Northwest Sportsman Magazine - Nov 2021

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Sportsman Northwest

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Volume 14 • Issue 2 PUBLISHER James R. Baker

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EDITOR Andy Walgamott THIS ISSUE’S CONTRIBUTORS Jason Brooks, Dennis Dauble, Scott Haugen, Sara Ichtertz, Randy King, MD Johnson, Buzz Ramsey, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Ken Witt, Dave Workman, Mark Yuasa EDITORIAL FIELD SUPPORT Jason Brooks GENERAL MANAGER John Rusnak SALES MANAGER Paul Yarnold ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Mamie Griffin, Jim Klark, Kelley Miller, Mike Smith DESIGNER Lesley-Anne Slisko-Cooper PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Kelly Baker OFFICE MANAGER Katie Aumann INFORMATION SYSTEMS MANAGER Lois Sanborn WEBMASTER/DIGITAL STRATEGIST Jon Hines DIGITAL ASSISTANT Jon Ekse ADVERTISING INQUIRIES


CORRESPONDENCE Email letters, articles/queries, photos, etc., to, or to the mailing address below. ON THE COVER Chad Smith bagged this Western Washington blacktail buck during the 2020 season. (COAST HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST)


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IN PRAISE OF JUMP SHOOTING Big spreads of perfect decoys, high-dollar calls and custom-made blinds are an effective way to hunt waterfowl, as MD Johnson well knows. But he’s also partial to just grabbing his shotgun and jump shooting small, out-of-the-way waterways where ducks gather.


GOOSE HUNTING Q&A New to the field and pond? Here’s one veteran’s brutal truths about calls, shot size, blinding up and much, much more!

As the heart of the Northwest’s duck and goose season arrives, what do the prospects look like? MD Johnson takes, er, a gander at production, water conditions and more.

109 SOLO Afield without his sons for the first time in years, longtime hunter Ken Witt had a highly coveted special permit for November mule deer – but also a strong urge to just quit and go back home. Could he overcome it? 163 CASH IN ON BLACK FRIDAY FISHERIES The day after Thanksgiving will find many folks loading up shopping carts with trinkets when they could be filling creel baskets with nicesized rainbows instead. Mark Yuasa details how state fishery managers have increased the number of Western Washington lakes as well as trout they’re planting for Black Friday angling.



169 ON BAD HOOKSETS AND GOOD RELEASES If you’re an angler, you’ll eventually get hooked, there’s just no two ways about it. Dennis Dauble knows this better than many, if his tales of trebles in places they weren’t meant to be is any indication. He shares how to get unstuck when that hook invariably comes a’calling.

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NORTHWEST SPORTSMAN is published monthly by Media Index Publishing Group, 14240 Interurban Avenue South, Suite 190, Tukwila, WA 98168. Periodical Postage Paid at Seattle, WA and at additional mail offices. (USPS 025-251) POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Northwest Sportsman, 14240 Interurban Ave South, Suite 190, Tukwila, WA 98168. Annual subscriptions are $29.95 (12 issues), 2-year subscription are $49.95 (24 issues). Send check or money order to Media Index Publishing Group, or call (206) 382-9220 with VISA or M/C. Back issues may be ordered at Media Index Publishing Group offices at the cost of $5 plus shipping. Display Advertising. Call Media Index Publishing Group for a current rate card. Discounts for frequency advertising. All submitted materials become the property of Media Index Publishing Group and will not be returned. Copyright © 2021 Media Index Publishing Group. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be copied by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording by any information storage or retrieval system, without the express written permission of the publisher. Printed in U.S.A.

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Still Fall Kings To Be Had On Tillamook Bay, Rivers “Just in case you didn’t get enough freezer fish during the Buoy 10 and Columbia River Chinook seasons, you should know there is still plenty of fall salmon action to be had on several Oregon Coast systems.” So writes Buzz as he details how to work Tillamook Bay and its rivers, as well as other systems on the Beaver State’s Pacific side.


GUN DOG Use Waterfowling Lulls As Teachable Moments Yes, duck hunting in these parts is some of the best in the country, but let’s face it, it’s not always a guns-blazing affair. And when those lulls do occur, they actually make a great time to work with your hunting dog to break bad behavior and habits. Scott shares how.


NORTHWEST PURSUITS Better Late Than Never With whitetail and blacktail hunting seasons continuing this month, Washington riflemen, muzzleloaders and archers all have solid opportunities to notch their tags. Jason offers up advice for making the most of November.

101 ON TARGET Don’t Buck Chance To Hunt Rutty Deer The weather may be nasty – cold, rainy or snowy, or all three at once – but if you struck out during October’s big game seasons, those may be just the conditions you need to fill the freezer before winter comes. Dave details how and when to get it done. 121 CHEF IN THE WILD Teaching Hunting When a Boise-area doctor finally had enough time to learn to hunt, he turned to a joint Idaho Department of Fish and Game-Idaho Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers “learn to hunt” class, and guess who got to lead the field portion? Yep, our own Chef Randy, who also serves up a tasty elk cube steak recipe made from their success! 155 FOR THE LOVE OF THE TUG Bank Fisher Finds Her Sea Legs As an angler, Sara prided herself on keeping her feet planted firmly on the bank, but after meeting her “captain” and his boat, along with tutoring from top Oregon salmon guides, she’s expanded her horizons. Sara shares her journey onto the briny blue. 18 Northwest Sportsman


28 (RMEF)


Doers v. Suers: The Battle Between True Conservation, Endless Litigation The Equal Access to Justice Act has been hijacked into a lawsuit factory by environmental groups that use it fuel their agendas with taxpayer money, says RMEF


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THE EDITOR’S NOTE Fish and Wildlife Commission watch


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he Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission quietly began drumming up a new conservation policy recently and if the rough draft rolled out in September, as well as calls for the appointment of more “reform-minded” members, are any indication, Evergreen State hunters and anglers will want to pay close attention. The draft document’s broad, future-looking language and aspirational ideals are meant to expand support and funding for the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s myriad missions, herald a new kind of conservation and define the word’s meaning in the agency’s recently adopted 25-year strategic plan. But some aspects were always going to be problematic. Commissioners Kim Thorburn and Don McIsaac – not exactly who hardcore hook-and-bullet folks might expect to stand up for them, given their birding and commercial fishing roots – pointed out a number of issues to drafters and fellow members Vice Chair Barbara Baker and Fred Koontz, as well as Jeff Davis, WDFW director of conservation policy.

KOONTZ, WHO COMES from the zoo world – he retired in 2017 from Seattle’s Woodland Park as the vice president of field conservation – describes his interest in defining conservation as having been on his mind“for awhile.”He said the term was originally linked with“purpose and value,” but that “Conservation should be done in its own right. In other words, it doesn’t have to have a use of the animals.” He worries about the massive loss of animals that provide cascading benefits for all life and believes that nailing down the meaning of conservation will also strengthen state fish and wildlife agencies’ hand with Congress to help pass the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. The bipartisan bill would help fund recovery of imperiled species that there otherwise isn’t money for like there is with deer and ducks, turkeys and trout, thanks to the billions we’ve raised across the decades through taxes on our hunting and fishing gear. If passed in its current form, WDFW stands to pull in an estimated $21 million annually for 268 species of concern – a list that happens to also include struggling inland steelhead and bighorn sheep. While some felt the commission’s draft policy exuded a very “us vs. them” feel, Koontz defended it, saying, “It’s not in any way to discount our traditional partners and colleagues. It’s to broaden the mission ... To me, this is one of the most important things we can do.” Davis spoke to blending the well-known North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and the broader, newer Wildlife Governance Principles “to create the Washington Fish and Wildlife Governance Principles.” He termed putting the draft out for discussion an “important first step” as the environment begins to change at a more rapid rate, long-term issues compound problems and to reassure state citizens that WDFW is taking care of all of the critters on the ark, what’s known as the “public trust doctrine.” | NOVEMBER 2021

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“It’s a good time to be humble enough to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, ‘Do our conservation goals need to change, and if so, why and how, for what purpose?’” Davis said. Added Vice Chair Baker, “(We) don’t have forever to get this done.”

I HAVE NO problem having a conversation about conservation. I am confident in the unprecedented support sportsmen have played and will continue to play in funding state fish and wildlife management, habitat and more – one-third of WDFW’s budget, diesel-strength pulling power for the common good. And I too worry about where our natural world is headed and the need for us to do what we can to make it much more resilient for all species, and ourselves. But we’re also at a critical moment in all this as environmental groups mount a major push against WDFW on legal and other fronts while demanding that Governor Jay Inslee also appoint two more commissioners in the same vein as Koontz and Lorna Smith, both of whom were seated at the start of this year. There was a hint that that might occur this month, but whenever it does, it could sharply alter the citizen panel’s balance ahead of not just development of this new conservation policy, but upcoming decisions on spring bear hunting, wolf management and more. In other words, it’s time to sit up, take notice and be ready to participate. What a new conservation policy needs to be was well summarized by a former state wildlife biologist, who called for one that’s “broadly based with equitable input from across the spectrum of conservation visionaries.” Fair enough that we all – well, maybe not the excessively litigious environmental groups touched on in The Big Pic; see page 28 – have a critical stake in this, but the final product must be inclusive, collaborative, recognize our contributions across the generations and not leave us standing at the boat ramp with nowhere to go. Same goes with new commissioners. –Andy Walgamott


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Doers v. Suers: The Battle Between True Conservation, Endless Litigation

As sportsmens organizations like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation focus on the big picture of collaborative, onthe-ground wildlife and wildland conservation across vast swaths of the Northwest, including Oregon and Washington’s Grande Ronde watershed, highly litigious environmental groups use the federal court system and Equal Access To Justice Act provisions in “what amounts to a ridiculous, non-stop merry-go-round ride” of lawsuits, attorney fees, fundraising and bureaucratic gridlock, says RMEF. (USFS) 28 Northwest Sportsman


PICTURE Congress created the Equal Access to Justice Act to give everyday Americans a fair shot. But it’s been hijacked into a lawsuit factory where environmental groups fuel their agendas with taxpayer money. Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the September/October 2021 of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Bugle Magazine and is reprinted with permission.

By the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation


hen the federal government listed grizzly bears as threatened in the Lower 48 under the newly minted Endangered Species Act in 1975, an estimated 136 grizzlies remained in the nearly 6-million-acre Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Since female grizzlies don’t reproduce until they’re at least four years old and only have litters of two to three cubs every three years or so, extinction loomed as a real possibility. Over time, though, those protections worked. By 2007, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scientists estimated the GYE population had quadrupled to more than 500 bears and expanded its range by more than 50 percent. This exceeded all of the federal recovery criteria and the USFWS removed the Yellowstone grizzly population from threatened status. In short, the ESA functioned exactly as it was designed. Of course, the story didn’t end there. Environmentalists immediately sued, citing uncertainty regarding food sources. A judge agreed and returned them to fully protected status. Subsequent research showed that the bears adapted well, overcame the perceived food challenges and continued to grow in numbers and range. In 2017, | NOVEMBER 2021

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Despite the clear success of grizzly bear recovery in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem by 2007, court battles continue to this day, with the Center for Biological Diversity also suing the feds to reintroduce the species into Washington’s Cascades. This sow with three cubs was the first female radio collared in the Evergreen State and is part of the healthy, growing Selkirk Recovery Zone population. (USFWS) citing an estimated population of 750 bears and further expansion of occupied range – again exceeding all delisting criteria – the Department of Interior removed grizzlies’ threatened species status once more, returning management of the great bears to the three state wildlife agencies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Once again, a slew of environmental groups took their arguments to court. In 2018, a federal judge cited technicalities and ordered the population be relisted again. The federal government and states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming intervened on behalf of delisting, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation filed a brief in support of delisting to the Ninth Circuit of Appeals. However, the court upheld the relisting decision in July 2020. In April 2021, biologists from both the USFWS and Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee revised the estimated grizzly population in the GYE to upwards of 1,000 bears. That’s almost a tenfold increase from where the population stood when they were listed as threatened 46 years ago. The delist-relist ping-pong is frustrating enough. But here’s one more especially galling detail: You’re paying for it. Citing the Equal Access to Justice Act in that most recent round of litigation, environmental groups filed requests to be 30 Northwest Sportsman


reimbursed for “reasonable” attorney fees up to $460 an hour. A few of those groups include the Alliance for Wild Rockies, Center for Biological Diversity, Humane Society of the United States, Sierra Club and WildEarth Guardians. The total combined ask amounted to more than $1.4 million in taxpayer money. “The really unfortunate thing is when these groups win, the Department of Justice negotiates the fees, but it’s the individual agency that must pay. So, in this case, it would impact the budgets of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, but in other cases it could be the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management or another federal agency,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “All of those agencies are already underfunded, and this just hurts them more, which means they don’t have staff to adequately review issues, which leads to more and more lawsuits. It’s become what amounts to a ridiculous, non-stop merry-go-round ride.”

LOOTING AGENCY FUNDING Imagine discovering someone is picking your pocket without you even knowing about it. That scenario has played out time and time again in federal courts across the United States. It’s a ploy successfully utilized by environmental groups that take

advantage of the Equal Access to Justice Act. A measure created four decades ago to serve and benefit everyday Americans has been transformed into something far different. To gain a better understanding of the EAJA, we must examine its roots. In the 1950s, Americans demanded governmental action for better stewardship of our nation’s air, land and water. One of the first key pieces of legislation to result was the Air Pollution Control Act (1955), followed by the Clean Air Act (1963). The Water Quality Act came two years later, holding states responsible to meet standards for water in their rivers, lakes and streams, including those waterways that flowed beyond their borders. The Motor Vehicle Air Pollution Control Act (1965) amended the Clean Air Act and set standards for vehicle emissions. In 1966, the Endangered Species Preservation Act created regulations to protect fish and wildlife species in danger of extinction. The 1970s saw the creation of the National Environmental Policy Act (1970), a requirement that federal agencies prepare an environmental impact statement for any action or legislation that could adversely affect land, water or wildlife. Later that same year, an executive order from President Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency, an independent executive federal agency

PICTURE with a mission to protect human health and the environment. Building on previous legislation, the Clean Water Act (1972) sought to further reduce and eliminate pollution in our nation’s waters, while the Endangered Species Act (1973) focused on protecting crucial ecosystems for imperiled wildlife, fish and plant species. Those actions helped set the table for Congress to enact the Equal Access to Justice Act in 1980. It authorized the payment of “reasonable expenses of expert witnesses, the reasonable cost of any study, analysis, engineering report, test or project which is found by the agency to be necessary for the preparation of the party’s case, and reasonable attorney or agent fees” to a party that wins a civil lawsuit against a federal agency by successfully demonstrating a threat of injury or irreparable harm. “EAJA was passed primarily in response to demands from the small business

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RMEF’s goal in allowing Northwest Sportsman to reprint its Bugle article on EAJA abuse is to “get this piece in front of as many eyes as possible,” according to a spokesman, who added that members, former state and federal administrators and other see it as “a matter of education and understanding.” (RMEF) community, which was laboring under the increased environmental, consumer and health and safety regulations of the 1960s and 1970s,” said Lowell E. Baier, an attorney in Washington, D.C., and the author of the 2015 book Inside the Equal Access to Justice Act: Environmental Litigation and

the Crippling Battle Over America’s Lands, Endangered Species and Critical Habitats. “The concern was that when an agency such as OSHA or the EPA improperly fined a small business, the small business might win in court but be bankrupted by having to pay its lawyers.” | NOVEMBER 2021

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PICTURE Baier points out that EAJA also applies to veterans seeking benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as the Social Security Administration. In fact, the vast majority of people garnering funds from the EAJA have been veteran or senior citizen beneficiaries suing the SSA or VA. Their awards average just a few thousand dollars each. But those payouts make a real difference for people who have no other remedy to receive the benefits they deserve. As a result, EAJA remains a critically important law for the everyday American. According to Baier, the intent behind the law has not changed much over the 41 years since its passage, but the nature of its use certainly has. The EAJA included a cap on the net worth of any person or company that may benefit from it to make sure it serves real needs. However, in the final stages of establishing the EAJA, a last-minute amendment opened

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the door for nonprofit organizations to use it regardless of their net worth. This distinction grew murkier after 1995, when Congress eliminated a provision requiring annual reports of expenditures under EAJA. This opened the door for environmental groups to receive EAJA awards without the public ever realizing it. “That set up a situation where environmental groups worth hundreds of millions of dollars could have their legal fees covered in cases where they used procedural laws like the National Environmental Policy Act to delay government projects they opposed for philosophical or political reasons. And in most cases, the money would be paid to the environmental group in a lump sum as part of a settlement agreement, with little if any oversight by the court, and then just disappear,” said Baier. “In theory, the law has a cap on fees, but that can be waived for lawyers with special expertise, such as in environmental law, when they’re paid market rates. We’ve documented numerous cases where payments were in

the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and even over a million dollars in some cases.” Beginning in 2012, a bipartisan Congressional effort required the Department of Interior to disclose EAJA payments, and the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act of 2019 permanently restored EAJA reporting throughout the entire federal government. Baier says this greatly reduced litigation from many organizations because they did not believe the negative publicity was worth the money. He also quoted Justice Louis Brandies who said, “Sunlight is the best of disinfectants.” Still, such litigation does persist – with some groups continuing to thrive on it.

