By Mike Maltais
Hunters who target the greater Methow Valley during the modern firearm mule and white-tailed deer season from Saturday (Oct. 11) through Oct. 19 are cautioned to keep a careful eye overhead and underfoot in areas where recent wildfire or flooding have occurred, lest the nimrods be in as much peril as their intended prey.
Falling trees, tree tops and limbs — appropriately called “widowmakers” by foresters — in areas of heavily burned timber, combined with burned-out tree stumps, present a real danger of injury to anyone walking through the stressed terrain.
John Lindsey, assistant manager of the Methow Wildlife Area, said he has received many calls from hunters inquiring about the status and availability of favorite hunting haunts.
“We haven’t closed any areas aside from those seasonal closures where locked gates restrict vehicle access,” Lindsey said.
Lindsey added that hunters may encounter access difficulties depending on the severity of water-damaged roads and other obstacles.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) did release information regarding certain Game Management Units (GMUs) that sustained fire or water damage from the earlier disasters. In descending order of severity, those GMUs affected by fire include 239 (Chiliwist), 242 (Alta), 224 (Pearrygin) and portions of 218 (Chewuch) and 231 (Gardner).
Floodwaters damaged primary and secondary roads in Pearrygin, Chiliwist and Alta.
As to the forecast for available bucks, Lindsey said hunting results are going to be interesting to watch.
“Deer will be where they can find shelter and food,” Lindsay said but added that resprouting berry bushes — snow, service and elder — and forbs (herbaceous flowering plants) are drawing deer back to burned-over areas.
A WDFW check station at The Barn in Winthrop will monitor the ratio of legal animals taken — three-point or better mule deer — and any buck for white-tail.