Dry weather contributed to low success rates for deer hunters in the first week of the season.
The deer hunting season opened last weekend with less-than-desirable conditions and success, but that may change soon.
“There weren’t many people out, with many major timber companies closing their lands for public use because of fire dangers. And the dry, summerlike weather wasn’t ideal for hunting,” said Dave Ware, a state Fish and Wildlife game division manager.
“The Vail Tree Farm (south of Rainier) was closed on the opener, and it’s one of the more popular hunting areas, which was bad news,” Ware said. “The good news is that means a whole lot of deer haven’t been touched yet at Vail (which reopened Monday).”
In the southwest region, a Klickitat check station showed 84 hunters with three deer on Oct. 13, and 75 hunters on Oct. 14 with no deer.
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In northeastern Washington, state Fish and Wildlife biologists Scott Fitkin and Jeff Heinlen at the Winthrop check station saw 127 hunters with 17 deer — a 13-percent success rate.
The Winthrop numbers were almost identical to last year’s and are in line with anecdotal observations of good success. Enforcement officers reported a lower-than-average turnout.
The outlook in the northeast should get better with expected periodic valley rain and mountain snow.
The Chelan area saw lower hunter numbers due to fire closures. The Manson unit saw more activity, but success was low. The Entiat and Chiwawa units and areas of Douglas County also had low turnout and success.
“We did have some moisture by the opener, but the woods were still pretty noisy with relatively dry conditions,” said Madonna Luers, a state Fish and Wildlife information officer in Spokane. “The story might be different because we’ve had more rain and cooler temps (the past week).”
At Deer Park check station north of Spokane, 114 hunters had nine whitetails and three mule deer for a 10.5-percent success rate. Last year, 117 hunters had seven deer (six percent).
The Chattaroy check station north of Spokane had 66 hunters with nine deer (13.6 percent).
Some felt the 4-point restriction in popular eastern areas like Huckleberry and 49 Degrees North may be moving hunters elsewhere to “any buck” units.
Deer hunting closing dates vary and are either Sunday or Oct. 26 or Oct. 31. The late season is Nov. 15-18 or Nov. 10-19.
Big fish story
The fall chinook fishing season in the Upper Columbia River has been good, and for seventh-grader Zac Zambrano of Othello it will be especially memorable.
The 12-year-old was fishing with his father Bob Compean on Oct. 13 in the White Bluff area just above the Vernita Bridge when he hooked into a king that bit a Kwikfish lure wrapped with a sardine.
“I fish a lot with my dad, and have caught fish before, but this one was big,” Zambrano said.
They had been fishing for only 30 minutes before Zambrano hooked the fish. It took 45 minutes to land the king, which measured 42 inches and 38 pounds.
It’s not his biggest fish. When Zambrano was only 5, he released a seven-foot sturgeon.
The salmon fishery in this section of the Columbia closes after Monday.
The 68th Tengu Derby, one of the most challenging and longest running salmon derbies, will begin Oct. 28 in Elliott Bay.
Last year, the 10-week derby produced six legal-size (hatchery-marked) blackmouth, and the record low since the derby began in 1946 was four fish in 2010.
In good years, it is not out of the norm to have more than 50 to 100 fish weighed in by the season end, but in recent years catches have dipped to single digits.
The 2010 record low beat the previous low of 10 in 2009. The record catch was 234 in 1979.
The derby was named after Tengu, a fabled Japanese character who stretched the truth. Like Pinocchio, Tengu’s nose grew with every lie.
In the derby, only mooching (fishing using a banana-style lead weight to a leader with a herring) is allowed. No artificial lures, flashers, hoochies (plastic squids) or other gear like downriggers are permitted.
The derby is held from daybreak to 11 a.m. every Sunday through Dec. 30 at the Seacrest Boathouse in West Seattle. Cost is $10. Rental boats are $65, and $85 for boat and motor. Details: 206-324-7600.
Timberline opens for skiing, snowboarding
The calendar says it’s still October, but those looking to get a jump-start on the ski and snowboard season can head south to Oregon.
Timberline Lodge Resort on Mount Hood is the first area in the Pacific Northwest to begin operations.
Skiers and snowboarders can carve up turns on the Palmer Snowfield with access on the Magic Mile and Palmer lifts.
The resort was supposed to open Friday, but a Timberline spokesman said it was closed due to weather and visibility, and operations are day-to-day.
Rains, high winds and poor visibility are a common occurrence. It’s wise for those planning to make the trip to call the hotline (503-222-2211), which is updated daily at 7:30 a.m. or visit the website at www.timberlinelodge.com.
The resort plans to have both lifts running Fridays to Sundays from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The terrain is designed for advanced and intermediate skiers and snowboarders. No runs are available for beginners. Two boxes for jibbing are also open. Lift tickets are $58.
Those looking for some tips and early bargains on gear should head to the Washington Ski Fever and Snowboard Show Friday to Sunday at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.
Show hours: 1-10 p.m., Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday. Cost is $12 adults, ages 6 to 12 is $3, and kids under age 6 are free. Details: www.skifever.org.
• The Newport High School Ski and Snowboard Swap is 1-9 p.m. Nov. 9, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 10 at 4333 Factoria Blvd. S.E. in Bellevue. Come see more than 10,000-square-feet of snow sports gear at great prices. Details: http://newportskiswap.com or 425-206-1786.
• The Washington Sea Grant is offering a First Aid At Sea Class 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Fishermen’s Terminal’s Bordby Building in Seattle. The class is a Coast Guard-approved course for boaters, and includes cardiopulmonary resuscitation, patient assessment, hypothermia, cold water near-drowning, shock, trauma, burns, fractures, choking, immobilization techniques, first-aid kits and more. Cost is $80. Details: 206-543-1225.
• The Westport Boat Basin Salmon Derby is open through Oct. 31. Anglers fish the inner-marina piers targeting returning net-pen hatchery fish. Details: www.experiencewestport.com.
• The Bellevue-Issaquah Chapter of Trout Unlimited’s Kokanee Work Group needs volunteers to report spawning kokanee salmon this fall in creeks feeding into Lake Sammamish. Volunteers will survey creek sections once a week during the spawning season from October through January. Details: www.tu-bi.org.
• The Northshore Trout Unlimited meeting is the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Shoreline-Lake Forest Park Senior Center, 18560 1st Ave. NE in Shoreline. Details: http://northshoretu.blogspot.com.
• The Issaquah Alps Trails Club holds weekly hikes and meets in downtown Issaquah. Details: www.issaquahalps.org.
• The Washington Trails Association offers statewide trip reports and trail conditions. Details: www.wta.org.
• The Seattle Audubon Society offers field trips and classes every month. Details: 206-523-4483 or www.seattleaudubon.org.
Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or firstname.lastname@example.org