Some of Washington’s most popular hunting seasons will get underway Oct. 14, when modern firearm deer hunters and waterfowl hunters take to the field.
The harsh winter of 2016-17 appears to have taken a toll on some elk and deer populations—especially in parts of eastern Washington, said Jerry Nelson, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) deer and elk section manager.
Still, hunting prospects in many areas look promising as hunts get underway this fall, he added.
“Winter conditions in recent years, wildfires, fall green-up and weather during the hunting season are just some of the factors that can influence deer numbers and distribution,” said Nelson. “That is why we are encouraging hunters to review the Hunting Prospects on WDFW’s website to find location-specific forecasts.”
WDFW’s 2017 Hunting Prospects reports (http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/prospects/) include local information on what upcoming seasons may hold.
Hunters will also take to the field for waterfowl. Last season, nearly 550,000 waterfowl were harvested in Washington. Duck, goose, coot and snipe seasons open Oct. 14.
The exceptions include dusky Canada goose hunting, which is closed in Goose Management Area 2. Brant season, 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. 4.
“Washington can anticipate a strong fall flight,” said WDFW waterfowl manager Kyle Spragens. “With exceptional habitat conditions in Washington this past spring, and strong numbers of birds spotted during surveys in Alaska and Canada, things are looking fantastic.”
WDFW has already received reports of early arriving cackling, white-fronted, and snow geese, he added.
Information on access to more than 1 million acres of private land can be found at the Private Lands Hunting Access page (http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/hunting_access/private_lands/).
Hunters can also find information on public or private lands open to hunting by visiting GoHunt, WDFW’s interactive mapping program (http://apps.wdfw.wa.gov/gohunt/).
Hunters can purchase their licenses at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov, at any WDFW license dealer (http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/) or by calling WDFW’s licensing customer service number at (360) 902-2464.