All posts by Andy Walgamott

Elk, And Then Some

What happens when an editor gets a mess of elk hunting photos? He dreams about elk.

Buzz Ramsey, Greg Stanger, Mike Donahue, Gary Lundquist, Brett Cooley, Norm McKean and Jason Brooks have all fired pics of 2009 bulls over to me in recent days, and just before waking this morning, I had a mess of unusual dreams — but thanks, guys!

Hunting elk, elk camp, elk woods, elk in the snow, elk on game poles, elk, elk, elk, elk, elk, elk, elk.

So I figured I’d share the eye candy today, show off a few of the REAL bulls and stories from those hunters.

WE’LL RUN ‘EM IN ALPHABETIC ORDER, starting with Northwest Sportsman contributor Jason Brooks’ weekend hunt on a high, snowy ridge — unfortunately, far away from where the elk actually were that day:

Andy,

Here’s an update about the weekend. So Chad comes over for his first ever Westside elk hunt. We head out at 2:30 am on Sat to the trailhead where I took Adam in Sept., hoping those bulls were still in the same basin.

It’s snowing lightly as we head up the trail at 5:00 am. By the time we climb the 2,000 feet up to the ridge at 5,000 feet we are in almost 2 feet of snow.

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CHAD HURST, UP TO HIS CROTCH IN SNOW. (JASON BROOKS)

For some reason we decide to head to the peak of the mountain instead of skirting across open slopes with 2 to 3 feet of snow on huckleberry fields. I don’t know, call me crazy, but a snow slide body surf just doesn’t sound like an Olympic sport. As we near the top of the peak I am pushing snow up to my waist.

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HMMM, NO ELK BEHIND THAT TREE. (JASON BROOKS)

We look over into the basin and nothing. In fact, we never cut a fresh track and I knew that everything was in the timber, keeping out of the wet stuff.

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BROOKS GETS ANSEL ADAMSISH. (JASON BROOKS)

We decided to bail off and head back to the truck, and as we got back to the main ridge we ran into two guys who were camped up there. They say to us how they heard it was supposed to “warm up” by Tuesday and they were going to stay hoping to catch the animals moving.

By the time Chad and I hit the truck (six hours after leaving it) it was snowing hard. Within an hour it had dumped about 4 to 5 inches on the road. I can only imagine what it was like on the ridge! Those guys will easily be in 3 to 4 feet of snow by the next day and by Tuesday … well, no amount of rain will melt that much snow! I hope they wised up and got out of there.

Anyway, we head out and make the 2 1/2-hour drive home. Just as we pass Eatonville I tell Chad, “There’s some elk out your window.”

He replied, “Ya, right…wow,” and couldn’t believe it — 13 elk with 11 cows, 1 spike and a 5×5 only 20 yards from the road … in a plot of land that was posted “For sale” and no tresspassing.

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TEMPTATION. (JASON BROOKS)

We decide to turn around and knock on the door of the farmhouse next to the land, figuring if it was for sale, maybe the owner won’t be so protective of the elk, but no answer. So we drive back and I take a few pictures of the elk so Chad has proof that there really are elk over here!

The elk move off after I got out of the truck for the photoshoot, and it was a good thing since they were so close to the road with traveling elk hunters passing them — take away the temptation from those who can’t help themselves.

So, we should have known this was going to happen, as this is how Chad’s season has been all year. First he misses the buck that his brother killed (high hunt) then I get the flu and can’t be there for our Chelan County deer hunt. He calls me the last few hours of the last day and tells me he found a 4×4 on his way home — 120 yards behind a “no tresspassing” sign. I tell him that the sign in illegal and that it is on public land (I knew exactly where he was since I sent him there after he got out of the high country, asking for a good hunt on the way home).

Since Chad just completed his Master Hunter program he felt that even if the land was public and some land hoarder who is anti-hunting posted it to scare others away, it just wasn’t worth it, so he drove home. He called the game department the next day in Wenatchee and they confirmed that it was DNR public land. My dad also called the game warden, who he knows and is a friend. The warden is pretty upset and also states this is public land and they have already cited a land owner in the area for doing just that — posting public land as private to keep people away. The agent was going to take down the sign the next day and confront the possible suspect.

