It wasn’t just Idaho deer hunters who had a great autumn in 2015 — Washington’s enjoyed their best harvest in more than 10 seasons.
According to estimates from state wildlife managers made public today, just over 40,000 blacktail, muley and whitetail bucks and does were killed during 2015’s general season and permit seasons in the Evergreen State.
That’s the most back to the stellar 2004 hunt when just under 45,000 were tagged, the high point since 2001.
Last fall is also 10,000 more deer than recent years’ lowpoint, 2011, when the four-point minimum for whitetail was first implemented in two popular northeastern units following two hard winters.
Deer hunters last fall benefited from an end to that antler restriction, increased permit levels, as well as two extra days to hunt mule deer very late in October and good harvests in the Okanogan, where bucks may have been pushed to new areas by summer’s conflagrations.
The info comes from a presentation being made later today by Jerry Nelson, WDFW’s statewide deer and elk manager, to the Fish and Wildlife Commission.
He and other big game staffers are presenting proposals on 2016 hunts and permit levels, as well as arguments for and against baiting deer and elk, a hot-button issue.
Commissioners will also hear about Washington predator-prey relationships and what’s being done to study those; get an update on the state’s wolf population; and listen to spring bear hunting proposals and learn about cougar biology.
While Washington’s 2015 deer kill stands out — yeah, us, we rock!!!! — it actually kinda sorta pales to Idaho’s, where 68,764 whitetails and muleys were harvested — including a record 30,568 flagtails — by 151,799 hunters who enjoyed a 45 percent success rate.
While the former state did field fewer pumpkins and camo-clad bowmen and muzzleloaders, around 125,000, that number is also a five-year high, and we enjoyed a 31.3 percent success rate, the highest back to at least 2001.
Since 2001, hunter numbers have varied from a low of about 119,000 in 2012 to a high of around 145,000 in 2004, and success percentages have ranged from 23.2 in 2011 to 30.5 in 2003.