District biologists have provided hunting forecasts for their
district based on surveys and field work.
Counties: King County
Chris Anderson, District Biologist
District 12 is comprised of five Game Management Units (GMUs) including GMU 454 (Issaquah), 460 (Snoqualmie), 466 (Stampede), 485 (Green River, open to appropriate deer and elk permit holders only), and 490 Cedar River, (currently closed to hunting). Land ownership in the district is a checkerboard of private, state, and federal holdings. The densest private (urban and suburban) developments are found in the Issaquah (GMU 454) unit, while private agricultural holdings are primarily located in the northwestern part of the Snoqualmie (GMU 460) unit.
The cities of Tacoma and Seattle each own and operate a municipal watershed in southeast King County totaling about 188,220 acres that supply the drinking water for their cities; one in the Green River drainage (GMU 485), the other in the Cedar River drainage (GMU 490).
The largest percentage of huntable area is U. S. Forest Service land, but industrial timber companies have large land holdings in the area. Private, state and federally owned lands are managed primarily to produce timber. U.S. Forest Service lands are managed for multiple uses, including timber, recreation and wildlife with a current emphasis on growing and managing old growth forests.
Pheasant: Game-farm produced pheasants will be released this fall on sites which are mapped on the Go Hunt website and in the Western Washington pheasant program booklet. Nontoxic shot is required on all pheasant release sites. Note: Hunting hours during the pheasant season, September 22 through November 30 (Sept 22-23 for youth only; Sept 24-28 for hunters 65 & older), will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for pheasant and waterfowl hunters. After November 30, hunting hours listed in the migratory waterfowl and upland game seasons pamphlet will apply. The units affected by this change include: Stillwater, Cherry Valley, and Crescent Lake. In addition, the Cherry Valley Unit will be closed for construction work during the youth and senior pheasant hunt. Pheasants that would have been released at the Cherry Valley Unit will be released on the Crescent Lake and Stillwater units.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics: Pheasant - Statewide and by County
Quail: There are relatively few quail in District 12.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics: Quail - Statewide and by County
Forest Grouse: Ruffed and sooty (blue) grouse are present throughout the public and private forests of District 12. Persistent cold, wet weather experienced throughout the spring combined with anecdotal observations collected this summer suggest grouse populations are likely lower than previous years and hunters should expect fewer birds. However, forest management in much of District 12 remains favorable for grouse. Hunters looking to harvest ruffed grouse should focus on elevations below 2,500 feet, early seral forests (5-25 years old) with ample berry crops present in the understory, and riparian forest habitats. Sooty grouse hunters can expect the greatest success along trails and ridgelines above 2,000 feet and within Pacific silver fir and noble fir forest stands with abundant huckleberries.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics: Forest Grouse - Statewide and by County
Wild Turkeys: Wild turkeys remain relatively rare in District 12 and without predictable concentrations of birds. Accordingly, harvest prospects remain low even with considerable effort.
Waterfowl: Opportunity should be similar to last year. The best waterfowl hunting opportunities continue to be found in the lower Snoqualmie Valley with public access provided on WDFW’s Cherry Valley Wildlife Management Area. Additional opportunities can also be found in the Kent Valley. Hunters are encouraged to work with local private landowners to secure access in one of District 12’s many river and agricultural valleys to improve their waterfowl hunting success.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics
Dove: District 12 is not a major dove area, with an average of only 30 birds harvested during the season.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics: Dove - Statewide and by County
Black-tailed Deer: Population surveys have not been conducted for several years throughout District 12, but hunting prospects are believed to remain largely unchanged from last year based on anecdotal observations.
Deer in GMU 454 (Issaquah) continue to be managed with liberal seasons designed to minimize road kills and keep damage issues at acceptable levels in highly-developed areas. This unit is approximately 90 percent private land and access continues to be a problem for hunters. Success in this unit may well depend on getting to know your neighbors and broaching the subject of hunting as a means of protecting their fruit trees and vegetable beds. Firearm restrictions are in place because landowners are concerned about safety. Bow hunters should have an advantage in gaining permission.