So, here we are again, looking at a nice, legal bull, in an open unit, on the only day Chad can hunt, during the last hour. And we took a few pictures, waved goodbye as the elk pushed into the timber.

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A 5X5'S LUCKY DAY -- LAW-ABIDING ELK HUNTERS SPOT HIM ... BEHIND 'NO TRESPASSING' SIGNS, AND THEY DON'T SHOOT. (JASON BROOKS)

And you know what, we felt good about it. Sometimes we get reminded through life’s little temptations, and that makes the rewards just that much better when you do things right and it all does finally come together. I just don’t get those who poach.

OUR SECOND HUNTER IS MR. BRETT COOLEY. His story:

This spike was taken within the Bethel unit (spike-only) of Eastern Washington within two hours of legal shooting time on opening day of modern firearm season, Saturday, October 31.

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BRETT COOLEY OF RENTON AND HIS SPIKE ELK TAKEN WEST OF YAKIMA. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

It was 450 pounds on the hoof, and since I had to pack it up an incredibly steep hill, I boned it out completely — 130 pounds of de-boned meat was harvested and my wife and two sons couldn’t have been happier with meat for the winter.

NEXT UP IS MIKE DONAHUE.

I shot this bull last Friday (in Kittitas County) and it was the first morning of (son Jack’s) first hunt with me. Not to mention it was my first bull after hunting elk for over 20 years. Needless to say, it made for a great story and an extremely memorable event for both of us. As you can see on his face, he was pretty excited.

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JACK AND MIKE DONAHUE WITH THEIR KITTITAS COUNTY ELK. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

After a long day of packing and hiking, we were extremely exhausted but I don’t think I could’ve scripted how I would shoot my first elk any better than how it unfolded.

GARY LUNDQUIST FORWARDED THIS PIC and story of Dan Gallagher’s unusual velvet spike, a rare phenomenon, but one that does occur, according to the state big-game biologist for the Colockum, south of Wenatchee.

The 2009 elk hunt started out well. I got my elk on opening day. This year the new rule is true spike bull in the Colockum area that I was hunting. The spike I shot was still in full velvet which is very unusual for this time of year.

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DAN GALLAGHER'S VELVET BULL. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

I saw many elk this year including a herd of approximately 250 elk right before dark Wednesday. We spent many hours in preseason scouting and 615 miles on my ATV which paid off.

NORM MCKEAN TOOK ONE OF THE BIGGER PERMIT BULLS we’ve seen, a whopper from the Cowiche west of Yakima.

This 6×7 bull taken by tractor salesman Norm McKean on Oct. 30 2009 at approximately 3:15 p.m. at 518 yards with a Weatherby Accu-Mark 30-378 Mag.& Leupold 4.5×14 Custom Calibrated Scope.

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NORM MCKEAN'S PERMIT BULL FROM THE COWICHE UNIT. (HI-VIZ PHOTO CONTEST)

YOU MAY RECOGNIZE THE NAME BUZZ RAMSEY and his hat from Northwest salmon and steelhead waters, but that dark Stetson does double duty protecting him from midfall’s snows.

He needed it on the opening day of his big-bull permit hunt in the Peaches Ridge unit just east of the Cascade Crest near the Yakima-Kittitas County line. Not only did he get his elk (a spike), but his group got two other bulls that day, including a 5×5 that required six guys, cable, come-a-longs, a snatch block, game sled and two vehicles to pull out of a deep canyon.

“They dropped over the edge and they didn’t get to it for an hour,” says Ramsey of his hunting partners who went down to retrieve Tye Hunter’s branch bull. “It was so steep you couldn’t even see the guys.”

