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Hunting Success Less Than Expected

Banners and signs on the Antlers Saloon and Cafe in Twisp say it all.

Opening weekend of the modern firearms deer hunt in the Methow was less successful than usual this year, according to state wildlife biologist Scott Fitkin.

As of mid-Sunday afternoon, one and a half-days into the hunt, 102 hunters had reported to the checking station operated by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service at the Winthrop Barn. They had killed only 14 deer, according to Fitkin.

Typically, the success rate for hunters in this area runs between 20 to 25 percent, he said. However, the final tally of deer taken during the entire hunting season won’t be known until February, he added.

Because there was good buck escapement previously, Fitkin said his expectation had been that this year would be a good season for hunters. But he speculated that the mild weather, which has kept the animals from moving around much during the daytime, and the nearly full moon, which has kept them more active at night when hunting is forbidden, may have played a role in the low numbers.


Kevin Nations of Darrington displays the three-by-two point buck he bagged up Booth Canyon at McClure Mountain Saturday morning.

At the checking station, officials record age, sex and species of the harvested animals. They also check for visible signs of disease and ticks. Local veterinarian Betsy Devin-Smith has asked the checkers to be on the alert for the tick that carries Lyme disease, Fitkin said. “If we find one, we’ll save if for her,” he added.

So far, Lyme disease has not appeared in Eastern Washington, according to Fitkin. “Typically our deer don’t have external parasites,” in the fall, he noted. Ticks more commonly are found on deer in spring, he said.

The checking station will be open again this Saturday and Sunday. The modern firearms deer season ends Sunday.  But a second limited, “quality” permit season for any buck opens Nov. 1 and runs until Nov. 15, as does the bear hunting season.