Washington State Elk and Deer,


September 19, 2006, 09:35 PM
Unfortunately my new hunting buddie's health won't allow him to go hunting this year. I have a Deer and Western Elk tag and really need pointers on where to go.

I have extensive hunting experience in Wyoming but being a City dweller now my hunting experience in the North West is very limited.

Can anyone please shoot me off some ideas? I hate to go out solo but most people in my neighborhood freak out when you even mention hunting.

I am a very respectful, short shot, traditional caliber hunter.



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September 20, 2006, 02:57 PM
There's a lot to be learned here:

http://wdfw.wa.gov and http://wdfw.wa.gov/huntcorn.htm

I don't see numbers for 2005, but for information on the best producing GMUS, look at 2004's Deer harves reports. This is a good breakdown by region and hunt unit.

Where you live now, might be helpful. I've hunted a good portion of this state (sans south east Wa.), in my short years.

Get yourself a copy of the Fishing/Hunting News at your local sports shop. I don't take what they're touting as the gospel, but there are usually some good 'area' maps in issues just prior to season. There's no substitute for scouting.

West of the Cascades crest trail, you're looking for Blacktail. I've met many a successful Whitetail hunter that got absolutely disturbed by not being able to get a good Blacktail in their sights. The Black hills south of Olympia and Capital peak is a good area. But be careful not to drive on closed roads. The fine is heafty. -And you'll find closed roads all over this state. Walk in an hunt is fine. Just don't drive. It's part of the landowner/state wildlife management plan. Another area are the hills east of Mount Vernon or north of Lyman. (Yeah, there's Elk there too, but that herd/hunt unit isn't open. They've been rebuilding that herd, with Indian help, for the last 12 years.) I note this area because I'm assuming you're somewhere north of Seattle.

The Wilipa hills for Elk. Yakima hills for Elk. CleElum. Owl Creek south of Forks. The Eatonville hills used to be good for Deer and Elk, but now much of the private lands have very limited access. Or charge you an arm and leg to hunt there. Don't be discouraged, there are a lot of public lands to consider. The Mount St. Helen's area for Elk. I tend to stay away from the Snoqualmie watershed and other areas due east of Seattle. Too damn crouded in the woods for me. Note that the Skamania areas are open to Cow or Bull Elk with a general modern firearm west side Elk tag during normal season. It's not totally obvious, but it's been in the regs in years past. I haven't checked that for this season. Be prepaired for torential rains if on the coast or peninsula. Rain or Snow and bitter temperatures if you hunt north of the town of White Salmon and south east of Mount St. Helens as the late fall storms blow in off the Pacific in November.

For Deer hunting east of the mountains.. Winthrop hills and areas north of Mazama, or west of Twisp. There are areas where the lazy hunters make this look a bit crouded. But if you get off the beaten path, you can hike for hours looking for sign or a legal animal. That's mostly all National Forest or Wilderness area. This is open timbered and sage grassland rolling hills. MULE deer! Farther east and keeping north, you'll get into Whitetail country. With a lot of public land avalable. This year, forest fires have taken a big chunk of some very popular hunting areas. That'l rebuild in no time though. There are farmed lands in south central WA. that produce some good Whitetail and Mule deer, but land owner permission is paramount. The Spokane hills and Blue mountains are good producers of deer.

For Whitetail in this state, you're hunting more herd migration than anything. They come from the north and/or out of every nook and cranny from the mountains to the lower lands as the weather hits. From Palmer lake east to Idaho. They filter through much of North Eastern Washington. If we get some early snows in the mountains, you can expect the Mule deer to migrate to lower lands too. (Yes, I'm being vague and general about locations...) Don't expect record book non-tipical deer from this state. You won't find many food plots or feeders for deer. And most of us don't hunt from tree stand or some errected shed with openings for a muzzle. We still hunt. We sit. We track and trail. There aren't the numbers of deer here that there are back east, so we actually have to work at being successful.

I hunt alone occasionally too since my boys aren't yet old enough to go for a full week. -the eldest goes opening weekend. Then a partner usually hits camp mid season.

When you find a place to hunt. Equip yourself with quality maps of the area. (or study them before hand) Tell people where you're going, when you should be back. Yeah, if you pull the camp rig into a camp ground, get to know your neighbors the first night. I've been invited to the campfire, and I've invited others to my campfire when I've been alone. With few exceptions, hunters look out for one another. No, Joe's not going to tell you his secret spot, but if you make it known that you're alone, -since we all know how Ma Nature can take a life at any moment in the woods, at least 'there might be a search party' when needed. When I'm on a ridge-top mid day, when I've got celular signal, I call the wife at the office. Give's her piece of mind that I'm still alive. -that she doesn't need to send out the search party...

Many of the areas I mentioned also have good Black bear populations. And in the North Cascades or east to Idaho, I wouldn't be surprised to hear about more Grizzly and Wolf sightings.

Remember the 10 essentials.

-Self awareness
-Common sense
-Communication with others
-Never under-estimate mother nature
More maps. Atlas & Gazetter. Green Trails. DNR. Metzgers. If you don't know where you are, it's tough to get where you want to be.

Last year's buck. (http://www.cnw.com/~hotrod/Hunting/5x6_2005Whitetail.JPG)


September 20, 2006, 04:28 PM
Thank you for the huge response,

I will probably look at black or white tails this year, just because I have never hunted them before. To be honest the elk tag is a little too intimidating if I go solo this year unless I can make one run towards a road after I shoot it and die directly under a tree :) I have been putting t he feelers out trying to introduce a new person to the sport around here. More people then I thought are interested but of course non of them have their hunter safety card.

September 20, 2006, 04:58 PM
I hunted elk once up by Rain WA, I saw a few cows and a spike so I'm not really the guy to ask. What I can tell you is that quality rain gear is a must.:) I've never been so wet and muddy and cold in my whole life than during that hunt.

September 20, 2006, 07:09 PM
Yup there is a little bit of rain up here, I don't know if grundens count as "hunter orange" ;)

September 20, 2006, 11:40 PM
You don't mention where you are in Washington but here are a few ideas for deer and elk.

Elk numbers are good between I-5 and the ocean and south of SR 12. You might try the Ryderwood/Pe Ell area. The Winston unit between Mossyrock and the St. Helens highway also has a healthy population.

Blacktail are pretty equally spread in Western Washington. Try the Brooklyn, WA area. That would be in the Minot Peak/ Fall River units.

North of Spokane is a good bet for Whitetail.

Hope this helps.

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