Outdoors

Applications being taken for admission to elite hunter ranks

Master Hunter Program applications are being taken by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) until Sunday, Feb. 15.

The vetting process for certification starts with submission of a completed written form and a $50 non-refundable fee for course materials and the examination. All steps (study, testing, skills demonstration and conservation volunteering) in the qualification process that are the responsibility of the candidate to execute must be accomplished by November of the application year.

All Master Hunter candidates also must give their consent for a law enforcement background check.

Persons who are charged with or who have been convicted of fish and wildlife code violations or related criminal (trespass, reckless endangerment and others) convictions, and/or have paid fines or forfeited bails for fish and wildlife violations within the last 10 years will be disqualified, as will individuals whose hunting privileges have been suspended or revoked. Also, convicted felons who have had their right to own or possess firearms revoked and not reinstated will be denied access to this program.

Would-be members will be asked to sign a hunter code of ethics affidavit affirming that they fully understand and will abide by all laws and formal rules of conduct for hunting.

In addition to the character and legal-standing portion of the certification process, hunters must:









A key benefit for those attaining master hunter status is the opportunity to take part in special limited-entry animal damage or public safety hunts around the state. These hunts normally focus on troublesome deer, elk, black bear, turkeys or geese populations in specifically designated hunting areas.

Routinely these hunts take place in locales where hunter consideration for landowner and public sensitivities is paramount. The department is keenly interested in involving hunters who accept these responsibilities and are willing to adhere to the highest standards of behavior both in and out of the field.

On completion of the vetting process including the background check which will be done last, persons will be inducted into the program and will receive a permit and shoulder insignia. They then will be eligible for drawing pools or selection lists for certain special permit area or on-call depredation hunts.

Master hunters also may be called upon as volunteers to serve as hunt stewards or participate in master hunter forums in their area.

Much more information about WDFW’s Master Hunter Program together with the application form can be found at wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/masterhunter/index.html. It’s advisable to go over all Web pages concerning the program before applying.

To talk with someone about the program, call WDFW’s hunter education program staff at 360-902-8412 and ask for Tracy Loveless.

BAKER REDS FISHERY DISCUSSED

A second public meeting at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 31, in WDFW’s Mill Creek office at 16018 Mill Creek Boulevard will discuss prospects for future Baker Lake sockeye salmon fisheries.

The Upper Baker reservoir’s 2014 sockeye fishery will be reviewed by WDFW managers who also will give a presentation on Baker Lake Hatchery operations.

Also presented will be a compilation of management proposals suggested by the public at meeting last November.

“We received some good ideas from the public for a potential Baker Lake fishery,” said Ron Warren, WDFW salmon policy lead. “We’re refining those ideas in preparation for the salmon season-setting process, which starts in March, and want the public’s input on what we’ve developed so far.”

The so-called North of Falcon Process involving state, tribal and federal fishery managers negotiate the Northwest’s recreational and commercial salmon fisheries each year during a series of meetings in March and April.

WDFW will have the Baker Lake fishery ideas available on line at wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/salmon/sockeye/baker_river.html prior to the Saturday meeting. The public is encouraged to provide comments at the meeting. Additional information about Baker Lake sockeye is available on the webpage.

MONTH’S END CHANGES

Hunters and fishers hereabouts will see significant changes in their calendars come the end of January.

Puget Sound stream steelheading with some exceptions largely winds up the last day of January.

The Nooksack’s lower North Fork is one the conditionals. From its confluence with the South Fork upstream to Maple Creek, this “hatchery” reach will stay open for the retention of marked steelhead until Sunday, Feb. 15.

Other Northwest Washington hatchery reaches, staying open through mid-February include short sections of the lower Cascade River in the Skagit system, the North Fork Stillaguamish River below Swede Heaven Bridge, the Wallace and Skykomish rivers.

Steelheaders also will be able to fish Whatcom Creek for adipose fin-clipped winter-runs until the end of February.

Waterfowlers of the gunnery persuasion go into hiatus as of today, Sunday, Jan. 25, with the closing of the 2014-15 duck and goose seasons. Falconers will still be able to pursue webbed-foots, however.

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