By Kimberly Mason / For The Chronicle
Summer has barely made an appearance and it’s already hunting time again.
Several of the more popular early fall hunts — early archery deer and forest grouse and dove — are just around the corner.
The fall black bear season began quietly on Aug. 1 on the coast and two weeks later in the southern Cascades. Bear season will remain open through mid-November.
The early archery hunts for deer get under way Sept. 1, continuing through Sept. 18 or 23, depending on the game management unit. The early elk archery hunt follows soon after, with hunters taking the field on Sept. 6-18.
Muzzleloader deer opens on Sept. 24 and runs for just 10 days. Modern firearm season doesn’t start until mid-October.
Before heading out, hunters are strongly advised to check WDFW’s Big Game rules pamphlet (wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/) for regulations specific to each GMU.Other hunting seasons opening this month include one for cottontail and snowshoe hare, which starts Sept. 1. The daily bag limit is 5.
For bird hunters, fall hunting seasons open Sept. 1 for forest grouse, mourning dove and — in goose management area 2B — Canada geese. Next come early hunting seasons for Canada geese in areas 1, 2A and 3, which run Sept. 10-15, followed by the statewide band-tailed pigeon season Sept. 15-23.
The daily bag limit for forest grouse — whether blue, ruffled or spruce — is a generous four. Hunting seasons for sage and sharp-tailed grouse and ptarmigan are closed. Know your birds, be certain of your targets before you shoot.
This year’s youth-only hunt for ducks, geese, pheasant, California quail, bobwhite and chukar is set for Sept. 24-25. To qualify, hunters must be younger than 16 and be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years old who is not hunting. No geese may be taken in goose management areas 2A or 2B during the youth hunt.
Hunters 65 years or older will have the opportunity to go afield for pheasants during a special senior hunt Sept. 26-30. Hunters of all ages can hunt pheasants beginning Oct. 1.
More information on all of these seasons is available in the state Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons pamphlet available on WDFW’s website at wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/
As in seasons past, access to private forest land continues to be a major issue for hunters. The St. Helens Land Access program, designed to improve hunter access on the Weyerhaeuser’s St. Helens Tree Farm, is now entering its fifth year, and volunteers are needed to make that effort successful.
Anyone interested in volunteering is encouraged to call WDFW’s Region 5 office in Vancouver at (360) 696-6211 or sign up online at wdfw.wa.gov/about/volunteer/sainthelens/.
Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer based in Cinebar. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
Get Your Voice Heard with the WDFW at a Public Meeting Tonight
Hunters and others are invited to a public open house meeting tonight at Edison Place Event Center, 201 N. Rock St., Centralia, from 7 to 9 p.m.
At this meeting the public will have an opportunity to help shape the 2012-14 hunting seasons.
Dave Ware, WDFW game program manager, said public comments received at the meetings and through the survey will play an important role in shaping hunting seasons and associated hunting regulations for 2012-14. This meeting is one of four meetings being held this week across the state.
“We want to hear people’s concerns, especially those that address a significant conservation or management issue,” Ware said. “In keeping with the Governor’s Rule Moratorium, the department will focus on emergent issues that relate to goals and strategies identified in the Game Management Plan.”
The Game Management Plan, along with scoping criteria for the 2012-14 season-setting process, is posted on WDFW’s website at wdfw.wa.gov. Issues currently under consideration by the department for upcoming seasons include:
• Adjusting cougar seasons.
• Setting spring black bear seasons.
• Increasing fall turkey hunting participation.
• Eliminating the elk tag restriction for special permit applications.
The public can also comment on hunting season proposals via an on-line survey, available through September 20 at wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/seasonsetting/.
Fishing, Hunting License Fees Increase
Starting Sept. 1, the base cost of most Washington hunting and fishing licenses will increase.
This is the first general recreational license fee increase in more than a decade.
Not all license fees will increase, and some will decline, including those for youth, seniors and persons with disabilities. New license fee prices are available on the WDFW website at wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/license_fees.html.
“The new fees are critically important in maintaining fishing and hunting opportunity and make it possible for the department to fulfill its dual mission of conserving species while providing sustainable fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation across the state,” said WDFW Director Phil Anderson. “The fees reflect the cost of managing specific fisheries and hunts, and are competitive with fees charged in neighboring states. At the same time, we made an effort to encourage broad participation through youth and senior discounts.”
- Waterfowl Seasons Set; Populations Remain at Historically High Levels (lewiscountyoutdoors.com)