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Author Topic: Is Eastern Washington Elk Hunting dying?  (Read 6386 times)

Offline Naches Sportsman

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Re: Is Eastern Washington Elk Hunting dying?
« Reply #45 on: November 07, 2019, 07:23:01 PM »

Two major fires in three years in this area. Then Game Dept controlled burns even during hunting season both times.
Road grading and surface rolling throughout both sides of the Rock Creek Drainage. Scheduled during the middle of the hunting season?
One controlled burn was in preparation of a Fish Habitat Study ​and smoke blew up the hill through hunting areas and two​ camps.
...... on a mostly dry creek?????


Controlled burning and road grading have very little to no impact on spooking elk out of an area for a long time. I was burning last weekend here in Idaho and had elk wall right by me as I was having lunch. I know several people who operate heavy machinery that usually have good chances of shooting elk and deer every year.

Fires have no impact either unless it is a catastrophic fire that nukes everything. The only impact it may have is having a closure order associated with it but a guy that hunts burned areas knows that new shoots pop up fast in the fall time the elk love the new growth in fire scars and that goes for controlled burns too.
Idaho sucks. I'm moving to Oregon.

Offline UncleT

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Re: Is Eastern Washington Elk Hunting dying?
« Reply #46 on: November 07, 2019, 11:07:46 PM »
Thank you for all the input. Interesting dialog. 

I agree in part with most of the general comments.

Not sure weather has anything to do with it.  Years past herds were strong and the winters were brutal.  Plenty of snow and cold back then and tracking to go with it.  The past few years I haven't even needed to dry the tent to store it. Had a Grampa Tag last year so I hunted a week later. It was still the same weather as last week.  Sunny days and dry ground.

I imagine there are places that one can find bands of elk.  But most are migration routes to feeding stations.  I figure we all understand that the "high" herd isn't bothered by a brief snow blast so they aren't moving yet. I hunted both deer and elk in the same general area and animal sightings in general have been falling off for the past several years.  I wheel and bike in the same area and the same thing applies.

However, we hunted high, low, deep, and I mean deep and searched for paths, trails, routes.  All the regular ones were unused.  I would accept not finding the animals.  I take issue with not finding tracks however.  If they have "just changed their patterns" then the general discussion with hunters in the surrounding areas wouldn't suggest the same issues.  Including chats withe game officers and WDFW conservation biologists.

Side note. When the stated changed from Fish and Game to Fish and Wildlife I sensed an attitude change.  :dunno:
AND Kelly Susewind, Director of WDFW, came in 2018 from the department of Ecology and before that was a researcher in salt water fisheries. :bash:

Yes there are several factors involves.  Disease, predators, poaching, Indian Treaty Rights (?), fires, tags (?)

But other states have similar weather (or worse) and to some degree all or most of the same issues to overcome. 
Regarding predators- we even seem to disagree with where and how many are out there. And whether they reduce or make a herd healthier. I am interested in some real numbers ... not even sure I trust "our WDFW" numbers as noted in the original post and comparison with other states. 

For my own sanity I will continue to investigate.  I will attempt to do so objectively.  I want to know not to prove something even if I "wonder".  If I find anything I will post it here.  Please continue to contribute. As I noted in the original post.  If there turns out to be points of interest, I will take it to the WDFW, hopefully carrying the concerns of other hunters as well. 

After all-it's our state and our game..... right?  If we are troubled by government handling of car tabs why is it unheard of to at least wonder about the management of our traditional past time.

Out here.

UncleT


Offline stickslinger

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Re: Is Eastern Washington Elk Hunting dying?
« Reply #47 on: November 08, 2019, 05:52:58 AM »
The number of cow permits in 2016 and before had a huge influence of where we are now.
:yeah

The company line was "herds are over objective" and everyone cheered at the increased opportunity.  3 years later, a bunch of fires and a hard winter or two you have low numbers and nobody is happy. 

Of course the other side of the coin is had they not reduced the number of animals in 2015 and 2016 people would have been screaming at the fact that we lost 100's of animals due to the hard winter that could have been harvested by hunters.

Darned if you do and darned if you don't.

Hind sight is always 20/20.


The problem with them saying numbers are over objective had nothing to do with the herd health.  They did a study and felt that the ground was getting over grazed, so instead of limiting sheep or cattle numbers they wanted to reduce elk numbers.  Complete incompetence!!!
RELAX,PICK A SPOT,SHOOT STRAIGHT

Offline Rainier10

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Re: Is Eastern Washington Elk Hunting dying?
« Reply #48 on: November 08, 2019, 07:46:32 AM »
The number of cow permits in 2016 and before had a huge influence of where we are now.
:yeah

The company line was "herds are over objective" and everyone cheered at the increased opportunity.  3 years later, a bunch of fires and a hard winter or two you have low numbers and nobody is happy. 

Of course the other side of the coin is had they not reduced the number of animals in 2015 and 2016 people would have been screaming at the fact that we lost 100's of animals due to the hard winter that could have been harvested by hunters.

Darned if you do and darned if you don't.

Hind sight is always 20/20.