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"THEY'RE NOT EVEN HALF WAY TO THE BULL YET," WRITES RAMSEY. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

"AFTER AN HOUR, WE SEE THEM." (BUZZ RAMSEY)

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"WE ROPE/CABLED HIM OUT USING A SNATCH BLOCK." (BUZZ RAMSEY)

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"THE ELK IS COMING UP -- IF WE CAN JUST KEEP THE TIRES FROM SPINNING." (BUZZ RAMSEY)

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ALMOST TO THE TOP. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

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"IT'S SO GOOD TO HAVE THE ELK ON THE ROAD ... AND IN THE TRUCK." (BUZZ RAMSEY)

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JIM SHERRILL AND BUZZ RAMSEY'S SPIKES. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

Thanks, guys, for the pics and stories, I do appreciate it!

Razor Clam Digs On This Weekend

(WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH & WILDLIFE EMERGENCY RULE CHANGE NOTICE, PRESS RELEASE)

Action: Opens razor clam season

Effective dates: 12:01 p.m. Nov. 14 through Nov. 17, 2009

Species affected: Razor clams

Locations:

  • Long Beach, which extends from the Columbia River to Leadbetter Point.
  • Twin Harbors Beach, which extends from the mouth of Willapa Bay north to the south jetty at the mouth of Grays Harbor.
  • Copalis Beach, which extends from the Grays Harbor north jetty to the Copalis River, and includes the Copalis, Ocean Shores, Oyhut, Ocean City and Copalis areas.
  • Mocrocks Beach, which extends from the Copalis River to the southern boundary of the Quinault Reservation near the Moclips River, including Iron Springs, Roosevelt Beach, Pacific Beach and Moclips.
  • Kalaloch Beach, which extends from the South Beach Campground to Brown’s Point (just south of Beach Trail 3) in the Olympic National Park.

Times:

  • Saturday, Nov. 14 (4:34 p.m. -0.3 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • Sunday, Nov. 15 (5:21 p.m. -0.7 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks
  • Monday, Nov. 16 (6:05 p.m. -0.9 ft.) Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis, Mocrocks, Kalaloch
  • Tuesday, Nov. 17 (6:47 p.m. -0.8 ft.) Twin Harbors

Reasons for action: Harvestable surplus of razor clams are available.

Clam diggers got the go-ahead to proceed with an evening razor-clam dig starting Saturday, Nov. 14. Tentative dates have also been announced for upcoming digs in December and January.

Twin Harbors will open for digging Nov. 14-17, while Long Beach, Copalis and Mocrocks are scheduled to open Nov. 14-16. Kalaloch Beach will be open for digging on Monday, Nov. 16 only. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) gave final approval after a series of marine toxin tests confirmed the clams were safe to eat.

Digs at all beaches will be held on evening tides, with digging restricted to the hours between noon and midnight. The National Park Service approved the one-day dig at Kalaloch Beach, located within Olympic National Park, to coincide with those at the other beaches.

Dan Ayres, WDFW coastal shellfish manager, advises clam diggers to check weather and surf forecasts before heading out.

“With the rough weather we had during the last opener, digging dropped off significantly as people played it safe,” Ayres said. “On the plus side, there’s likely enough clams remaining in the quota to offer more digs later.”

Olympic National Park Superintendent Karen Gustin also reinforced taking night dig safety precautions, especially at Kalaloch.

“Kalaloch is considerably more remote than the other clamming beaches, and visitors should be prepared for primitive conditions,” she said. “With no streetlights or lighted buildings in the area, flashlights or lanterns are a necessity.”

Harvesters are allowed to take no more than 15 razor clams and must keep the first 15 they dig, regardless of size or condition. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

A license is required for anyone age 15 or older. Any 2009 annual shellfish/seaweed license or combination fishing license is still valid. Another option is a razor-clam only license available in annual or three-day only versions. Descriptions of the various options are available on the WDFW website at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov .

Want Wolves? Take ‘Em, I-5 Corridor: Rancher

Ranchers and others in Okanogan County let their feelings be known on wolves in Washington at the first draft-management-plan meeting held in a county where a pack actually exists.

“I’m all for translocating wolves,” Dave McClure, a local rancher is quoted as saying by K.C. Mehaffey in the Wenatchee World today. “I think they should all be translocated to the I-5 corridor, where they can be appreciated.”