SUE, BRAG, PROFIT Not only do litigant groups generate money from attorney fees but they then use that financial windfall to bankroll large marketing campaigns to solicit more donations based on court cases. “Environmental groups use the ESA, and challenges to decisions under the ESA,

PICTURE as incredibly effective fundraising tools,” said Pat Crank, former Wyoming attorney general and vice president of the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, while testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in 2020. “They challenge any delisting of the GYE grizzly for reasons that ignore the amazing success story of the GYE bear recovery. Every challenge leads to millions of dollars pouring into their coffers.” It’s a cycle that has repeated itself year after year. In 2012, a report compiled by the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee used data from the Department of Justice to show that the federal government defended more than 570 ESA-related lawsuits over a fouryear period (2009-12) which cost American taxpayers more than $15 million in attorney fees. This occurred during a window when all of the environmental groups mentioned above were especially active, including several that filed multiple lawsuits seeking to stop the state management of wolves in the Northern Rockies. “According to the Department of Justice, some attorneys were reimbursed up to $500 an hour and two lawyers each received more than $2 million in attorney

fees from ESA cases,” the report stated. “This data provides further evidence that the ESA has become litigation driven, where money and resources are spent addressing endless, frivolous lawsuits instead of species recovery.”

CONSERVATION DOESN’T HAPPEN IN COURTROOMS Late in the 20th century and continuing into the 2000s, many Americans frowned upon environmental organizations due to their litigation-heavy reputation. So, many of those same environmental groups consciously shied away from the terms environmentalism or environmentalist and replaced them with conservation and conservationist. Among the more notable offenders are the Alliance for the Wild Rockies (no attorney list on its website), Center for Biological Diversity (46 attorneys), Defenders of Wildlife (eight to 10 attorneys), Earthjustice (143 attorneys), Humane Society of the United States (“dozens” of attorneys), Sierra Club (legal staff of 104) and WildEarth Guardians (legal staff of 15). It comes as no surprise that these seven groups filed almost half of the more than 570 lawsuits in the 2012 report. The Center for Biological Diversity based in Tucson, Arizona, topped the 2012

report’s list of “most litigious organizations” with 117 ESA-related lawsuits. CBD now proudly boasts a “Trump Tracker,” a listing of all 266 environmental lawsuits it filed against the U.S. government during the 1,461-day Trump administration. That equates to one new legal action filed every 5.5 days! In one suit filed on June 27, 2019, CBD called on the federal government to forcibly introduce grizzlies into Texas, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Proposed release locations include the Grand Canyon, California’s Sierra Nevada and Montana’s Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem where there are already more than 1,000 grizzlies. On December 16, 2020, CBD filed lawsuit No. 255 to force grizzlies into the Cascade Mountains of Washington, even after the Department of Interior previously hosted numerous public meetings and received overwhelming local feedback against such action. The transition to the Biden administration has not slowed this machine. In fact, it has accelerated. As of April 7, 2021, CBD publicly proclaimed it filed 43 lawsuits against the federal government – an average of one new legal action every 1.8 days! To get an overarching picture of what is happening, the Administrative Conference of the United States, an independent federal agency that develops recommendations to improve administrative process and procedure, found 15 federal agencies paid more than $58 million in awards of attorney’s fees and other expenses under EAJA during Fiscal Year 2019. Again, that $58 million comes out of the pockets of America’s taxpayers.


Even with the change of presidential administrations, the Center for Biological Diversity was filing lawsuits at a pace of one every 1.8 days earlier this year. Earlier this fall, the Arizona-based outfit asked the Department of Interior to withhold PittmannRobertson Act excise tax disbursements from certain state wildlife agencies, a shot at wolf management in Idaho and Montana, where conservative lawmakers have stepped into the fray OKing wolf killing tactics that even made some hunters uncomfortable. (ODFW, CC BY-SA 2.0) 36 Northwest Sportsman


Dating back to 2010, the U.S. Forest Service started conducting studies to formulate a plan for a future habitat enhancement project on the HelenaLewis and Clark National Forest in westcentral Montana. Called the Stonewall Vegetation Project, the goal was to treat unnaturally dense stands, reduce fire hazard, create forest resiliency and enhance wildlife habitat while improving overall forest health. Locals formed a collaborative group several years later that | NOVEMBER 2021

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PICTURE included government representatives, conservationists, lumber companies and other interested participants. Relying on science, the collaborative agreed to a series of treatments to address thousands of acres of beetle-killed lodgepole stands to help reach project goals. RMEF was and remains extensively involved in the immediate area, having completed more than two dozen habitat enhancement projects over the last 15 years ranging from forest thinning to prescribed burns and other treatments that enhance wildlife habitat. Two anti-management environmental groups, the Alliance for the Wild Rockies and Native Ecosystems Council, did not participate in the collaborative effort but instead waited for it to end and then cited the ESA to file a lawsuit against the Forest Service claiming forest management activity would endanger Canada lynx and

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One of two “anti-management environmental groups” that challenged a Montana forest treatment and restoration project also went after a 50,000-acre proposal in Northcentral Washington’s Methow Valley, jeopardizing a 24-member coalition’s plan to benefit mule deer and fish habitat, among many local positives. Fortunately, a federal judge tossed the lawsuit, and there’s now strong pushback in academia. A wildfire science professor quoted in a Sacramento Bee story last month called similar litgation “self-serving garbage.” (USFS) grizzly bear populations. RMEF sought to join its collaborative partners by writing a brief in support of the project. However, a

federal judge agreed with environmental groups and issued a preliminary injunction on May 30, 2017.

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PICTURE Halting the project before it began, the judge stated, “The Court acknowledges that Defendants have presented evidence that the Project area is susceptible to severe and intense wildfires due to elevated fuel levels caused by ‘heavy accumulations of dead and down timber.’ However, though there is the possibility of serious fire activity within the boundaries of the Project, there is no indication that this area is at risk of imminent fire activity.” Mother Nature had other ideas. In July of 2017, lightning sparked what became known as the Park Creek Fire. Fueled by dead timber, the 18,000-acre wildfire scorched the project area, closing national forest lands and triggering evacuation orders. The Forest Service decided to go back to the drawing board to reassess the impacts of the wildfire on the project, effectively halting the suit. Three years later, a Forest Service budget

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report showed the litigating environmental groups in the Stonewall case exploited the Equal Access to Justice Act to receive $100,500 in attorney fees. Specifically, the three lawyers involved in that case requested fees at rates of $290, $355 and $390 per hour. That same report also showed environmental groups, as a whole, received more than $9 million in attorney fees and settlement awards between 2011 and 2018, often at the expense of forests, wildlife, communities and American taxpayers. The Forest Service revised the Stonewall project in 2019 and issued both a supplemental environmental impact statement and record of decision, but the same two environmental groups filed yet another lawsuit, this time in December 2020. Is that conservation? Or is it equal access to injustice? And where do we go from here? The original intent of the EAJA was unquestionably sound, as were the reforms delivered under the Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act of 2019. The great majority of the people who benefit from EAJA do indeed receive

justice and are fully deserving. What needs to change is the cynical niche industry fueled by litigation that reaps windfalls from taxpayers picking up their attorney’s fees, then makes even more through fundraising campaigns bragging about that success. In the end, there are suers and doers. RMEF is proud to stand squarely in the second camp.

STOLEN IDENTITIES What is particularly vexing, and especially perplexing for the general public, is the hijacking of the word conservation by environmental groups. CBD, for one, refers to itself as “a national, nonprofit conservation organization.” Others do the same, although hats off to the Sierra Club for identifying itself as what it really is – a “grassroots environmental organization.” Some media outlets further the confusion by referring to environmental groups as conservation groups. Merriam-Webster defines conservation as “planned management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction


or neglect.” Cited examples include water conservation and wildlife conservation. In other words, conservation is the handson stewardship of natural resources such as habitat enhancement and permanent protection of vital migration corridors and winter ranges. Environmentalism on the other hand, again according to the MerriamWebster Dictionary, is “advocacy of the preservation of the natural environment.” Preservation often refers to a handsoff approach or preventing any type of management activity. There are swaths of designated wilderness and other backcountry areas that remain relatively untouched for very good reason. However, there are millions of acres of public forests that are overly dense with heavy fuel loads and downed deadfall due to decades of fire suppression. These overgrown forests throttle the growth of grasses and forbs vital for elk and other wildlife, and are susceptible to disease, beetle kill and an elevated risk of catastrophic wildfire that can decimate an ecosystem.

WHAT TRUE CONSERVATION LOOKS LIKE The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s mission is to ensure the future of elk, 42 Northwest Sportsman


While litigious groups spend their time in courts and use charismatic – but also self-sustaining – species for fundraising, RMEF and others are hands-on in the forests and fields, working to improve already-managed landscapes for the good of all species. RMEF direct and leveraged grants helped fund this 1,750-acre underburn performed in the Umatilla National Forest in 2018. (RMEF)

other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. RMEF does so by working collaboratively with federal and state agencies as well as other partners to provide both funding and volunteer manpower to carry out prescribed burning, forest thinning, noxious weed treatments, repairing or constructing wildlife water developments, fertilizations, planting seedlings and other actions to maintain or improve habitat for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also provides grant funding for wildlife management, scientific research and predator management. Additionally, RMEF seeks to permanently protect and open access to elk winter and summer range, migration corridors and calving grounds via land acquisitions, access agreements and easements, conservation easements, land donations and other means. RMEF also works to reestablish elk in historic ranges where habitat and cultural tolerance create a high potential for self-sustaining wild, free-ranging herds. Just one small but impactful example of planned management or conservation: RMEF recently provided additional funding for an ongoing series of projects to create and enhance forage openings and water sources for elk and other wildlife in Virginia’s Elk Restoration Zone.

This important habitat enhancement work benefits Virginia’s growing elk herd, which was restored to its historic range by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources and RMEF in 2012. Because of projects designed to improve elk habitat like this one, DWR recently introduced a special elk hunting license that may lead to Virginia’s first managed elk hunt in more than a century, one that will generate vital funding to benefit elk herds and habitat for a rich variety of other wildlife. Any objective look at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s lifetime conservation accomplishments shows the immense impact the organization has had on elk, other wildlife and habitat. As of January 1, 2021, RMEF conserved or enhanced more than 6.8 million acres of wildlife habitat and permanently protected 1.3 million acres of land. That amounts to more than 8.1 million acres of combined conservation work. On top of that, RMEF played a pivotal role in restoring wild, freeranging elk to Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Ontario. And RMEF has invested millions of dollars to help fund wildlife research key to delivering the most effective management. All that adds up to a lot of work and a lot of conservation. NS

Pre Ped up o Lak wit pas Cen lake soc are fish the Cur


READER PHOTOS That summer day was on the gloomy side, but it was a sunny one for Tyler Fletcher, thanks to this Dungeness and another red rock crab he pulled out of the depths. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Preston and Aubree Pedeferri followed up on their 2020 Lake Wenatchee haul with another this past August when the Central Washington lake opened for sockeye fishing. “They are turning into avid fishermen!” reports their grandpa, Bob Curran. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Terry Lee hoists a leopard of a ling. He was fishing out of Garibaldi with friend Les Logsdon. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

The every-odd-year appearance of pinks provided plenty of action for Logan Smith and his mom Sara, who doubled up at Puget Sound’s Humpy Hollow, while the family’s youngest, Zac (right), landed his first-ever salmon. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Bradley Venter heads for the fish-cleaning table with a nice haul of eater-sized walleye. The 5-year-old was fishing on Lake Roosevelt and his grandpa, Gary Strassburg, says, “This kid loves to fish!” (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

For your shot at winning great fishing and hunting products from Northwest Sportsman and Coast, respectively, send your full-resolution, original images with all the pertinent details – who’s in the pic; when and where they were; what they caught their fish on/weapon they used to bag the game; and any other details you’d like to reveal (the more, the merrier!) – to or Northwest Sportsman, 14240 Interurban Ave S, Suite 190, Tukwila, WA 98168. By sending us photos, you affirm you have the right to distribute them for use in our print and Internet publications. | NOVEMBER 2021

Northwest Sportsman 47

READER PHOTOS Garrett Sitter smiles over a beautiful Sauk wild steelhead, his second from the North Cascades river and landed last February while floating a WFO worm. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Nice ’Nook for Northwest Sportsman advertising rep Jim Klark, caught in late August “somewhere near Grays Harbor.” (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Usually we see this guy with elk and deer, but Randy Hart Jr. gets out after salmon too. He hooked this chromebright Carbon River Chinook on the fall opener. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST) 48 Northwest Sportsman

Terry Moore shows off a Banks Lake smallmouth caught earlier this year. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)


A midsummer trip to the Tri-Cities to see cousins and fish saw Annika Raleigh land the day’s biggest bronzeback. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)


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Kelly Frazier is the winner of our monthly Fishing Photo Contest, thanks to this shot of her and her Westport albacore. It wins her gear from various tackle manufacturers!

Pierce Offner is our monthly Coast Hunting Photo Contest winner, thanks to this shot of he and his archery mule deer buck. It wins him a knife and light from Coast!

Pistol Bullets and Ammunition Zero Bullet Company, Inc. For your shot at winning a Coast knife and light, as well as fishing products from various manufacturers, send your photos and pertinent (who, what, when, where) details to or Northwest Sportsman, 14240 Interurban Ave S., Suite 190, Tukwila, WA 98168. By sending us photos, you affirm you have the right to distribute them for our print or Internet publications.


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Northwest Sportsman 51


Citizen Tips Lead To Big Penalties For Spree Killers A Missouri trio received jail time, longterm hunting license revocations and hefty fines for a mid-August 2019 wildlife shooting spree in Idaho. “It seems the three shot at anything that moved,” said Malcolm Clemenhagen, a state conservation officer. “It was a shocking reminder of what some people are capable of.” In a case that was concluded this past summer, Grifen Whiteside, 21, Dylan Davidson, 25, and Sydney Wallace, 20, were proven to have illegally killed a pair of pronghorn, two red foxes, a duck, an osprey, three chipmunks, two ground squirrels and a Chinook, according to the Department of Fish and Game. It began when Clemenhagen and fellow CO John Beer discovered a dead antelope

near Stanley with a small-caliber-sized bullet hole in its hide. With little to go on, they put out the word with local media. “Our only hope was that someone with more information would report it,” said Beer. “It was our Hail Mary, but thankfully it paid off.” They soon received a tip via the Citizens Against Poaching hotline from someone who claimed to know those involved in the shooting and who had seen evidence of even more killings. That led to a second witness who, according to IDFG, said that Whiteside had admitted to purchasing a .17-caliber rifle for the spree, apparently while Davidson and Wallace were visiting, and had shot the pronghorn. A check of the Idaho licensing system showed that none had hunting licenses

This dead pronghorn was one of a dozen animals that Idaho conservation officers say a Missouri trio shot in a mid-2019 killing spree. (IDFG) for that year. Working with counterparts in Missouri, Whiteside and Davidson were interviewed, with the latter allegedly admitting that the three had actually “shot at 15 pronghorn and about 10 deer,” including the dead antelope, and they



peaking of spree killings, a man has been accused of poaching five offlimits wild coho out of a northeast Olympic Peninsula bay in early fall. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Police alleges he was using barbed hooks to target the salmon and they planned to refer seven gross misdemeanor charges of overlimits, fishing in a closed area and with illegal gear, along with five infractions for not marking his catch, to the Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. As the story goes, Sergeant Kit Rosenberger was patrolling the bay near Port Townsend when he spotted the man in a rowboat. At the time, salmon were kegged up waiting for the creek to rise. While the bay was open for salmon fishing at the time, it was closed to the retention of wild coho and

the daily limit on hatchery coho was two. “Sgt. Rosenberger knew that the surrounding streams only have wild runs of coho, so there was a high likelihood any salmon the man retained would be wild coho and thus illegal,” WDFW Police reported. The officer watched him land and keep four salmon, then put on his “cover coat,” grabbed a fishing rod and walked down the beach to intercept the man as he rowed “back towards some waterfront residences.” When he got close enough, Rosenberger took off his coat, identified himself as a game warden and ordered the man to come to shore. In response to the officer’s question about how the fishing was, the man said, “I got a couple,” according to WDFW. Closer inspection actually turned up five, officers reported, and none had been put on his card. What’s more, they allege he had been

A WDFW image shows five wild coho seized from a rowboater found fishing illegally on Discovery Bay early this fall. (WDFW)

using a “barbed treble hook” and also didn’t have a lifejacket aboard. “Sgt. Rosenberger contemplated seizing the man’s boat even knowing he would have had to carry it a considerable distance back to his patrol truck,” WDFW reported. Should have just sunk the dingbat’s dinghy on the spot instead. | NOVEMBER 2021

Northwest Sportsman 53

didn’t bother to check if they’d hit or killed any. Officers used “extensive digital evidence” off the trio’s phones, plus field searches with a police dog and even drones to tie them to the 12 dead animals. Whiteside and Davidson both pled guilty in Custer County to a half-dozen misdemeanors and each served two weeks in prison, were fined over $2,300, had their hunting privileges revoked for 15 years in the 49 states that are now part of the Wildlife Violator Compact (come on in and join the crowd, Massachusetts), and are on probation for 10 years. Wallace lost his fishing and hunting privileges for one year and was fined $715. But to paraphrase the old informercial, wait, there’s more! As Davidson faced felony and misdemeanor charges in nearby Blaine County, he was found to have violated the conditions of his release that he not fish, hunt or trap when Missouri wardens discovered he’d killed a deer and several ducks. That led to a permanent revocation of his hunting, fishing and trapping licenses, plus a month more in jail and $7,700-plus in penalties. IDFG’s Clemenhagen applauded the teamwork between his agency’s officers and those in Missouri, but said the two citizens who initially reported the spree were “the real heroes.” They both received “enhanced” rewards of $1,100. “Both witnesses went above and beyond what we would typically hope for or expect, and CAP adjusted the rewards to reflect that,” Clemenhagen said.