The problem with them saying numbers are over objective had nothing to do with the herd health.  They did a study and felt that the ground was getting over grazed, so instead of limiting sheep or cattle numbers they wanted to reduce elk numbers.  Complete incompetence!!!
Catering to business and profits versus what is best for the wildlife and habitat.
Pain is temporary, achieving the goal is worth it.

I didn't say it would be easy, I said it would be worth it.

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Offline stlusn30-06

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Re: Is Eastern Washington Elk Hunting dying?
« Reply #49 on: November 08, 2019, 10:30:03 AM »
Just doing some quick internet research:

1.) Hoof disease has taken a heavy toll over the last decade
2.) Winter of 2016 took out 30-35% of the St. Helens heard. Assume winter 2016 had impact on most of the eastside heards
3.) Natives take ~8% of the annual deer and elk harvest state wide. According to facts, they are not out slaughtering entire heards as other have indicated.
4.) Increased predator pressure is impacting elk numbers, and maybe more importantly, changing heard behavior. They are moving into heavier cover, more remote, and rugged country.
5.) While some areas are hurting, others are complaining about how big the Colockum herd is and how much damage it is causing.

Montana and Idaho have more wolves, bears, and around as many cats as Washington. Their Elk/deer pops are doing alright. It's fairly consistent on here that the same people that hate the idea of predators talk of going to hunt states with larger predator populations. Just an observation. It's ironic.
Thanks for that, although I think the wolves in Idaho (panhandle) are destroying game herds they worked 50 years to restore

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and that's with open wolf season

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 :yeah: correct with a year round open season on wolves(private land) and a liberal trapping season. I think its helping the elk with the wolf seasons but still no where like it was before wolves . NO WAY Idaho has even as many cats and bears as Washington, to suggest we have more cats and bears is crazy

Bears according to each states Fish and Wildlife Dept: WA = 25-30,000 ID= 20-30,000.
Idaho doesn't have cat numbers apparently. Independent orgs put the cat numbers at roughly the same. Apologies. Not more of those species. Same numbers.
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Offline Bushcraft

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Re: Is Eastern Washington Elk Hunting dying?
« Reply #50 on: November 08, 2019, 10:59:49 AM »
We have a predator management problem in WA. Calf recruitment seemed to be abysmal this year in the Nile/Bumping/Bethel Ridge area.

Of the 16 cows I saw (one of which I harvested), only one of them had a calf. Obviously that's a small sample, but it's a sample that gives me pause nonetheless.

There was bear, cougar, coyote and wolf sign everywhere.

Mule Deer, Bighorn Sheep and Elk trifecta for me this year...time to drop the hammer on some predators! 
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Offline 2MANY

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Re: Is Eastern Washington Elk Hunting dying?
« Reply #51 on: November 08, 2019, 11:06:13 AM »
If calf recruitment is beyond low then why is WDFW allowing cows to be slaughtered post rut when they are pregnant.

Good lord what a joke.

HOW DUMB CAN THEY BE????????????????????????????

Offline Rainier10

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Re: Is Eastern Washington Elk Hunting dying?
« Reply #52 on: November 08, 2019, 11:09:36 AM »
My buddy said that he saw a video of a game camera on a coyote den.  Mother drug 17 deer fawns into the den in a 4 week period or something like that.   :yike:  If you google coyote den deer fawns there are all kinds of reports of it.  Coyotes have a huge impact on deer numbers and you can hunt those coyotes year round.  Get out there and shoot some yotes and save a ton of deer.
Pain is temporary, achieving the goal is worth it.

I didn't say it would be easy, I said it would be worth it.

Every father should remember that one day his children will follow his example instead of his advice.


The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HuntWa or the site owner.

Offline jmscon

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Re: Is Eastern Washington Elk Hunting dying?
« Reply #53 on: November 08, 2019, 11:24:06 AM »
Dvolmer, in his thread on his Dayton elk hunt, said he talked with a bio down there. I believe they talked about a couple of harsh winters being one of the big factors for calf recruitment. Different area I know but still one of the larger herds in this state.
When the state cuts antlerless tags way down, it means they are trying to manage the herd instead of driving them into oblivion.

 Ď16-Ď17 winter was really bad all across the west, many animals died, it takes time for those herds to come back. I think some states reported 30-40% declines in herds if mule deer. I think elk faired better because of longer legs (I think that was one of the reasons). But if you have a couple of those winters back to back or even two years apart, it will make the situation look dire.

Washington is the smallest state in the west and if those predator numbers are correct and we have the same amount as Idaho (which is much larger) then we really need to get after it. And put a lot of pressure on the Dept. and politicians.

Just my opinion.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2019, 11:30:50 AM by jmscon »
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Offline Rainier10

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Re: Is Eastern Washington Elk Hunting dying?
« Reply #54 on: November 08, 2019, 11:30:54 AM »
I think harsh winters hurt the calf recruitment and I really think bears and cougars take out a ton of calf elk.

I would like to see at least for the wildlife's sake the state bring in hired guns to take out the mature cats.  I think there are a ton of them and they just getting smarter the older they get.  They stay away from "opportunity" hunters and they get more efficient at killing not to mention they are bigger and eat more.

