District biologists have provided hunting forecasts for their
district based on surveys and field work.
Counties: Spokane, Lincoln, & Whitman
Howard Ferguson & Michael Atamian, District Wildlife Biologists
District 2 is located in the eastern part of Washington bordering Idaho. Counties included in District 2 are Lincoln, Whitman, and Spokane. Game Management Units (GMUs) in District 2 include 124, 127, 130, 133, 136, 139, & 142. Hunters can choose from a variety of habitats ranging from mixed conifer forest to shrub-steppe to agricultural lands.
The geography of District 2 includes the edge of the Rocky Mountain Range in the east, the Columbia Basin in the west and the Channeled Scablands and Palouse in between. This diverse geography supports a wide range of habitats that include mixed coniferous forests dominated by Douglas fir and larch, dry Ponderosa pine forests, some aspen groves, scabland, sagebrush steppe, and grasslands. Topography varies from ~500ft above sea level along the Snake River in the south to 5883 foot Mt. Spokane in the north. Dominant river drainages include the Spokane, Palouse, Columbia, & Snake Rivers.
The majority of the district is privately owned, however WDFW and BLM own ~60,000 acres in the center of Lincoln County, there are a several timber companies that allow hunting in Spokane County, and throughout the district there are private landowners enrolled in WDFW hunt access programs (see GoHunt website). Riverside State Park and Mt Spokane State Park, along with many county parks in Spokane County are open to public access, but NOT to hunting. Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge has a limited entry youth waterfowl hunt (details available through TNWR) and allows elk hunting by permit only (permits allotted via WDFW special permit draw in June).
Pheasant: Prospects look similar to last year, with wet spring weather leading to low chick production. District 2 is almost all private land; hunters will need to takes some time “knocking on doors” to get access to the better sites. We have enrolled over thirty new cooperators in our hunter access program this year in southeast Washington; the locations are mapped on the GoHunt website. We will also be releasing game farm produced roosters once again this fall at the traditional release sites, which are also mapped on the GoHunt website and the Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics: Pheasant - Statewide and by County
Quail: Prospects look similar to last year, with poor spring weather for broods and the population still recovering from the back to back hard winters of 2007 through 2009. Access can be a problem, especially with most of the good quail habitat occurring in and around towns.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics: Quail - Statewide and by County
Gray Partridge: Like quail, populations may be down due to poor spring weather although some good brood numbers have been seen in Whitman and Lincoln counties. Again access can be difficult with most birds seen in and adjacent to agricultural fields.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics: Gray Partridge - Statewide and by County
Chukar: There are very few chukar in District 2, they are predominantly found along the breaks of the Snake River. Like quail and partridge, chukar populations may be down due to poor spring weather. Terrain is steep and rocky with limited public access from above.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics: Chukar - Statewide and by County
Forest Grouse: Numbers appear to be down in District 2, but it’s still possible to shoot one opportunistically in the forested portions of the district.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics: Forest Grouse - Statewide and by County
Wild Turkeys: Observations and reports indicate that the turkey population is doing very well in GMUs 124-133 and expanding into GMUs 136-142. It appears that the turkey broods survived the wet spring weather, with some reports of lower numbers, but what’s out there should be in a good position to take advantage of the forage produced by the wet weather.
Waterfowl: Local surveys indicate a poorer brood production this year than last. Abundant water this spring appears to have come too late to enhance local production; however, given the limited number of local nesting ducks the waterfowl hunting opportunity in this district is mostly dependent upon the number of migrants coming from Canada and Alaska and how long waters remain ice free. Continental counts this year have indicated a banner year for waterfowl – the best since 1955 for all species except the northern pintail and redhead, so hunting in the fall will hopefully be exceptional.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics
Dove: Hunting prospects for the mourning dove should be similar to last year. However, District 2 is not a major dove area, with doves occurring at low population densities relative to the Columbia Basin and similar regions. As often as not, cool temperatures just prior to or during the dove season push many doves further south out of the District. It important to note that eastside hunters have an additional dove opportunity – the Eurasian collared Dove. This dove is an exotic dove that has just invaded most of eastern Washington and can be hunted with a license all year round.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics: Dove - Statewide and by County
White-tailed Deer: The mild winter and the high forage production, due to the wet spring, should lead to high recruitment this year. Herds appear to be recovering well from the previous two hard winters. Numbers of mature buck may still be slightly lower than the 2008 high, but the persistent hunter should have ample opportunity to harvest a legal buck. There is a 3pt minimum regulation in GMUs 127-142 and the late season in these GMUs is by permit only (Palouse Hunt 750 permits offered).
