Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife offers online hunting tips

OLYMPIA – Wildlife biologists with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) have compiled the best information available to help hunters have a successful hunting season.

Those reports, which include information for every region of the state, can be found on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/prospects/ .

“This is one of the best planning resources available for hunting in Washington,” said Dave Ware, game manager for WDFW.

The reports include information on deer, elk, waterfowl, turkey, upland birds and other species, as well as suggestions on techniques and places to hunt, and other details that will help hunters improve their chances in the field.

“We encourage hunters to spend time reviewing all the information, not just familiar hunting areas,” adds Ware. “Washington has an incredible diversity of habitats and game populations. These prospects provide insights into all the locations and species to hunt.” 

Staff reports are available for all 17 wildlife districts in the state. Each district has at least one biologist responsible for monitoring local wildlife populations and recommending appropriate seasons, based on criteria such as past hunter success and typical weather patterns.

Hunters should pay attention to reports from districts, such as District 6, that were affected by this summer’s wildfires. Those reports include information on hunter access and adjustments to hunting permits.

Additional resources at WDFW’s website include:

Wildlife Commission adopts new hunting rules, reduces cost of some special permits

OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission took action to expand the number of big-game hunting permits available this year and reduce the cost of several types of permits during a public meeting April 11-12 in Olympia.


The commission, a citizen panel that sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), approved those and other changes while adopting new hunting rules for the upcoming season.


The continued growth of many state deer and elk populations will support increases in the number of hunting permits issued this year, said Dave Ware, WDFW game manager.


“After a five-year stretch of mild winters, surveys show that most big game populations are stable or growing,” Ware said. “That bodes well for hunting opportunities this year.”


The commission approved additional permits in three key areas:


  • Colockum elk herd:  With the herd continuing to exceed population objectives, WDFW will increase the number special permits, primarily for antlerless elk, to 1,016 from 374.


  • Yakima elk herd:  The commission approved 130 additional permits for antlered elk and 1,440 for antlerless elk in response to the herd’s continuing growth in central Washington.


  • Northeast white-tailed deer:  Buck harvest levels have increased as the herd starts to rebound from harsh winters of 2007-08. WDFW will make 120 additional antlerless special permits available this year to youth, senior, and disabled hunters.


The only significant reduction made in special permits this year is in the Mount St. Helens area, where the elk herd has reached WDFW’s management objective after six years of elevated permit levels.

That strategy, designed to bring the herd into balance with available habitat, has reduced the herd by 25 to 30 percent. At WDFW’s request, the commission approved a reduction of 400 permits this year.


The commission also approved a proposal to reduce fees for some special permits and tags, which were raised in 2009. Ware said WDFW proposed those reductions to encourage participation in certain hunts and address concerns raised about the cost of certain permits.


Under the new fee schedule adopted by the commission, the cost of a second-deer tag will be reduced to $43.40 from $68, while the price of a multi-season deer tag drops to $139.10 from $182.


The cost will also be reduced for second-deer “damage tags” used by hunters working with property owners with damage-prevention or kill permits.


Also approved was a proposal to streamline the process for issuing hunters with disabilities special-use permits, which enable them to use modified hunting equipment such as crossbows equipped with a scope.


In other business, the commission approved WDFW’s proposal to acquire 640 acres near Wenatchee to provide a migratory corridor for deer, elk and other wildlife. Working in partnership with Chelan County and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, WDFW secured the property with funding provided by the Washington Recreation and Conservation Office and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


Other transactions approved by the commission will allow WDFW to:


  • Accept the transfer from the Washington State Department of Transportation of a one-acre inholding to WDFW’s Oak Creek Wildlife Area near Yakima.


  • Exchange three-quarters of an acre with the City of Sumner, which will allow WDFW to construct a parking lot near a water-access site on the Puyallup River.


  • Acquire a pipeline easement to improve the water supply at the Aberdeen Hatchery in Grays Harbor County.


Minutes of the meeting and an audio transcript will be posted on the commission’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/.

Hunters have until March 31 to apply for multiple-season permits

OLYMPIA – Deer and elk hunters have until March 31 to enter their name in a drawing for a 2014 multiple-season permit, which can greatly increase their opportunities for success in the field.

In mid-April, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will randomly draw names for 8,500 multiple-season deer permits and 1,000 multiple-season elk permits.