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All-Everett Show At Coho Derby, Series Finale

By Andy Walgamott

Traice Lundberg planned to use his brand new Northwest Fishing Derby Series raffle boat to fish Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Canada and Lake Roosevelt. (NMTA)


ocal boys made out good at late September’s Everett Coho Derby, with hometown anglers not only weighing the heaviest fish but claiming the final Northwest Fishing Derby Series grand prize boat as well. Brock Baker of Everett and his 13.15-pound silver held off all challengers during the two-day event, winning him $10,000, while fellow Snohomish County seat resident Traice Lundberg had his name drawn for the KingFisher 2025 Escape HT package. Lundberg was actually sitting at home watching the Seahawks play the Vikings when his phone started blowing up with news from derby headquarters.

One of those callers turned out to be Karsten McIntosh of the Northwest Marine Trade Association, which puts on the series, delivering the official word. Lundberg quickly drove over and it was “love at first sight,” per NMTA. “I just can’t believe this is real life! I have been looking at boats for a long time and this is going to be perfect for me and my family,” Lundberg said. The boat, engines, trailer and accessories package worth $75,000 was the 18th that NMTA gave away at the culmination of the annual derby series, which has now been retired to the pro-sportfishing and -boating organization’s “Hall of Fame.” McIntosh said that while NMTA

wouldn’t be coordinating the series next year, the fishing clubs and other entities that put them together would still be holding the events and he encouraged anglers to continue fishing them. Coming in second at the Everett Coho Derby, which the Everett Steelhead and Salmon Club and Snohomish Sportsmen’s Club put on to raise money for local fishery enhancement projects, was Brent Jones who took home $5,000 for his 12.44-pound second-day coho. Organizers reported that just over 2,000 adult and youth anglers signed up to participate in the derby, with a total of 524 coho brought to the scales. Average fish weight was 6.43 pounds. | NOVEMBER 2021

Northwest Sportsman 57




Washington Coast beaches outside of Olympic National Park open for mussel harvesting; Various trapping seasons open in Washington 3-10 Tentative razor clam digs scheduled on select Washington Coast beaches – info: 4 Oregon Zone 1 duck season resumes 5 Last day to hunt deer with rifle in Western Oregon 6 Oregon West Cascade and Rocky Mountain elk second season openers; Oregon Zone 1 scaup and snipe opener; Western Washington rifle elk opener; Washington Goose Management Areas 3-5 reopener 6-7 Extended Western Oregon youth deer season 6-19 Northeast Washington late rifle whitetail season dates 9 Oregon Southwest and Mid-Columbia Zones goose reopener 13 Southwest Oregon late bow deer opener in select units 13-14 Duck Hunting Workshops, Portland Gun Club and Sauvie Island Wildlife Area ($, registration deadline Nov. 7) – info: 13-16 Oregon Coast bull elk first season dates 15 Last day to hunt black bears in Washington; Start of Oregon Zone 1 second mourning dove season 16-24 Tentative razor clam digs scheduled on select Washington Coast beaches – info: see above 18-21 Western Washington late rifle blacktail season dates in select units 20 Oregon Coast late bow deer opener in select units; Oregon Northwest Permit Zone goose reopener 20-26 Oregon Coast bull elk second season dates 24 Washington late bow and muzzleloader deer and elk opener in many units 26-27 Oregon Free Fishing Weekend 28 Last day of Oregon Zone 2 early duck and scaup season; Last day of Oregon High Desert and Blue Mountains early goose seasons 30 Last day of Eastern Oregon bear season; Last day of Western Washington pheasant (except select release sites) and quail hunting seasons


General Eastern Oregon fall turkey hunting season in Desolation, Murderers Creek and Northside Units and southeastern corner of Heppner Unit switches to only open on private lands with permission 1-9 Tentative razor clam digs scheduled on select Washington Coast beaches – info: see above 1-15 Extended pheasant season at select Western Washington release sites (no birds stocked) 2 Oregon Zone 2 duck and scaup season resumes 5 Last day of Oregon South Coast Zone early goose season 8 Last day of numerous Washington archery and muzzleloader deer and elk seasons 11 Washington Goose Management Area 1 reopener 14 Oregon High Desert and Blue Mountains Canada goose season resumes 15 Last day of numerous Washington archery and muzzleloader deer and elk seasons 15-23 Tentative razor clam digs scheduled on select Washington Coast beaches – info: see above 18 Oregon South Coast Zone goose season resumes 30-31 Tentative razor clam digs scheduled on select Washington Coast beaches – info: see above 31 Last day to hunt pheasants in Oregon; End of Oregon, Idaho fishing, hunting license years * With Covid-19 restrictions in flux, always confirm public events before attending. | NOVEMBER 2021

Northwest Sportsman 59




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Big spreads of color-correct decoys, high-dollar calls and custom manufactured blinds are an effective way to hunt waterfowl, and another is to grab your shotgun and jump shoot small, out-ofthe-way waterways where ducks gather. (SCOTT HAUGEN) 68 Northwest Sportsman



In Praise Of Jump Shooting No decoys, calls or blind, no problem for practitioners of the sneak. By MD Johnson


aterfowl season’s here. Cool mornings. Color changes. The sights and smells – ah, yes, the smells – of the marsh. An incredible morning spent jump shooting a series of small creeks and puddles throughout the countryside. The feel of cold metal … Wait a tick! Did I say jump shooting? Why, yes; yes, I did. But, but, but where’s the blind? The decoys? The flock of mallards following a ladder of notes down to a carefully arranged spread? Oh, it’s all there. Somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, a couple of folks huddle in said blind behind two dozen mallard blocks. But not here. Here, we’re going to take a look, both this month and next, at alternatives, we’ll call them, to what has become the standard. The go-to. I’m talking about jump shooting. And pass shooting. A little bit o’ floating, which is very similar to jump shooting, yet involves a boat, water, and the chance of going into the drink. If you’re not careful, that is. So put aside that poison pen. Stop cursing both me for writing about leaving the decoys at home and our dear editor for printing such obvious drivel. Instead, settle back and take a read about why you just might wanna give jump shooting a go

the next time the birds seem fickle and you’re fixing to throw in the proverbial towel.


I shot my first banded duck, a drake mallard, around about 2003. Maybe ’04. It was actually a pair of mallards, drake and a hen, sitting with a drake spoonbill. I slipped over the levee road, quiet as could be. They stared, if ducks can indeed stare, in surprise. I yelled the obligatory, per my father, “Hey, duck!” and then proceeded to shoot both fleeing mallards, leaving the grinner to escape. I then walked back to the rig, got my spinning rod and Bomber Long A, and retrieved both with as many casts. Why the fish pole? Well, sewage lagoon water can be 1) deep, and 2) relatively ... unhealthy might be the word I’m looking for here. Anyway, once on the bank, I noticed the drake was wearing a band. Oh, happy day! To review. Yes, I did say sewage lagoon. And yes, I did indicate the birds were taken by way of jump shooting. Ah, and now I’m likely to be looked down upon, not because the mallards have been taken whilst they were minding their own business atop a municipal settling pond, but rather because of the fact they were shot on the jump. No decoys. No blind. No ladder of magical, mystical notes for them to follow down from | NOVEMBER 2021

Northwest Sportsman 69

HUNTING FISHING the heavens. Just a sneak, a hearty greeting and two shots. Ashamed? Nope. Regrets? Nope. Do it again in a heartbeat? Yep. My point is this: Jump shooting, like pass shooting, has for the most part fallen out of favor among the modern waterfowling crowd.

Author MD Johnson praises his pup after retrieving a pair of wood ducks. Jump shooting may not be as popular as it once was, and some modern hunters may eschew it, but it has its own skill requirements that make it a worthy method. (JULIA JOHNSON) 70 Northwest Sportsman


Jump shooting is, it’s undeniable, a legitimate, albeit quite old-school method by today’s reckoning, tactic for securing a limit or partial limit of ducks and/or geese. Your grandpa did it with his Model 12. Your Pop did it with his Remington 11. If you’re reading this and you were

born prior to 1970, there’s an awfully good chance you’ve done a little bit of jump shooting. Or, like me, a lot of jump shooting. So why then is jump shooting virtually a thing of the past? First, let me preface this by saying I personally don’t care how you hunt


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s most of you reading this might have guessed, I’m a waterfowl hunter. Have been, I reckon, since around about 1974. And as a waterfowl hunter, I’m interested to know what I can expect this season. Honestly, though? While it’s nice to have this prior knowledge, how the 2021-22 waterfowl hunt is going to turn out is largely a guess, dependent on any number of variables over which we humans have little, if any, control. Things like weather, drought and nesting success. We take, then, what we’re given; or more specifically, what Mother Nature gives us. I despise the phrase, but “it is what it is” certainly seems appropriate in this situation, this annual “What can we expect?” query. So with all that said, do I have any idea of what to expect this season? Informally, I talked with Kyle Spragens, head of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s waterfowl section since 2016. I talked with friends in California. In Nevada. I rattled the cage of Brad Bortner, the former chief of the Migratory Bird Section at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and asked him what he’s hearing. The common denominators? Drought was a big one. Poor production another. Increased hunter numbers, hunter effort and overall harvest during the 2020-21 season still another. What’s it all mean for Northwest waterfowlers?

PRODUCTION: Spragens had this to say in paraphrase about 2021 production, and how it will influence what hunters could potentially see this fall. Alaska, he said, seemed to have escaped the drought of the Lower 48 to a large extent. This meant water on the landscape, and water means ducks. Theoretically, it does. This is significant as Alaska supplies many of the birds we see in Western Washington down through coastal Oregon and into California. It’s a double-edged sword in Eastern Washington, though, Spragens suggests. The agency trapped and 72 Northwest Sportsman


Micheal Sommer and his hunting dog smile over a mixed bag of scaup, teal, wigeon, mallard and other ducks, taken last January near Ferndale outside Bellingham. He was hunting with buddy Gary Lundquist. (COAST HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST) banded goodly numbers of mallards this summer; however, the majority of the birds trapped weren’t “hatch year birds,” meaning they weren’t the result of 2021 production. Similarly, as written by Caroline Brady, waterfowl program supervisor for the California Waterfowl Association, local production of ducks and Canada geese throughout the state is believed to have been poor, with “many more” adult geese than goslings being

banded by field biologists. Starting to see a pattern here? Brady also writes that local production has a profound – note: my word, not hers – impact on harvest, as “60 percent of the mallards and 49 percent of the gadwall” harvest in California, along with a substantial percentage of the wood ducks and cinnamon teal, are home grown.

WATER: Or more precisely, the lack

FISHING thereof. Utah’s Great Salt Lake is dry. Central California is dry. Nevada is dry. The Klamath Basin is dry. Much of Eastern Washington and Eastern Oregon? Yes, sir – dry. Even west of the Cascades, the water situation wasn’t near what it should be. During the six months of young duck growing season, Portland recorded just 3.82 inches of rain – a veritable drop in the bucket for a region known for much more precipitation. Drought is a challenge on several levels for both waterfowl and fowl hunters. No water, and migrating birds don’t stop. Or if they stop, it’s but briefly. Access becomes an issue. River levels were at all-time lows. California refuge systems didn’t have water. Eastern Washington’s shallow potholes weren’t even damp. On the Westside, sheet water, if it comes, is at a premium. Those huntable acres that have water attract hunters from every corner of the flyway, thus concentrating pressure and, potentially, moving the birds out of the area even more quickly.

74 Northwest Sportsman


HUNTING PRESSURE: While we’re on the subject, Spragens voiced some interesting stats about the 2020-21 season, which saw, he said, a 15 percent increase in hunter numbers, a 28 percent increase in hunter effort, and a 20 percent rise in total duck harvest when compared to 2019-20, which, he continued, “was a very similar ‘duck year’ in terms of breeding conditions, water on the ground, and other factors. There weren’t (necessarily) more birds in ’19/20 – in fact, there may have been fewer birds – but there were more hunters, equating to more total harvest.” Why the jumps, you ask? No one, including Spragens, really is sure. Could be YouTube. Could be stimulus checks. Could be the availability of time, thanks to the pandemic. Could just be young middle-aged guys looking for something different to do. I don’t know. What’s going to be interesting is to see if this up-pressure trend continues, or if these are simply one-hit wonders

who’ve since moved on to something else. Time will tell. As our conversation wound down, Spragens asked my thoughts on the 2020-21 season, and what might come to pass this fall. Truthfully, I had a betterthan-good season last. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it exceptional, but it was definitely better than many. I did, for whatever reason, kill more mallards in 2020 than I had in the previous three seasons combined, despite not specifically targeting them. Overall, I saw more mallards in ’20 than I had been seeing. More green-wings, too. Wigeon and sprig, at least in my neck of the woods, were noticeably lower in number; conversely, grey ducks were up. Little geese (cacklers and lessers) didn’t appear in the numbers I’m accustomed to seeing – again, for whatever reason – but big geese (westerns) were abundant clear through the close of the late season in early March. –MDJ

FISHING your ’fowl, as long as your method of the moment is safe, legal and ethical. Is jump shooting legal? I don’t know of any instance where it isn’t. Safe? As safe as any other form of waterfowling, or for that matter, hunting. Ethical? Yes, sir, though some decoy/calling purists may argue otherwise, and that, as the song goes, is their prerogative. Which brings us back to the question, Why has jump shooting all but disappeared? There’s really not much current literature being written on the subject; however, a YouTube search for jump shooting ducks did turn up approximately 7.8 million results, compared to a lowly 644,000 returns when I typed in decoying ducks. Obviously, someone’s doing it, and taking the time to video the

process and post it on the internet. What’s more, the top three videos – theirs, not mine – registered some 234,000 views collectively; so not only is someone doing it, at least a quarter of a million people have watched all or part of these top three. Flying under the radar, perhaps, and certainly no pun intended? But I digress. Maybe not much is said about jump shooting waterfowl in 2021 because it’s not, dare I say it, cool? I mean, even with the Internet, I was unable to find and join the Jump Shooting Mafia. Jump shooting doesn’t require one have a $200 neon green single-reed embossed with the skull and crossbones of Company XYZ. Fancy decoys aren’t a necessity; hell, they might even be considered a A productive day may require hitting multiple spots. Don’t overlook backwoods mill ponds, beaver dams, irrigation and runoff channels, and other small waters that may not look like much to us but offer ducks habitat. (JULIA JOHNSON)

nuisance by the highly mobile jump shooter. And while said tongue in cheek, there’s no glamour in jump shooting. It’s the spike whitetail on the meat pole of the waterfowl world. The limit of squirrels. The yeah, whatever response. Or maybe it’s because jump shooting is typically a solitary venture, and who are you going to high five and holler “Hell yeah!” at, if you’re all by yourself? Or maybe it’s because there’s no tradition of jump shooting any longer? The duck hunters I grew up with in the early 1970s, my mentors, are gone, or, being as the living are in their late 70s, don’t do much in the way of jump shooting anymore. Today’s millennials, as poked at in the previous paragraph, aren’t big on jump shooting for any number of reasons, lack of coolness and/ or glamour being but one. Thus, if there are no jump shooters to pass that tradition along to the next generation of spot-and-stalkers, is it any surprise that jump shooters and jump shooting have become rare commodities?

