Farms along the Palouse River are well-known for producing bumper crops of wild game birds, but for nearly half a century, Pheasant Valley Preserve has taken bird hunting to a different level. The farm is Washington’s oldest licensed game-bird shooting preserve. While most of the 1,300 acres are devoted to farming or grazing, 400 acres of irrigated river bottomland is seeded with some of the 6,500 pheasants being raised this year in huge netted pens.
Hot, dry weather is hard on dogs, which is why hunters must give special attention to their dogs during early bird-hunting seasons. Based on years of experience, Dan Hoke, veteran dog trainer from Dunfur Kennel near Cheney, offered these tips: • Trim toenails. Don’t let them get long and break off.
Deer hunters should find improved hunting for mule deer in their Idaho strongholds this year, but the pendulum is swing- ing in favor of whitetails. The 2011 harvest of white-tailed deer eclipsed the mule deer harvest for the first time since 1995.
While Idaho sportsmen will be hunting for wolves again this season, hunters in both Idaho and Washington will be hunting with wolves in the area. Either way, wolves have changed the playing field for hunters in the Inland Northwest.
Northeastern Washington has gained stature among elk hunters in recent years, with the 2011 elk harvest exceeding the general season take in the fabled Blue Mountains. But that’s likely to change this year.
Eastern Washington hunters should find decent numbers of deer in the fields and forests this fall, according to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife reports. However, pay attention to the details. For the second year, northeastern Washington whitetail hunters will be restricted to shooting only bucks with four or more points on one antler in units 117 and 121.
ATVs can drive public land managers crazy during hunting season. “We are most concerned with instances where a hunter drives off trail to scout for game or retrieve game,” said Andy Brunelle, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service. “One set of tracks through the brush or in a meadow can invite others to do the same, and the impacts add up, damaging vegetation and causing soil erosion into streams.”
ACCESS – Qualified applicants have until Sunday to sign up in a drawing for special access to hunting areas through the Coeur d’Alene River Ranger District’s Hunters with Disabilities Program. Disabled hunters must sign up in person at either the Forest Service’s Silver Valley Office, (208) 783-2363, in Smelterville or Fernan Office, (208) 664-2318, in Coeur d’Alene.
Diversified sportsmen can be conflicted during fall hunting season, since it’s also one of the best times for fishing. Tuna are migrating past the Washington Coast. Salmon are streaming into Columbia and Snake River tributaries. Steelhead are high-tailing over dams to wintering areas. Crowds have left the Coeur d’Alene and St. Joe rivers even though the cutthroat fishing is as supreme.
An Asotin County ranch purchased by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife last winter is open to public walk-in access this year with the exception of some big-game hunters. Deer and elk hunters are allowed on the newly-acquired addition to the Chief Joseph Wildlife Area only if they drew a “4-O Ranch” special hunting permit.