Winners of the drawing will be eligible to purchase a special tag allowing them to participate in archery, muzzleloader and modern firearm general hunting seasons for deer or elk in 2014. Winners who purchase the multiple-season elk tag by Aug. 31 can participate in general elk-hunting season in both eastern and western Washington.

Winners also may choose any weapon type when applying for a special permit to hunt deer or elk.

“This is a great opportunity for hunters to extend their hunting season this fall,” said Dave Ware, game manager for WDFW. “Rather than having to choose one hunting method over another, hunters drawn for a multiple-season permit who purchase the tag can participate in multiple seasons.”

Ware noted that the tags can be used only during general seasons and in game management units that are open during a modern firearm, muzzleloader, or archery general season. For example, winners may not hunt during the muzzleloader general season in an area that is not open for the muzzleloader general season.

Also, hunters can apply only once for each species and are limited to harvesting one deer or elk.

Hunters may purchase a multiple-season permit application at an authorized license dealer, listed at http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/ , or by calling (866) 246-9453. The permit application is $7.10 for residents and $110.50 for nonresidents.

A 2014 hunting license is not required to submit an application, but winners of the drawing must purchase one before they can purchase a multiple-season tag.

Hunting licenses and multiple-season tags can be purchased from local license dealers, on the Internet (http://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/ ) or by calling (866) 246-9453. Including transaction fees, multiple-season deer or elk tags cost $182.00 for residents and nonresidents in addition to the cost of an annual hunting license. For more information, visit WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/ , or call the licensing department at (360) 902-2464. 

File hunting reports by Jan. 10 to qualify for permit drawing

OLYMPIA – Hunters have a chance to win one of nine 2014 special hunting permits if they report this year’s hunting activities for black bear, deer, elk, or turkey to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) by Jan. 10.

Those who meet the deadline will be included in a drawing for five deer permits and four elk permits in various areas of the state. Those permits will be valid from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31, 2014.

To qualify for the drawing, hunters must submit a report for each black bear, deer, elk, or turkey tag they purchased and for each special hunting permit they received in 2013.

All hunters, whether successful or not, are required to submit hunting reports for those species by Jan. 31. Failure to meet the deadline can result in a $10 fine, payable before a hunter can purchase a 2014 license.

Dave Ware, WDFW game manager, said the annual hunting reports are an important source of information for managing the resource and developing future hunting seasons.

“The drawing for special permits is designed to give hunters an extra incentive to file their reports early,” said Dave Ware, WDFW game manager. “If everyone waits until the last minute, it creates problems with reporting.”

Hunters can report by phone (877 945-3492) or the Internet https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov . Hunters should be prepared to give the game management unit they hunted and their individual WILD identification number, which is printed on license documents.

As in recent years, hunters are required to file separate reports for general-season hunting activities and for special-permit hunts for deer, elk, black bear and turkey.

Whether reporting online or over the phone, hunters should follow the prompts until they receive a confirmation number for each report, he said.

More information the WDFW’s incentive permit drawing is available on page 17 of the 2013 Big Game Hunting pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/ ).

Rain or shine, 2014 holds promise for hunting and fishing in Washington

With the new year dawning, thousands of hunters and anglers across Washington state were quietly hoping for a winter storm. Duck hunters and steelheaders, in particular, had come to see the dry, mild weather that marked the end of 2013 as too much of a good thing.


“Dry, calm weather is nice, but it doesn’t make for great duck hunting conditions,” said Dave Ware, game manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “Ducks like water, and that is in short supply in the fields around the state.”


A good downpour would also improve fishing for winter steelhead on the Columbia River and elsewhere around the state, said Joe Hymer, a WDFW fish biologist based in Vancouver, Wash.


“Salmon and steelhead get active and move upriver when rivers and streams rise,” Hymer said. “A lot of anglers would welcome a good hard rain, the sooner the better.”


Statewide waterfowl seasons run through Jan. 26, while steelhead seasons vary by area, as described in the Washington Sport Fishing Rules Pamphlet (http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/).


Of course, there are plenty of other reasons to celebrate the new year by heading outdoors, including:



  • Trout fishing: WDFW is stocking 13 rivers in southwest Washington with 30,000 rainbows through the end of the month. For weekly stocking reports there and elsewhere, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/.


