trophy.

Apply for Okanogan County limited-entry deer hunt

DEER HUNTING — Hunters have until Aug. 17 at midnight to apply for an opportunity to hunt deer this fall on the 6,000- acre Charles and Mary Eder unit of the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area in northeastern Okanogan County.

Applications for the “limited-entry” deer hunt can be submitted on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s special web page or by contacting the agency's northcentral region office, (509) 754-4624.

Eighteen applicants will be chosen during a random drawing. Winners of the drawing will receive access permits to the Charles and Mary Eder Unit of the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area near Oroville.

Read on for season details.

Montana big-game hunting updates and timely reminders

HUNTING — Here are a few timely Montana hunting tips and updates to help nonresident sportsmen with an eye on hunting in Montana.  Thanks to Jim Mitchell of Montana Hunting & Fishing Adventures in Hamilton for the heads up on some of this. 

The new Preference point may be purchased by any one. If you are a non-resident and plan to hunt Montana in the future you should buy a point. Cost is $50. You must download an application and submit it by mail. The deadline is Sept 30. Act now and get in on the ground floor of this new program authorized by the 2011 Montana Legislature. This will give you a big advantage when you decide to hunt Montana. (Click continue reading below for more details.)

Mountain lion hunting permit applications must be submitted by Aug. 31.

Under a new “opt out” program, a hunter who already HOLDS a license and is UNSUCCESSFUL on a special draw for a deer OR elk PERMIT can “opt out” of the elk license portion. The hunter will get a refund for the unused elk portion and retain the deer portion. The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks will resell the unused elk portion to non-residents. This increases availability of licenses for non-residents and generates more revenue for FWP.

Surplus big-game licenses go on sale over the Internet on Aug. 8 and they're likely to go fast in some regions.  Region 4 deer, elk and antelope licenses are in short supply after a devastating winter. Surplus licenses will go on sale 5:30 a.m. on the Fish, Wildlife and Parks web site

Recreation top use on Idaho BLM land, study finds

PUBLIC LANDS – A new study shows recreation and the industry that supports outdoors activities is outpacing traditional uses such as grazing and mining on land managed by the Bureau of Land management in Idaho.

The results are from a study on the U.S. Department of Interior’s economic effects in Idaho. The state has ample public land, including nearly 12 million acres managed by BLM.

The report finds that recreation accounts for six times more jobs than grazing and timber industries, and three times more than energy and minerals.

BLM Deputy State Director Jeff Foss says ranchers still drive many rural economies. But he says from a statewide perspective recreation is tops.

The Idaho Statesman reports the BLM spends about $81 million annually to manage grazing and timber land, compared to $68 million on recreation management.

Idaho wolf seasons set, but drama builds in federal courtroom

ENDANGERED SPECIES — Idaho set its fall gray wolf hunting and trapping seasons last week just two days after a federal judge heard arguments in a lawsuit that once again could undo the planning Idaho and Montana have done to begin taking control over burgeoning wolf numbers that are having a big impact on big-game herds.

 As reporter Rob Chaney put in in a Missoulian story, “The battle over Rocky Mountain gray wolves has become a constitutional clash between the U.S. Congress and the nation's judicial system.”

The judge promised to make a decision quickly.

Youths get shot at Turnbull ducks

HUNTING — For the second time since 1937, youngsters can apply for limited permits to participate in a two-day youth waterfowl hunt this fall at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will restrict the hunters under 16 to about eight hunting sites during Washington’s youth waterfowl season, Sept. 24-25.

Two youth hunters accompanied by one or two non-hunting adults will be allowed at each site. The hunters must have state small game and waterfowl licenses.

Hunters will be selected in a random drawing.

Applications will be accepted Aug. 1-15.

Apply on a U.S. Postal Service postcard. Include the youth's full name, address and telephone number.

Youths may apply with a youth friend or youth sibling on the same application.

Mail postcards to Refuge Manager, Turnbull NWR, 26010 S. Smith Road, Cheney, WA 99004.

The Spokane Chapter of the Washington Waterfowl Association will conduct a workshop the week prior to the hunt to help the youths select hunting sites and provide waterfowl identification and hunting tips.

Info: 235-4723; fws.gov/turnbull/

One thing appears to be growing well this year: Antlers!

BIG GAME HUNTING — The crop whitetail bucks are growing is looking a lot better this year than my tomatoes. 

This buck was photographed the evening of July 23 in Stevens County by a motion-activated scouting camera set up by Kevin Scheib of Colville.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers set work party in Colville Forest

CONSERVATION — The Backcountry Hunters & Anglers of Washington group is meeting in the Colville National Forest Friday through Sunday for its annual summer meeting and work party.

This year's habitat projects will focus on Middle Fork of Calispell Creek, where the group plans to build split-rail fencing and repair ATV abuses in an area called Delaney Meadows. 

“This area is notorious for abuse, but enforcement has been cracking down here, bettering the chances our efforts will not be dashed nights later by more outlaw riders,” said Jeff Holmes, BHA member, adding that there also will be plenty of campfire discussion about fishing and big-game hunting in the area.

Sportsmen who want to engage with the group can contact Jeff Holmes washingtonstatebha@yahoo.com or Joe Mirasole outlawoutfitters@hotmail.com


Washington waterfowl calling competition open to all callers

HUNTING– A waterfowl calling contest coming up in the Tri-Cities will give the open division winner an all-expense-paid trip to the hallowed quacking grounds of the World Duck Calling Championships in Stuttgart, Ark.

The sanctioned Washington Duck Calling Championships are set for Aug. 6-7 at Wholesale Sports in Kennewick, sponsored by the Washington Waterfowl Association.

In addition to the Open Duck competition, the event has eight other contests and divisions for duck, goose, youth and  two-person competition.

Info: Abel Cortina, (509) 786-9196, email abelcortina@gmail.com.

Read on for details on the divisions.