Methow Valley rancher Larry Campbell is suspicious that WDFW brought the wolves here rather than the animals wandering in by themselves, and he wants state officials to take lie-detector tests.

All three comments drew applause, Mehaffey reports.

(State staffers adamantly say that they have not introduced any wolves to Washington, but rumors persist in some valleys.)

Okanogan County is home to the Lookout Pack, which had a second litter of pups last spring. In mid-October, WDFW biologist Scott Fitkin told me they were still above Lake Chelan, in the Sawtooth Range.

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GRAY WOLF, LAKE CHELAN-SAWTOOTH WILDERNESS, OCT. 7, 2009. (USFS)

The Diamond Pack runs in Pend Oreille County north of Spokane.

However, two other Methow Valley residents expressed support for wolf recovery during the meeting.

Mehaffey reports that more than 150 people attended, which would make it the largest of the 11 meetings held so far.

There’s one more on the docket, tonight at 6:30 p.m.  in Wenatchee at the Chelan County PUD Auditorium, 327 N. Wenatchee Ave.

After that, you may submit public comments three ways through Jan. 8:

FAX: (360) 902-2946

Mail: WDFW SEPA Desk, 600 Capitol Way N. Olympia, WA 98501-1091.

Online: http://wdfw.wa.gov/wildlife/management/gray_wolf/mgmt_plan.html

Troopers Crack Down On Poachers

(OREGON STATE POLICE PRESS RELEASE)

Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish & Wildlife troopers in southern Oregon are encouraging people to report poaching activity, especially now that most rifle deer hunting seasons are ending and many large bucks are illegally killed in the following days.

“Our troopers are actively pursuing their game of choice, and our quarry is the poacher,” said Sergeant Kirk Meyer from the OSP Fish & Wildlife Division at the Central Point office.

Last week, OSP Fish & Wildlife Division troopers received information of a large 4X4 buck that was shot at a local area golf course. An investigation revealed that the large buck had been seen in the area for weeks until it was unlawfully killed by a man who did not have a deer tag. The month long deer hunting season was winding down with just a few days to go when the large buck was shot.

State Police troopers seized the carcass from a 39-year old Rogue River man who illegally tagged it with his tag. The 67-year old Medford man who shot it wanted the head for a taxidermy mount.  He tagged it with the tag he purchased after killing it.

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THE POACHED GOLF COURSE BUCK. (OREGON STATE POLICE)

“Our investigation found that this person took advantage of a new rule allowing someone to purchase a tag after the season opened.  Despite signing a statement swearing he had not yet hunted for the game for which the tag was purchased, he had already killed the deer,” said Meyer.

Misdemeanor charges for TAKING DEER WITHOUT A DEER TAG, FALSE APPLICATION FOR A DEER TAG and LOANING A DEER TAG are pending against both men.

In a second incident, troopers received information this week of some men on ATVs on a mountainside near Central Point in an area where deer poaching has previously been reported. A trooper was in the area looking for the men when he saw them coming down the mountain on ATVs and one of them was hauling a dead buck. The deer hunting season had ended last Friday, except for youth hunters with a tag who were allowed to hunt through the weekend.

With the help of responding troopers, the three men were found inside a shed at a Central Point home. The freshly killed buck was hanging in the shed and they were skinning it. There were two other bucks also found hanging in the shed, and a third was found already butchered inside a freezer in the home.  The four bucks and two rifles were seized.

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DEER SEIZED BY OSP. (OREGON STATE POLICE)

Cited to appear in Jackson County Circuit Court related to the second incident were:

* ROBERT LUND, age 37, from Central Point, for Exceeding the Bag Limit – Deer and Unlawful Possession of Deer
* TIMOTHY GEYER, age 31, from Central Point, for Taking Deer Closed Season
* ROBERT OCH, age 43, from Central Point, for Aiding in a Wildlife Crime – Taking Deer Closed Season

As most rifle deer hunting seasons have ended, Sergeant Meyer stressed the importance to check the 2009 Oregon big game regulations for information about late hunting seasons still to come for muzzle loaders and bow hunters.  Anyone with information about possible poaching activity in their area is asked to call the statewide TIP (Turn in Poacher) Hotline at 1-800-452-7888.