THE CALL OF JUMP SHOOTING I’ll admit I’m a blind-and-decoy type of guy now, for the most part. However, I’m not one to pass up the opportunity for a good oldfashioned jump shoot. No, I’m not talking about a nine-gun, just-shyof-100-rounds-collectively spring snow goose massacre, which I have almost nothing against, but that’s another story for another time. No, I’m talking here about traditional jump shooting; a mix of observation, stealth, patience, improvisation, timing and wingshooting skill. If you think about it, that indeed is the appeal of jump shooting; it offers a little bit of everything. Still not convinced? Well, if you must, you can hide in the bushes, quack on your fluorescent duck call, and pack a decoy in your waders while you go about the entire process. There. Feel better? NS 76 Northwest Sportsman


“Scouting, and putting yourself and the birds in the same place at the same time, is without a doubt the most important part of any successful goose hunting equation,” writes author and longtime honker hunter MD Johnson. (GEORGE GENTRY, USFWS) 78 Northwest Sportsman



Goose Hunting Q&A

New to the field and pond? Here’s everything you wanted to know about calls, shot size, blinding up and much more, but were afraid to ask.

By MD Johnson


shot my first goose – a big fat Canada – in 1979 as it, along with 30 or 40 of its buddies, glided over my grandparents’ cornfield enroute to a nearby roost pond for the evening. No decoys. No calling. Not even a blind, really, other than the standing stalks I was, well, standing in. The gun was a ’66 Mossberg M500 pump with a Poly Choke; the ammunition, a 3-inch 12 packing 41 pellets of No. 4 buckshot. Lead, nonetheless. Yes, sir; it was a while ago. Between then and now, I’ve learned a thing or two about geese and goose hunting. A lot, I’ll admit, was by trial and error, but there has been much, too, I’ve gained from talking and hunting with some of the

best goose hunters to ever walk the planet – Fred Zink, the late Timmy Grounds, Chad Belding, Field and Clay Hudnall, George Lynch, Tony Vandemore, Scott Threinen, Ron Latschaw and the Northwest’s own Bill Saunders. These men taught me more than they’ll ever know about the right way to hunt geese. Do I always do it that way? I do not, but that’s another story for another time, I reckon. There have, over the past four decades, been a lot of factors involved in my goose hunting education, with the common denominator being questions. Constant questions. Why this? Why not that? Will this work? What went wrong? And, occasionally, what went right? I’ve asked them, and, in recent years, had

them asked of me. Figuring a partial list of these inquiries might make for an insightful read, especially for those new to the art of goose hunting, let’s take a look at some of the traditional – and maybe some not-so-traditional – questions I’ve asked and fielded over the years.

Q: Is there a “most important variable” in the goose hunting equation?

A: Any goose hunter worth his or her salt will tell you that you can’t kill geese if there are, indeed, no geese to be killed; thus, scouting, and putting yourself and the birds in the same place at the same time, is without a doubt the most important part of any successful goose hunting equation. Finding a place to hunt, be it water, sheet water, ag field, dry ground or what have you, | NOVEMBER 2021

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HUNTING is, perhaps obviously, the first step. OnX Maps can help; so, too, a map of state-owned properties. Once you have a place in mind, it’s a matter of observation. Are there geese there? If so, how many? What time do they come and go? Where, specifically, in the field/on the water do they sit? From what direction do they arrive? It’s all part of the puzzle, and it requires commitment. A time investment. Fuel. Driving. Bottom line: The people who kill geese scout constantly.

Q: The “X” is on property no one can hunt. That means it’s hopeless, right? A: Ugh! I know of a field not far from home the geese absolutely love. The problem is the landowner despises all forms of hunting. How do I know this? He told me when I asked permission to hunt said field. End of story? Not necessarily. I can hunt fields and water both between the roost/daytime loaf and the “X.” So I run traffic; that is, I’ll set a spread between Points A and B, hoping to convince a bird or two to forgo the offlimits-to-hunters field and come visit me. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t; however, it’s what I have in this particular situation. Q: Which call is the best? A: The one you’re comfortable and confident with. Maybe it cost $25. Maybe it cost $200. Price really doesn’t matter. What does matter is matching a call to your skill level and your calling style. Short reed? Perhaps. Flute call? Maybe. Both are fine instruments. Your challenge, then, is to find the call that fits you. You can always, with practice, improve, grow and upgrade, if you wish. Q: Are flute-style goose calls really no good anymore? A: Ah, pish-posh. Flute calls get a bad rap because they’re not YouTube cool. Flute calls are easy to use, typically less expensive than short reeds, and really – really – sound like geese. Can you do everything necessary to kill geese with a flute call? Yes, yes you can. Don’t let 80 Northwest Sportsman


“Which call is the best? The one you’re comfortable and confident with. Maybe it cost $25. Maybe it cost $200. Price really doesn’t matter. What does matter is matching a call to your skill level and your calling style,” Johnson states. (JULIA JOHNSON)

anyone tell you otherwise.

Q: Are there “bad” goose sounds? A: I’m sure there are. On any given morning, I’m positive that if my calling were translated, it would read to say – in goose, mind you – “Fly away! Fly away! There’s a man with a gun down here!” Or something like that. Thanks to Al Gore’s Internet, learning to use a goose call – good sounds and bad sounds – is as easy as googling “How to call geese,” which, by the way, will yield 17.6 million responses.

Q: Flagging doesn’t work for me. It’s a waste of time, yes?

A: For those unfamiliar with the technique, flagging consists literally

of waving a small black cloth flag on a stick from your layout blind, the thought being it simulates a goose standing up tall and stretching, i.e. flapping its wings, something geese do often while on the ground. I have a love/hate relationship with flagging. At times, it seems to work like the tractor beam did on the Millennium Falcon. Mostly, however, geese ignore me and my flag. Do I carry one always? Yes. Do I unfurl it always? I do not. My advice? Try it in quick flicks or flaps, per se. Your goal is to get the birds’ attention before turning to the call. Or keep the birds’ attention should they need a little more convincing. Experimentation is key.

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“I’m a believer in pellet count and pattern density,” writes the author about best shot size for geese. “Thus, I prefer the smallest pellet that will do the job effectively and efficiently.” (JULIA JOHNSON)

Q: What’s the best shot size for geese? A: As I’ve written before, I’m a believer in pellet count and pattern density; thus, I prefer the smallest pellet that will do the job effectively and efficiently. Over decoys (30 yards and in), I’m using No. 4 Hevi-X, No. 3 Bismuth or No. 2 steel. If I think the shots will be longer, I’ll move up to No. 2 Hevi-X and Bismuth, or No. 1 or BB in steel. Are these the best choices across the board? It works for me; still, you’re going to have to find what works for you, your shooting situations, your shotgun and your choke tube, and the only way to do that is to pattern your shotgun.

Q: Will a 20-gauge handle geese, especially big Canadas? A: With the right load (see above) under the right conditions in capable hands and, most importantly, coupled with a goodly dose of selfdiscipline and the willingness to 82 Northwest Sportsman


pass on questionable opportunities – absolutely. Without question.

Q: I’m hitting ’em, but not bringing them down. What’s the deal?

A: They appear big and slow, but they’re not. Canadas, believe it or not, are cruising right around 40 miles per hour, or only slightly slower than a mallard duck doing the same. So, because geese appear slow, we don’t lead them enough. We either miss them completely, or, if we don’t miss them, we hit them too far back. The former is no big deal, and you’ll get over it. The latter isn’t good. Personally, I try to focus on the bird’s head and neck; that is, don’t lead the body. Lead the head. If I’m starting to shoot behind targets, I’ll often switch to a faster load, e.g. Kent Fasteel 2.0 at 1,560 feet per second vs. a traditional velocity of 1,300 fps.

Q: You should never mix silhouette

and full-body decoys, right?

A: I love silhouettes because 1) they’re light, 2) I can pack several dozen easily into the field if necessary, and 3) they work. But, I really like full-bodies for the fact they’re three-dimensional and look as good or better than live geese. Back in the day, it was considered a no-no – by whom, I’m not sure – to mix silhouettes and full-bodies. That changed, however, once someone realized the appear/disappear/ reappear motion, per se, of the silhouettes as the birds circled around the spread lent life to the otherwise static full-bodies. Win-win, eh?

Q: Do you need 1.742 million goose decoys to be successful?

A: It depends on the goose or subspecies of goose you’re hunting. Snow geese and little Canadas, e.g. cacklers or Aleutians, fly and feed in huge groups. Hunt them, and the bigger the spread, the better, with

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HUNTING 300, 400, 500 decoys not being out of the question. White-fronts, or specks, seem to fall somewhere in between little geese and big Canadas; sometimes 24 will work, and other times, you need 150. My typical big Canada rig runs from six to 18 fullbodies. That’s it; no more than 18. But I’m also often hunting the “X,” and operate under the principle that big flocks of big geese on the ground often start with only a handful.

Q: Why don’t more people hunt geese over water?

A: Hunting geese over water is

awesome; however, it’s a lot of work. The biggest complaint, and perhaps rightfully so, is that goose floaters are big, heavy and take up a lot of boat space. And if you have to hump them on your back? Ugh! That said, I’m of a mind that geese can be a bit easier to decoy over water. They feel more secure. Water means safety, and if you’re well-hidden, those honkers should not hesitate. But note that calling geese over water is acoustically different than over land. It’s easier to blow birds out, i.e. too loud or downright frightening, over water. Keep that in mind. “Do you need 1.742 million goose decoys to be successful? It depends on the goose or subspecies of goose you’re hunting,” Johnson believes, with more needed for those kinds that typically occur in large groups. But if you’re where birds want to be, you might only need a dozen or so. (JULIA JOHNSON)

Q: The most important thing to have in your blind bag is ____?

A: I’ll admit it. I pack a pretty hefty blind bag when geese are the target; in fact, I’ve often referred to the contents of said blind bag as being a potpourri o’ crap, most of which never gets used. Still, I’d rather have it and not need it than … you see where I’m going with this, right? But as for the single most important thing, I’d say that’s my iPhone and a portable power source for in-the-field recharging. If something happens to me or to one of my hunting partners, the cell phone can be a lifesaver. Literally. I can’t call 9-1-1 with a folding saw, an extra headlight or a Gerber multi-tool, all of which I will have, by the way.

Q: Is there a right way and a wrong way to stubble a layout blind?

A: It’s important to remember a layout blind is designed to conceal you with only the lightest addition, per se, of native vegetation, raffia grass or what have you. You’re not trying to completely cover up the blind. If you do, it will look like an out-of-place pile of stuff against an otherwise natural or regular background. Go light with the grass. If you don’t strip the blind at the end of the hunt, touch it up before the next outing. Or strip it and start fresh. Always take a minute to stand back, say 30 yards, and look at your hide with a critical eye. Is the ground around the blind flattened? Empty shotgun shells? There is no such thing as an insignificant detail when it comes to hiding. None.

Q: And finally, what’s the best in-thefield goose hunting snack?

A: That one’s easy. My wife’s canned jalapeño albacore tuna on generic Ritz crackers, Winco 58-cent apple and/or cherry fruit pies, dried mango slices and those little white powdered Donettes from Hostess, plus a big Stanley Thermos of coffee. Black, please. NS 84 Northwest Sportsman



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Use Waterfowling Lulls As Teachable Moments D uck season is here, but it’s a slow day in the blind. It might be just the opportunity you need to get some dog GUN DOGGIN’ 101 work done. By Scott Haugen If you have a new pup, a dog that needs help in an actual hunting situation, or a driven dog that gets

bored sitting in one place for hours, then you have a golden opportunity to make that dog a better hunting companion.

EARLIER THIS FALL, a buddy had his 11-month-old black Lab on a duck hunt. It was incessantly whining and wouldn’t sit still. When birds approached, the dog would take off running into the water, breaking even before we shot.

“I don’t know what’s wrong with him,” said my buddy. “He’s from a very elite bloodline …” Genetics are only part of the puzzle when it comes to building a good hunting dog. If you don’t teach a dog what to do, it’ll just keep doing the wrong things. As with raising a child or building a relationship with your spouse, communication is everything when it comes to training a dog.

Duck season is here, and evaluating what needs to be done to help maximize your dog’s potential – fast – is important in breaking bad behaviors and eliminating unwanted habits. (SCOTT HAUGEN) | NOVEMBER 2021

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Should your dog need help in actual hunting situations, working on bumpers across the pond is a good way to turn a slow day in the duck blind into a teachable moment that will help correct bad behaviors. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

I told my buddy to grab his dog, make it sit, make it stay quiet and hold on tight while I shot at the next flock of birds that approached, then release the dog once a bird hit the water – if I could hit one. It worked. A flock came in perfectly, circled our spread two times, and I dropped a double. The dog did what it was supposed to do once my buddy focused on teaching the pup and not shooting birds himself. If hunting alone and your dog breaks, remedy it by using an eye bolt on the blind or a stake driven into the ground with a check cord attached, and issue commands as the situation requires. Don’t let the dog whine, bark, fidget or break because every time you allow that, you’re reinforcing a poor behavior that will quickly turn into a bad habit. 90 Northwest Sportsman


During a hunt last month, another buddy had his five-month-old retriever along. The dog was quiet, but always moving and constantly digging. “I just let him dig so he gets tired,” my buddy said. Three hours later the dog had numerous deep holes dug around us in the muddy slough we hunted. It was covered in mud and not once did my buddy try to stop it. Again, it was a dog with a lot of names and prizes in the bloodline, but that doesn’t mean a thing if you’re not going to teach it the difference between right and wrong, and I pointed this out to him.

THE HUNT ISN’T an ideal place to train a dog, but realistically, few hunters devote proper time to train their dogs in actual hunting situations before the season starts. If not

properly trained before hunting season, dogs won’t know where to sit, how to sit still, be quiet, mark approaching birds or react to a shot. All this should be dialed in before hunting season, but if not, turn those slow days into training sessions. Take bumpers with you to train in and out of the water when birds aren’t flying. Work on multiple retrieves in the decoys, as well as blind retrieves on land. Work on hand signals and verbal commands. Teach your dog discipline and restraint, letting it know exactly what it’s supposed to do on a hunt. Blow your call, shoot your gun, emulate actions the dog will encounter all season long, and maximize those teachable moments by fixing what your dog needs remedied. If your dog is high energy, take it on a walk and look for other birds in the

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COLUMN A great hunting dog is built by proper training well before the dog embarks upon actual hunts. Author Scott Haugen worked hard with his dog, Echo, who’ll quietly sit all day long, mark birds and retrieve on command. (SCOTT HAUGEN)

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area to possibly hunt. Oftentimes snipe, quail, crows, even rabbits can be hunted in surrounding duck habitat. These are great breaks to offer and create even more teachable moments. Then return to the duck blind and issue clear commands of what you expect your dog to do: be quiet, sit still, etc. DOGS NEED TO be trained in real hunting situations, and those slow days in the duck blind can be the ticket to building a great dog or allowing it to remain mediocre; the choice is yours. The goal is to keep future hunts from turning into training sessions, as hunts are a place dogs need to focus and obey every command all day long, but if they don’t know this prior to the hunt, at least you have a starting point and the potential to turn things in a positive direction. Take charge; that’s what dog owners are supposed to do. NS Editor’s note: To watch Scott Haugen’s series of puppy training videos, visit Follow Scott on Instagram and Facebook.

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Washington riflemen, muzzleloaders and bowhunters all have solid opportunities to notch their tags in November. (JASON BROOKS)

Better Late Than Never A

few months ago my cellphone rang and I saw that it was my father calling. I answered in hopes he NW PURSUITS had good news about By Jason Brooks my brother and other family members who were out chasing deer with their muzzleloaders in the early season. Instead, it was the typical “We saw lots of deer, a few nice bucks, but other hunters kept driving by and scaring them off.” He ended with, “You need to be over here and bring us some of your luck.” Apparently the fact that my deer tag is notched more often than not over the years

means I am “lucky” at killing deer. In reality it is timing, not just intercepting deer during the right weather, but also the amount of time I hunt deer, as well as what I do with that time when I am hunting. For the Northwest sportsman, there is still plenty of time to fill that un-notched deer tag.

