Sports

FINS, FUR & FEATHERS: Hunters are in heaven these days

This time of year, the hunters are in heaven with the opportunities that are out there. No matter what you are after, there is a season available to you.

The deer seasons are in full swing and most hunters have already been afield, with a few lucky ones already tagged out. From recent reports, the harvest results have been following historical trends.

The major crowds are in the Winthrop area, where hunters are chasing trophy mule deer. Normal success rates have been coming from all areas in the Cascades. If you have the means, the Passayten Wilderness Area is one the prime areas if you are after a true wall hanger. All along the Methow Valley is where most of the muleys are taken year after year.

If the high elevation meadows get some good snow, the big bucks will be found in the lower elevations, if not, to get one will require some footwork. As the snow deepens, the deer will follow typical migration routes to lower fields in order to feed. Another area where a hunter may be able to find big muleys migrating to winter range is between Ellensburg to Yakima. The big deer will be in search of food in the lower, warmer regions. Either way, don’t expect to see a bunch of legal bucks. The mule deer is the least abundant of all three species in the state.

If you have an un-notched tag and want to see some deer, the best place to go is in the northeast corner of the state. Year after year Stevens, Ferry and Pend Oreille counties lead the state in total deer harvest. Whitetails are abundant and any good hunter should see plenty of deer, with many two and three-year old bucks available. Even though there are plenty of deer, you will still have to do some homework. The season is already a week old and with shots being fired, the bigger bucks will become far more wary. Find areas between bedding and feeding areas and set up along these routes early in the morning and just before sunset.

Blacktail populations have remained about the same. Set up along clearcuts in the low light conditions and remember shots in the thick vegetation will mean shots are quick and at close range.

Hunting birds

Bird hunters still have plenty of opportunities out there. Pheasant plants are continuing on schedule at all the normal sites, with hunters having decent success at the normal start time of 8 a.m. Mind you the start time will be crowded, but to beat the crowds let the rush push birds in the morning. After 10 o’clock most of the hunters have left for the day and the fields can be worked in relative comfort with little competition. The hunters with the best success have been ones that use dogs. The terrain gives the birds ample cover and they would rather run than fly. A dog will increase your chances of at least getting the birds into the air; the rest is up to you. Waterfowl seasons are in full swing, and as more storms blow through the northern areas, more migrating waterfowl will begin showing in local waters. The best days for waterfowl are a low cloud cover with enough wind to put enough chop on the big water to cause the birds to want to move to smaller, more accessible water. As we get more rain, many of the grain fields will flood giving the hunter another option on where to hunt. Grouse can still be had along the old logging roads early or late in the day.

Fish available still

Fishing is not done by any means. There are still some silvers to be had, but you will need to cover quite a bit of ground to find the fish, and perch and bass are still feeding heavily before the winter temps slow their body metabolism. Cutthroat are still being caught from the Skagit, and shortly, the chum should start to show.

Regardless of the weather, get out and enjoy all Washington has to offer.

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