September marks the start of hunting seasons for deer, elk, waterfowl, and upland game birds in many areas Washington.
To help hunters have a successful hunting season, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has released its annual Hunting Prospects, which provide guidance and hunting information for each district.
“Our district wildlife biologists write these popular reports to give an in-depth look at what field conditions should look like this year,” said Anis Aoude, WDFW game division manager. “These prospects have a lot of useful information that can help brand new and experienced hunters plan their season.”
WDFW has also launched a hunting regulations web map, which allows hunters to find permit and general season hunts based on location, date, weapon choice, and more. Recent surveys indicate 2020 should be another good hunting year.
“Last year we created youth, veterans and active military special hunt days, and they were an overwhelming success,” said Kyle Spragens WDFW waterfowl manager. “They offer a very unique waterfowl hunting experience that we hope evolves into yearly waterfowling traditions. Favorable conditions in the Canadian prairies, Alaskan tundra and interior valleys, as well as here in Washington wetlands, make us hopeful for a strong waterfowl flight this fall.”
Aoude asks that hunters pay special attention to the following items for the upcoming season:
- Changes to animal sealing requirements: When hunters harvest a bighorn sheep, bobcat, mountain goat, river otters, or any other species that require inspection this season, they must schedule an inspection for pinning and sealing through regional offices or Olympia headquarters. In addition to scheduling an inspection, the department asks that hunters practice physical distancing and wear a face covering during the inspection and at any time when around department staff.
- Black bear identification test: Hunters who wish to harvest a bear in GMUs 101, 105, 108, 111, 113, 117, 203, 204, 209, 215, 418, and 426 (eastern Washington) must first pass the bear identification test (through the WILD system) with a score of 80 percent or better.
- Youth-only waterfowl hunting dates: Saturday, Sept. 26 in western Washington and Saturday, Oct. 3 in eastern Washington. Allowable species during these dates are ducks (including scaup), coots, and Canada and white-fronted geese. These dates give young hunters a better opportunity for success.
- Youth, veterans, and active military personnel waterfowl hunting day: Saturday, Feb. 6 will provide an opportunity for youth, veterans, and active military personnel to experience hunting during the late season with an expanded list of allowable species.
- February snows: Opportunities for snow goose hunting in February have expanded and occur in both Goose Management Area 1 (Feb. 13 – 23), and Goose Management Area 4 (Feb. 13 – Mar. 3). White geese, including snow, Ross’ and their blue phase variants, are the only waterfowl open to harvest during these season segments in these areas. Goose hunters must carry and fill out the required harvest record card information in Goose Management Area 1, but this is not a requirement in Goose Management Area 4.
These and other hunting regulations are described in WDFW’s Big Game Hunting pamphlet or Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game pamphlet.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing