Fall hunting seasons are a long shot away, but the wind direction on opening day couldn’t be more critical for sportsmen in Idaho and Washington than what’s going on this time of year.
Rules, seasons and tag quotas are being adjusted and permit application deadlines are looming.
At its April 9-10 meeting in Leavenworth, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will make significant decisions on proposals such as these:
Antlerless deer hunting would be reduced in portions of northeastern Washington to make up for two previous years of high winterkill. Few antlerless permits would be issued and the antlerless hunting for youth, seniors and disabled hunters would be cut from 14 days to four days in units 101-124.
Black bear fall seasons would be delayed in portions of Eastern Washington to conserve female bears.
Archers and muzzleloaders would no longer be required to hold a concealed weapons license to carry a handgun for personal protection in the field.
Special hunt permit drawings would be changed dramatically to a format that has received a thumbs up from sporstmen’s groups who do not favor the traditional method of lumping applicants for deer, elk, bighorn sheep, moose and cougar permits into one pool.
For example, deer hunters who are applying for doe tags said they would rather not be competing in the drawings with hunters who want buck tags.
If approved, the new plan would create separate applications for seven categories of popular permits. In the case of deer and elk, the categories would be buck or bull, antlerless, second-tag, quality, youth, senior, disabled and master hunter.
Each of the categories requires a separate application fee, but you can apply for as many qualifying categories as you wish. Points accrued by hunters after applying and not being selected in previous year drawings would be applied to each of the new permit categories created under the new plan.
In other words, if you have seven points after last year’s elk permit drawings, you would be able to apply with seven points in this year’s drawings for the bull category as well as the antlerless, disabled or, say, the master hunter categories.
If selected this year for a bull tag, you would go to zero for the bull tag category next year, but your points would carry over in categories for which you were not selected.
In this case, that means you would have eight points in the antlerless tag category next year, according to Kevin Robinette, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife regional wildlife manager in Spokane.
If you were to draw both a bull and a cow permit for the same year, you could hunt both seasons, but you’d be allowed to take only one animal.
However, a deer hunter successfully applying in the buck and second-tag categories would be able to harvest two deer this fall.
Agency managers are well aware that the new category system has the potential to raise more money in application fees. Funds raised by the sale of additional permit applications would be used to expand hunter access to private lands, said Dave Ware, WDFW game manager.
The Washington Legislature has repeatedly denied the department’s requests for license surcharges to fund a program that pays landowners for public hunting access. The new permit category plan is a way of getting that dream moving toward the access program that’s been wildly successful in Montana.
Raffle permit changes already have been approved in Washington to add five new liberalized raffle hunts, some of which allow winners to pursue several species.
For instance, one of the new offerings is a “Northeast Washington Big Game” package permit that would give a hunter generous seasons and flexibility to hunt white-tailed deer, elk, moose, black bear, cougar and turkey.
The deadline to purchase these raffle tickets is July 23, so hunters have plenty of time to study the 12 raffle permit’s being offered. Read the rules online or when the 2010 Hunting Regulations Pamphlet comes out next month.
Deadline looming: Wednesday is the deadline to apply for Washington’s 2010 deer and elk multiple-season permits, which allow hunters to participate in all general archery, muzzleloader and modern-firearm hunting seasons in order to fill a single tag.
Other application deadlines to note:
•April 30 for Idaho moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goat.
•Mid May for Washington special hunting permits.
•May 31 for Idaho Super Hunt applications.
•June 5 for Idaho deer, elk, pronghorn, fall black bear and fall turkey.
Idaho has approved a short list of changes for fall hunting seasons, including one big improvement for youth hunters thanks to a North Idaho man who took time to lobby the state Fish and Game Commission.
Youth hunters this year will be allowed to participate in both A and B tag elk hunts, giving them more days in their busy activity schedules to devote to hunting.
Steve Cordes, who has sons 11 and 12 years old, made the proposal to the commission last fall.
“There’s a lot of competition for kids’ time with all the soccer and football games,” he said. “This was a simple way to help parents get them out more often.”
Contact Rich Landers at (509) 459-5508 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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