I think if they state could come up with a program where they are the ones taking out the mature cats for the sake of the ungulates that would really help.  It would suck for the hunters to not be involved but it would at least help the ungulates out a ton.  It would be like the sharp shooters taking out goats in the olympics.

If they had a donate $2 for mature cougar removal on my license that I could check I would do it for everyone in my family.
Pain is temporary, achieving the goal is worth it.

I didn't say it would be easy, I said it would be worth it.

Every father should remember that one day his children will follow his example instead of his advice.


The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HuntWa or the site owner.

Offline idaho guy

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Re: Is Eastern Washington Elk Hunting dying?
« Reply #55 on: November 08, 2019, 07:37:07 PM »
Just doing some quick internet research:

1.) Hoof disease has taken a heavy toll over the last decade
2.) Winter of 2016 took out 30-35% of the St. Helens heard. Assume winter 2016 had impact on most of the eastside heards
3.) Natives take ~8% of the annual deer and elk harvest state wide. According to facts, they are not out slaughtering entire heards as other have indicated.
4.) Increased predator pressure is impacting elk numbers, and maybe more importantly, changing heard behavior. They are moving into heavier cover, more remote, and rugged country.
5.) While some areas are hurting, others are complaining about how big the Colockum herd is and how much damage it is causing.

Montana and Idaho have more wolves, bears, and around as many cats as Washington. Their Elk/deer pops are doing alright. It's fairly consistent on here that the same people that hate the idea of predators talk of going to hunt states with larger predator populations. Just an observation. It's ironic.
Thanks for that, although I think the wolves in Idaho (panhandle) are destroying game herds they worked 50 years to restore

Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk
and that's with open wolf season

Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk
   

 :yeah: correct with a year round open season on wolves(private land) and a liberal trapping season. I think its helping the elk with the wolf seasons but still no where like it was before wolves . NO WAY Idaho has even as many cats and bears as Washington, to suggest we have more cats and bears is crazy

Bears according to each states Fish and Wildlife Dept: WA = 25-30,000 ID= 20-30,000.
Idaho doesn't have cat numbers apparently. Independent orgs put the cat numbers at roughly the same. Apologies. Not more of those species. Same numbers.


Fair enough  :tup: I am not sure I trust either states published numbers but thatís beside the point. When I took my kid over there deer hunting the bear and especially lion sign was ridiculous compared to what I see in Idaho. It was a pretty small area compared to the whole state that we actually hunted

Offline Fullabull

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Re: Is Eastern Washington Elk Hunting dying?
« Reply #56 on: November 11, 2019, 08:07:24 PM »
If everyone keeps going to other states like they are the state is not going to like the drop in revenue

Offline WapitiChaser

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Re: Is Eastern Washington Elk Hunting dying?
« Reply #57 on: November 15, 2019, 02:19:24 PM »

I agree with the big picture set out by the posters here,  and I agree with RTS.

We have hunted the Natches drainage for years.   Yes the camps were way down YAY!  But that means less hunters in the woods to bust the elk out.  BOO!   The entrenched camps were there but there were many many more that didnít show for whatever reason. 

That said,  it was a NO draw year for us.  All six of my crew ghosted all the elk draws.  So, on a general tag we KNEW it was gonna be sketchy.   I still would not miss the week and time in the woods with my boys for anything. 

Over the modern season,  we saw a couple of spikes taken in the area and a cow.   For us,  we saw bulls and cows every day.  I personally only saw ONE female calf with momma.  Everything else was mature, healthy and more than able to outrun most predators.   But yeah,   Very few young.   

But here is my closing.  I think it was the warm weather this year keeping most of the herd at high altitudes.   My buddy forget my game cameras in camp when he pulled out on Tuesday.   A week later,  I had the opportunity to swing back through and get them.   Bombing down 19 at 9pm, 1/4 mile from camp, I was damn near killed when a big cow jumps out in front of the car.   Following her was somewhere between 80-100 others all stampeding up the East ridge out of the valley.   

Coming back west on 410,   I passed another herd grazing along 410 west of ranger creek.   So we pattern them and they pattern us.  Itís a big picture with lots of input. 

For me,  I wonít starve if I dont fill the freezer.  I want my elk of course,  but itís the chase too.  Ya gotta consider EVERYTHING all the posters have mentioned.    If you go to the VAST national forest to find that one elk, on that one week, that my friends is the very definition of FAIR chase.   If those stars line up, fantastic.  If not,  I had a great week. I unplugged and everything fell away.      I canít wait for next season😎
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Offline huntnnw

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Re: Is Eastern Washington Elk Hunting dying?
« Reply #58 on: November 15, 2019, 03:00:51 PM »
Really depends where you are hunting. There are some herds thriving , some are in the dumps .

Offline RG

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Re: Is Eastern Washington Elk Hunting dying?
« Reply #59 on: November 15, 2019, 03:42:32 PM »
North of where you were hunting was the best season weíve had by far in 10
years.  Your elk are still there just using different areas. You need to expand your scope when they arenít where you expect. 
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