NOVEMBER IS PRIME deer hunting time, whether for the whitetails of Northeast Washington, Central and North Idaho and Western Montana, or for the blacktails of the rainforests of Western Oregon and Western Washington. Deer are in the rut during the late fall and this means bucks will be on the move. Then throw in some cold weather that will require more calories

to keep warm and you have a combination for success afield. Whitetails are habitual by nature and mostly live on small parcels of land that are networked with trails from bedding to feeding areas. Same goes for blacktails, but for some reason deer hunters don’t always realize this. Many drive logging roads and scan clearcuts in hopes a deer will be out feeding or on the move. Regardless of species, hunters can do equally as well by concentrating on smaller areas and focusing on the deer activity for that given spot. Rattling works for both species and blacktails will even scrape and work trails looking for receptive does like whitetails do. If you find a new rub, it is best to find | NOVEMBER 2021

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COLUMN season in most of Western Washington, an opportunity that yields a good number of deer relative to October’s general season. Archery and muzzleloader hunters will be hitting the deer woods just before Thanksgiving with a liberal season as well, most three weeks or longer and often “any deer” is legal to take. Idaho offers general season hunts through the entire month and again, some units are any whitetail deer. Hunt either species the same way.

A FRESH SNOW really helps in locating deer. Not because you will find them easier to spot with their dark brown coat against the white backdrop, but the deer often use the same areas and trails. A snow means you can find fresh tracks and that is half the battle – knowing when the deer are passing through. At first light look at trails to see if a deer was moving through during the night and then come back in the afternoon and see if new tracks appear. Snow also seems to keep blacktails out a bit longer and they often hang out near the snowline, preferring rain over snow. Of course the white stuff also helps with tracking deer when you get the shot opportunity. Blacktails live within small areas, with studies showing a deer might live in only a few hundred acres for an entire year or even their entire life. This means if you saw a buck earlier in the year, and it made it through the previous hunting seasons, then it is still in the area. Again, this is why you should focus on a single area instead of driving roads and prowling logging decks. Look around and see where the bedding areas are and know that is where you need to be during the midday when the deer are bedded. Use the weather to your advantage. With the whitetail and blacktail rut peaking this month, look for signs of buck presence like rubs and scrapes. (JASON BROOKS) a place to sit for a bit and rattle, look and listen. A good friend of mine, Brian Chlipala, used to hunt whitetails every year in Central Idaho. He would rattle in bucks in what he called the “icky thicky,” meaning he would find intersecting trails and sit in the thick brush and rattle. He described how mature bucks often just appeared out 96 Northwest Sportsman


of nowhere. For blacktails, look to reprod that has Christmas-tree-sized Douglas firs, about 6 to 10 feet tall. You will notice trails going through the young trees and this is where to set up and wait for a buck, or call one to you. This month’s prime for all three weapon types. Rifle hunters have a four-day late

A FEW YEARS ago I was hunting blacktails during the late season. It had snowed all night and the temperatures had dropped to 19 degrees during the day. A wind was also kicking up, so instead of looking at large clearcuts I looked down into creek drainages, places where the deer would be out of the wind and able to sit in the sunshine to warm up after a cold night. I found some deer bedded on a bench and was able to sneak down on them and notch my tag.

COLUMN On rainy days it seems blacktails prefer to move around and don’t mind being wet. One of my friends who is very successful in the late rifle season, which occurs during the rut, will sit in his truck, watching the road with binoculars to catch deer moving. The best way to do this is to find a stand of old growth or standing timber on one side of the road and a clearcut with reprod on the other. The bucks will move all day looking for receptive does and eventually will cross the logging road. Blacktails rarely take off and instead just meander; you can

catch up to them if you walk quietly. Testing his theory while out muzzleloader hunting several years back, I caught some deer moving across a logging road, coming off of the thick timber into the clearcut. I missed the first deer, and about 20 minutes later another came along and I missed again. I figured something was wrong with my muzzleloader and since I had already fired a few times, I set out a cardboard box to check my sights. While doing this, deer crossed on that same trail three more

Edges between Douglas firs as tall as Christmas trees and blocks of tall timber are good places to hunt for blacktails. (JASON BROOKS)

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times while I was sitting there. After I rechecked my sights, I didn’t miss the last one and again notched my deer tag.

LUCK IS NICE to have, but knowing how to hunt the deer species, location and weather really helps you fill those tags. Sure, I don’t mind if I am considered a good luck charm, but I know that hard work helps too. November provides hunters one of the best chances to put venison in the freezer, so don’t let the late season go by without trying to notch your tag. NS | NOVEMBER 2021

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Late deer hunters will hope for snow and cold temperatures to keep their quarry more active, and bucks will also be out and about seeking does during the rut. (BUZZ RAMSEY)

Don’t Buck Chance To Hunt Rutty Deer W

e a t h e r invar iably plays an important role in the late buck hunts in both Eastern and Western ON TARGET Washington, and By Dave Workman honestly, if you’re lucky, there’s going to be snow on the ground. I’ve hunted the late season many times,

and there is nothing like a good snow to help quiet things down, keep deer in a feeding mood to stay warm, and they will move around for the same reason. A whitetail buck I conked during a late season east of Colville was making his way through an older snowy clearcut and he made the fatal error of walking into the open within rifle range. One shot through the ticker with a .257

Roberts at more than 100 yards downhill dropped him. For what it’s worth, dragging a buck out to your truck several hundred yards away is a lot easier if you can skid the animal across a layer of snow! I field dressed him and filled the body cavity with snow to cool him down. If I have to make the late hunt, I’ll be carrying that .257 Roberts again. It’s got a synthetic stock, a powerful scope and | NOVEMBER 2021

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COLUMN If author Dave Workman winds up hunting late-season bucks, he’ll likely be using his trusty .257 Roberts with its Ramline stock and Harris bipod. He’s notched a few tags with this buck buster. (DAVE WORKMAN)

bipod, so I can take a stand high on a clearcut and just sit still. Westside blacktails aren’t impervious to

weather conditions, either. When daylight starts fading in the afternoon around 3 to 4 p.m., depending upon weather conditions,

be sure to work the edges of old clearcuts. Find a good spot to sit tight, use your binoculars to glass those areas where there is evidence of recent deer movement, and just wait. This time of year, I keep a pair of stretch rubber scope covers over the scope lenses until it’s time to shoot. This keeps rain or snow and other crud off the glass.

THE EASTSIDE LATE rifle buck hunt for

Along with rifle hunts, late muzzleloader seasons crank up later in the month. It’s time to break out the front-stuffer and your black powder or a substitute such as Pyrodex or Triple Se7en. (DAVE WORKMAN) 102 Northwest Sportsman


whitetails (no mule deer) runs November 6-19 in Game Management Units 105, 108, 111, 113, 117, 121 and 124 for any buck. It closes on a Friday, but hunters get two full weekends, and by the end of this season, expect bucks to be nearing the peak of the rut. Find does and you’ll likely find bucks nearby. Look for scrapes and stake them out. The late Westside modern firearms buck hunt is the traditional four-day affair running November 18-21, Thursday through Sunday, in most units outside of the northern Cascades and by this time, the blacktail rut ought to be peaking too. Regardless of which side of the state one hunts, bucks in rut can be kind of stupid at times because they’re interested in romance.

COLUMN The late Westside season is open in GMUs 407, 454, 466, 501 through 505, 506, 510 through 520, 524, 530, 550 through 560, 568, 572, 601 through 621, 624 (except Deer Area 6020), 627 through 654, 658 through 684, and 699 for any buck. In GMUs 410 through 417, 419 through 422, 423, 424, 564, 655 and Deer Area 6020, you can take any deer, according to the regs. Get back into the brush and find those little clearings back from the roads a couple of hundred yards. Locate deer trails with recent traffic and find a spot from which you can spot movement. Watch for does and stay put because a buck could be following them.

GRANDPA WORKMAN USED to say that if you sit down in the woods long enough, a deer is going to walk by. It’s more likely to happen where they already have been walking and it’s up to you to find those spots. The full moon arrives November 19, so if the sky is clear leading up to that date, evenings will be bright. On the other hand,

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here are several Eastside units open for general late muzzleloader hunting for any elk through November 15. They are GMUs 203, 209 through 248, 250, 254 through 272, 278, 284, 290, 373, 379 and 381. Hunters must wear hunter orange and/ or hunter pink. A season for any elk runs November 25-December 8 in GMUs 130 through 142, but note the area is very open and largely private, so permission is needed. On the Westside, GMU 407 is open for any elk December 16-31, while Elk Area 4601 (mainly private) and GMUs 501, Brennon Hart bagged this elk with his 503, 504, 505 and 652 (except Elk Area muzzleloader during a late hunt in the Mashel 6013 is closed to antlerless) are open for Unit on the west side of Mt. Rainier a few seasons back. (COAST HUNTING PHOTO CONTEST) three-point-plus bulls or antlerless elk. GMUs 454, 564, 666 and 684 and Elk Area 6014 are open November 24-December 15 for any elk. GMUs 568, 574 and 578 are open Nov. 24-30 for three-point-minimum bulls. And GMUs 448, 601, 618, 651 and 658 are open November 24-December 15 for three-point-minimum bulls. Always check the regulations for details, and keep your powder dry! –DW

COLUMN if we’re experiencing typical November weather, skies will be overcast and it won’t make any difference. If it doesn’t snow, at least by then there will have been rain and maybe enough windy weather to blow all the leaves off the trees. Visibility will improve dramatically for folks who hunt from a stand, which can be anything including a stump or big rock. Just sit as still as possible and dress warmly. Wear gloves and don’t overlook a good pocket hand warmer. The likelihood you’ll spot a buck in the road is pretty thin. Successful hunters get away from the roads because that’s where the deer will be. Always have binoculars for glassing an area. And be sure to take along a .22 pistol if you have one. I’ve bumped into so many late-season grouse, especially in Northeast Washington, I lost count of them.

MUZZLELOADER HUNTERS ALSO have late hunts, and bagging a deer with a blackpowder rifle is as challenging as

doing so with a handgun. I’ve done both, and for the folks who like front-stuffers, your late seasons kick off after the late modern rifle hunts. For blacktail deer, the late season runs November 24-December 15 for any deer in the following GMUs: 407, 410, 411, 412, 413, 414, 415, 416, 417, 419, 420, 421, 422, 423, 424, 454, 504, 564, 633, 654, 666, 667 and 684. Note that seven of those units – all islands in Puget Sound – require muzzleloaders to wear hunter orange or hunter pink like their modern firearms counterparts. In GMUs 448, 460, 501, 602, 621, 651, 658 and 673, the hunt is open for any buck. For whitetail, GMU 113 is open for any buck November 24-December 8, and November 25-December 8 in GMUs 130, 133, 136,139 and 142, with a three-point minimum. GMUs 172 and 181 are open November 20-December 8, also for a three-point minimum, and in GMUs 379 and 381 the season runs November 25-December 8 for any deer.

There is a late muzzleloader hunt for buck mule deer, also in GMUs 379 and 381 on the same dates for whitetail, with a three-point minimum, and in Unit 382 (except closed in Deer Area 5382) November 20-30, also with a three-point minimum for mule deer bucks. There have been many developments in muzzleloaders over the years with inlines far outdistancing caplocks and flintlocks in terms of popularity. Pyrodex and other black powder substitutes are more popular than genuine black powder. I’m a caplock shooter, and own two good rifles. One is a slightly improved Lyman Trade Rifle in .54 caliber with buckhorn fixed sights and the other is a Thompson/Center Hawken Custom in .50 caliber with an adjustable rear sight. When I actively hunted with a muzzleloader, I preferred black powder in both guns and years ago obtained “quick loaders” that carry a premeasured powder charge and a bullet or patched round ball in the event a quick reload was necessary. NS

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Afield without his sons for the first time in years, a mule deer hunter with a coveted special permit has to overcome the urge to quit and go back home.

By Ken Witt


couldn’t have timed it any better. After driving through the night, I finally arrived at my spot an hour before daylight. It was the second week in November and the mule deer rut was kicking in. I pulled off the Forest Service road, killed my headlights and eased down toward the trailhead. Navigating only by moonlight and the sound of gravel beneath the tires, I soon arrived at the gate. I rolled up the window and shut off the truck. I knew I needed to get going but I just couldn’t make myself go. I had dreamed about this hunt for years and after finally drawing the tag, it felt a little anticlimactic. I couldn’t remember the last time I went on a hunt like this by myself, without the kids. It just didn’t feel right. I always loved hunting deer solo,

Unmotivated to be hunting without his kids, Ken Witt was initially ready to fill his special permit with the first legal buck he saw and go home, but he ended up staying several days. (KEN WITT) | NOVEMBER 2021

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HUNTING but now it felt forced. I watched as the sun crept over the treeless ridgetops, but not from the head of draw – rather, inside the cab of my truck. “What has happened to me?” Unorganized, unprepared and unmotivated, there I sat, with my rifle still in its scabbard and the contents of my pack scattered on the dash. I had to convince myself to get out and go. I knew it would get easier once I actually got up there. So I dumped the last of my cold gas station coffee out onto the frozen

ground, locked the truck and headed up the ridge. The answer to my question was obvious: Hunting just wasn’t the same without my kids.

YOU DON’T EVEN see it coming. All of the reasons you used to hunt get thrown out the window when you have kids. When it was just me, I would often hold out, passing on smaller bucks, always looking for a bigger one than the year before. Sure, I hunted for meat too, but a nice set of antlers was the real prize. Kids, however, will change you in

Taking in the beauty of fall in the Methow Valley and natural world helped Witt to begin to appreciate his outing as more than a solo hunt. (BEN HOWARD, CC BY-SA 2.0) 110 Northwest Sportsman


a hurry. I realized early on that they didn’t care much about antler size; they just wanted to see Dad kill a buck. Then things changed again when they were old enough to tag along. I still tried to get a buck for their sake, but it was the teaching that I really enjoyed. My long hikes and all-day excursions were replaced with short treks, made close to home, and almost always on flat ground. I learned a lot about patience, as most of our hunts were cut short by cold hands and cold feet. I did end up

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HUNTING The November timing of Witt’s hunt should have seen more deer in the area, but without weather pushing them to the winter range, there weren’t many, making it tough for him to want to continue. But after helping some fellow hunters pack out their buck, they provided some tips that would help put him on deer. (KEN WITT)

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with a few bucks during those times, but not many, and they were usually small. Once the kids passed hunter safety and started packing a rifle of their own, the fun really began. I went six years in a row where I never pulled the trigger, but my kids did. First it was a spike blacktail or two. Soon after, bigger bucks started showing up in the cooler. By high school they also had several black bears, a cow moose and a true seven-by-seven Roosevelt bull taken with a bow. They had things pretty well figured out; my job was easy now. I used to say all the time that once the kids became selfsufficient, I could start hunting for myself again. But I learned to be careful what you wish for. This was the first time in years that I was hunting for myself, and instead of enjoying it, I was fighting back the urge to go home. Most of us can relate to the stories that we hear regarding people who

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HUNTING have lost interest in hunting or fishing when they lose their partner. Be it a grandpa, a father or maybe a lifelong buddy, the desire to head afield without them just isn’t there anymore. It’s a little different for a dad, especially me. My kids aren’t gone; they’re just busy creating a life of their own. I know we will always find time to hunt in the future, but it doesn’t make it easier today. Transforming from a hunter to a hunting dad was easy. Transitioning back, on the other hand, was proving to be a bit more challenging. I suppose in a way it’s like being married and raising a family. You spend the first half of your marriage parenting, sacrificing everything for your kids. Every decision you make has their best interest in mind. Then in a blink of an eye, they grow up and move out, leaving you and your spouse to sit on the couch and stare at each other wondering, What’s next?

IT WAS ALMOST noon by the time I got up to where I wanted to glass from. I didn’t really expect to see much at that hour, but since I was there I figured I would make the best of it. I opened my pack and took out my favorite Pendleton jacket. The snow was scarce for this time of year, but it was still cold. I set up my spotting scope, got settled in and started glassing. It didn’t take long to see my first deer. A doe and a yearling appeared out of a small patch of brush and fed their way up the ridge. I glassed hard, hoping to see a buck trailing them. No such luck. Without an early snow there would be no migration and the mature bucks would stay in the high country. Not really wanting to be there anyway, I used that as an excuse in deciding to shoot the first branched buck I saw and go home. It was a far cry from the many occasions I sat and glassed areas just

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like this for hours with the boys. Most of the time on cold days we would build a small fire to keep us warm. We could have survived just fine without one, but it gave them something extra to do, so we built them anyway. As they got older they would bring along a mess kit and some Top Ramen or Chef Boyardee Mini Raviolis. That also helped pass the time and kept them interested. This day alone, I too had everything with me to build a fire, except the desire, so I didn’t. I would always tell the boys to find something memorable on each hunt. That way when you come home empty-handed, the hunt would not be a waste. I would make them share their stories on the way home. I figured it was about time to start practicing what I had preached for so many years and put an end to my pity party. From that point on, anytime I wanted to quit, I would remind myself of the message imparted by

HUNTING a National Geographic photographer I listened to years ago. He was talking about shooting nature shots. He said when it comes to enjoying nature, “You have to believe it to see it.” No matter where you are, there is something amazing to see if you have the patience to seek it out. So, I stayed a while longer, looking for deer of course, but also taking in the breathtaking beauty the Methow Valley had to offer. I was starting to really enjoy this place.

