Deer hunters bearing modern firearms get one last crack at their quarry when the late general season (occasionally called the late buck hunt) opens in an array of Western Washington game management units for four days Thursday, Nov. 13.
This leaves-off opportunity has a limited scope with the westside’s black-tailed deer being the main attraction. However, there is a 12-day over-arching option for white-tailed bucks in seven Northeast Washington game management units that started Saturday, Nov. 8.
GMUs not on the regulations list on page 19 of the 2014-15 Big Game Hunting Seasons and Regulations pamphlet are closed to the center-fire clan.
Short though it is, this November opportunity often yields up to one-third of the total annual Western Washington harvest of deer, say wildlife managers. Also, hunting in this four day period is not universally for male deer, 24 westside GMUs, predominantly islands in greater Puget Sound with burgeoning populations, are actually open for the taking of “any deer.”
HUNTS HERE AND FURTHER AFIELD
With North Cascade foothills game management units closed, Whatcom hunters, have open just GMU 407 (so named the North Sound unit) here encompassing the western third of the county, generally with two exceptions, west of State Route 9.
To the south, late hunt options with overland access include GMUs 420 (Whidbey) 421 (Camano), 454 (Issaquah) and 466 (Stampede). By Washington State ferry or pleasure boat, in addition the main islands in San Juan and Skagit counties (GMUs 410-417 and 419) are to open.
Together with these designated Region 4 units, an extensive list of GMUs in WDFW’s Western Washington regions 5 and 6 also are available to deer hunters.
Modern riflers and handgunners may, by rule, shoot any buck (spike or branch-antlered) in three of the local units (407, 454 and 466).
In the island type hunting zones including Camano, Whidbey, Cypress and Guemes as well as all of the larger San Juan Islands, ‘any deer’ (male or female) is the legal standard for hunters.
Hunters use to stalking more remote habitat with high powered rifles should be aware that in the relative confines of this late hunt there are local- as well as state-imposed limitations on permissible hunting weaponry. A partial list (not including individual county (Whatcom, Skagit and San Juan) firearms restrictions can be found on page 83 of the WDFW hunting regulations pamphlet.
WHATCOM/SKAGIT DEER HAUNTS
In Whatcom County’s portion of GMU 407, besides the forested lowlands harboring an abundance of black-tailed deer, a number of extensive montane timberland venues can be accessed. They are:
Again, access from public roads or highways is affected by intervening peripheral private holdings.
Hunting access is also allowed via a state road off Barrel Springs Road.
Because of significant abuses of these lands and indiscriminate, unsafe shooting by some persons, probably not hunters, the main access is gated. Another walk-in option across private lands is available off State Route 9 on the southeast side of the mountain.
For smaller private holdings, as always, be sure to check with the landowner before crossing property to get to public land or private industrial forest lands for which tacit permission to enter has been given.
The Olympic Peninsula offers a variety of lower elevation private lands in Jefferson and Clallam County where deer may be hunted in the late stanza. In addition, state-owned blocks in the foothills areas of GMU 621 (Olympic) have a good abundance of black-tailed bucks.
To the south and east, managers suggest focusing on Green Diamond lands on the south side of the peninsula as well as state forest holdings on the Tahuya Peninsula.
Black-tailed deer numbers are almost always rated as good in interior locales of Southwest Washington with GMUs 648 (Wynoochee), 651 (Satsop), 660 (Minot Peak) and 663 (Capitol Peak) often providing the best hunting.
Prior general elk and modern rifle deer seasons have chased animals deep into cover, so out-waiting bucks ensconced of forested areas is the norm.
For the large private timber company holdings here fee access permits are now often required. Hunters will have to learn requirements for accessing the big blocks of Weyerhauser, Rayonier and other commercial forest real estate.
Several things to remember and abide by:
Use of center-fire and rim-fire rifles as mentioned is not allowed when hunting big game (deer) west of I-5 in Whatcom and Skagit counties. Legal weaponry for big game in this restriction area includes (selected handguns, crossbows, conforming bow and arrows, shotguns (slugs, sabots and buckshot) and muzzleloaders).
Always obtain permission to venture onto and hunt privately owned land. However, it’s not necessary to contact major timberland holders (Sierra Pacific, Longview Timber and Bloedel Timberlands) that have announced and posted policies allowing non-motorized, day-use entry of their property.
Trespass on private property for the purpose of pursuing and retrieving wounded or fallen game is not allowed nor covered under state law. Know the boundaries of the lands on which you have permission to hunt, take shoots accordingly.
On all state forest land a $30 Discover Pass is needed to visit and park a motor vehicle. Display it conspicuously.
The discharge of firearms is banned by ordinance in 21 Whatcom County delineated geographic areas.
• A San Juan County ordinance requires all hunters to carry written permissions from the owner when hunting on private property held by a third party.
• It’s not legal to discharge firearms inside corporate municipal boundaries (city limits).
• Neither firearms nor hunting are not allowed on city, county, state or federal park lands.
MORE LAST HURRAHS
Following the November late general hunt for deer, hunters with bows and blackpowder rifles will take to selected game management units around the state for their late stanzas that last into December.
Locally, muzzleloaders will have access to the 407, 410-417 and 419-422 GMUs for their last hurrah, while the closest option for Whatcom archers in the late bow hunt will be GMU 437 (Sauk) in neighboring Skagit and Snohomish counties.
By law, Washington big game hunters are required to make annual reports of activity for each deer, elk, black bear or turkey transport tag they buy on or before Jan. 31.
An incentive for timely reporting is offered to those hunters who make their reports early on up to Saturday, Jan. 10. A total of nine special deer or elk permits will be awarded to persons whose names are drawn from the pool of early-bird reporters.
Successful hunters have until 10 days after the close of their season to report the notching of their tags.
For more details concerning these reports, see page 17 of the 2014-15 Big Game Hunting Seasons and Regulations pamphlet.