District biologists have provided hunting forecasts for their
district based on surveys and field work.
Counties: Callam and Jefferson (West)
Anita McMillan, District Wildlife Biologists
District 16 consists of all of Clallam County and the western portion of Jefferson County on the Olympic Peninsula in northwest Washington. The core Game Management Units (GMUs) that comprise District 16 are the northern portions of Olympic (GMU 621) and Coyle (GMU 624) on the east side of Olympic National Park (ONP), Pysht (GMU 603) and Sol Duc (GMU 607) on the north side of ONP, and Hoko (GMU 601), Dickey (GMU 602), Goodman (GMU 612), and Clearwater (GMU 615) on the eastern side of ONP.
Land ownership in the District includes private residential, private agricultural, and state and federal lands. Private industrial timber lands and lands managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are located in the lower elevation foothills, while most higher-elevation forest lands are in public ownership (U.S. Forest Service and Olympic National Park (ONP)). The eastern portion of the Clearwater (GMU 615) is in DNR ownership and contains higher-elevation areas bordering ONP. There are various firearm restriction areas within the District, such as the portion of the Coyle (GMU 624) in Clallam County.
Varied hunting opportunity exists within District 16, from waterfowl hunting on designated shoreline areas along the Strait of Juan de Fuca, to forest grouse, deer, elk, bear, and cougar hunting on commercial and public forest land. Both state (DNR) and federal (U.S. Forest Service) lands provide hunting opportunities for a variety of species within the district. The Merrill and Ring Pysht Tree Farm in the Pysht (GMU 603) does provide hunting opportunities for the public but an annual access permit is required. Contact the Merrill and Ring Office at (360)452-2367 for more information.
Various sub-herds of the Olympic elk herd are located within District 16. There is the opportunity to harvest elk as they migrate out of ONP high country and follow river drainages to low elevations during the hunting season. Waterfowl hunting opportunities have been expanded in the eastern portion of the district and pheasant hunting will be allowed at the Dungeness Recreation Area for one last season.
Pheasant: Within District 16, game farm-produced pheasants will be released this fall at the Dungeness Recreation Area County Park located in GMU 624. Due to changes in management direction from Clallam County Parks and Recreation, hunting pheasants at this site will end after the 2012 season. WDFW staff are actively seeking to locate another suitable release site within the district. Please contact district biologists if you have any suggestions. The pheasant hunting season is from October 6th – November 30th. The season opens later than most release sites to reduce conflicts with other recreational users at the park. Pheasant hunting is only allowed on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. The park is approximately 150 acres in size and pheasants are released on all hunting days. A total of 900 pheasants are proposed to be released during this last 2012 hunting season. Hunters need a western Washington pheasant license to hunt pheasants. Note that non-toxic shot is required on all pheasant release sites, statewide.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics: Pheasant - Statewide and by County
Quail: There is a fair abundance of California (Valley) quail in the eastern portion of District 16.
They are quite common in the Dungeness Valley but hunting opportunities are very limited. Most of the quail are in populated developed areas that are not suitable for hunting.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics: Quail - Statewide and by County
Forest Grouse: Hunting within any of the forest lands throughout District 16 should offer good opportunities for harvesting grouse. The harvest of grouse in Clallam County usually rivals any other county within Region 6. The county has the second highest average forest grouse harvest in Region 6. On average, 4,419 forest grouse were harvested each year in Clallam County during the 2007 – 2011 seasons. The cool wet spring weather may have adversely affected brood production somewhat this season. If so, this would be the second consecutive year of severe spring weather taking a toll on grouse numbers, effectively reducing harvest success rates in District 16.
Most of the grouse observed this summer have been on narrow spur roads with considerable canopy cover, where there is low to no vehicular traffic. Ruffed and sooty (formerly classified as blue) grouse are present throughout the public and private forest lands in District 16. The prospects for harvesting sooty grouse go up with increasing elevation. Hunters can expect the greatest success along trails and ridgelines above 2,000-3,000 feet within timber stands with huckleberry, grouse whortleberry, and other forage plants. Hunters targeting ruffed grouse should focus on elevations below 2,500’, particularly in riparian forest habitats, early seral forests (5-25 years old), and deciduous-conifer mixed forest types.