SW WA Fishing Report

SALMON/STEELHEAD

Cowlitz River – Including fish released, bank and boat anglers averaged slightly better than a fish per every 2 rods.  Catch was a mixture of fall Chinook, coho, steelhead, and sea-run cutthroats.  Most of the Chinook were caught near the barrier dam while coho, steelhead and sea-run cutthroats were caught from there downstream.  Most of the Chinook were dark and released.  About half the coho were also released with the majority wild fish.

Through November 4, over 64,000 hatchery and just under 5,000 wild adult coho along with 18 hatchery winter run steelhead had returned to the salmon hatchery.  In addition, nearly 1,100 hatchery sea run cutthroats had returned to the trout and salmon hatcheries.

Flows at Mayfield Dam were expected to increase to nearly 6,000 cfs today and then drop to about 5,000 cfs for the next week or more.  On the lower river, the water was reported to be turbid.

Kalama River – Anglers continue to catch a mix of coho and steelhead.  Last week the majority of the catch observed were steelhead.  Overall bank anglers averaged a fish per every 2 rods when including fish released.

By November 4 the first hatchery winter run steelhead of the season returned to Kalama Falls Hatchery.

Lewis River – Bank anglers near the salmon hatchery averaged nearly a fish per every 2 rods when including fish released.  The majority of the catch were adult coho of which 2/3 of the fish caught were kept.

Washougal River – Effort has been light.  The first two hatchery winter run steelhead of the season had returned to Skamania Hatchery through November 4.

Klickitat River – Bank and boat anglers on the lower river averaged nearly 1.5 coho each.  Some of the fish have a little color and were released.  Some fall Chinook were also caught with the majority dark fish that were released.

Flows at Pitt were just over 800 cfs this morning which is close to the long term mean for this date.  Flows are expected to decrease slowly over the next several days.

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Light effort and catch.

Bonneville Pool – Boat anglers at the mouth of the Klickitat averaged just under a coho per rod.  A few Chinook and steelhead were also caught.

STURGEON

Lower Columbia below Bonneville Dam – Bank anglers just below Bonneville Dam averaged a keeper per every 14 rods.  Boat anglers in the gorge also caught some legals as did a few in the Longview area.

Through October, an estimated 4,300 (38%) of the 11,268 fish from this year’s guideline for above Wauna had been taken.

Report courtesy Joe Hymer, PSFMC

 

Another German Wall

As world attention focuses on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall today, another German wall comes to my mind.

A few years ago, while honeymooning in Deutschland, my wife and I swung through the town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a walled medieval city in northern Bavaria. It’s a tourist trap, for sure, but pretty cool — Fachwerk houses, marktplatz, historic Rathaus, soaring towers, crazy legend from the Thirty Years War, Kriminalmuseum, churches, burggarten, the whole nine meters.

Early that day we walked the mile-long Stadtmauer, or city wall, which protected Rothenburg during the Middle Ages, and at one point, I looked over and was surprised to see the space above someone’s garage door filled with deer antlers.

Waidmann’s heil!

For a brief moment, it was like we were back in Winthrop or Twisp, Wash., somewhere hunters are proud to display their game publicly.

Of course, the racks weren’t very large — stags, these weren’t. Rather, they were from the great Dane-sized roe deer that roam the countryside.

I snapped a picture and Amy and I moved on around the wall.

Last week, there was an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about deer elsewhere in Germany, and of a much larger size.

In the Bayernwald, fences, border guards and more kept the red deer from migrating between the forests and mountains of Bavaria and the Czech Republic, between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, between West and East for 30 years.

Even two decades after the staredown ended, the animals haven’t really resumed going back and forth across the formerly militarized zone.

Instead, they “mysteriously turn around when they approach” the former border,” WSJ reports.

“In the past, the deer didn’t go to the Czech side because of the fence,” biologist Marco Heurich told reporter Cecile Rohwedder. “Now the fence is gone but they still stop at the border.”

