By all accounts, opening weekend for the general deer hunting season was slow in northeast Washington.
Of the 30 hunters who stopped at a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife check station in Chewelah, five had killed deer (four whitetail and one mule deer). At the Deer Park check station, 92 hunters stopped and only 12 had filled their tags (eight whitetail and four mule deer).
“Overall, the check station was slow. Weather was good, but we did see very few vehicles with youth hunters,” biologist AnneMarie Prince said. “Not sure if that is related to our regulation change, but I would guess that played a role. Most hunters saw deer, but most were does and fawns.”
Earlier this year, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to end all antlerless hunting in Eastern Washington units (Game Management Units 101 through 121).
WDFW Sgt. Tony Leonetti had this to report: “Vulcan Mountain was significantly impacted with people from outside the area. Little Boulder over to Lone Ranch was productive as well. There were less hunters up in the high country due to the recent snow and ice-covered roads, but those that did brave the cold seemed to be more successful than those in the lower elevations. Sherman Pass area was busy along with Storm King Mountain. Several tickets were issued for loaded firearm in vehicle, fail to tag, trespass while hunting on another’s property, unlawful hunting of big game, and a few self-reports on two point mule deer. Overall, I would say that hunter participation was average.”
In 2018, the Chewelah check station saw 49 hunters with 10 deer (six whitetail does, two bucks and two mule deer) during opening weekend. That same year, the Deer Park check station had 127 hunters with 38 deer (12 whitetail does, 23 bucks and three mule deer).
In 2017, there was no Chewelah check station. The Deer Park check station had 174 hunters with 38 deer (14 whitetail does, 21 bucks and three mule deer).
WDFW biologist Carrie Lowe and her husband Matt Mimnaugh, a board member of the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council and the chairman of the big game committee, hunted in GMU 101 near Republic on Saturday. They saw two deer, both bedded down, Mimnaugh reported.
“Saw lots of hunters but did not hear any shooting whatsoever,” he said.
He wondered if the full moon kept the deer down during the day.
“They will tend to stay out later during the full moon,” he said.
While opening weekend check station numbers are a useful point-in-time metric, Mimnaugh cautioned against reading too much into them. Many hunters take the entire week off and won’t be coming through a check station until later, if at all.
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