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Photo: Buck shaping up to be a trophy

WILDLIFE WATCHING — Whether you're a hunter or a wildlife watcher, there's no doubt that this buck is shaping up to be a heart-stopper.

The elegant brute was photographed in its late velvet stage of antler development on Monday by Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson.

Question:  Is it a mule deer or whitetail?

The photographer says it's a white-tailed deer.

Lincoln County deer masacre prompts $5,000 reward

POACHING — Up to $5,000 in rewards is being offered for a tip that leads to the conviction of the culprits in the latest spree poaching case in Eastern Washington.

Five white-tailed deer, including two bucks and three does, were discovered in the Grand Coulee area of Lincoln County on Saturday with only the backstrap and hindquarters removed. The deer were shot and left to rot just a few feet from each other, and appeared to be fairly fresh kills.

This is the sixth multiple-deer poaching incident documented in Eastern Washington this winter, including two incidents in Spokane County.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for this spree killing and the Human Society of the United States has pledged another $2,500.

Information can be submitted anonymously:

1. Contact Officer Wood in Lincoln County, (509) 892-1001.
2. Call the state Poaching Hotline, (877) 933-9847.
3. Email the tip to reportpoaching@dfw.wa.gov.
4. Text the information to TIP411 (847411).

Season’s over for hunters, not for whitetail bucks

WILDLIFE — Most deer hunters retreated to the great indoors after the late whitetail buck hunting season in northeastern Washington closed on Monday.

But the bucks are still in the rut. Conceptions typically are peaking right around today.

Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson caught the buck (above) showing there's a lot of hard work to do out there maintaining the whitetail populations, but somebody's got to do it.

Said Johnson:

We managed to get into the whitetail pretty heavy today. We witnessed many bucks heavy in the rut. This guy was located in some pretty thick stuff. He decided to stop chasing the does long enough to… Let us get this image!

Deer harvest method banned in Washington

TRAPPING — I believe Washington's approval of a 1995 citizen's initiative that bans lethal traps would prohibit this method of filling your freezer with venison.  Just sayin'.

Whitetail bucks still on prowl as late archery seasons continue

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

Whitetail rut still making bucks vulnerable to archers

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. 

WA sportsmen have two program choices on Tuesday: Fish conservation or whitetail research

OUTDOOR EDUCATION — Local sportsmens groups are sponsoring two programs of interest this week in Spokane.

Unfortunately for the universal sportsman, both programs are set for Tuesday starting at 7 p.m..

  • Steelhead fisheries in Washington, and update on Olympic Peninsula’s Elwha River Dam removal, by Rob Masoni, Trout Unlimited Western vice president, Tuesday at Northern Lights Brewery, 1003 E. Trent Ave. Sponsored by TU Spokane Falls Chapter.
  • Whitetail deer research project in northeastern Washington, by Woody Myers, Fish and Wildlife Department wildlife biologist, Tuesday at Inland Northwest Wildlife Council auditorium, 6116 N. Market St. Sponsored by Inland NW Wildlife Council.

Deer Quiz, Part 1: Test your knowledge about whitetails

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.

Not tonight deer: birth control vaccine may reduce urban deer damage

NUISANCE WILDLIFE — Science is out of the rut and onto a new tactic for dealing with burgeoning deer populations in towns and suburbs where the animals can't be hunted.

A new birth control vaccine for white-tailed deer — a growing nuisance in urban areas for gardens and landscaping — eliminates the dangerous reproductive behavior behind the annual autumn surge in automobile-deer collisions, according to a report in Science Daily.

The vaccine, just becoming commercially available in some U.S. states, was the topic of a report in Denver at the 242nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, Science Daily said.

New-year deer feel light-headed

WILDLIFE — It's the shedding season for the area's deer, elk and moose.

Even the biggest bucks and bulls are getting rid of their head-gear and looking a lot like the girls.

In early December, Hal Meenach, a landowner south of Spokane, reported seeing the first buck of the season shedding antlers for the winter. The buck had lost only the antler on one side of his head to stand out as a lop-sidded example of the season that runs into February.

The antlers of deer, elk and moose are are shed and regrown usually in larger proportions each year. In a marvel of nature, a big bull moose or elk can sprout more than 40 pounds of antler "bone" in about four months.  In comparison, the horns of bighorn sheep grow on the rams each year without being shed.

Collecting shed antlers has become a popular and profitable hobby as gatherers sell the antlers for cash.

Shed hunting has become so competitive, wildlife agencies are concerned the collectors are having a serious impact by disturbing big-game animals while they're still in a weakened condition on their winter ranges.

Cold days prime for wildlife viewing

WILDLFIE WATCHING — Todd Klement, who lives in Spokane west of Highway 195, bought himself a pair of snowshoes for Christmas, and this morning was prime time to try them out in 9 inches of fresh powder and 0 degree temperatures.

He didn't have to go farther than the edge of town to find a national-park-like wildlife watching experience.

Snow and bitter cold have a way of making wildlife more available to our viewing pleasure as the animals congregate in lowlands near food sources.

In a few hours of hiking, Klement saw white-tailed deer, fresh moose tracks, numerous birds and a porcupine.

"I know the porcupine picture is blurry," he apologized in an e-mail, "but have any of you tried to get a porcupine to stop when he doesn't want to pose for a picture? Very uncooperative."

Hunter humor graces holiday card

HUNTING — Hunter’s I’ve surveyed believe this kid has a bright future, and photo admirers with a good sportsman-style sense of humor.

Buck loses head-butt battle with lawn ornament

WILDLIFE — Wisconsin whitetails apparently are willing to challenge any bull elk that come wandering into their turf during the rut.

In an early November battle, a whitetail buck fought to the death with a 640-pound concrete elk lawn ornament. Both critters suffered serious damage.

The La Crosse Tribune reported that Mark Brye looked out the window of his home in Viroqua , Wis., and saw the lawn ornament his kids had given him knocked over. Its concrete antlers were broken.

About 20 yards away, he found the carcass of a seven-point whitetail buck with a shattered skull.
The buck’s meat wasn’t wasted.  Under Wisconsin law, the Vernon County conservation officer was able to give Brye a special salvage deer tag.  The warden made a note on the tag: “lawn ornament fight & lost.”

Rutting deer not for prudish blog viewers

WILDLIFE — I’m posting this anonymously received photo showing a ménage à trois of white-tailed deer purely in the interest of natural science.

Perhaps it demonstrates the natural intensity of the rut, or it’s just two bucks with an unnatural tendency to make love rather than war.

Remember, I’m just the messanger.