Outdoors

Special hunts awarded by luck of the draw

Again this year the state fish and wildlife department is offering a chance for limited-entry, quality hunts for deer in the northern Okanogan, no fees attached.

Eighteen special permits will be awarded by lottery, six each to archery, muzzleloader and modern rifle deer hunters, authorizing their bearers to enter and hunt deer on the Charles and Mary Eder Unit of the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area.

The 6000-acre wildlife unit is located in the arid highlands northeast of Oroville north of the Oroville-Toroda Creek (Chesaw) Road. A large scale map at http://wdfw.wa.gov/webmaps/gohunt/wildlife_area_pdf/WLA_10030.pdf shows the unit’s location in Okanogan County.

Hunts for each weapons type are timed to take place during the September and October (early or general) hunting periods normally designated for them. The unit will otherwise be off-limits to hunting for deer.

Unlike the bulk of WDFW’s controlled hunts drawings, there’s no entry fee to be paid for this one nor must any special e-applications be obtained. All would be hunters have to do is log onto the department’s dedicated Web-page and type in the required information in ten fields including your weapon’s choice, then click the submit button.

Hunters are allowed to enter this drawing just once under one weapons type only and their choice here must match the deer tag weapon’s choice they made or will make when buying their basic hunting license. Multiple season permit holders also are restricted to one submission.

This drawing awards access permits but does not allow the harvest of extra deer over and above the one per year the vast majority of hunters are, by law, allowed.

Applications for the drawing can be made on-line at wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/permits/scotchcreek/ and also by calling the WDFW north-central region office at (509) 754-4624 or WDFW’s Olympia headquarters at (360) 902-2515.

The deadline for entering this specific lottery is midnight Friday, Aug. 14. Entrants can check online the last week of August for results. Successful applicants will receive their access permit and map of the special hunt unit boundaries in the mail.

SPECIAL HUNT PERMIT RAFFLES

Wednesday, July 15 is the last day would-be hunters may purchase chances to win any of a variety of raffled big game singleton and combo species permits.

Thirteen of these ticket draw offerings are put up by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and two raffles are for multiple big game deer or elk opportunities offered by private landowners as authorized by the fish and wildlife commission.

Sales of tickets for the third private sector raffle offering of a Rocky Mountain bighorn ram tag presented by the Washington Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation closed Wednesday, July 8.

For $6 each, with no limit on numbers purchased, hunters may buy chances in drawings for, in most cases, extra deer and elk as well as singleton moose and/or mountain goat tags that are good for this fall’s hunts. Chances for the state’s bighorn sheep raffle permit drawing are $11.50 each, while tickets for the three- and four-game species card selections are $17 and $22.50, respectively.

While hunters of bighorns, mountain goat or moose may take only one specimen (but not an additional one) if a raffle ticket of theirs is picked, Washington’s overarching ‘one-per-lifetime’ harvest rule concerning these three species is waived for these drawings. That makes hunters who were successful in past years eligible, via these raffles, for a unique second chance at a Washington specialty species.

Besides the aforementioned hooved quarry, some of the ‘multiple choice’ raffles contain options that include among their array of tags for black bear, cougar and/or turkey.

Each raffle permit comes with a broad opportunity in which to exercise tags (hunting allowed from the first of September to the end of December). Options involving cougar, black bear and/or turkey, if chosen by winners, may be used through late winter and during spring hunts next calendar year.

Among this year’s raffle permit packages are four regional multi-species permits allowing the hunting of big game species found in their respective locales. The Northeast Washington Big Game raffle ticket winner, for instance, may pick three species to hunt from a list of six found in game management units north of Spokane. Except for the moose option there, all tags awarded in this raffle option are for additional animals over and above general season tags.

Eight of the raffled permits focus on a single species, the deer and elk chits as additional hunting tags, the specialties (goat, sheep and moose), a one-animal only chance.

All of these raffle drawings are done by computer and the lucky ticket holders will be notified by mid-August so selections, if required, can be made before permit seasons open.

More details concerning big game raffle permit options can be found on pages 10 and 11 of the 2015 Big Game Hunting Seasons and Pamphlet or on line at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/permits/raffles/.

Since Washington gambling law forbids wire sales (on-line or by telephone) of chits for games of chance, these raffle permit hunt tickets can only be purchased over-the-counter at fishing and hunting license dealers. A license vendor list for Whatcom County is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/.

DROUGHT’S TOLL ON FISH, FISHING

As this year’s drought effects become more acute anglers will see changes in fishing opportunities and are being asked to voluntarily curtail others.

Already due to low flows the spring chinook fishery in Southeast Washington’s Grande Ronde River has been closed and a section of the Olympic Peninsula’s Sol Duc River likewise has been shut down to protect early-returning chinook there.

State and tribal hatcheries have had to release fish early as their water supplies dwindle or become too warm to raise trout and salmon in.

Water volumes and temperatures in many other streams are reaching levels that can be highly stressful to lethal for coldwater fish species.

Close to home, afternoon temperatures in Nooksack’s South Fork have exceeded 70 degrees Fahrenheit for several weeks which will trigger bacterial infections that will kill adult chinook salmon. Its current flow is just 25 percent of the median daily volume for this time of year.

Further closures are anticipated as stream flows drop while their temperatures continue to rise.

State fish and wildlife managers advise anglers to:

* frequently check the department’s regulations Webpage http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/ for emergency fishing regulation changes.

* voluntarily limit their fishing to early morning hours when water temperature will be at its lowest.

* land fish quickly and release those that cannot be retained immediately.

Doug Huddle, the Bellingham Herald’s outdoors correspondent, since 1983, has written a weekly fishing and hunting column that appears Sundays. Read his blog and contact him at bellinghamherald.com/outdoors-blog.

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