Prime forest grouse hunting may be found on DNR and U.S. Forest Service lands within the district. A WDFW Enforcement Officer stationed on the west side of the District reports that it has been an excellent berry season. He has been seeing significant numbers of ruffed grouse and an occasional sooty grouse in the western GMU’s.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics: Forest Grouse - Statewide and by County
Wild Turkeys: District 16 is not managed for wild turkeys and the species remains relatively rare to non-existent. Some turkeys were transplanted in the Dungeness drainage 30 – 40 years ago but there is no harvestable population present. The WDFW receives occasional reports of individuals or small groups of turkeys within the Pysht (GMU 603). They are likely domestic turkeys that escaped from a farm that raised turkeys in the Joyce area. There are basically no prospects for hunting wild turkeys in the District.
Band-tailed Pigeon: Band-tailed pigeons were quite abundant in the district in years past. Local hunters reported seeing “clouds of them” in drainages, such as McDonald Creek, on the east side of the District back in the 1950’s.
They have been observed in good numbers throughout the District this summer. They are most prevalent in the district along marine estuaries, shorelines and along open forest roads where they are foraging on berries. Hunters are encouraged to search for areas with elderberry and cascara shrubs present. Band-tail pigeons often congregate around food sources.
The reported harvest of band-tails in this District is relatively low, but the resource is available throughout the District in good numbers. WDFW Enforcement Officers remind hunters that they must have all required hunting licenses, along with the special migratory bird authorization with band-tailed pigeons harvest card. It is mandatory to report all harvest to improve management of the species.
Waterfowl: In recent years, waterfowl numbers have once again been on the upswing, and in 2011 duck populations soared to record highs. Breeding duck surveys in Canada and Alaska indicate that 2012 population numbers are up for most species. Several species posted significant increases, including pintails (+171 percent), green-winged teal (+112 percent), redheads (+85 percent), scaup (+80 percent), American widgeon (+61 percent), blue-winged teal (+60 percent), and mallards (+57 percent) (data provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).
The WDFW Waterfowl Section Manager reports that “our local breeding populations look good with numbers up this year throughout the state with mallards looking particular strong”. Local biologists have documented several high concentration waterfowl sites in east portion of the District in the past few years; however, the greatest factor influencing brood production in the District continues to be loss of habitat to development at water bodies and human presence. The five year average for ducks bagged by hunters in Clallam County is 7,903 ducks.
Provided that the weather cooperates, increased duck numbers should equate to increased harvest opportunity in District 16. Unfortunately, there is limited access to where you can hunt waterfowl in the District. Some locals in the western portion of the district conduct some “jump shooting” in pools and side channels of the west end rivers, along with other small ponds and flooded gravel pit areas.
The higher densities of waterfowl in District 16 actually occur east of Port Angeles. The Dungeness Basin contains a significant population of various waterfowl species. Public land hunting opportunities include the newly established Lower Dungeness Unit at the mouth of the Dungeness River. The Lower Dungeness Unit is 150 acres in size and is located about 5 miles north of Sequim within GMU 624. A small parking area is located off of Anderson Road adjacent to the Dungeness River. There is an informational kiosk and bathroom for hunters located at this site with rules and conditions for use of the area.
There are freshwater ponds located in the main field located below the parking area; however the main hunting area for this unit is located on the tidelands of Dungeness Bay adjacent to the river's mouth. Hunters are required to "walk-in" to the main hunting area. Rivers End road is a privately owned road and cannot be used to access the tidelands. It is approximately .55 of a mile to reach the main hunting areas on this unit. Hunting is permitted on Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays and holidays on this unit throughout the regular waterfowl season. This unit can get crowded and hunters are encouraged to arrive early to secure a quality spot. There is room for 2-3 decoy sets on the tidelands associated with this unit. A variety of dabbling ducks, diving ducks, and geese have been documented at the unit.
Trumpeter swan numbers have increased in the Dungeness valley in the past five years and they have been documented near the river mouth. All waterfowl hunters are encouraged to know all identification features for trumpeter swans and snow geese. It is illegal to shoot trumpeter swans and snow goose hunters should be aware that a special snow goose hunting authorization and harvest record card is required.
The Dungeness Recreation Area County Park no longer provides much opportunity for waterfowl hunting. Duck numbers are very minimal at the site but waterfowl hunting will be allowed one final season in 2012. The existence of very little sheet water/ponds, the lack of planting of forage crops, and nearby residential development have led to the lack of waterfowl hunting opportunity at the park.
