Prime Spots: Lewis County Features Several Well-Stocked Public Hunting Grounds
By Kimberly Mason / For The Chronicle
There is good news for Western Washington pheasant hunters: license fees have been reduced from last year’s $90 to just $82.50. While most hunting and fishing license fees increased on Sept. 1, this is one of the few that actually decreased.
There are nine weekends in the general hunting season — from Oct. 1 to Nov. 30 — and an additional two weekends at pheasant release sites local to Lewis County (although no birds are released during those additional weeks).
At an average cost of $15 a bird at game farms, if a hunter bags just one pheasant on each weekend, he or she will take home a half-price bargain.
If you have a youth hunter (under 16 years of age) in tow, who pays just $38.50 for a pheasant license, the bargain price decreases by more than half.
According to Chuck Metcalf, a volunteer bird planter for the Kosmos release site, only one young hunter took advantage of the early youth hunt this weekend.
“They released 45 birds on Friday, and there was only one kid out there Saturday morning,” said Metcalf, “but he took home two nice roosters.”
Starting yesterday through Friday, Sept. 30, hunters 65 and older get an early shot at the released pheasants. Saturday morning, Oct. 1, the general season opens up.
Metcalf is hoping to hit the field in the afternoons this week, jury duty is the only thing slowing him down. He has a new addition to his hunting staff, a German shorthaired pointer pup, who just saw her first pheasant Sunday morning as it was flying over her head.
Every Friday evening, from the last weekend in September until the last weekend in November, Metcalf hauls the pheasants to the Kosmos release site and spends an hour or two distributing birds throughout the 325-acre site.
And then every Saturday morning Metcalf and his best friends — the new pup and Maggie, a Brittany spaniel — head back out onto the Cowlitz Wildlife Refuge to gather back up a few of the pheasants.
“I have some guys that come out with me that don’t have dogs,” Metcalf said. “One guy comes all the way from Bonney Lake.”
The hunting pressure at the Kosmos and the Lincoln Creek (west of Centralia) release sites are considerably less than the pressure at the more popular Scatter Creek site in Thurston County. On a Saturday morning at Scatter Creek, hunters stand nearly shoulder to shoulder at the skirmish line waiting for 8 a.m. to roll around.
Metcalf expects to see not more than 30 hunters on Saturday morning at Kosmos, where they plan to release 60 birds into the field on Friday evening after hunting hours are over at 4 p.m.
Don’t forget leave your lead shot at home, non-toxic is now required at all Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Western Washington release sites. There is a hefty $1,000 fine if you are caught just carrying the shells in your pocket — and they’ll take away your small game privileges for two years to boot. Check the “Tom Roster’s 2006 Nontoxic Shot Lethality Table” located on page 23 of the latest Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Season rules and regulation book for recommendations on the pellet types and shot sizes best suited for game in your aim.
Also, don’t forget to don your hunter orange and make sure to display a WDFW Vehicle Access Pass (free when you purchase a big-game, small-game, pheasant or fishing license) in the window of your rig before heading out into the field.
Kimberly Mason is a freelance writer based in Cinebar. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
What You Need To Know:
General season opens Saturday, Oct. 1, and will continue on most pheasant release sites until Nov. 30. The Kosmos, Lincoln Creek, Skookumchuck and Scatter Creek sites will continue to remain open through Nov. 15, although no birds will be released during that time.
Daily bag limit of two birds of either sex, possession limit of 15.
Shooting hours are from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.
To hunt Scatter Creek or the Skookumchuck areas you must choose either odd- or even-numbered weekend days to hunt between 8 and 10 a.m., after 10 a.m. all hunters may hunt. Hunters who select the 3-day options, are 65 and older or under 16 may hunt either weekend day mornings.
For more information go to http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/upland_birds/.
Eastern Washington Hunting in the Yakama Nation
Special permits are required to hunt in the Yakama Nation. Full season permits cost $36.50 or $21.50 for a 3-day permit. Visit www.ynwildlife.org for more information.
The season for pheasants begins Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 31. There is a daily limit of 3 cock pheasants.
Hunting for other upland game, migratory birds and small game is also available.