Hunting prospects in many areas are good, but some deer and elk populations are rebuilding
Some of Washington’s most popular hunting seasons will get underway Oct. 12, when modern firearm deer hunters and waterfowl hunters take to the field.
“Overall, hunters should expect good opportunities for mule deer along the east slopes of the Cascades in Chelan and Okanogan counties, good opportunities for white-tailed deer in northeast Washington, and good to excellent opportunities for black-tailed deer throughout western Washington,” said Brock Hoenes, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) deer and elk section manager.
While hunting prospects in many areas are good, some deer and elk populations are rebuilding, added Hoenes.
“Opportunities will be limited for elk hunters in eastern Washington this year, but elk hunters west of the Cascades can expect seasons similar to last year, with the best opportunities being associated with the Willapa Hills and Mount St. Helens elk herds,” said Hoenes.
“All indications are the black-tailed deer and most elk populations west of the Cascades have remained stable,” said Hoenes. “Severe weather and wildfire events in recent years have contributed to declines in some of Washington’s deer and elk herds in eastern Washington and populations remain below historical levels. The department has restricted doe and cow harvest in those areas to rebuild those herds.”
WDFW also employs management practices like prescribed burning and forest thinning on its wildlife areas to reduce risks of wildfire and improve big game habitat.
Waterfowl season takes flight in mid-October as well. Duck, goose, coot, and snipe seasons open on Oct. 12.
“Hunters have been among the nation’s largest contributors to conservation, donating time and paying for programs that benefit America’s wildlife — and all who enjoy the outdoors,” said Eric Gardner, WDFW wildlife program director and waterfowl hunter. “Now is a great time to celebrate our hunting tradition. I’m anticipating a great year and I look forward to getting out and hunting with my new dog.”
“Favorable habitat conditions and breeding pair counts from Washington, Alaska, and portions of Canada indicate a strong fall flight,” said Kyle Spragens, WDFW waterfowl manager.
“Weather is a key ingredient to successful waterfowl hunting, but is the most difficult to anticipate, added Spragens. “Waterfowl hunters have a first chance on local birds until the northern birds are ushered into the state from Alaska and Canada by low pressure weather systems. Things seem to be shaping up nicely with early season rains and colder temperatures settling into the north.”
Spragens reminds hunters to know the rules and how to identify species. The exceptions to October waterfowl hunting openings include dusky Canada goose hunting, which is closed to harvest. Brant season in Skagit County, determined by the midwinter waterfowl survey, is also currently closed, but may open on selected dates in January. Scaup season is also currently closed, but opens on Nov. 2.
WDFW wetland management on the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area and practice of planting grains for waterfowl on lands such as the Samish Wildlife Area Unit in Skagit County, among other management actions across the state, support healthy waterfowl populations.
Reviewing WDFW’s 2019 Hunting Prospects reports (https://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/locations/prospects) can help hunters find their spot. The Hunting Prospects include local information on what upcoming seasons may hold.
Information on access to more than 1 million acres of private land can be found at the Private Lands Hunting Access page (https://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/locations/private-lands). Hunters can also find information on public or private lands open to hunting by visiting WDFW’s hunt planner webmap (https://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/.)
Hunters can purchase their licenses at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov, at any WDFW’s 600 license dealers (https://wdfw.wa.gov/licenses/dealers), or by calling WDFW’s licensing customer service number at (360) 902-2464.
WDFW is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting and other outdoor recreation opportunities.