Another option for waterfowl hunting in the District is hunting from a boat at various near-shore areas of bays and along the shoreline of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Be sure to check the 2012 Migratory Waterfowl Regulation Pamphlet for additional requirements before hunting sea ducks (long-tailed ducks, scoter, harlequin and goldeneye) in Western Washington. Hunting violations remain a concern on small water bodies in the District. Hunters are urged to obey all hunting regulations at sites near residential areas to avoid potential future closures.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics
Canada Geese: There is minimal hunting opportunity for Canada geese in District 16; with basically no hunting for Canada geese in GMU’s located in the west and north portions of the District. The population of Canada geese on the east side of the District has been increasing in recent years. Most of the hunt opportunities are on private agricultural lands in GMU 624 that contain barley. No “pass shooting” is possible. Local hunters were quite successful last season using a decor spread and blinds. Permission to hunt on private lands would need to be obtained and all firearm regulations must be followed. Many agricultural fields have residential properties in the vicinity so hunters must be aware of all safety concerns.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics: Canada Goose - Statewide and by County
Dove: District 16 is not a major dove hunting area. The average number of doves harvested annually during the past five years in Clallam County is 17. Many of the dove populations are present in populated residential areas where hunting is not allowed.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics: Dove - Statewide and by County
Black-tailed Deer: Black-tailed deer surveys have not been conducted in District 16 for several years. Biologist and Enforcement Officer observations, along with other anecdotal reports, suggest that deer population numbers and density are generally down throughout most of the District. However, it should be noted that within urbanized GMU’s in the District, black-tailed localized deer densities can be quite high. The deer are often perceived to be a nuisance by some property owners and agricultural operations. A total of 344 deer (342 antlered and 2 antlerless) were reported to be harvested in the District during the 2011 season. The highest number of deer (121) was harvested in the Pysht (GMU 603).
The higher densities of deer in District 16 occur in eastern Clallam County, at lower elevations. Deer area 6020 includes the area north of Highway 101 between Port Angeles and eastern Miller Peninsula. Doe harvest is allowed within Deer Area 6020 during the general seasons. This area is primarily private land, worth inquiring with landowners about hunting access. The key to a successful harvest is securing the appropriate permission to hunt on private land and scouting the area prior to the hunting season. Hunters who intend to target deer in developed areas would be well advised to check with local jurisdictions regarding firearm restrictions.
The lower elevations of GMU 621 have high densities of deer as well, and scattered blocks of DNR ownership that offer hunting on public land. Private industrial timber lands and property managed by the DNR are largely gated due to timber theft, dumping, vandalism, and other problems. However, many of these roads can be accessed on foot or with mountain bikes, giving those willing to do the work, access to deer that don’t get as much hunting pressure. Be sure to check with the appropriate land owner/manager and obey all posted rules and regulations.
District 16 - 2011 Game Harvest Statistics:
- Deer General Harvest
- Deer Special Permits Harvest
Elk: District 16 contains various sub-herds of the designated Olympic Elk Herd, one of 10 herds identified in the state. The herd is an important resource that provides significant recreational, aesthetic, cultural, and economic benefits to the people of the state. Based on historical harvest information, elk numbers peaked in the late1970s with a conservative estimate of about 12,000 elk outside of Olympic National Park. Current population estimates are based on a combination of harvest data, telemetry studies, and mark-resight surveys. These techniques yielded a fall population estimate of approximately 8,600 in the Game Management Units (GMUs) surrounding Olympic National Park in the year 2000. The current estimated population of the Olympic Elk herd is likely lower.
Hunting seasons have been established to allow recreational use and as a tool for managing elk populations within the District. A total of 163 bulls were reported to be harvested within the District during the 2011 season. The Clearwater (GMU 615), Dickey (GMU 602), and Sol Duc (GMU 607) have the highest elk harvest in District 16. These units contain the largest portion of public land without restricted access.
Hunter success during the 2010 elk season was similar in all of the western GMUs in the District (9-14% for modern firearm hunters). The Hoko (GMU 601), Pysht (GMU 603), and Coyle (GMU 624) have very limited opportunities for General Season hunters. Most of these units contain private land and many of the roads on timber lands are gated. Hunting on DNR lands, U.S. Forest Service lands, and private timber lands in other GMU’s within the District can yield good results. However, it is important to note that there are several areas where vehicular access is limited. Hunters would need to obtain permission to hunt on private lands and must obey all posted signs and regulations.
