Tag Archives: deer park

Second Weekend Of 2019 Washington Rifle Deer Season

Can’t say the lucky list includes yours truly, despite giving it a good go in conditions that ranged from hail to flurries to steady drizzle to fog to tree-tipping winds, but some Washington hunters who persevered in weather that made the second weekend of rifle season and last four days for muleys a challenge tagged out.

MAURY KINCANNON BAGGED THIS NICE MULE DEER ON THE SECOND TO LAST DAY OF SEASON WHILE HUNTING WITH SON-IN-LAW DAVE ANDERSON. (HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

This is going to be an abbreviated report, but in the state’s northeastern corner, Saturday’s rain may have played a role in lower check station stats from Chewelah, according to district wildlife biologist Annemarie Prince.

She reported 23 hunters with two whitetail bucks there, down from 38 with six bucks and five does in 2018, when antlerless flagtails could be harvested by youth and disabled hunters.

To the west at Deer Park, 62 hunters came in with eight whitetail and four mule deer bucks.

Statistically, that’s actually an improvement over the first weekend  and last year’s second.

This year’s first weekend saw 92 hunters with 12 bucks at Deer Park, while 2018’s second saw 81 hunters checked 14 whitetails but only seven bucks. It’s also comparable to 2017, when 75 hunters had 16 bucks, along with 10 does.

In the Okanogan, for the first time in more than 20 years there was no check station set up for the second weekend.

It was a victim of a combination of factors including “illness, wedding at the (Red Barn) Saturday, scheduling conflict Sunday,” according to district wildlife biologist Scott Fitkin in Winthrop.

“Anecdotal reports suggest the hunting was pretty good at the end of the season, though,” he added.

A good number of bucks have been posted to Hunting-Washington.com and the various Facebook pages dedicated to the pursuit of antlered and other critters in the bounds of the Evergreen State.

Rifle mule deer season is now closed, while whitetail season continues through this Friday, Oct. 25, before picking up again Nov. 9-19 for the rut hunt.

On the Westside, blacktails are open through Halloween, with numerous units also open for a late hunt in mid-November.

Rifle Hunter Numbers, Success Down At Okanogan, NE WA Game Checks

If you hunted Okanogan County or Northeast Washington this past weekend and got a deer, tip of the hat, as success rates for the rifle opener were just in the 12 to 16 percent range.

Game check stations in those parts of the state saw fewer hunters bring fewer animals through than last year, although in the case of the latter region, that may be due to whitetail does being off limits for youth and disabled general season hunters this season.

JACK BENSON COULD ONLY TAKE PICTURES OF THIS DOUGLAS COUNTY STUD ON THE OPENER, GIVEN ITS LOCATION ON PRIVATE LAND, BUT THE NEXT DAY, WHEN IT MOVED ONTO TO STATE GROUND, WAS ANOTHER STORY. HE TOOK THE MONSTER ON LAND HIS DAD HUNTED 20 YEARS AGO, AND THIS MAKES HIS THIRD BUCK IN THREE SEASONS. (HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

“Overall, the check station was slow,” reported Annemarie Prince, WDFW district wildlife biologist in Colville. “Weather was good, but we did see very few vehicles with youth hunters. 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.”

She said that 30 hunters came through the Chewelah station with five bucks, including four whitetails and one mule deer, for a 16.66 percent success rate.

Further down Highway 395, 92 hunters stopped at the Deer Park station with 12 bucks, including eight whitetails and four muleys, for a 13 percent success rate.

By comparison, last year’s results, when does were legal for youth and disabled hunters, were:

Chewelah: 49 hunters with 10 deer (eight whitetails, including two bucks and six antlerless, and two mule deer) for a 20 percent success rate.

Deer Park: 127 hunters with 38 deer (35 whitetails, including 23 bucks and 12 antlerless, and three mule deer) for a 30 percent success rate.

And in 2017, it was 174 hunters at Deer Park with 38 deer (35 whitetails, including 21 buck and 14 antlerless, and three mule deer) for a 21.8 percent success rate. A Chewelah station wasn’t run that year.

The idea behind the full ban on general season antlerless whitetail harvest is to try and rebuild numbers in Washington’s most productive deer woods.

Affected units include Sherman (GMU 101), Kellyhill (105), Douglas (108), Aladdin (111), Selkirk (113), 49 Degrees North (117) and Huckleberry (121).

Seniors haven’t been able to take one there since the 2016 season.

CHASE GUNNELL ENJOYED A SUCCESSFUL RIFLE OPENER, BAGGING THIS WHITETAIL BUCK ON PUBLIC LAND IN OKANOGAN COUNTY. (HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

The only other check station in the rest of the state is at the Red Barn in Winthrop, and that’s where WDFW district wildlife biologist Scott Fitkin and his crew were set up.

“We checked 67 hunters with eight deer, plus two bears and a cougar,” he reported, a 11.9 percent success rate on deer. “These numbers suggest both participation and success are down somewhat from last year, 82 hunters with 13 deer,” a 15.9 percent success rate.

In 2017 the score was 83 with seven, an 8.4 percent success rate.