GMU 460 (Snoqualmie) provides good hunting opportunities throughout most of the unit. However, hunters are advised to scout their preferred hunting areas well in advance because state and private timberlands are gated, with access restricted to non-motorized methods. Forest management on these lands is largely favorable to deer, and high quality opportunities are available for those willing to lace up their boots. Hunters should focus on early seral forests (under 30 years old) adjacent to mid (40-80 years old) or late successional (over 80 years old) stands. Additional emphasis should be placed on riparian forest habitats that provide ample forage and cover.
GMU 466 (Stampede) is a patchwork of private land, state lands, and Forest Service lands (Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest). It consists largely of second-growth timber with some old growth on Forest Service lands. This unit consists of a lot of steep ground, with about 2,500 feet in elevation change. Be prepared for early winter snowfall, which has the potential of stranding hunters, but also the potential to improve success.
District 12 - 2011 Game Harvest Statistics:
- Deer General Harvest
- Deer Special Permits Harvest
Elk: Elk are scattered at relatively low densities throughout District 12 and hunting prospects should be similar to last year. Many of the above comments about where to hunt for deer hold for elk as well. However, hunters should place greater emphasis on riparian forest habitats and agricultural areas throughout the district. Many of District 12’s elk reside on private land; please make sure you have permission before you hunt.
District 12 - 2011 Game Harvest Statistics:
- Elk General Harvest
- Elk Special Permits Harvest
Tribal Hunting: District 12 occurs within the ceded area of several Northwest treaty tribes and tribal hunting. Tribes set their own seasons and bag limits. Tribal enforcement personnel ensure that tribal hunting regulations, which are sometimes very different from state regulations, are followed.
Firearms Restriction Areas in King County: Centerfire and rimfire rifles are not legal for hunting in the area west of Hwy 203 (Monroe-Fall City), then Fall City-Preston Rd. to I-90, I-90 to Hwy. 18, Hwy. 18 to I-5, I-5 to Pierce-King Co. line; also Vashon and Maury Islands. For additional information, see page 79 of 2012 Big Game Hunting Regulations. Through King County ordinances, no shooting areas have been established in many areas in the county. Please contact your local sheriff for specific locations.
King County hunters bagged 52 quail last year, on par with 2010 but far more than the five-year average.
The harvest was down about 60 percent from 2010 and 66 percent from the five-year average, but King County hunters managed to bag 577 forest grouse in 2011.
The four game management units that make up District 12 produced 443 deer for general-season hunters in 2011, all but 13 of them taken from GMU 454 (Issaquah) and GMU 460 (Snoqualmie). Hunters in those two units harvested 277 and 163 deer, respectively. Modern firearms hunters accounted for more than half of the district-wide total harvest, and enjoyed a 19.5-percent success rate. Issaquah Unit rifle hunters did even better, registering a success rate of 25.5 percent. Better than one in three multiple-weapons deer hunters in the Issaquah Unit was successful in 2011.
Hunters harvested 103 elk, about 75 percent of them bulls, in District 12 during last yearís general elk season. Muzzleloader hunters accounted for just over half of that total, with archers and modern firearms hunters accounting for about 25 percent each. Muzzleloader hunters also had the districtís best hunter-success rate, 13.7 percent. Hunters in GMU 454 (Issaquah) harvested 71 elk, about 69 percent of the district total.†††
Hunters harvested 69 black bear in District 12 during 2011. GMU 454 (Issaquah) and GMU 460 (Snoqualmie) produced all but five of them.
Hunters didnít harvest any cougar in District 12 during the 2011 general season.
The 2011 King County duck harvest was up 58 percent from 2010 and 17 percent over the five-year average, as hunters bagged 8,580 birds.
The 2011 Canada goose harvest in District 12 was 665 birds; more than quadruple the 2010 harvest and twice the five-year average.