District biologists have provided hunting forecasts for their
district based on surveys and field work.
Counties: Ferry, Pend Oreille & Stevens
Dana Base, District Wildlife Biologist
District 1, in the northeastern corner of Washington, is comprised of seven game management units (GMUs), including GMU 101, 105, 108, 111, 113, 117 and 121. The topography is dominated by four mountain ranges that run generally north and south, the Kettle, Huckleberry, Calispell and Selkirk ranges. There are broad valleys between these ranges that are drained by the Kettle, Columbia, Colville and Pend Oreille rivers, all part of the Columbia River watershed.
Elevation varies from as low as about 1, 290 feet at the normal pool level of Lake Roosevelt (Reservoir) to as high as 7,309 feet on Gypsy Peak in the north Selkirk Range.
Coniferous forest covers about 68 percent of the district’s landscape. Agricultural land, range land and water features cover most of the balance.
Approximately 37 percent of the land mass is public, mostly national forest, but also state DNR, federal BLM, USFWS, WSFW and a few other government agencies. Most of these lands outside of Indian reservations are open to public hunting. In addition, there are large timber company lands, also open to public hunting, although not necessarily open to private motorized vehicle access. The public lands tend to be mostly at higher elevations with a shorter growing season, much less agriculture, and in general have a lower density of game animals such as deer and turkeys.
Big game resources in District 1 include white-tailed deer—the most abundant species—mule deer, elk, moose, black bear and cougar. White-tailed deer are found at the highest densities in the valleys and foothill benches bordering the valleys, especially in the farm-forest mosaic within GMU 101.
Elk are scattered at relatively low densities throughout District 1, but are most abundant in GMUs 113 and 117, which typically have the highest annual harvest among the district’s seven management units.
Moose are relatively common and can be found almost anywhere in the district, but are typically most common above 3,000 feet elevation on the eastern slopes of each mountain range, which receive more precipitation that the west slopes. This district has the greatest number of moose and highest harvest in the state.
All big game species except moose are available to hunters who purchase over-the-counter tags. Moose tags are available only through the special permit draw system which is typically conducted in May.
Small game in District 1 includes three species of forest grouse, ring-necked pheasant, valley quail, wild turkey (Merriam’s subspecies), a number of migratory game birds including several species of ducks and geese, American coots, Wilson’s snipe, mourning doves, and snowshoe hare. This district has the highest harvest in the state for ruffed grouse and turkeys although most of the turkey harvest occurs during spring seasons.
The spring of 2012 within District 1 set records for cool temperatures and precipitation, so survival of nest broods of gallinaceous game birds, including forest grouse, turkeys and quail was likely very low. Therefore, the fall hunting season for these birds is expected to be below average.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics
While the cool and wet spring had negative impacts on upland game birds, it was likely positive for waterfowl in that there was more flooded pond and slough habitat to facilitate successful rearing of duck and goose broods. Most waterfowl hunting in District 1 is concentrated in the Pend Oreille River Valley, including the river itself from Newport downstream to about River Bend and Ruby.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics
The 2012 season will be the second in which a four-point minimum antler regulation is in place for white-tailed deer within Game Management Units 117 and 121. Any antlered buck is legal however, for white-tailed deer in the other five units of District 1 during the general seasons. For mule deer, the general three-point minimum continues district-wide.
District 1 - 2011 Game Harvest Statistics:
- Deer General Harvest
- Deer Special Permits Harvest
The 2012 hunting season will be the first in which only antlered bull elk are legal in the general seasons throughout District 1. Antlerless elk may still be taken, but only by hunters with special permits. This rule came about by hunter-group request through development of the Selkirk Elk Herd Management Plan.
Drawing a special permit within the quality buck deer and bull elk categories is the ultimate hunting opportunity for Washington big game hunters, and that maxim certainly applies in District 1. The best advice to most hunters who come here is to hunt the general deer and elk seasons opportunistically, but keep applying for special permit hunts and accruing bonus points, so that someday you will draw a moose or quality deer permit and already know the country for planning your big hunt.