Mule Deer: Overall mule deer numbers appear to be stable in GMUs 130-136 and slightly increasing in GMUs 139 & 142. The bulk of 139 & 142 is private land and buck hunters will have to put in the time to get access, doe hunters should have an easier time given the agricultural nature of these GMUs. All GMUs have a 3pt minimum and there are no late seasons.
District 2 - 2011 Game Harvest Statistics:
- Deer General Harvest
- Deer Special Permits Harvest
Elk: There are fewer elk in District 2 relative to District 3. Hunting prospects should be similar to 2011, with high success for those who can secure access to private lands. GMU 124 offers some public access on private timber companies’ land. Most of our elk herds are found on private land in GMUs 127 & 130, with the majority found on or around Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge (TNWR). Turnbull permit only elk hunts (62 cow tags and 1bull tag) to address habitat damage, were offered again this year. For those who missed the permit application deadline, the Turnbull permit hunts should be offered again next year.
District 2 - 2011 Game Harvest Statistics:
- Elk General Harvest
- Elk Special Permits Harvest
Whitman County was the top pheasant producer in District 2 last season, and second-best in the entire state, giving up 7,109 birds. Spokane County hunters harvested 3,055 pheasants, Lincoln County hunters 1,459, for a district total of 11,523 birds.
The quail harvest was generally up in District 2 (although down in Whitman County) in 2011, as hunters took 7,169 quail during the season. The Lincoln County harvest represents an 85-percent increase from that of the 2010 season.
Hunters harvested 1,099 gray (Hungarian) partridge and 627 chukar partridge in District 2 during the 2011 season. Virtually all the chukar (613) came from Whitman County. Although Whitman Countyís gray partridge harvest was down 30 percent from 2010 and 20 percent from the five-year average, it still led the district with 576.
Bird hunters harvested 714 forest grouse in District 2 during the 2011 season. Nearly 500 of those birds came from Spokane County, even though the harvest there was 60 percent lower than in 2010 and 84 percent lower than the five year average, 2006-2010.
The seven game management units comprising District 2 produced 4,085 bucks and 1,261 antlerless deer during the 2011 general hunting season, for a total harvest of 5,346, making it the top deer-producing district in Washington. Over 3,900 of those deer were harvested by modern firearms hunters, who had an impressive 30.8 percent success rate district-wide. Even more impressive, though, were the success rates among bow hunters and muzzleloader hunters (both 33.8 percent) and multiple weapons hunters (34 percent).
Game Management Unit 124 (Mount Spokane) produced more deer during the 2011 general season than any other unit in the district, or any other unit in the state, for that matter. The total harvest in GMU 124 was 2,134 deer. Hunter success rates in the unit ranged from 22.8 percent for muzzleloader hunters to 33.5 percent for archers.
A large number of special deer permits were also issued for the game management units in District 2, and permit-holders harvested 605 antlerless deer and 184 bucks for total 789.
District 2 hunters harvested 322 elk during the 2011 general season, just over half of them bulls. Modern firearms hunters accounted for about two-thirds of the total elk harvest, and posted an impressive 13.3 percent success rate. The districtís 21 multiple-weapons hunters did even better, taking five elk, four of them antlerless, for a 23.8 percent success rate. GMU 130 (Cheney) was the districtís top elk producer during the general hunts, with 125 animals harvested, half of them bulls and half antlerless. Modern firearms and muzzleloader hunters accounted for nearly 90 percent of the elk harvest in the Cheney Unit.
Hunters harvested 30 black bear from three of the seven game management units in District 2 during the 2011 season. Twenty-five of the 30 came from GMU 124 (Mount Spokane), four from GMU 127 (Mica Peak) and one from GMU 133 (Roosevelt).
General season cougar hunters in the seven game management units comprising District 2 harvested 11 of the big cats in 2011. Hunters in the Mount Spokane and Roosevelt units accounted for eight of those 11.
Duck hunters harvested 12,655 birds in District 2 last year. The county-by-county breakdown was: Lincoln County, 3,511; Spokane County, 4,051; Whitman County, 5,093. The duck harvest was down 44 percent from 2010 in Spokane County, up 51 percent and 18 percent in Whitman and Lincoln counties, respectively.
District 2 goose hunters harvested 4,971 Canada geese in 2011, with more than 2,900 of them coming from Spokane County. Harvest numbers were on a par with recent years in Spokane and Whitman counties, down considerably in Lincoln County.