Hunters head to the dry woods

Modern firearms’ deer season opensOctober is a big month for hunters. Many of the most popular hunting seasons get (or go) underway this month. Hunters heading out in search of deer, ducks, geese and other game birds are cautioned that most of the state hasn’t experienced appreciable rainfall in several weeks—and months. “Hunters need to keep a close eye on the fire reports and road closures, particularly in areas of central Washington,” pointed out Matt Monda, a regional manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “The situation calls for an extra amount of caution and preparation—at least until we get some rain.”Temperatures are forecast to be above normal (high 60’s and low 70’s) this week in Northeast Washington. There is a chance of some rainfall in the National Weather Service forecast models this weekend.Hunters are reminded that hunters and others heading afield that campfires are still prohibited—and some activities restricted—on all lands owned or managed by WDFW. A notice of those restrictions, posted at includes links to updates issued by the U.S. Forest Service, the state Department of Emergency Management and other agencies involved in controlling wildfires burning around the state.The only fire burning in Northeast Washington as of Monday was the Radio Fire in steep, rocky cliffs two miles south of the Laurier border crossing. That fire has burned approximately 50 acres and was ignited back on Sept. 10 by a lightning strike.A good, steady rain would help hunting prospects for the Modern Firearms opener on Saturday. Bone dry leaves and branches make it difficult for hunters to stalk their prey, according to Monda.“Until we get some rain, it’s going to be tough,” he said.The general deer hunting season for hunters using modern firearms starts Oct. 13 in designated areas and units around the state (including Northeast Washington). That opener falls on the heels of a muzzleloader season that ends on Oct. 7.The WDFW says that prospects for both whitetail and mule deer in most districts are good. The Northeast District (No. 1) is annually the state’s top producer of whitetail deer. Those deer are found at the highest densities in the valleys and foothill benches bordering the valleys, especially in the farm-forest mosaic within Game Management Unit 101. WDFW district wildlife biologist Dana Base reminds deer hunters that the 2012 season will be the second in which a four-point minimum antler regulation is in place for whitetail deer within GMU’s 117 and 121. Any antlered buck is legal, however, for whitetail deer in the other five units of District 1 during the general seasons.Waterfowl hunting also opens on Oct. 13, and although the region is not known for its duck and goose production, opportunities are fair to good, depending on weather. Central district (District 2) wildlife biologist Howard Ferguson reports abundant water this spring appears to have come too late to enhance local production, so prospects remain dependent on the number of migrants coming from Canada and Alaska and how long waters remain ice free.Further north in the region, the wet spring may have been positive for waterfowl, with more flooded pond and slough habitat in the Pend Oreille River valley.Quail hunting opened on Oct. 6 and pheasant hunting gets started on Oct. 20. This year’s record cold and wet spring may have hampered bird production in some parts of the region. The general modern firearm season for elk opens on Oct. 27 in select GMU’s throughout the region.