General hunting questions

Herald columnist Dennis L. Clay answers frequently asked questions about hunting season

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Dennis L. Clay

This is the first of a two-part series about general hunting questions.

This year’s hunting prospects, provided by Fish and Wildlife, have been provided in this space during the past few weeks. Going along with the prospects is a series of frequently asked questions about general hunting rules. Read on.

Who needs a hunting license in Washington?

Anyone hunting wildlife in Washington needs a hunting license.

Is it OK to spotlight big game if no hunting equipment is in my vehicle?

Yes, but if you have any firearms, archery equipment or crossbows in your vehicle, whether or not they meet legal hunting requirements, you are considered to be hunting. It is illegal to hunt big game with the aid of an artificial light or spotlight.

It is illegal to use any vehicle to pursue, concentrate or harass wild animals or wild birds. We suggest that hunters do not spotlight big game at any time. Doing so can result in contact with a Fish and Wildlife Officer.

Can I remove a dead deer from my property and keep the antlers?

You cannot keep the antlers or horns attached to dead wildlife. This includes dead wildlife found on your property. However, you can keep naturally shed antlers that you find. You can remove and dispose of wildlife found dead on your property. You must first notify a Fish and Wildlife Regional Office before you start. You can only remove dead wildlife for disposal, not for personal use or consumption.

Dennis note: I have heard of Fish and Wildlife officers confiscating a mule deer scull with antlers attached, because it was not tagged. If keeping a buck scull with antlers attached, such as for a European mount, make sure the tag is close at hand, such as on the back of or inside the scull.

Can I legally tag a deer or elk found dead along a roadway during open season?

You cannot possess wildlife that you did not legally harvest. In most cases, road-killed animals are extremely bruised due to the trauma of impact, and/or they have spoiled and have little edible meat anyway.

Who needs to take Hunter Education?

All hunters born after January 1, 1972, need to complete Hunter Education. If you completed Hunter Education in another state, you can use evidence of the classes here in Washington. You must provide proof at the time of license purchase.

What is the definition of “wastage,” and when does it apply?

You may not allow game animals or game birds you have taken to recklessly be wasted. You must make a reasonable attempt to remove and use all edible meat from the carcass of harvested game fish, game birds and game animals.

Dennis note: The key words are recklessly and reasonable. Certainly anyone who leaves a front quarter of a deer or elk in the field to rot is wasting game.

On the other hand, most of the goose hunters I know simply breast out their birds. There isn’t much meat on the thighs and legs of a goose. If a hunter doesn’t take these parts of the bird, who is going to know anyway?

It doesn’t take long to cut the legs and thighs off the carcass, perhaps 30 seconds. Imagine saving these parts of your ducks and geese, throwing them in a resealable bag in the freezer. At the end of the season, throw everything in a slow cooker with water and let them cook for 12 hours or so.

Cool the meat, pick it from the bones and chop/dice it. The broth is a great starter for soup. The meat can be combined with mayonnaise, onion and pickles and used for sandwich spread.

How old do I have to be to hunt alone?

Fish and Wildlife recommends older, more experienced hunters go with youth hunters. If born after January 1, 1972, you must complete Hunter Education or obtain a one-year, once-in-a-lifetime Hunter Education Deferral to hunt in Washington State. Hunter Education can be taken at any age.

If hunting under the Hunter Education Deferral you cannot hunt alone. You must be at least 10 years old and apply with an accompanying hunter who is at least 18 years of age and has held a Washington hunting license for the previous three years.

However, if you complete Hunter Education, you can hunt alone at any age, unless you are: Hunting waterfowl, hunting upland bird or hunting wild turkey during a Youth Only hunt. Also if you were drawn for a Youth Only Moose Special Permit or drawn for a Youth Only Bighorn Sheep Special Permit. In those five cases, an adult must accompany youth hunters.

Can I apply deer/elk urine, beaver musk, skunk urine, fish oil or any other type of wildlife/fish scent on my clothing while bear hunting?

All such attractants are considered baiting and can’t be used while bear hunting. “Bait” means a substance placed, exposed, deposited, distributed, scattered or otherwise used for the purpose of attracting black bears to an area where one or more persons hunt or intend to hunt them. It is illegal to hunt black bear with the use of bait in Washington.

Next week: More frequently asked questions.

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