  • Wildlife watching: Bald eagles, snow geese, elk, big-horn sheep and other wintering wildlife are on display in many parts of the state.


Rain or shine, winter weather is an important consideration wherever you go. Ice fishing can be a dicey proposition in many parts of the state and a sudden rainstorm rains can render a river “unfishable” – even dangerous – virtually overnight.


“Preparation is essential for any outdoor activity, especially in winter,” said Mike Cenci, WDFW deputy chief of enforcement. “Check the weather conditions, river conditions and road conditions – and let people know where you’re going before you head out.”


WDFW fish and wildlife managers want to pass along a few other seasonal reminders:


  • Crab reports: The Puget Sound crab fishery closed Dec. 31, and crabbers are required to report their winter catch by Feb. 1.


  • Hunter reports: Hunters who purchased tags for black bear, deer, elk or turkey are reminded that reports are due by Jan. 31 for each 2013 license, permit or tag they purchased.


For more information about the full array of fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing available over the next month, see the Weekender Regional Reports posted on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/weekender/. These reports are updated throughout the month to provide current information about recreational opportunities around the state.

WDFW: Public comment sought on state game management plan

“The public’s involvement is essential in creating a comprehensive and effective game management plan,” said Dave Ware, WDFW game division manager. “We look forward to hearing from people as we go about updating this plan that will guide game management priorities.”

The opinion survey addresses a number of game management issues, including:

  • Hunter recruitment and retention
  • Hunting regulations
  • Land access for hunting
  • Wildlife conflict
  • Habitat enhancement
  • Questions directed at specific species

Once the survey results are analyzed, WDFW will incorporate them into a draft plan, which will go out for public comment next spring. The plan will be considered for final approval by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission next summer.

WDFW seeks public comment on draft white-tailed deer plan

"Our white-tailed deer populations are generally healthy – and we want to keep them that way," said Dave Ware, WDFW.  "This plan will provide a foundation for future management of this species, and we’d like to encourage people to give us some feedback on the strategies we’ve identified."

The draft plan, along with an electronic comment form, is posted on WDFW’s website at  http://wdfw.wa.gov/wildlife/management/white-tailed_deer .  Public comments will be accepted through April 23 before a final plan is reviewed by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission and forwarded to the WDFW director for approval.

The plan divides the state’s white-tailed deer population into six geographic zones, based on the ecology, population characteristics and management considerations of each area.  The six zones are identified as Selkirk, Palouse, Blue Mountains, Columbia Basin, Okanogan Highlands and North Cascades.

Ware said the heavy winters of 2007-08 and 2008-09 took a toll on white-tail populations, especially in the northeast, but those in most other areas have rebounded in the past year.  

"White-tailed deer are generally very resilient," Ware said.  "The primary limitation is habitat – they do best in a mix of farm and forestlands."

Each year, hunters take an average of 13,629 white-tailed deer in Washington, representing for approximately 35 percent of the annual deer harvest.  Black-tailed deer and mule deer account for the rest. 

Ware said WDFW plans to develop similar management plans for mule deer and black-tailed deer over the coming years.  Since 2001, the department has also adopted plans for eight of the state’s 10 elk herds.

"For management purposes, it is important to look at both the similarities and differences of these populations throughout their range," Ware said.  "These management plans provide a basis for developing consistent policies throughout the state."  

WDFW seeks applicants for positions on game management advisory council

Nominations must be submitted in writing with the following information:

  • Nominee’s name, address, telephone number and email address.
  • Relevant experience and reasons for wanting to serve as a member of the advisory group.
  • Nominee’s effectiveness in communication.
  • Name and contact information for any individual or organization submitting a nomination.

Nominations must be received by 5 p.m., December 15.  Nominations must be submitted to Dave Ware, Game Division Manager by mail: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N, Olympia, WA  98501-1091; or email at Dave.Ware@dfw.wa.gov .  For more information, contact Dave Ware at (360) 902-2509.

New advisory council members will serve three-year terms, and should be available for advisory committee meetings beginning as early as January 2010.  The council holds at least three one-day meetings each year.  Special meetings may be called when special issues/topics arise.  Council members, upon request, will be reimbursed by WDFW for travel expenses to attend meetings.