Mule deer herds continue to rebound from the harsh winters of 2008 and 2009. The management goal of bucks to does has been reached in many areas, providing hunters with ample opportunities in 2013. For example, the buck-to-doe ratio is about 28:100 in Chelan County, so deer hunters should see several bucks this fall.
District 6 supports the largest migratory mule deer herd in the state, with Okanogan County being a mule deer hunting hotspot. Following three consecutive winters of good fawn recruitment, hunters can expect to see many older age-class bucks. Last year’s post season survey result of 34 bucks per 100 does is the highest this ratio has been in decades, indicating excellent buck carryover. Summer forage conditions have been favorable, so deer should be in good physical condition come fall.
Whitetail hunters will find ample numbers in valleys, foothill benches and lowlands found in the central and eastern parts of the state. About 37 percent of District 1 is public land, providing plenty of do-it-yourself hunting opportunities. District 2 is another area with ample whitetail numbers. Herds appear to have fully recovered from the recent hard winters, but hunters will still see fewer mature bucks. Note there’s a three-point minimum regulation in Game Management Units (GMUs) 127-142, and the late season in these GMUs is by permit only. There are no major deer hunting regulation changes to report.
The blacktail deer population in the far western region of the state is also on the rise. Successful hunting for blacktail deer is primarily a function of the effort, focus and energy that a hunter puts into the hunt. The Gifford Pinchot National Forest is open to the public for deer hunting, and Weyerhaeuser owns a block of land in GMU 568 that’s also open to the public.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife runs several private land access programs that open up tens of thousands of acres of private farmland and timberland to public hunting. For more information, go to the website.