Well, most do anyway. A single stag from either side (a German named Florian, a Czech named Izabel) have braved the border and stayed on the other side. Intrigued researchers have slapped radio collars on the deer to study their movements.

But if they’re anything like the mountain goats of Oregon’s Elkhorn Mountains, more and more stags will begin to cross the line to seek out new territory and mates.

That may improve the hunting for Germans. Believe it or not, the very densely populated country has a very rich and socially accepted hunting tradition that continues to this day.

James Hagengruber did an excellent piece on it in Montana Outdoors several years ago.

While getting a hunting license can take up to a year of study — “and half fail on their first try” — Hagengruber writes, “Because they maintain the health of the land and wildlife populations and have a strict code of ethics and honor, hunters continue to occupy a place of respect in most communities.”

He reports that hunters, not the state, manage the game, which also includes wild boar, and that they must file management plans for their leased areas (hunting apparently isn’t allowed often on public land). They can also sell their kill at markets and to restaurants.

I didn’t know this when I ordered the Wildschwein, or wild boar, last Christmas in Dinkelsbühl, another Bavarian walled city (Amy’s from Cologne; we were traveling with her family). Unfortunately, no Jagermeisters had bagged any in recent days, so I got the Hirsch, or deer, instead. Pretty good.

Germany is twice the size of Washington but has a population of 81 million or so, so how’s there any room for hunting?!?

If you drive along the Autobahn, or almost any other Bundestrasse in Germany, you’ll see numerous hunters’ huts in the fields, on the edges of woodlots, at the edges of town — even hard up against the highway itself.

The huts come in a variety of forms, but are generally boxy things. Supported by stilts, they sit about 10 feet off the ground. A ladder leads up inside, and they have windows that allows the hunter inside to see in three directions.

I’ve seen some roe deer in the countryside, but only in the Austrian Alps, at a farm high on a ridge, have I seen red deer. They look similar to our elk, though their butts aren’t white or tan like ours.

And while some Bavarian big game appear to stop short at the border, other animals aren’t. Apparently, moose and wolves are making their way into the former East Germany from Poland, especially outside Berlin, which brings this post back full circle. (Interestingly, the comments from Deutsch hunters and farmers sound quite familiar to those you hear here as wolves expand into the Northwest.)

All right, just now John, our production guy here at Northwest Sportsman, brought me more December issue pages to proof, so I had best pinch off this rumination and get back to work.

They’re Watching You

It’s not just armchair adventurers who frequent Northwest fishing and hunting bulletin boards these days.

Rich Landers of the Spokane Spokesman Review does a piece on how fish and wildlife enforcement officers in the Northwest are cruising online sites and finding cause for investigation, in some cases. He writes:

Monitoring the Internet also has given wildlife agents insight on people who boast online about their fishing and hunting exploits.

“By surfing certain types of Internet pages, like the ‘big buck’ sites, we are finding issues that at least prompt a cursory investigation,” (WDFW Capt. Mike) Whorton said.

“However, a lot of time, they turn out to simply be liars’ pages.”

Wait a minute, not everyone’s telling the truth online?!?

Up To 35 Percent Cut Possible In Sturgeon Fishery

Following last night’s meeting in Vancouver on Columbia River sturgeon fishing, the Columbia Basin Bulletin is reporting that managers are talking about cutting quotas up to 35 percent on the river below Bonneville Dam.

They’re considering the sharp cut because fewer young sturgeon have been reaching keeper size in recent years.

Oregon and Washington fishery officials are considering three alternatives, CBB reports:

The first would reduce the 40,000 guideline in proportion to the recent decline in the population estimates for legal fish, about 12 to 24 percent.

The second would reduce the allowable harvest in proportion to the estimated decline in legal and sub-legal abundance, from 16 to 35 percent.

The most conservative option would drop the allowable catch even further as a buffer because of the uncertainty surrounding the status of the broodstock population.

Managers are unsure of why populations are declining, but if there’s good news, it’s that broodstock — or oversize — sturgeon numbers appears to be stabilizing, if not rising some, CBB reports.