The caveat is that not all hunters stop by the check stations, which are voluntary and only operated on the weekends. The successful rifleman in our camp of five wasn’t leaving until Monday.

He got his buck first thing Saturday morning. That day was mostly overcast and while Sunday morning did see rain and snow, things are looking decidedly stormier in the coming days.

“The forecast is for colder and wetter weather with significant high country snow for the second half of the season, so prospects may improve if conditions get deer moving toward winter range,” Fitkin says.

TALK ABOUT GETTING IT DONE! JAMES POTH, 11, TAGGED OUT ON THE RIFLE OPENER WITH THIS NICE MULE DEER, THEN THE NEXT MORNING FILLED HIS SECOND DEER TAG WITH A DOE. (HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

That’s a mighty big if, of course, but keep in mind that mule deer season here (and everywhere else in Washington) does run through Tuesday, October 22.

“My guess is the last two days of the season next week will be the best opportunity given the weather forecast and the fact that there is usually significantly less pressure on those two days,” Fitkin stated.

JODY POTH BAGGED HER FIRST DEER EVER, THIS MULEY DOE. (HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

Back in Northeast Washington, whitetail season goes a bit longer, through Friday, Oct. 25, then picks up again in November for the rut hunt.

“My tip for most hunters is, ‘Get out of the truck,'” says Prince, the District 1 biologist.

Whitetail season on the Palouse, Blue Mountains and Northcentral Washington runs through the 22nd.

FRESH OFF FILLING HIS OREGON DEER TAG WITH A TALL-TINED MULEY, CHAD ZOLLER NOTCHED HIS WASHINGTON ONE WITH THIS SOUTHEAST WHITETAIL. (HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

On the Westside, blacktails are open through Halloween, with numerous units also open for a late hunt in mid-November.

JACK ALLEN MADE IT AN EVEN HALF DOZEN DEER SINCE TAKING HIS FIRST AT 11 YEARS OLD. THE 17-YEAR-OLD BAGGED THIS SNOQUALMIE VALLEY BLACKTAIL WITH A SHOTGUN IN A FIREARMS-RESTRICTED AREA ON COLUMBUS DAY. (HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)

Got a pic or story to share about the opener? Email me at awalgamott@media-inc.com!

‘Slow’ Season For NE WA Late Whitetail Rifle Hunters

“It was just slow.”

That’s the report of a deer check station staffer/local hunter coming out of Northeast Washington’s late whitetail rifle season, which wrapped up yesterday.

Annemarie Prince says 96 hunters came through WDFW’s Deer Park game check on Sunday, Nov. 18, with 16 bucks for a 16.6 percent success rate, figures well down from Nov. 19, 2017’s 124 with 43 for a 34.7 percent success rate.

“There were a couple nice deer, but nothing, ‘Oh, my gosh.’ Not many spikes, mainly three-by-threes, four-by-fours,” says Prince, the agency’s Colville-based district wildlife biologist.

DATA FROM THE FINAL SUNDAY OF W.D.F.W.’S 2018 DEER PARK CHECK STATION SHOWS A DECLINE OVER LAST YEAR’S FIGURES FOR THE WHITETAIL RIFLE SEASON. NOW RETIRED WDFW DISTRICT WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST DANA BASE INSPECTS A BUCK DURING 2017’S LAST SUNDAY OF THE HUNT. (WDFW)

She didn’t know why the numbers were down at the voluntary pull-off along U.S. 395 between Colville and Spokane, but noted that climatically it’s been a “very dry” fall.

“It was nice to be in that weather, but it was not great for hunting,” she says.

Others had more ideas. As the Nov. 10-19 season kicked off, Hunting Washington members were reporting a declining deer population in the state’s upper righthand corner, with plenty of focus on mountain lions and wolves. The open area is home to 10 known packs.

Famed salmon and steelhead angler Buzz Ramsey of Klickitat and his friend Bill Harris were among those who headed into the woods north of Spokane early last week with high hopes following the duo’s success last November, but they came out on Sunday without any fresh venison.

Hunting fairly high in an area that still had some snow from a preseason dusting, Ramsey says he didn’t really see many deer, just a nice but off-limits muley buck and a pair of spooky whitetail does.

He says that a party of longtime hunters they talked to, including an 86-year-old who’d told them he’d been hunting the area since he was 12, didn’t have any deer hanging either, but bucks were turning up at night on their cameras.

A MONTAGE OF PREDATOR TRACKS IN NORTHEAST WASHINGTON SNOW LAST WEEK. (BILL HARRIS)

All the wolf and mountain lion tracks that Ramsey, Harris and others spotted led Ramsey to wonder if perhaps predator activity hadn’t impacted when the rut occurs, but WDFW’s Prince doesn’t believe that to be the case.

“The hunters on the landscape are a much larger group of ‘predators’ than wild predators. And if they (hunters) haven’t moved the rut, the true predators aren’t going to,” she says.

