Notable 2019 hunting rule changes: No antlerless deer hunting, liberalized black bear season

Thu., Sept. 12, 2019, 6 a.m.

In this Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018, photo, Stuart Schueller waits for other hunters during a hunt in Sherrill, Iowa. (Eileen Meslar / AP)
In this Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018, photo, Stuart Schueller waits for other hunters during a hunt in Sherrill, Iowa. (Eileen Meslar / AP)

No more antlerless deer hunting. That’s the biggest change for Eastern Washington hunters in 2019.

Earlier this year, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to end all antlerless hunting in Eastern Washington units (Game Management Units 101 through 121).

That comes on the heels of a more liberalized 2018 season when archers, black powder hunters and modern rifle hunters had a chance, for the first time in a long time, to hunt antlerless deer. Prior to 2018, there were longstanding youth and senior antlerless hunts.

All that is gone in 2019.

“There are no antlerless harvests,” District 1 wildlife biologist Annemarie Prince said. “Our total harvest this year might be a little deceiving. We will have to compare the antlered to antlerless.”

The change, recommended by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, is in response to decreasing harvest numbers, tough winters in 2016 and 2017 and a devastating outbreak of bluetongue in 2015.

The other big change for Washington hunters is a liberalized black bear hunting season.

On July 1, the commission simplified black bear hunting regulations, opening the season statewide on Aug. 1 and allowing hunters to kill two bears anywhere in the state. Previously, hunting had opened later in Eastern Washington and hunters could only kill one bear from the east side of the state.

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