District 1 - 2011 Game Harvest Statistics:
- Elk General Harvest
- Elk Special Permits Harvest
There was a total harvest of 22 cougars (highest in the state) in GMUs 101-121 during the 2011 hunting season. In recent years, the use of dogs to hunt cougar has become generally prohibited; consequently, WDFW has made substantial changes to the season. This new season structure is based upon years of accumulated scientific information, including cougar population dynamics, home ranges, social structure, mortality causes and mortality rates. With the appropriate licenses and tags, you can hunt cougar from September through December using any weapon. Starting January 1, hunt areas (GMUs) where the harvest guideline is met or exceeded may be closed. If you want to hunt cougars after January 1st, you need to call the cougar hotline at: 1-866-364-4868 or go online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/bear_cougar/ to determine if the season is still open.
2011 Statewide Cougar Harvest Statistics
District one also typically supports the highest black bear harvest in the state and we expect ample opportunities to harvest a black bear again this year. The season in this district starts September 1st and the best success is often early in the season when the berry crop is being targeted by bears. Hunters should be aware that this district also supports a small population of grizzly bears which are protected by state and federal law. We encourage bear hunters to take an online identification quiz at: http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/bear_cougar/bear/ .
2011 Statewide Black Bear Harvest Statistics
This extreme northeastern corner of Washington isn’t prime pheasant country but bird hunters did harvest 654 ringnecks in District 1 last season. The pheasant harvest was down from 2010 throughout the district and also down significantly (nearly 40 percent) from the 2006-2010 average.
The quail harvest here, although small compared to the state’s best quail areas, was better last year than in 2010. The total harvest in Ferry and Stevens counties was just over 1,000 birds.
While the pheasant and quail hunting in District 1 are marginal, not so the forest grouse hunting. Even though the district-wide harvest was down nearly 44 percent from 2010, hunters here bagged 13,357 blue, ruffed and spruce grouse last season, by far the highest district total in the state. Stevens County alone gave up 7,262 grouse in 2011.
Last year, hunters in District 1 harvested 3,728 deer, the vast majority of them (3,073) antlered bucks. Modern firearms hunters accounted for just over 3,000 of the deer taken district-wide, about 83 percent of them bucks. Game Management Unit 121 (Huckleberry) produced the largest deer harvest (697) for modern firearms hunters during the season, but GMUs 105 (Kelly Hill), 108 (Douglas), 111 (Aladdin) and 113 (Selkirk) had higher success rates, ranging from 25.8 to 29.7 percent.
District 1 archers harvested 501 deer, muzzleloader hunters 150 and multiple-weapons hunters 69. Multiple-weapons hunters had the district’s highest hunter success rate for the season, 23.8 percent, with archers close behind at 23.4 percent. Modern firearms and muzzleloader hunters throughout District 1 had success rates of just under 21 percent.
District 1 hunters harvested 234 elk during the 2011 season, nearly two-thirds of them antlered bulls. Modern firearms hunters took 122 of those elk, bow hunters 72, muzzleloader hunters 30 and multiple weapons hunters 10. Multiple weapons hunters, though, had the highest success rate for the season, 19.2 percent. Success among modern firearms hunters was lowest of the four weapon types, 4.4 percent. GMU 117 (49 Degrees North) was the most productive elk unit in the district. Hunters there harvested 54 bulls and 16 antlerless elk, for a total of 70.
Washington’s Bear Management Unit (BMU) 7 is comprised of 12 game management units in northeastern Washington, including all seven GMUs in District 1, and it produced the largest bear harvest of the state’s nine BMUs during the 2011 bear season. Some 4,096 hunters harvested 324 black bear in BMU 7 last season, and 255 of those animals were taken from the seven units comprising District 1.
This wooded and mountainous corner of the state has a healthy cougar population, and District 1 hunters harvested 14 of the big cats during the general hunting season in 2011.
Last year’s duck harvest was up 34 percent from 2010 in Pend Oreille County and 115 percent in Stevens County, resulting in a District 1 duck harvest of over 8,500 birds.
Ferry County had the distinction of being the only county in Washington to produce more geese than ducks during the 2011 waterfowl season (449 geese, 245 ducks). All-tolled, the District 1 Canada goose harvest was 1,940 birds.