Fish & Wildlife: Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?
I have recently been made aware of some regulation changes made by the Washington State Fish & Wildlife department. These changes apply to white tail deer hunting in Stevens County game management units 117 & 121. The regulations previously allowed a licensed hunter in the pre-rut hunting season, (October 15-28) to take a spike buck or larger. Now they allow ONLY bucks with four-points or larger to be harvested. While every hunter loves a trophy, the priority for most folks in rural communities is to feed their families. Purportedly this change was done to increase the average size of the racks in these game management areas to “encourage tourism.”
While I agree that we should be doing something to increase the size of our bucks, it seems like the Fish & Wildlife Department failed high school biology. It is not rocket science that the main factor determining the size of a bucks rack is genetics, and yet the deer season has been set by Fish & Wildlife before the rut, effectively taking the majority of the large bucks out of the genetic pool before they have a chance to reproduce. Now as of this year Fish & Wildlife has taken what is already a poor management practice and made it worse, by allowing only the four-point and larger (superior breeding stock) to be harvested, leaving only the inferior stock, i.e. three-point and under to breed during the rut.
The obvious solution is to have a pre-rut hunt limited to three-points and under, i.e. sustenance for local families. Then close the season during the rut, followed with a four-point or larger hunt. This would give the superior genetic stock a chance to reproduce increasing larger racks in the future. Optimally this would ensure the goal of trophy hunting tourist dollars in our community, while not infringing on the rights and needs of our local families to fill their freezers.
We are not reinventing the wheel; this is a tried and true blueprint for responsible wildlife management practiced by many other states. Texas has captive breeding programs for trophy bucks that are then released into local herds to improve the genetics. Illinois has a pre-rut antlerless hunt to cull out the small stock and increase the overall rack size in their deer population.
The current management practice is nonsense biology. I am at a loss as to how intelligent adults could have formulated this plan. It ensures that the bucks will get smaller and smaller as the years progress. Do we really want to be famous for our one-point bucks? Stevens County, home of the unicorn deer.
Nine Mile Falls