Peachy Keen Hunt On Peaches Ridge

A certain well-known Northwest salmon and steelhead angler just phoned in with a peachy keen hunting report from Peaches Ridge.

Buzz Ramsey says that his group of 10 hunters, including six with any-bull tags, have so far bagged five in the Naches and Taneum units hard against the Cascade Crest in Kittitas and Yakima counties.

“We could have gotten more spikes too — one guy saw four spikes — but there are some committed big-bull hunters in the group,” he says.

Ramsey was one of the lucky hunters. He bagged a spike, though could have taken any bull he’d seen.

He reports that their camp got two spikes and a 5×5 on the Oct. 26 any-bull hunt opener, and then two more spikes on the general season opener last Saturday.

Both seasons continue through Sunday.

Meanwhile, Ramsey says he’s on the road for Northeast Washington to get himself a whitetail buck. The late rifle hunt opens tomorrow in seven Stevens, Pend Oreille and Spokane county game units.

And if he’s successful, that should pretty much fill up the freezer at Casa Ramsey. He and son Wade have already put two Oregon muleys in it, and one afternoon last week, while Buzz was butchering his spike at home, Wade got his Washington side buck.

Who needs Chinook, coho and steelies anyway!

A Busy 9 Days In Deer Season

Sixteen-hour shifts, 22-hour shifts, ’round-the-clock watches.

Exhausted Fish & Wildlife officers curled up on the hard floor back at headquarters.

One hundred and twenty citations issued in just nine days by five guys.

Vehicles impounded. Rifles seized. Dead deer taken away.

A suspect hauled off to jail.

While my father and I and several friends were hunting the Methow Valley’s highlands during last month’s general deer season, Sgt. Jim Brown and the rest of the Okanogan Detachment of WDFW’s Enforcement Division were trying to keep order everywhere else — and having a hard go of it.

“The common thread is these people come from elsewhere — and I’m not singling out the Coast — and they disconnect their brains. Did you think you were going to the moon and there were no game laws?” Brown wonders.

According to a local paper, most of those citations occurred in the Methow Valley, and included the usual suspects — “trespassing and alcohol violations” — but five hunters also shot at a robotic deer decoy.

One guy who allegedly shot at a real deer and shouldn’t have was Jack W. Hill of Darrington, caught by the State Patrol along the Conconully Highway outside Okanogan with a 4×4 at, oh, 2 a.m.

Brown says because the man, described as in his 20s, has been convicted before, it was a felony offense. Hill was booked and jailed and had his Jeep Grand Cherokee seized.

Two other men were cited for illegally shooting two does, not tagging them, killing them in an area not open for does and for illegally transporting them. Their Nissan Frontier was seized, and while it has since been bought back, Brown says a criminal case is still pending.

It’s always busy, of course, when it comes to the general rifle hunt in Okanogan County, one of the state’s top destinations for big muleys. And Brown says he’s always asking for more help from elsewhere in the state, but they’re just not available.

That meant 10- and 16-hour days for he and his officers, even two who were out 22 and 24 hours, the latter lengthened by the arrest of Hill. Brown says his men were too exhausted to drive home after their shifts, so they rolled out sleeping bags and crashed in the office.

“I came into the office and said, ‘What’s this?'” Brown recalls.

And no, they didn’t get overtime.

“These guys are dedicated,” says the sergeant.

As it was, the 120 citations represent 20 to 25 percent of the annual case load for the detachment, which also covers northern Douglas County, Brown says.

He seems to have a particular distaste for trespassers hunting on private land who won’t leave, or who leave gates open, or who cut fences.

“It gives (landowners) a bad taste in their mouth,” he says.

And then, he says, hunters wonder why a rancher won’t give out permission to access their land.

“Well, let me tell you the history behind that guy,” he says.

Brown himself hears about it. He’s a hunter, but when he goes a’knocking on farmland doors, he doesn’t reveal that he’s a warden.

“Those guys who do that stuff give all hunters a bad name,” he says.