His buck wasn’t like the big-racked bruisers he targeted years ago, but Witt realized he now was also “nothing like the guy I was back then either” and was at peace pulling the trigger. (KEN WITT)


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THE NEXT FEW days had their ups and downs. Staying motivated was a lot harder than I thought, even more so when you can’t find a buck. I explored some new areas and met a few interesting folks along the way. I helped a guy and his elderly father pack out a nice buck. I took a break from hunting later that evening to swing by their camp and take them up on the offer of a whiskey, or two. Being freshly tagged out, they had no



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HUNTING problem pointing me to a new area that they had scouted prior to season. I thanked them for the drink and went back to camp, loaded my maps and researched the area. Being on a solo hunt, dinner was simple that night: The tin of smoked baby oysters was a wonderful treat, even better washed down with a beer. After reviewing my maps, I had a pretty solid plan. The next morning I actually beat the sun and was on top of the ridge as it got light. About a mile from the truck, I saw my first buck of the trip, a nice three-point I wouldn’t have hesitated to shoot on day one. I glassed him for a while, got a range of 330 yards and thought about it for several minutes before letting him walk away. For the first time on this hunt, I was living in the moment, and not in a hurry to go back home. I sat up from behind my pack to watch him as he worked down the long ridge toward

the timber. Before moving again, I took a quick look around and as luck would have it, another buck appeared from behind the ridge, in the exact same spot. I found him in the glasses, took an extra-long look and decided I shouldn’t press my luck. I knew he was not what I had set out for so many years ago. I also knew that as a hunter, I was nothing like the guy I was back then either. With a solid rest over my pack, I took the shot. I lay there for a while taking everything in before gathering up my gear. It took me several minutes to get over to him, which gave me plenty of time to reflect on this journey. I had come a long way in four days and part of me, albeit a small part, was going to miss this place. It was early, and with all day ahead of me, there was no reason to hurry. After a few pictures, I started skinning, deboning and loading bags

of meat onto my pack. Every once in a while I stopped to watch the flock of ravens as they impatiently circled overhead. I’m sure they were more than a little annoyed at my relaxed pace. Once loaded, I headed for the pickup, pausing one more time to take a mental picture of the countryside.

IT HAD TAKEN me a while to find joy in this hunt, but I eventually did. My buck was certainly not a trophy to most hunters, but I didn’t care. Every set of antlers in your house or in your garage has a story. When I look at this one, it doesn’t matter what it did or didn’t score. What matters is the sense of accomplishment that I felt. Not in killing a deer, but in overcoming the urge to quit and go home early. My boys are very skilled hunters, and they got that way because I loved hunting; I just had to convince myself that I still did. NS

Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation (All periodicals publications except requester publications) 1. Publication Title: Northwest Sportsman. 2. Publication Number: 025-251. 3. Filing Date: Oct. 18, 2021. 4. Issue Frequency: Monthly. 5. Number of issues published annually: 12. 6. Annual Subscription Price: 29.95. 7. Complete mailing address of known office of publication: 14240 Interurban Avenue South, Suite 190, Tukwila, WA 98168. Contact Person: John Rusnak. Telephone: 206-382-9220. 8. Complete mailing address of headquarters or general business office of publisher: 14240 Interurban Avenue South, Suite 190, Tukwila, WA 98168. 9. Full names and complete addresses of publisher, editor, and managing editor: Publisher: James Baker, 14240 Interurban Avenue South, Suite 190, Tukwila, WA 98168. Editor: Andy Walgamott, 14240 Interurban Avenue South, Suite 190, Tukwila, WA 98168. Managing editor: None. 10. Owner: James Baker, 14240 Interurban Avenue South, Suite 190, Tukwila, WA 98168. 11. Known bondholders, mortgagees, and other security holders or holding 1 percent or more of total amount of bonds, mortgages, or other securities. If none, check box: none. 12. Tax status: Has not changed during preceding 12 months. 13. Publication title: Northtwest Sportsman. 14. Issue date for circulation data below: August 2021. 15. Extent and nature of circulation: a.Total number of copies: 59930. b. Paid circulation (by mail and outside the mail). (1) Mailed ouside-county paid subscriptions stated on PS Form 3541 (Include paid distribution above nominal rate, advertiser’s proof copies, and exchange copies): 2084. (2) Mailed in-county paid subscriptions stated on PS Form 3541 (Include paid distribution above nominal rate, advertiser’s proof copies, and exchange copies): 0. (3) Paid distribution outside the mails including sales through dealers and carriers, street vendors, counter sales, and other paid distribution outside USPS: 32456. (4) Paid distribution by other classes of mail through the USPS (e.g. first-class mail): 2793. c. Total paid distribution: 37333. d. Free or nominal rate distribution (by mail and outside the mail). (1) Free or nominal rate outside-county copies included on PS Form 3360: 2685. (2) Free or nominal rate in-county copies included on PS Form 3541: 0. (3) Free or nominal rate copies mailed at other classes through the USPS (e.g. first-class mail): 611. (4) Free or nominal rate distribution outside the mail (carriers or other means): 2580. e. Total free or nominal rate distribution: 5876. f. Total distribution: 43209. g. Copies not distributed: 16721. h. Total: 59930. i. Percent paid: 86.40% 17. Publication of statement of ownership: If the publication is a general publication, publication of this statement is required. Will be printed in the December issue of this publication. 18. Signature and title of editor, publisher, business manager, or owner: John Rusnak, General Manager. Date: Oct. 18, 2021. I verify all the information furnished on this form is true and complete. I understand that anyone who furnishes false or misleading information on this form or who omits material or information requested on the form may be subject to criminal sanctions (including fines and imprisonment) and/or sanctions (including civil penalties).

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Northwest Sportsman 119


Earlier this fall, Dr. Nate Roe (left) successfully participated in a joint Idaho Department of Fish and Game-Idaho Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers “learn to hunt” class, with the field portion of the course led by author Randy King. (RANDY KING)

Teaching Hunting O

n the opposite hillside, two elk were paralleling Nate and I. One looked to be slightly CHEF IN THE WILD smaller than the By Randy King other, most likely a 11/2-year-old cow. The perfect meat. “Shoot the one in the back,” I said to Nate, who had a cow tag in his pocket. Grabbing my shooting stick, he

wavered for a moment. Getting his grip right, he took a moment to settle down. “Two hundred and two yards,” I said, hoping to calm his nerves. Earlier in the day, Nate had said he was comfortable out to 200 for a shot. I whistled at the elk; they stopped and looked down at us. Nate’s first shot was a hit, but the elk was still standing. “Hit her again,” I said. Nate shot again and the elk fell.

The next bit, well, the next bit was special. I will remember it until the day I die. It was the look and smile of total amazement on Nate’s face. He had shot an elk, on his first hunt ever, in the first three hours of hunting. I was smiling ear to ear as well.

IT WAS A culmination of events for the both of us. I had just fulfilled my role as a mentor for a completely new hunter. Nate had just capped off participating in a program | NOVEMBER 2021

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hen I worked in restaurants, I had a supplier explain to me that if a lamb was all “racks and shanks,” he would have been sold out years ago and the lamb would be a boring animal. He meant that the desired cuts of meat are the first to sell, as well as the least creative options. He then tried to convince me that a lamb “cube steak” was a good idea for the menu. I agreed – and sold a pile of them. Cube steak is, and always will be, a great option for those less-desired cuts of meat. To “cube” a steak just means to tenderize it. Several different options exist for this process. You can place a slab of meat between sheets of plastic wrap, pound it thin, then gently slice a crosshatch pattern on both sides. This will tenderize the chewiest bull elk roast. Or – and like I have done – you can buy a cube steak machine. A set of rollers tenderize the meat with sharp blades. After the meat is cubed or tenderized, make sure you separate the slices with wax paper. Otherwise, the myosin in the meat will make them all stick together – a bad thing.

Elk cube steak 11/2 pounds elk “cube steak” 2 teaspoons seasoned salt Freshly ground black pepper ¾ teaspoon paprika ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper 1 tablespoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon cumin 1 cup milk 2 eggs, whisked 1½ cups all-purpose flour ¼ cup corn starch 1 teaspoon paprika ½ cup canola or vegetable oil Heat the oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit in a high-sided, heavy-bottomed pan; a Dutch oven works great. A great way to tell if the 122 Northwest Sportsman


Chicken fried elk steak with gravy and mashed potatoes. (RANDY KING) oil is hot enough is to place the tip of a wooden spoon into the hot oil. If the wood releases little bubbles, the oil is hot enough. Heat the oven to 175. While the oil is heating, get out four mixing bowls. In bowl 1, add the meat and the seasoning (seasoning salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder and cumin). Mix well until seasoning is well coated on all of the meat. In bowl 2, pour the milk. Crack the eggs into bowl 3. And in bowl 4, combine the corn starch, paprika and flour. When the meat is seasoned, quickly dunk it into the milk, then into the flour and then the eggs. After the eggs, return it to the flour. Make sure to coat the steaks evenly during this process. Place the coated cube steaks on a plate and make sure they do not touch one another. Otherwise, they will stick. Do not try and bread these in advance; it does not work. Ask me how I know … When ready, fry the steaks until they are GBD – golden brown and delicious – which takes about three minutes per side. Make sure you give the oil time to recover temperature between frying steaks. If you don’t, the first one will be good and the

rest, well, not so much. Reserve the cooked steaks in the oven set to 175. When the steaks are all cooked, it is time for the gravy.

Gravy ¼ cup of the breading flour, if any is left over; if not, use all-purpose flour Grease at the bottom of the fry pan 2 cups of milk Seasoned salt, as needed Freshly ground black pepper, as needed When all the steaks are cooked, examine how much oil is left in the pan. If needed, add about a tablespoon more. Then add the flour to the frying pan and make a thick paste. This is called roux. Cook that until it is one solid dark golden color. Then remove the roux and put it in a mixing bowl. Slowly add the milk to the bowl, careful to avoid clumps. Then slowly add the milk/roux mix back to the pan to thicken. Otherwise, the gravy will have a lot of lumps. Season as needed with salt and pepper. Serve with mashed potatoes. For more wild game recipes, see –RK | NOVEMBER 2021

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COLUMN Roe beams over the backstrap from his tender young elk, taken three hours into his first hunt ever. It was a rewarding experience for both the hunting mentee and the mentor. (RANDY KING)

offered by Idaho Fish and Game and the Idaho Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. It is a “learn to hunt” class that goes above and beyond hunters ed. “New and inexperienced hunters signed up for a five-class program on hunting skills, such as basic scouting, where to hunt, identifying animals, glassing and shooting skills,” explained Edward Rebman, BHA Southwest Idaho co-chair. “Following the classroom instruction, each student was paired with an experienced hunter for a one-day deer hunt. Twenty-five students participated in the program and three made a successful harvest on their mentored hunt.” To participate, the new hunters must have completed, or been in the process of completing, the normal hunter’s education program before enrolling in the class. Me being labeled as a more “experienced hunter” was a flattering move on the part of BHA. You can get everywhere with flattery. 124 Northwest Sportsman


My mentee was Dr. Nate Roe, a Seattlearea native who moved to Wyoming for grad school. He wanted to learn to hunt there but never did. When he landed in Idaho, he found out about BHA and enrolled in the “Learn to Hunt, Hunt for Sustainability” program. Nate and I met for a beer before the hunt and we promptly agreed to share a tent. Short courtship, but Nate is an avid backpacker and backpack hunting is my jam. After looking at maps, we decided to head north to a spot I know of behind a ranch and look for some deer and elk.

THE PLAN NATE and I had worked out was working very well. He had already spotted some deer from the truck – he had a buck and a cow tag. One of those deer had horns, a good sign. But the deer blew the roost as soon as we moved away from the vehicles. However, about 11/2 miles back, we came to the draw I had scouted earlier in the season. In one of the side ravines, I

glassed up a spike elk. Since these young bulls are almost never alone, we decided to change angles for glassing. When we did, we caught sight of several cows bedded up. Perfect – drop elevation, use the wind and the willows as cover, 100-yard shot. The whole plan was working very well – until the wind changed. At that point, I was certain we were SOL. I could not shake the feeling that the elk had long since busted us as we slowly crept up the hill. Indeed, when we got to the bedding area, no elk were to be found. But the herd was not gone. They had simply moved across the draw. That is when I spotted the two cows sidehilling. And that is when Nate made meat for the first time. BHA’s Rebman describes it well when he says, “As a mentor, I find the program extremely rewarding, to pass on knowledge to engaged students who are very interested in hunting but don’t know where to begin.” NS


FOR YOUR PROTECTION is retired Fish and Wildlife Detective Todd Vandivert’s sixth book of his Wildlife Justice Series. In this book, Washington Fish and Wildlife Officer Mike Fetisov works to apprehend a serial poacher who has been killing, mutilating, and leaving big game animals to rot. While Officer Fetisov tirelessly works to identify and apprehend the poacher, other fish and wildlife officers in Okanogan County attempt to determine the true intentions of a group of heavily armed right-wing extremists living and operating a business in Okanogan County. Todd began his career with the Washington Department of Game in 1979. Todd served as the editor of the Washington Game Warden Association magazine, the editor of International Game Warden Magazine. Todd served with the WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife for 34-years, the last eight of which he worked undercover.

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Black Hills Ammunition New for 2021 is the Black Hills Ammo 6.5 Creedmoor 130-grain Dual Performance. Upon impact, the bullet expands quickly; the petals then fracture and continue penetrating, cutting through stressed tissue. Adequate penetration is assured by the projectile’s solid copper shank, retaining a uniform weight, which continues on to a depth of up to 27 inches. Velocity is 2,800 feet per second from a 22-inch barrel.

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Stocky’s Stocks At under 24 ounces, Stocky’s new Carbon Hunter is sure to find its way into some very nice rifles. The UltraLite NextGen CF Hunter is a full-size hunting stock designed for any barrel you might want to run on it, from sporter to M24/Proof carbon (or even larger). Truly the next generation of carbon fiber layup: they are stronger, lighter and more precisely machined than ever before.

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Leelock The new Crab Cracker tool from Leelock will allow you to measure your Dungeness crabs to determine which ones are legal to keep. Then use the “cracker” to crack them in half, separating the two clusters from the shell and guts. The Cracker has been designed so that it sits nicely on top of a 5-gallon bucket, perfect for when you clean crabs. The bucket gives you a stable base, which makes it easier to clean – the guts and mess go into the bucket, making cleanup a snap. Crabs cleaned this way take up half as much space as whole crabs, so you can cook twice as many in your kettle. The Crab Cracker is a unique tool made from solid aluminum, and comes in handy for cleaning Dungeness crabs.

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CHINOOK Chinook Marine Repair, Inc. (800) 457-9459

MOUNT VERNON Master Marine Boat Center, Inc. (360) 336-2176

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Vortex Optics Western hunting demands an optic built for long range and the long haul, and the Razor HD LHT 4.5-22x50 FFP delivers. You still get the core of the Razor HD LHT, including a stunning HD optical system and rugged build in a scope that’s among the lightest in its class.

PrOlix Lubricants Even Santa would love to see a bottle of PrOlix in his stocking this holiday season! There is no product on the market to date that works like PrOlix; just see their ad in this publication and learn more over at their website! Let PrOlix make it a joyful holiday!

Diversified Innovative Products The folks at DIP Inc. are not content with the cheap plastic parts that many firearms companies produce to cut production costs for rimfire firearms. At DIP, they make drop-in metal replacement parts and accessories that are both high quality and affordable. All products are made in the USA. DIP manufactures parts for the following brands: CZ, Marlin, Savage, Ruger, Remington, Tikka, Steyr, S&W, Howa, Marlin, Sako, Anschutz, Henry and others. 132 Northwest Sportsman


Sage Canyon Outfitters A Sage Canyon gift card is the perfect way to give the hunter in your life exactly what they want! Gift cards can be used toward anything on the ranch, including bird packages, guides, lodging and much more! | NOVEMBER 2021

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Todd Vandivert Retired Washington Fish and Wildlife Detective Todd Vandivert has written seven books, including the nonfiction Operation Cody and the six-book fiction series Wildlife Justice. Operation Cody details an actual undercover operation conducted in Washington. The fictional Wildlife Justice series is centered around fictional game wardens in Okanogan County, Washington. Available now on Amazon! Introducing the only shoe dryer on the market that dries three pairs of boots or shoes at once. New multiport base with push-button digital display allows for easy operation. Works with all DryPort accessories (excluding Helmet). Dries in one to four hours with heat/no-heat settings. Up to four tubes can be shut off manually when not in use. Doing so will increase fan velocity of tubes in use. New handle and space-saving design make for a more portable unit.

