Hunting in Washington - Top 5 Spots

07/12/2020

Introduction


In terms of natural, rugged beauty it's hard to imagine that Washington wouldn't come somewhere near the top of the list of US states. And this beauty lends itself perfectly to the outdoors lifestyle, including, of course, that most traditional outdoor pastime, hunting.

Not only is hunting a way for residents and non-residents in Washington people to appreciate the natural wonders around them, it is also provides a massive $80 million dollars a year to the state’s conservation efforts.

Such a large amount comes as no surprise when you discover that a deer + elk hunting license in the state costs over $80 for residents and a whopping $739 for non-residents. Those looking for a cheaper hunting option in the state would do well to apply for a black bear hunting license. Owing to the large population of 25,000 bears, it’s relatively cheaper, at $24 for residents and $222 for non-residents.

Trail Cameras


When investing a lot of money on your favorite hobby, you're going to want to make sure you get the most bang for your buck. Trail cameras are the key tool in your arsenal to ensure you’re in the right place at the right time and avoid wasting your time and money in the process.

Let’s begin, then, by taking a look some of the game animals on the cards in the ‘Evergreen State’…

Moose hunting in Washington

As the largest member of North America’s deer family, every hunter dreams of one day bagging a moose. And if you’re looking to stay in the lower 48 states, then Washington could well be the place to get one.

It has to be mentioned though that Washington moose aren’t quite as large as moose found in Canada or Alaska, since they belong to a subspecies called “Shiras” moose, the smallest subspecies of moose.

However, the state contains a respectable population of around 3,000, the majority of which are to be found in the Selkirk Mountains in the eastern part of the state, though smaller populations can be found in the north Cascades, Okanogan, and Blue Mountains.

Elk hunting in Washington State

Ranking squarely in the top 10 of elk numbers by state, and as one of the few areas in the world where you can hunt pure-blooded Roosevelt Elk, Washington would come high on any elk hunter’s top destinations.

Although the state does see some very large bulls, hunting is almost entirely limited to spike elk, with the larger bulls reserved for the limited entry draw winners. For those with elk on the brain, head to the Blue Mountains in the south-eastern portion of the state.

Let’s now take a look at when you should plan your hunting trip…

Hunting Season in Washington State


N.B.: seasons vary by zone

Big Game

Small Game

Now you know what’s on offer in Washington State and when, you’re going to want to know where to plan your next trip. Luckily, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife manages over 1 million acres of public land available for hunting, divided up into different Wildlife Areas.

In the second part of this article, we’re going to take a look at the top 5 Wildlife Areas in Washington state by size…

Top 5 spots

5. Oak Creek Wildlife Area

Size: 67,100 acres

Description:
Located in Yakima County and Kittitas County, this wildlife area contains some very steep, rocky terrain. Known for its endangered salmon and bull trout abounding in the Naches and Tieton rivers that run through portions of this wildlife area, it also provides habitat for a variety of birds, reptiles and amphibians.

The Wildlife Area has three units, two of which are available for hunting….

Hunting:
Oak Creek Unit: big game: deer, elk, bear, and big horn sheep (permit only).

Rock Creek Unit: deer, elk, bear, forest grouse and turkey.

Contact:
Address: 16601 Highway 12, Naches, WA 98937
Phone: (509) 653 2390

4. Colockum Wildlife Area

Size: 88,305 acres

Description:
This Wildlife Area is an exceptionally diverse fish and wildlife habitat that includes shrubsteppe, conifer forest, high elevation lakes, and multiple streams. It’s located approximately 15 miles south of Wenatchee, and 20 miles northeast of Ellensburg in Kittitas and Chelan Counties.

Hunting:
Big game (non special permit): mule deer, elk (spike only), bear and cougar.
Big game (special permits): deer, elk and bighorn sheep
Small game: bobcats, raccoons, crows, coyotes, and cottontail and snowshoe hares.
Game birds: ducks, geese, forest grouse, California quail, chukar partridge, Hungarian partridge, mourning doves, and turkeys.

Contact:
Address: Box 9000 Tarpiscan Road, Malaga, WA 98828
Phone: (509) 663 6260

3. Wenas Wildlife Area

Size: 104,982 acres

Description:
This Wildlife Area is closely connected to the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area to the north and Oak Creek Wildlife Area to the south. It is located southwest of Ellensburg and northwest of Selah, in both Yakima and Kittitas counties. Cliff and talus features provide a habitat for bighorn sheep, golden eagles, and peregrine falcons. It includes areas within the Upper Yakima and Naches river watersheds, in both the Columbia Plateau and east Cascades.

Hunting:
Big game (non-special permit): elk (non-spike) and deer.
Big game (special permit): bighorn sheep.
Game birds: pheasants.

Contact:
Address: 312 Mtn. Vale, Selah, WA 98942
Phone: (509) 697 4503

2. L.T. Murray Wildlife Area

Size: 115,000 acres

Description:
This Wildlife Area is located in Kittitas County, and is divided into four units. The wildlife area is managed to protect critical winter range for deer and elk, as well as providing and protecting upland game bird habitat. Approximately 2,000 elk are fed here each winter to minimize depredation on private agricultural lands. It has an additional purpose of protecting sage-grouse habitat.

Hunting:
L.T. Murray Unit:
Big game (non-special permit): elk (spike only), deer, bighorn sheep.
Big game (special permit): bighorn sheep.
Game birds: forest grouse, turkey, and quail.

Quilomene Unit:
Big game: elk and deer
Game birds: chukar, California quail, turkey, mourning dove, partridge, forest grouse and ring-necked pheasant.

The Teanaway Valley Unit:
Big game: elk and deer
Game birds: chukar, California quail, turkey, mourning dove, partridge, forest grouse and ring-necked pheasant.

Yakima River Unit:
Big game: black bear, cougar, deer, elk,
Game birds: band-tailed pigeon, Eurasian collared dove, ducks, geese, turkey, forest grouse, and quail.

Contact:
Address: 1130 W University Way, Ellensburg, WA 98926
Phone: (509) 933 6088

1. Columbia Basin Wildlife Area

Size: 188,500 acres

Description:
Located in Grant County and Adams County, the 15 units (8 of which allow hunting) that make up this Wildlife Area span the "Big Bend" of the Columbia River, from where the name derives. Although managed by WDFW, most of these lands are owned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation or other federal and state agencies. It provides habitat for numerous wetland wildlife species, such as migrating waterfowl and shorebirds, as well as upland game birds.

Hunting:
Banks Lake Unit: pheasants

Gloyd Seeps Unit: pheasants

Lower Crab Creek Unit: pheasants

Potholes Reservoir Unit: waterfowl and upland birds

Priest Rapids Unit: pheasants

Quincy Lakes Unit: pheasants

Seep Lakes Unit: black-tailed deer and turkey

Upland Restoration Unit: cougar, deer, ducks, Eurasian collared dove, geese, gray partridge, mourning dove, pheasant, and quail.

Contact:
Address: 6653 Road K NE, Moses Lake, WA 98837
Phone: (509) 765 6641

Conclusion

Hopefully that outline of hunting in Washington will help you on your next hunting trip to the Evergreen State.

Till then, happy trails!