When I bought my Washington rifle deer tag at the Shoreline Fred Meyer yesterday afternoon, the customer service clerk asked if I also wanted a copy of the hunting pamphlet.
Nah, was my first thought, nothing ever changes except for the starting and ending dates of my season.
But then I decided otherwise and accepted the regs, along with my tag and receipt.
Indeed, things do change — and there’s a notable one in Northeast Washington this season.
With 4 days, 16 hours, 53 minutes and 21 seconds (as of this sentence being written) until shooting light this coming Saturday morning, state wildlife managers are sending out a heads up to youth and disabled hunters, as well as senior sportsmen, that antlerless whitetails are off limits in a number of units north of Spokane.
It’s a big change from past years, and the affected units include Sherman (GMU 101), Kellyhill (105), Douglas (108), Aladdin (111), Selkirk (113), 49 Degrees North (117) and Huckleberry (121).
The idea is to try and rebuild whitetail numbers in Washington’s most productive deer woods.
The 2015 season not only saw a high harvest, but an “extraordinary” bluetongue outbreak caused by drought and high temperatures and which killed many more. This country also has more than its fair share of wolves and cougars.
So this season, unlike past ones, all general season hunters can only shoot bucks.
“We need does to increase the population with fawns,” says WDFW spokeswoman Staci Lehman in Spokane.
A relatively mild summer and easy winter will help the cause towards that end.
The change actually began in 2017, when local hunters 65 and over lobbied to forego the opportunity to take does.
“’Hey, we’ll take the hit, we want to promote youth hunters,’” is how former district biologist Dana Base described their decision for an article that fall.
Now it’s being extended to youth as well as disabled hunters.
“We just want to remind people about the change before they head out,” says Lehman.
Annemarie Prince, the current district bio, reports that unfortunately a few seniors have killed antlerless whitetails since 2017’s switch.
It has yet to be determined when does might again be fair game during the general season in Northeast Washington, Lehman says.
In the meanwhile, Mt. Spokane (GMU 124) and numerous units on the Palouse and foothills of the Blues do offer general season antlerless opportunities for youth, seniors and disabled sportsmen.
See the regulations for details.
Editor’s note: In the sixth paragraph the game management unit for Huckleberry was incorrect. It is 121, not 124.