Newbie Western Washington Hunting Question


August 13, 2005, 01:08 AM
Well, I'm all set to go hunting in September. I was thinking of going around the Sultan, Gold Bar area, maybe driving up by Lake Chaplain or Spada Lake. I don't know the area that well, but it looks good on google maps :p

Anyway, the thing I don't get is where am I alowed to hunt? Do I just drive up to some woodsie place, get out and start hunting? How the heck do you know if the land you are on is open for hunting to the public? I'm using the "go hunt" mapping resource, although it shows areas you can specifically hunt, none of which are particularly convenient for me, it doesn't show any places that are specifically off-limits.

Any help on this matter will be greatly appreciated. :o

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August 13, 2005, 05:35 AM
Tagged, cause i have no idea where one can hunt around here and it may prove usefull to know.

August 13, 2005, 09:37 AM
I'm not from Washington state area, but I would think the process is the same in most states. Lands are usually divided into Public and Private lands.

Public: State and Federal lands are usually open to hunting by anyone with a license. Sometimes the state property is divided into wildlife management units or something like that (terminology). For example, I'm in Tennessee and they are referred to Wildlife Management Units (WMA's). In Pennsylvania, the open property is termed "State Game Lands". In the west, there are also BLM lands (Bureau of Land Management) which are federal land that is usually open to hunting. Military property is also sometimes open to hunting (with restrictions). Some states allow hunting on state park land. National parks are generally off limits to hunting.

More research in this area is needed prior to choosing an area to hunt. The state fish and game department should be able to help you in this regard. Go to their web site. Folks in stores and gun shops or sporting goods stores can also direct you generally as to ways to find accurate information. National forests are usually open to hunting without restrictions.

Private Land: Many of the timber companies own tremendous amounts of property. Their property is frequently open to hunting. Some sort of pass is usually required and there may be a fee. Lands owned by regular folks may be open to hunting, but permission is required. Sometimes private land is leased by a hunting club, and members only hunt on the property. They pay for the access right basically. You have to do the leg work. Talk to people and ask questions.

Nobody is going to tell you their exact "spot". But most will tell you that they hunt on such and such mountain or area near xyz (town). You can usually find these places on the internet. The USGS web site is useful for topographic maps (for free).

On private land, it is necessary to learn the limits of the property. Hunting a 25 ac property may be okay but a 5 ac property is too small. Get premission to hunt on private land. Knock on doors.

If there is no much public land, then look to the hunting clubs and try to join. You will then have access to their property. Price may range from $100 to several thousand per year.

To me, the most important thing is to just get started and do your research.

Once you have access to a property, go and start scouting the property for deer sign (I assume it is deer.) There are gobs of hunting articles and books written about deciding on a spot to hunt. Different animals, different approaches. At first, you may literally be just parking and hiking back and finding a place to stand that you can see. You should be looking for food sources, trails, rubs and scrapes (deer), water sources, etc.

The best way (and certainly the easiest approach) is to find someone you know who hunts and tag along with them on the property that they hunt to start and go with them on the scouting trips. During those trips, you will be discussing location, animals, tracks, trails, etc. It's fun. Whole books are written on the subject.

Anyway, good luck. It may not be as simple as looking on a map and saying "I'm going there." or near such and such town or mountain.

August 14, 2005, 11:13 PM
If you look in the hunting regulations, there is a lot of PWLMA land open through the timber companies. Lots of national forest, and if you go east of the mountains there is the Yakima firing range. Where are you located, what type of terrain do you want to hunt, how far will you drive?

August 14, 2005, 11:50 PM
I'd like to keep my drive to about 2 hours. 3 hours max. I was thinking of hunting just NE of Sultan (just east of Monroe) by Spada Lake or Lake Chaplain (?). I found some snazzy recreation maps that indicate that this is a watershed that is closed to the public, so I guess it's out. However, a little further down the road past Gold Bar or Index and then north of HWY 2 looks ok. That map looks like quite a resource, but it's $22 or so. You can see them here ( They also sell them at GIJoes.

August 15, 2005, 02:42 PM
Well, here in Washington, if you are looking to do some public land hunting, the state owned Wildlife areas are a good place to start:

When I used to go elk hunting, I used to hunt in the L.T. Murray and the Wenas Wildlife areas, near Ellensburg. I can't vouch for how the hunting has been lately, I know a few years ago that the droughts were talking a big toll on elk and deer populations in that area.

One thing about hunting on Western/Central Washington public ready for some crowds.


August 16, 2005, 11:38 AM
thanks, that's a handy resource.

I was planning to go midweek in the second week of hunting season. Is it likely to be less crowded then? I was also thinking of driving up in the early evening the day before and sleeping in my truck. Good idea? :scrutiny:

August 16, 2005, 01:44 PM

Hopefully you mean October and not September unless going into the wilderness areas. The GMU's you are talking about have modern firearm seasons of Oct. 15th-31st.

August 18, 2005, 02:31 PM
er, yeah, that's what I meant, October. Sheesh, I got all mixed up and was thinking that hunting was a warm weather sport. :o

August 18, 2005, 03:17 PM
Are you doing modern rifle? It gets really crowded out there during rifle season. I've not hunted the location your talking about, but have been up there to do some shooting before they closed it down (Sultan area). Before they gated the road I made it out to the resevoir, beautiful area.

My recommendation is to head east a bit more, but be prepared to hike awhile to get away from the road hunters and crowds no matter your location.


August 18, 2005, 03:24 PM
I forgot to mention maps. If you want nice topo maps, contact the WDFW office where you'll be hunting and ask them to send you some green dot maps of the area. I contacted the Yakima office and they sent me maps of L.T. Murray, Wenas, Oak Creek, Colockum wildlife areas.
Best part is they're free.

August 21, 2005, 11:38 PM
tag, another local hoping to find some places closer to home ..

August 30, 2005, 07:18 PM
22-rimfire's got it right...

I second getting a copy of the hunting regulations, and checking out the regulations in the GMU's (game management units) that are close to you. I'm about two hours Northeast-ish of you, and there's a ton of huntable private timber and Forest Service land in the foothills of the Cascades. Some of the local sporting goods stores sell maps that are specific to certain game units - I've never tried them but it might be worthwhile if you're not familiar with the land ownerships in your area.

A lot of the places that will be open to modern firearm during the October and November seasons will be gated (especially if they're private timber) until the opening of deer season, which can make scouting from a vehicle difficult. Please thank the folks who dump their garbage on these roads for that privilige.

I like to use the month of September (opening grouse season) as an excuse to scout for deer, and bag a periodic dinner.
Depending on what type of hunting you're into, you should be prepared for a lot of walking through thick brush, and a lot of small-ish deer.

Oh yeah, as some of the other folks said, be prepared for crowds and road hunters - you don't want to be confused for a deer if you're out crashing through the brush...

Good luck.

September 3, 2005, 12:54 PM
Hi guys. This thread got me to register.

I'm also in the Puget Sound area- and want to get into hunting. I've been meaning to get out to a hunters safety course so I may buy a liscense.

If any of you guys figures out a trip and want some company I might be game. I've spent alot of time out in the Snoqualmie logging rd areas and a little up by stevens, granite falls areas. All I have to hunt deer with right now is an SKS so that might need to change. Anyway, make sure that if any of you get out to let us know how it goes-

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