Much of the elk hunting for GMU’s located within the District is restricted to a limited-entry 3pt minimum bull-only harvest. These successfully managed hunts have been producing quality bulls and high hunter success rates for those fortunate enough to be drawn. Law Enforcement Officers convey that they are getting reports that elk groups in the Pysht (GMU 603) have increased slightly in the past few years. Some elk herds migrate down from high alpine meadows in Olympic National Park (ONP) to lowland winter range. Public lands and private commercial timberlands bordering the park are good prospects. Hunters are encouraged to scout for elk that may leave ONP and travel along major river drainages.
A non-migratory elk herd of approximately 50-60 elk continues to populate private residential and agricultural lands in the Dungeness Valley (GMU 624). A special Master Hunter damage hunt and youth hunt have been established to help manage landowner conflicts associated with this herd. These hunts are administered by a WDFW designated Hunt Coordinator. Special permit applications are required. Check the WA Big Game Hunting Pamphlet or the WDFW website for more information.
District 16 - 2011 Game Harvest Statistics:
- Elk General Harvest
- Elk Special Permits Harvest
Black Bear: District 16 is located nearly entirely within the designated Coastal Black Bear Management Unit. There is, however, a small portion of the Coyle (GMU 624) that is within the Puget Sound Black Bear Management Unit. This area is mostly private land with firearm restrictions. There is no spring bear permit hunt season within the District. The fall black bear hunting is allowed in all GMU’s within the District. The prospects for harvesting a black bear in District 16 remain good to excellent. Low elevation berry production has been exceptional this season. The WDFW Law Enforcement Officer based out of Forks reports excellent berry food sources are present this season and that he has been seeing numerous bears during patrols in the western GMU’s of the District.
State DNR and federal (U.S. Forest Service) lands continue to provide the best availability for bear hunting within the District. Hunters are encouraged to scout sign (scat and tree bark peeling) in regenerating timber stands. Similar to deer, access behind gated roads is largely available to those willing to walk or mountain bike, and there are ample numbers of clear cuts/younger age class regeneration units that will attract bears. At higher elevations, those willing to hike in-pack out, can pursue bears in classic environments where spot-and-stalk opportunities await. The use of hounds and/or bait to hunt black bear is prohibited statewide.
2011 Statewide Black Bear Harvest Statistics
Cougar: WDFW changed the cougar hunting season design for 2012 with a standard liberal season coupled with harvest guidelines. Cougar seasons will run from September 1 to December 31 for any weapon. After January 1st, if the harvest guidelines have been exceeded, the season may close. Hunters should check to see if the season is still open after January 1. . See the WA Big Game Hunting Pamphlet or WDFW website for more information regarding cougar hunting in specific GMU’s within the District. Cougars are widespread in the forest lands of District 16. Areas supporting high numbers of deer and elk provide great opportunity for hunting cougar. Law Enforcement Officers in the District report low cougar hunting pressure in most GMU’s.
2011 Statewide Cougar Harvest Statistics
Tribal Hunting: District 16 is within the ceded area of numerous treaty tribes on the Olympic Peninsula. The WDFW and tribes are co-managers for wildlife populations. Tribal hunting often occurs concurrent with WDFW hunting seasons. Tribes set their own seasons and bag limits. Tribal enforcement personnel are responsible for ensuring that tribal hunting regulations, which may differ from state regulations, are followed. You can find more information about tribal hunting on the WDFW website at:
All 116 quail taken in District 16 came from Clallam County, and thatís about 80 more birds than were harvested in 2010.
Deer hunters in District 16 harvested 342 animals, all bucks, during the 2011 general season. Modern firearms hunters accounted for 316 (92 percent) of those bucks and had a 20.8-percent success rate for the season. GMU 603 (Pysht) was the most productive unit in the district, giving up 120 deer.
All 160 of the elk harvested during last yearís general season in District 16 were bulls, and archers (26 percent), modern firearms hunters (49 percent) and muzzleloader hunters (23 percent) all played an active role in accomplishing that harvest. Hunters harvested 48 elk in GMU 615 (Clearwater), 37 in GMU 602 (Dickey) and 29 in GMU 607 (Sol Duc).
GMU 603 (Pysht), GMU 607 (Sol Duc) and GMU 615 (Clearwater) produced 36 of the 51 black bear harvested in District 16 during the 2011 season.
The only cougar taken in district 16 during the 2011 season came from GMU 612 (Goodman).
Duck hunters harvested just under 11,000 birds in District 16 last season, 8,161 (74 percent) of them in Clallam County. The harvest was up from 2010 in Jefferson County, where hunters bagged 2,821 ducks.
Goose hunters in District 16 harvested 675 birds during the 2011 waterfowl season.