Northeast Washington Deer Hunting Down

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This weekend marked the opening of deer firearm season in Washington. Units 117 and 121 were once the most productive units in the state. With opening weekend though the numbers of hunters were down by half, along with the deer being taken out.

The economy can be blamed a bit maybe, but there was also a change in antler restrictions. A four point minimum restriction may have changed some hunter's minds. The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department had a check stand at Deer Park, and this weekend was a record low for hunters and deer harvest for opening firearm weekend.

Altogether 117 hunters were interviewed with 7 deer (antlered bucks only) including 6 whitetails and 1 mule deer. Hunter success on whitetails was 5.9%. Last year’s numbers were 226 hunters and 15 white-tailed bucks checked for a success rate of 6.6%. From The Spokesman-Review.


numbnutz's picture

I'm sure the antler

I'm sure the antler resrtiction had the most impact on the low turn out. If eastern Washington is anything like eastern Oregon there just isnt very many 4 point bucks. I guess that also depends how they count their points. In Oregon the ODFW only counts one side of the rack so if we gad a 4 point restriction then the deer would have to be a 3x4 or 4x4. and there just isnt very many deer like that anymore. I highly dought the economy has anything to do with low turn out by hunters. Opening weekend is the busiest weekend or week of hunting season, If more hunter are thinking and doing what I have been doing then they are waiting for the last week of the season. There is less pressure and closer to the rut and chances of seeing a big mature deer increase a bit. If there DNR put a restriction on antlers then that must also mean deer numbers must be down in those units. Like others have said we need more info to really determine whats going on here.

SGM's picture

Agree we need more info but I

Agree we need more info but I am sure the point restriction did not help. I really doubt that the economy had anything to do with it.

Retired2hunt's picture

Need More Data


We definitely need more data here.  This is only focused on two units within Northeastern WA.  There are more than 130 units in the entire state.  I think Ca_Vermonster and Hunter25 are right - this could be weather related or some other factor besides economy or the antler restriction.  Or maybe more hunters are just focused on the meat (doe) versus a rack?!?! 

Based on the hunter success rates/percentages with bucks for both years same time frame (for these two units) I think they are very low and there is more at play here than just the antler restriction.

This is only the first weekend.  Let's see what the numbers are at the end of the season.



hunter25's picture

It would be interesting to

It would be interesting to find out what the true reason for the hunter decline is here. I really wouldn't think that point restrictions would drive that many guys away as hunters will always hunt no matter what the rules are. We had the restrictions here many years ago and it sure didn't stop anybodt I knew from getting out there. Now on the other hand tha success reates listed are pretty low so it's possible many guys just started looking for better areas to hunt. I have changed mine over the years to try and keep into the game better. Also I read a report here that although the econemy seemed to reduce the non resident hunters a bit the number of resident hunters went up as many guys stayed home to hunt rather than heading out of state to where they usually did.

Good luck to anyone out there giving it a go.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Well, if their goal by

Well, if their goal by instituting AR's was to drive half of their hunters away, than I would say they accomplished that! Man, I hate AR's, but that is a discussion for another time.  It's too bad for the Washington hunters, that they stayed home for whatever reason.  More than likely it was the AR's, because I can't think that a relatively inexpensive resident tag would deter hunters from getting out there.  Usually, in bad economies, it's the out of state hunts that get hit the most.

All that being said, it does not seem like they have that big a sample size.  Only a couple hundred to pull these stats from?  Could really be anything.  Weather, economy, restrictions, whatever.