Nootka Marine Adventures West Coast saltwater fishing at its finest with Nootka Marine Adventures! Gift certificates are available for three luxurious resorts on the west coast of Vancouver Island, Canada. Target salmon, halibut, lingcod, albacore tuna and more. Allinclusive stays with gourmet meals. The perfect gift for any angler!

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OREGON CULVER Culver Marine (541) 546-3354

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American Turbine American Turbine manufactures six models of jets for welded aluminum and fiberglass boats. American Turbine produces repair parts for all domestic jets, as well as repair parts for Hamilton models HJ212, HJ213 and HJ241.

Boat Insurance Agency The Boat Insurance Agency is an independent agency representing the best marine insurance companies. They carefully compare a number of policies to find the lowest premiums and best values for your boat insurance needs. Boat Insurance Agency is owned and operated by Northwest boaters. They have the local knowledge needed to understand boating in the West, along with your special needs. Contact them for an insurance quote and to learn more about the value and service they can offer.

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US Marine Sales & Service US Marine Sales and Service is the Puget Sound’s leader in providing the friendliest service backed by years of expertise in both the salt- and freshwater environments. It is their goal to work closely with their customers to save them time and money while creating excellent value in their products and service. For over 30 years, the familyowned and -operated US Marine Sales and Service has been passionate about boating. Stop by and check out their wide variety of parts and accessories. They also carry Yamaha boats, Yamaha WaveRunners, Yamaha outboards, G3 boats, SunCatcher pontoons, Weldcraft boats and EZ Loader trailers.

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138 Northwest Sportsman

NOVEMBER 2021 | Schooner Creek Boat Works is a dealer of the Ewincher. Its electric handle is designed to perfectly assist sailing maneuvers without altering natural movements. It’s waterproof, lightweight and ergonomic, and locks into the winch. You can sail all day without a problem, allowing you to fully enjoy the pleasures of sailing.


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SHELTON Verle’s Sports Center (877) 426-0933 | NOVEMBER 2021

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Pacific Wings Waterfowl Adventures Hunt corn pond mallards in Eastern Washington with Pacific Wings Waterfowl Adventures. All private property with 16 private ponds and deluxe steel pit blinds. On these fully guided hunts, hunters average over five ducks per day in most years. See their videos on YouTube @PacificWingsHunting and @JayGoble.

Pacific Salmon Charters Have you been searching for that special way to show your appreciation for family, friends, coworkers or good clients? Pacific Salmon Charters has gift certificates and is willing to schedule a fishing trip for you. The gift certificates are perfect for Christmas. Employers have used them for safety rewards, picnic prizes and retirement gifts. Gift certificates are available for salmon, sturgeon, bottomfish, halibut and tuna trips. If you need something else to go with it, the company has hats, cups and sweatshirts.

Velocity Precision Engineering Velocity Precision’s Recoil-less Bolt Carrier is designed for accuracy and performance. Their unique patent-pending design is stronger and lighter than other low-mass bolt carriers on the market, and when paired with their adjustable gas block, you can expect recoil and muzzle rise to be nearly zero.


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Alaska Marine Highway System If you’ve ever dreamed of a trip to Alaska, take an unforgettable trip aboard an Alaska State Ferry. It’s an ideal way to travel as a walk-on passenger or with a vehicle, and allows you the flexibility to create your own schedule, explore off-the-beaten-path destinations and experience Alaska at your own pace.

Shell Shock Technologies If you loved Shell Shock’s lightweight 9mm cases, wait until you try their new calibers coming soon. Lighter than brass, more powder capacity, greater consistency between rounds, and can be picked up with a magnet. Satisfies global military mandates to reduce ammunition weight and increase performance. All Shell Shock’s cases are proudly made in the USA. Shell Shock … Shoot it, Love it!

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Skagit Arms The Steen family is legendary in the Skagit Valley and beyond for their 35-plus years of service to outdoor enthusiasts in Northwest Washington. Family owned and operated, the Steens also hire employees as enthusiastic about the great outdoors as you! These folks (including the owners) don’t just talk outdoor sports – they participate! Mom and Dad still run Holiday Sports, while their son Anthon owns and runs Skagit Arms next door. Their daughter runs Holiday Market and Anthon’s daughter works in the Angler’s Drive Thru Espresso. Come see the local pros who will spend the time to answer all your questions. Skagit Arms stocks great stocking stuffers, including ammo! All the best brands are in stock. Give someone the special gift of a charter trip aboard the Uitlander, a 32-foot Allied Dominator with a bathroom and heater. Wintertime squid trips, springtime halibut combo trips and summertime tuna/ salmon trips. Gift certificates available and 10 percent off for active and retired military.

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Woodman’s Pal Made in America since 1941, chop, clear, blaze, build and more with the lightweight, compact and superbly balanced Woodman’s Pal. Unique land management and outdoorsman’s multi-use tool. MSRP: $175. | NOVEMBER | APRIL2021 2020

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Bait Buttons Timber Creek Outdoors Bait Buttons are a simple and easy way to keep your baits – natural or artificial – in place on your hook.The Bait Button is a silicone disc that comes in a simple, easy-to-use dispenser. Comes in two sizes. Makes a great stuffing stuffer. Your next AR build starts here. Customize your AR with Timber Creek’s Upper Parts Kit, Lower Parts Kit or the Full Enforcer Kit. All build kits are available in multiple color options. All Timber Creek products are proudly made in Springfield, Oregon, and are backed by a lifetime warranty.

Pocket Ox Finally, a hoist small enough and light enough that you will actually carry it. Yes, they cost as much as your favorite boots. But drag a moose out of the beaver muck or put your ATV back on its feet just once and you’ll see that it’s worth every dime.

Underwood Ammunition From Illinois-based Underwood Ammunition, the Xtreme Defender projectile uses optimized flute geometry, total weight and velocity to achieve a penetration depth up to 18 inches with a permanent wound cavity that is simply enormous. The nonexpanding solid copper body ensures no adverse effects occur to the projectile itself, despite encountering common personal-defense obstacles such as wallboard, sheetrock, sheet metal and automotive glass.

Full Forge Gear Bags, gear and packs. Full Forge Gear is bringing quality and affordable nylon gear for everyday life, from multipurpose bags to one-day backpacks to pistol and rifle cases. Whatever your needs are, Full Forge Gear has something to offer you. 144 Northwest Sportsman


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Still Fall Kings To Be Had On T-Bay, Rivers J

ust in case you didn’t get enough freezer fish during the Buoy 10 and Columbia River Chinook seasons, you should know there BUZZ RAMSEY is still plenty of fall salmon action to be had on several Oregon Coast systems. For example, Tillamook Bay and the five rivers emptying into it – the largest being the Wilson and Trask – offer trophy-size Chinook a little more than an hour’s drive west of Portland. Although the run normally peaks during the last two weeks of October, this mostly native run of fall salmon can continue strong through November, with a few bright salmon caught each and every year well into December.

WHEN IT COMES to fishing the Tillamook area, you really have three choices on where to spend your time: trolling the middle and upper end of Tillamook Bay; floating eggs and/or other bait in the tidewater river arm sections; and backbouncing in the Wilson, Trask and Kilchis Rivers themselves. Which option you choose depends on the conditions (the amount of rain and subsequent height of the rivers), combined with fresh reports on where most fish are being caught. Although a series of winter storms and subsequent high-water events can draw most of the run into area rivers, it has always amazed me how good the fishing can sometimes remain in the middle – particularly the Ghost Hole – and upper end of Tillamook Bay during November. According to fishing guide Terry Mulkey (503-803-1896), the middle and upper bay normally produce fat oceanbright Chinook through Thanksgiving and,

Guide Terry Mulkey holds a 32-pound Tillamook Bay fall Chinook that his client Becky Nickles caught on a spinner trolled in combination with a Pro-Troll flasher. (MULKEYSGUIDESERVICE.COM) on good years, into early December. Trolling small 3.5 spinners or herring in combination with a Pro-Troll flasher is what most anglers are using in Tillamook Bay these days. The most popular leader length from flasher to spinner is 30 inches. When fishing herring in combination with a Pro-Troll, you will want to lengthen your leader out – 40 inches with a red label-size herring, and 48 to

50 inches with a green label herring. If you try fishing the tidal sections of the river arms, chances are you will find the best success in the first mile or so below the head of tidewater. Don’t underestimate these areas, as Chinook will often stage at or near the head of tide when waiting for freshwater to draw them upstream. On the Kilchis River, most anglers motor | NOVEMBER 2021

Northwest Sportsman 147

COLUMN their boats downstream from the Highway 101 ramp. Same on the Wilson west of the Sollie Smith ramp (located off Loop Road). The uppermost legal launch for gaspowered boats on the Trask is the 5th Street boat ramp; from there you can motor either way. The ramp on the Trask that is located just upriver from Highway 101 can only be used by electric or human-powered crafts. Remember: No gas motors are allowed upstream from the Sollie Smith ramp on the Wilson, and the Highway 101 ramps on the Kilchis and Trask. Suspending a large salmon egg cluster under a float a few feet from the bottom is a popular way to target salmon in the

tidal arms, where fish often stage before migrating upstream. And while an egg cluster may be all you need to be successful, you might bring along a selection of other baits to add to your offering. Some addon baits to consider include: tuna bellies, sardines and sand shrimp.

KEEP IN MIND that heavy rainfall can move the majority of these fish into the rivers. You will find the best success for bright fish in the lower 5 to 10 miles of each stream. When hunting for Chinook, remember that although they move and spawn in shallow water, they prefer the security that deep holes provide. Look for water 8 to 10 feet Rhonna Schnell teamed up with good friend and fellow fisherman Dane Crossley to land this beautiful Tillamook Bay hen Chinook using a 360-degree flasher with a Simon’s 3.5 spinner. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)

Mulkey rigs his size 3 1/2 spinner blades directly on his leader rather than on a spinner wire. This rigging involves the use of a durable plastic clevis, a few beads, tubing and hook. The guide also uses a centering bead, pushed inside the tubing, to help keep the hook rigid. He says his hook-to-land ratio when using ProTrolls has risen since switching to this style of rigging in combination with an Owner hook. (MULKEYSGUIDESERVICE.COM)

deep and deeper when targeting Chinook; this is where most will congregate. Fishing the lower Wilson, Trask or Kilchis can define the word crowded. You can maneuver your way around this by fishing during the week. Also, plan to go when fishing is best – the very first day rivers begin to drop and clear after a freshet. The higher the water, the more places fish will hold and the further upstream fresh fish can be found, which can spread out the fishing pressure. I’ve had the best success during times when the water is high, and especially when it’s just beginning to transition from 148 Northwest Sportsman





urther south on the Oregon Coast, the Siletz River offers late-season Chinook during the first half of November, according to fishing guide Chris Sessions (360-525-5335). He suggests that a drift from the Ojalla Bridge Boat Slide to Morgan Park Ramp, or from Morgan Park to Strome Park Boat Ramp, might offer the best chance at success. Guide Jody Smith (541-643-6258) says the Umpqua River can produce bright Chinook in November too and fishes best when the river is running 41/2 to 6 1/2 feet high. His favorite area for November success is to make a drift from the Tree Farm to the Elkton City Park. And according to fishing guide Andy Martin (206-388-8988), Southern Oregon’s Chetco, Elk and Sixes Rivers offer late-season Chinook action. Generally the Chetco produces best during early November up until Thanksgiving. The Elk offers bright Chinook during late November and into December, while the Sixes produces fall Chinook through November and into December, up until Christmas, given good water conditions. Do note that there are restrictions on wild fall Chinook harvest on the Umpqua, Chetco, Elk and Sixes, as well as several smaller Southwest Zone streams. Per state fishery managers, this year’s forecasts are low and the changes are “meant to reduce harvest on older age fish, which are still in conservation status.” As for Washington, there’s little November fall Chinook opportunity, but the North Fork Lewis does see some caught, as does a West End stream or two. –BR



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Jerry Han fights a fall Chinook in a muddy Sixes River last November. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST)


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COLUMN brown to green. So keep your schedule flexible and be there at the first hint that the water’s beginning to drop and clear after a rainstorm muddies the river. One boating strategy that has worked for me is to make a morning drift, fishing any open water available, and then make an afternoon drift behind what might be a stampede of boats. It’s a time when many of the popular spots open up. The most productive methods for targeting fall Chinook in the rivers include back-bouncing salmon egg clusters or salmon-size Kwikfish/FlatFish in combination with a sinker. This works best in the deep holes. When rivers are high, back-trolling a salmon-size Mag Lip on a flat-line (no weight needed) can be very effective anywhere the current is straight running. Back-trolling a salmon egg cluster in combination with a size No. 4 Spin-N-Glo on a 36- to 48-inch leader behind a diver can work too. As the water begins to drop and clear, you could do a lot worse than suspending



ilson: Lower river; try a drift from Mills Bridge to Sollie Smith. The Sollie Smith boat launch is located where the Wilson River Loop Road intersects with the river. Further upstream, the drift from the Siskeyville boat slide off Highway 6 to Mills Bridge can produce when the river is first coming into shape after a high-water event. Trask: Try a drift boat trip from Loren’s Drift, located off Chance Road, which is off Long Prairie Road, to the Highway 101 takeout just upstream of the highway. Kilchis: Drift boating the lower river, from the Logging Bridge to the Highway 101 ramp, also located just above the highway, can be a good bet. Keep in mind that the Kilchis drops really fast after a freshet. It normally fishes best when it first drops into fishable condition and can get really skinny the very next day unless persistent rains keep the water level up. –BR

a salmon egg cluster under a float. For this, try running your bait within a few feet of the bottom and let it drift through the deep, slow-moving salmon holes. Tides have a major impact on fish movement low in these rivers, especially when water levels are up. For example, you might drift the lower Wilson or Trask in the morning and only see a few fish caught. An afternoon drift, timed just after high tide, could change the game with fresh fish entering the lower river and showing up

in the holes and, since they’re moving, in the moving water too. Timing a lower river drift to coincide on or just after a high tide can be a game-changer. NS Editor’s note: Buzz Ramsey is regarded as a trout, steelhead and salmon sport fishing authority and proficient lure and fishing rod designer. He has been honored into the Hall of Fame for the Association of Northwest Steelheaders and the national Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame.





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Bank Fisher Finds Her Sea Legs T

here is no I in team. I see that more clearly than ever as I embraced fall fishing this run. FOR THE LOVE In the first handful of OF THE TUG years that I decided to By Sara Ichtertz get after salmon and steelhead, there very much was an I. It was pretty much all about me and I was totally in control of everything I set out to do. I liked it. If it was too scary, I wouldn’t press myself any further. If I wanted to fish the entire incoming tide and possibly not get a single bite, I could. My style of fishing was simple and in that simplicity I actually landed some beauties! The most fun I ever had with spinners in my life was flinging them off the jetties. I was quite proud of my salty fall fish and never really saw myself growing much outside of that. Just me, my gear and my two feet planted firmly on planet Earth.

AS I GREW, both as a woman and a fisher, I found myself on a boat more often than I had envisioned. I don’t think people realized how much boats actually scared me. I am not completely sure why, but I never felt comfortable on them. While completely intrigued, I was also grateful to be back on the land each time. I guess I’m just not the hugest fan of motorized things. Of course, fate has plans for us that we do not see coming and I find it funny that I would have my heart stolen by a total motorhead, a guy who pretty much would rather be on his boat than anywhere else. He wanted to be my captain so very badly, but little did he know how I felt about those massive metal rip-roaring boats.