THE SAME HILLSIDE THAT IN 2017 YIELDED A LATE WHITETAIL BUCK FOR HUNTING PARTNER BILL HARRIS ONLY SAW ONE DEER MAKE AN APPEARANCE WHILE THEY WATCHED IT, ACCORDING TO BUZZ RAMSEY. HE SAID THERE WERE PLENTY OF WOLF AND COUGAR TRACKS IN THE SNOW, THOUGH. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

Prince, who just so happens to count herself among those two-legged predators — “I did see a buck that should have been a dead buck” — points to an ongoing state study and work by former district wildlife biologist Steve Zender that suggests nothing’s changing in terms of rut timing.

She says that he found whitetails conceived fawns between Nov. 12 and Dec. 2.

The plurality of that breeding activity, 39 percent, occurred Nov. 19-25, with 31 percent between Nov. 26-Dec. 2 and 30 percent between Nov. 12-18.

The 2017 rifle hunt ended on the 19th, the same day as the final one the Deer Park check station was open, so perhaps that and heavier snows had something to do with the higher hunter numbers and deer kill.

The joint WDFW-University of Washington Predator-Prey Project, launched in early 2017 and slated to run through 2021, should help flesh out ungulate, cougar and wolf trends and dynamics in Stevens and Pend Oreille Counties.

This year’s deer prospects weren’t stellar but weren’t awful either.

Before this season started, Prince told me that a survey here found 32 bucks per 100 does, “statistically the same” as the longterm average since 2007.

In her and assistant wildlife biologist Ben Turnock’s hunting forecast, they reported that last year’s fawn numbers — this year’s spikes — were also back up after 2016’s “new low” that followed 2015’s blue-tongue outbreak, drought conditions and very large harvest, though were still tied for second worst since at least 2001.

RAMSEY REPORTS COMING ACROSS THIS PRETTY NICE STAND SHELTER SET UP IN THE WOODS OF NORTHEAST WASHINGTON. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

Back at the check station, Prince says she also heard from hunters who reported they didn’t see any deer while others saw lots of nocturnal activity on their trail cameras.

Two parties that she believes hunted the same plot of state land up a particular road came through with very different observations.

The first had harvested a pair of spikes and reported seeing “so many deer,” while the second said they “didn’t see anything” outside of the one they killed.

With those and other mixed signals, Prince says she’ll be interested to see what the final harvest data for this year shows.

Even though the 2018 rifle hunt is now officially in the books, muzzleloaders can head out in the Selkirk Unit (GMU 113) for whitetails starting tomorrow, Nov. 21, and bowhunters get their last cracks at flagtails in the Kelly Hill, Douglas, 49 Degrees North, Huckleberry and Mt. Spokane Units (GMUs 105, 108, 117, 121 and 124) beginning next Sunday, Nov. 25.

Deadline to report your 2018 hunts is Jan. 10, 2019, to be eligible for the incentive permit, or Jan. 31 to avoid the $10 late fee.

Second Weekend Of Rifle Deer Decent In NE WA, Snowy, Poor In Okanogan

If you’re one of the lucky few with a special permit to hunt the Okanogan’s big migratory bucks next month, this might be a good year.

An apparently very low general rifle season harvest and the second weekend’s “unusually heavy” snowfall could find more deer on the winter range in November.

STATE WILDLIFE BIOLOGISTS HOLDING DOWN THE FORT AT THE WINTHROP CHECK STATION DIDN’T SEE TOO MANY DEER THIS YEAR, BUT AMONG THOSE THAT CAME THROUGH WAS THIS FINE SPECIMEN. (WDFW)

That is about the biggest positive you can take away from this fall’s hunt in some of Washington’s most famous mule deer country.

By check station data, it was a woeful season.

“For the season we checked 131 hunters and with 15 deer,” reports WDFW district wildlife biologist Scott Fitkin. “Both of these numbers are down from last year and below the long-term average.”

For comparison’s sake:
2016 saw 145 hunters come through with 45 deer;
2015 saw 245 with 106;
2014 saw 101 with 39;
2013 saw 252 with 78;
2012 saw 253 with 49.

The score coming out of the first weekend was 83 with seven, one of which was actually shot down in Douglas County.

“This likely reflects a real drop in success, but fewer hunters through the check station is likely a factor of the poor weather the second weekend,” the biologist reported.

All day Saturday and into the wee hours of Sunday, snow fell heavily from the mountaintops down to Winthrop, where it took down two shelters Fitkin and friends had set up behind Winthrop’s Red Barn to check hunters over opening and the second weekends.

A HUNTER RETURNS TO SHELTER AFTER HUNTING IN FALLING SNOW LAST SATURDAY AFTERNOON. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

Well to the east, hunters in the state’s upper righthand corner did relatively better than 2016.

Dana Base, WDFW’s district wildlife biologist, reports reports 75 hunters with 25 whitetails (15 antlered) and one mule deer buck stopping at the Deer Park station on Highway 395 last Sunday.

At the same point of season in 2016, 137 hunters stopped by with 27 whitetails (15 antlered) and two mule deer bucks.

For this season, 249 hunters brought in 61 whitetails (37 antlered) and three mule deer bucks.

Last year saw 238 hunters with 48 whitetails (34 antlered) and five mule deer bucks.

While the general rifle mule deer season is done for the year, late whitetail season opens in November, and blacktail hunting continues through Halloween and reopens in many units in mid-November.