AS CORNY AS it may sound, teamwork

As an angler, author Sara Ichtertz prided herself on keeping her feet planted firmly on the bank, but after meeting her “captain” and his boat, she’s expanded her horizons to trolling out on the briny blue for ocean salmon. (SARA ICHTERTZ) | NOVEMBER 2021

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COLUMN really does make the dream work and this year’s run showed me that more so than ever. When I first experienced trolling, I honestly was not that impressed with my performance. I thought, “Wow, this is crazy cool; however, all I am doing is fighting these fish.” David Johnson blessed me as the years passed by, teaching me more and more about the actual running of the rods. I listened and paid attention, but I never could come home and put that newfound knowledge to work. That is, until Benjamin came into my life. The man literally tells me he bought that boat in hopes of one day getting me onto it, which is hilarious and who knows if there is even any truth to it. Either way, I was finally able to try and apply some of the knowledge I had acquired, landing myself this handsome captain who wanted nothing more than to have us on that boat as much as he possibly could. That was a huge adjustment for me, as I had become quite comfortable independently fishing

156 Northwest Sportsman


Fishing trips with guides have been a chance for Ichtertz to soak up their knowledge and apply it on boyfriend Ben’s boat. She says that this limit of North Coast fall Chinook, caught with David Johnson this season, not only provided a lot of meat for her family, but the trip was a great learning opportunity. (SARA ICHTERTZ)

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COLUMN from the banks. Once I was able to put my pride aside and trust in the fact, it became a blessing to have this partner; this captain. And he too needed to trust in the fact that he is blessed to have this woman; this woman who loves him deeply and who can truly hunt for the fish. Once we finally found our groove, we began to find fish regularly this fall. Finding fish from your own boat with the people you love is right up with the best things on Earth.

NO MATTER HOW much I love to fish, I know the guide life is not for me. Spending time this year on the boats of two good friends, Ted Jones of Northwest Oregon Outfitters and Johnson (find both guides on Facebook), I realized you can only guide a horse to water when trolling. I had two of the craziest action-packed days chasing salmon on the ocean with Ted! We enjoyed so much action, in fact, that I won’t even utter the numbers because you might say I am full of it. Regardless, it was so empowering

While she appreciates the expert on-the-water training that guide friends have shared, for Ichtertz it’s all about those closest to her. Here, son Nate fights his first ocean coho on his grandfather’s salmon rod. (SARA ICHTERTZ) 158 Northwest Sportsman


and rad to be able to learn from him. To see those rods go off simultaneously and repeatedly was out of this world! I wished I had been the one fishing, that is for sure, but I was learning regardless of the clients’ landing ratio, helping to make that bite happen, and I loved it! The thing is, I have no desire to turn fishing into my job and after that outing, believe me, it felt like work. I mean, some people honestly should just buy their fish from the seafood market, while others can come aboard a guide boat, learn, take in the wonder of how trolling works and impress their skipper. Indeed, only as a unit can you truly slay salmon while trolling because there is no I in team. There is great worth in putting countless smiles on so many people’s faces. I love that two of the guides I have spent time with have allowed me to grow and are proud of our successes. Thanks, guys, I really do respect and appreciate you and I absolutely love fishing with you both.

HOWEVER, I FEEL lucky that this is simply our passion and so the only people boarding our boat are our people. As we find the fish, what we gain is shared with our children, not just some random human catching their bucket-list fish. That’s because the legacy we leave behind depends on the time we share with our children now. I believe that with all of my heart. Embracing the opportunity of ladies-only trips has been incredible, but I never liked seeing the look in my boy’s big blue eyes as I set out on an adventure without him. I do know those adventures are important but not as important as sharing passion with my children, and not as important as being able to grow together as a fishy family. Our unit is getting better and better each time we hit the water, so the day we find a school of hungry fish like the one with Ted and his clients, by god, we will be ready! It is wild to be in a place where the company matters more than the catches to me. I have less fear in the boats as I gain more trust in my captain. I feel lucky to no longer be selfishly addicted to fishing and I truly owe that to my captain. The older I get, the more I realize if all I had was | NOVEMBER 2021

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COLUMN There weren’t any keepers that day on the lower end of the Southern Oregon river that she so adores, but it was still a chance for Ichtertz to catch and release some wild salmon with Ben, her mom – it was also the first time she’d seen Sara fish – daughter Ava and Nate. (SARA ICHTERTZ)

memories in the beauty of nature with my children, even though that is great, it wouldn’t be enough. I want to love and be loved, and chase the fish. I want it all. There is a time and a place for so many fisheries that I never want to say no to the pursuit. Having my man open this whole new world of fishing through our North River Commander is actually a blessing. It has forced me to not be quite so headstrong and put my trust in someone aside from myself, which I am sure is a good thing. To grow as an individual is great, but for me the kind of growth I desire is when I can truly grow within the grasp of the ones I love. Life is better when you know you have a team who loves you and want to be with you. With where I am at right now in life, even if every fishery closed and we were only able to connect with the fish in ways other than angling, I honestly think I would be OK with it, and that is saying a lot. My heart is on the river and I couldn’t change it, even if I tried. NS

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Cash In On Black Friday Fisheries

More Western Washington lakes, trout planted for late fall, but Eastside ops too. By Mark Yuasa


ere’s a post-Thanksgiving activity where you can leave the credit cards in your wallet, but still cash in on an enticing fishing outing. During the past several years, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has been boosting late fall and early winter fishing with a successful program dubbed “Black Friday,” where anglers can head to a lake instead of the mall. “One of the best things about our Black Friday event is we plant some lakes with trout that are larger (1¼ pounds apiece) and to get people away from the craziness of the holiday shopping spree,” says Steve Caromile, a WDFW fish program manager. “The annual event went pretty well last year, and I heard it was one of the worst (in-person Black Friday) shopping seasons due to the pandemic,” Caromile says. “We know people wanted to avoid crowds. We’ve also heard since Covid began that fishing and outdoor activities have been a game-changer.” A total of 27 lakes will be planted for Black Friday with a total of 48,188 “jumbo-sized” trout (averaging 1 to 1½ pounds apiece), an increase from 20 lakes with 27,157 in 2020. Twentythree of those lakes are in Western and Southwest Washington. Add to that another four Eastern

Not all fall stockers are the size of this one Jim Rodin of Components Northwest caught on a Southwest Washington lake last November, but plenty of jumbos are being released to boost angling opportunities on select waters across the state this time of year. (FISHING PHOTO CONTEST) | NOVEMBER 2021

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FISHING Washington lakes receiving fry plants of around 126,300 (117,000 in 2020), as well as 2,600 fall jumbos, and you’ve got plenty of trout waiting to swipe at your bait and not your credit card. Overall, 216,698 harvestable trout will be stocked this autumn into waters around the state for anglers to enjoy throughout the season. “We’ve got some pretty solid numbers of trout to plant, averaging about 1¼ pounds,” says Justin Spinelli, a WDFW Puget Sound regional biologist. “If we don’t get any freezing weather, then we should be good to go and our region’s Black Friday event is very popular.”

IN NORTH SOUND, the biggest draw is a plant of 21,500 jumbo-sized trout delivered to seven lakes just before the Thanksgiving holiday. The releases break down like this: Island County: Cranberry: 4,000; King County:

Green: 5,300; and Beaver: 2,500; and Snohomish County: Silver: 3,000; Tye: 2,000; Gissburg South Pond: 2,000; and Ballinger: 3,000. Speaking of Snohomish County, some changes are happening at Goodwin, a year-round lake located 7 miles northwest of Marysville, which usually has had a decent midwinter trout plant. “The winter trout plants will be smaller at Goodwin,” Spinelli says. “We’ve found it performs better when stocked with more ‘put and grow’ trout. We’ll split those winter catchable-size trout plants between Goodwin with 3,000 and Roesiger with 2,000 (to occur sometime in December/January timeframe).” Spinelli says Goodwin will receive fall fingerling stocking for a few years to see if it improves the fishery, and boost Roesiger (located about 8 miles north of Monroe) with a catchablesize trout plant in the spring.

“Our agency plans to make Goodwin a better fishery where everyone can enjoy and get excited about it in the future,” Spinelli says. “We’ve been looking hard at our fall trout plants, and trying to figure out if we need them to happen in the spring versus fall. There is no doubt we value both timeframes as far as plants go. Our hatchery facilities are just much better at producing spring fish.” Elsewhere in Pugetropolis and beyond, lakes receiving plants as part of Black Friday include: Grays Harbor County: Sylvia: 500; Jefferson County: Leland: 500; Mason County: Kokanee: 2,400; and Spencer: 700; Pierce County: American: 4,500; Tanwax: 1,000; and Bradley: 400; and Thurston County: Long: 1,000; and Offutt: 1,000. Southwest Washington lakes receiving plants include: Clark County: Battleground: 2,000; and Klineline:

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FISHING 2,000; Cowlitz County: Kress: 2,000; Klickitat County: Rowland: 2,000; Lewis County: Fort Borst Pond: 2,000; and South Lewis County Park Pond: 2,000; and Skamania County: Rowland: 1,088. And in Eastern Washington, the quartet receiving fry last year for this fall included: Adams and Lincoln Counties: Fourth of July: 80,000; Spokane County: Hog Canyon: 20,000; and Stevens County: Hatch: 12,800; and Williams: 13,500. Hog also got a plant of 900 trout averaging 1 pound apiece in mid-October. Another Eastside lake planted with 2,000 trout averaging 1 pound apiece is Elton Pond in Yakima County, which is open from November 28 through March 31. In Chelan County, Roses Lake is expecting a plant of 18,000 trout

around November 15.

KEEP YOUR GEAR and tackle as simple as possible when it comes to chasing hatchery-raised rainbow trout. A lightweight fishing rod of 6 to 7 feet, and a medium-size spinning reel spooled with more than 100 yards of 6- to 8-pound-test fishing line does the job. You can find plenty of decent rod and spinning reel combos for $35 to $70. Attach one or two No. 9 sliding egg sinkers with a small barrel swivel and rubber bumpers to the main line. Leader length is a key to success, and don’t buy the “shorty” pretied 12inch leaders. Instead, go with a 3- to 6-pound-test leader measuring 18 to 30 inches long with a size 8 or 10 egg hook. If you’re willing to shell out the extra dollars ($4.50 to $5), then give Eastern Washington’s fall trout fisheries are often powered by fry releases. Here, state biologist Bruce Heiner samples the wares at Hog Canyon Lake southwest of Spokane. (WDFW)

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the pretied Gamakatsu single trout egg hook leaders a try. The most popular bait of choice is soft moldable dough bait like Berkley Power Baits that come in all kinds of colors and varieties, including paste form, nuggets, egg, maggot and worm shapes. Many like to stick with old-school baits like nightcrawlers, maggots, salmon eggs or scented marshmallows. Others prefer to cast fly patterns like a black or black-olive colored Woolly Bugger in a size 8 or 10 attached to a 5- or 6-foot leader. Trolling an unweighted fly close to the surface is very effective. Boat anglers like to troll a Mack’s Lure Wedding Ring or gang flasher with a worm, maggot or salmon egg laced to a tiny piece of scented dough bait or a small-sized Dick Nite, Triple Teaser or Luhr Jensen spoon. Shore-bound anglers should cast out a bobber with their presentation set just below the surface in 5 to 8 feet of water. Others prefer to send their bait down deeper, so it hangs just off the bottom, in search of a larger carryover trout from springtime plants. Keep in mind that recently stocked trout often hover near the surface, and frequently hang out right around where the hatchery truck dumped them into the lake. They usually hang out just under the surface until becoming more accustomed to their new surroundings, and then they’ll spread out into deeper sections of the lake. A fishing license is required – youth under age 15 fish for free – and a Discover Pass is needed to access many lakes operated by WDFW, Washington State Parks and the Department of Natural Resources. A good freshwater fishing resource is the WDFW’s “Fish Washington” page at fishing/washington/. You can find updated trout stocking reports at weekly/.NS

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FISHING Pinching down the barb of this fly hooked in author Dennis Dauble’s grandson’s nose would have made streamside removal easier and caused him less pain, if that tear is any indication. (DENNIS DAUBLE)

On Bad Hooksets And Good Releases If you’re an angler, you’ll eventually get hooked, and here’s how to deal with it. By Dennis Dauble


ver been wedged in a lineup of combat fishers and felt drops of water on your neck as someone whizzed a golfball-size piece of cured roe past your face? Cast jigs at a school of rolling pinks from a crowded boat and dodged a steady “thwack” of lead on the gunnel? Yanked on a snag and

sent a loose lure flying past your face? Had a pal stick a No. 6 Purple Peril in your shirt collar while they Spey cast in an upriver breeze? If so, you might relate to the possibility of a bad hookset. Six decades of fishing has led to two bad hooksets of a personal nature. The first occurred early in the wooing period with my wife. This was

before a cellphone in every pocket and $3 cups of coffee, a time when my standard summertime fishing attire was a pair of cutoff jeans and tennis shoes. Nancy snagged me in the back with a Super Duper while casting for rainbow trout on a remote Blue Mountains lake. But rather than miss the evening bite, we let the lure | NOVEMBER 2021

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FISHING hang loose. Back home a few hours later, Dad dabbed rubbing alcohol on the point of insertion and made a tiny slice with a razor blade to remove the hook. The second debacle occurred years later while I blissfully floated down the Columbia River in a oneman rubber raft. The trailing treble hook from a bass plug somehow got embedded in the meat of my thumb. I worked the incriminating hook from side to side (taking breaks between bouts of pain), and eventually freed up enough space between competing muscle fibers to pull the hook out.


Seek immediate medical attention if an unpracticed cast leads to a hook lodged anywhere in the face, like what happened to Dauble’s granddaughter Sofia with this worm-tipped spinner. (DENNIS DAUBLE)

A budding angler at the time, my 12-year-old granddaughter Sofia hooked herself in the cheek with a No. 2 Mepps Spinner while she and a friend cast for bass at Lake Washington’s Coulon Beach. When I asked if it hurt, she matter-of-factly replied, “I could feel the worm wiggling on my cheek.”

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penetrating eyelid injury, and possibly lead to blindness. Anglers should seek immediate help if a fish hook is embedded in the eye or face. Medical assistance might also be necessary for a hook that could damage nerves or blood vessels when stuck deep in a joint or muscle. In many cases, the hook has penetrated the skin and the point is close enough to push through without causing severe pain. In this situation, cut off or pinch down the barb and ease the hook out the way it came in. Embarrassment is likely the only outcome. Alternatively, if the hook is found embedded in muscle or cartilage tissue and assuming the angler has not gone into shock, you might try the “string pull method.” Tie a piece of string, fishing line or dental floss to the shaft of the hook where it enters the skin. Push down on the eye of the hook until it touches the skin and gently loosen the barb. Slide the knotted string to the bend of the hook and employ a strong yank to pull the barb up and away from the point of insertion. Once things settle down, apply antiseptic to the point of injury. Administer a pain reliever or an ice pack and consider getting a tetanus shot. More often than not, a bad hookset can be resolved without permanent injury. Which brings us to preventative action. Polarized sunglasses should be worn while fishing, not only for UV protection, but to prevent or reduce risk of injury from a bad hookset. Wearing a hat and shirt or jacket also helps keep errant hooks from penetrating the skin. Elevate your awareness when fishing alone and practice effective personal distance when fishing with others. Don’t let a bad hookset ruin a good day on the water. NS

According to the US Eye Injury Registry, fishing accidents cause more eye injuries than basketball, the former leading sports offender. Sharp hooks that travel at high speed can cause severe ocular trauma,

Editor’s note: Dennis Dauble is author of four books about fish and fishing, including his recent award-winning collection of short stories, Bury Me With My Fly Rod. His website is

What’s known as the “string pull method” of removing a barbed hook involves tying fishing line or other string to the hook shaft, pushing down on the hook and sliding the line down to the bend, and then pulling firmly backwards. (AMY WALGAMOTT)

Sofia was promptly taken to the ER, where they deadened her cheek and surgically removed the lure. The injury did not leave a scar nor permanently damage Sofia’s psyche, but her mom still gets frantic when the event is recalled. There’s more. This past August, grandson Adam and I hiked up the South Fork Walla Walla River on a 100-degree afternoon when wasps gathered along every seep in the trail. It’s possible Adam became distracted after catching and releasing six trout from a deep hole that swirled in the shade of overhanging alder. While the accident remains difficult to reconstruct, he somehow hooked himself on the tip of his nose with a No. 10 Royal Stimulator. The barb had sunk deep into cartilage tissue and could not be pulled through. Our choice was to either leave the fly hang like a feathery nose ring or try the “quick jerk” method. Adam opted for the latter. Luckily, the hook came out on the second jerk. Adam now knows to attach a dangling fly to the cork reel seat of his fly rod when 172 Northwest Sportsman


not in use. I have vowed to do a better job of crimping down the barb on flies, including days when trout will be kept for the frying pan. A related story involves a close family friend. As BT tells it, the aberrant hookset occurred when he salvaged a hot tiger-pattern Wiggle Wart from a dead seagull’s mouth. “I pulled the lure from the bird and used my teeth to snip the excess line, only to find the lure stuck in the bottom of my lower lip!” he explains. “I went into shock. Meanwhile my fishing buddy stood by and laughed at me for looking like a well-hooked salmon. He pulled my upper lip over my nose to evaluate the situation, placed a small Styrofoam bobber between the inside of my lip and gums, and the hook popped right through!”

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