District biologists have provided hunting forecasts for their
district based on surveys and field work.
Counties: Grays Harbor and Pacific
Brock Hoenes and Warren Michaelis, District Wildlife Biologists
District 17 is located on the southwestern portion of the Olympic mountain range south to the Columbia River. The district covers all of Gray’s Harbor and Pacific counties. Within this area Game Management Units (GMU’s) range from sub-alpine habitat (portions of GMU 618, 638, and 648 adjacent to Olympic National Park) to coastal lowlands adjacent to saltwater.
There are a few wildlife areas and the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge which can provide additional hunt opportunities. The majority of GMU’s are privately owned industrial timberlands with small portions under public ownership. Access to these lands is constantly changing and varies among timber companies. For more information relating to access regulations, hunters should contact the timber company that owns the land they plan on accessing.
Waterfowl hunting in the District is outstanding, with heavy concentrations of ducks and geese along Willapa Bay and the Chehalis River in Gray’s Harbor County. During times of high precipitation, sheet water areas are created thereby increasing available waterfowl habitat. Elk hunting is especially good in GMU’s 673 (Williams Creek) and GMU 658 (North River). Deer harvest in Minot Peak (GMU 660), Fall River (GMU 672), and Wynochee (GMU 648) has consistently been good and can produce some nice mature bucks.
The habitat across District 17 is primarily second and third growth forest consisting of both Douglas fir and western hemlock. Much of the western portions of the lowland GMU’s are tidally influenced and can be accessed by boat during high tides. Additional information on hunting and wildlife viewing can be accessed through the WDFW website.
Pheasant: Pheasant release hunting will be discontinued at the Raymond airport during 2012. Pheasant hunting at the Chinook wildlife area at times can be good.
Few changes in season length and daily bag limits are anticipated for 2012. In 2012 the Raymond pheasant release program at the Raymond airport will be discontinued. Additional road closures will be in place for the 2012 hunting season. Contact the appropriate timber company for road closure status.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics: Pheasant - Statewide and by County
Quail: Quail in Gray’s Harbor and Pacific counties occur in low numbers. Some quail were harvested in Pacific County in areas along valley bottoms.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics: Quail - Statewide and by County
Forest Grouse: Grouse harvest has been higher in Gray’s Harbor County the past few years. Areas with high numbers of salal berries can be choice areas to hunt. Recent cool and wet springs the past two years has led to reduced brood production. Both blue and ruffed grouse can be harvested in District 17.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics: Forest Grouse - Statewide and by County
Band-tailed Pigeon: Band-tailed pigeon hunting can be exceptionally good in areas with red elderberry, which are typically most abundant in 5–10 year old clearcuts. Often times, band-tailed pigeons congregate in high numbers in these clearcuts. The band-tailed pigeon season is only 9 days this year.
Waterfowl: Waterfowl hunting in Gray’s Harbor and Pacific county can be outstanding throughout the season. Local concentrations are heavy along Willapa Bay and Gray’s Harbor. Areas further inland along the Chehalis and Willapa rivers can also concentrate large numbers of birds during the winter months. A special permit is required to hunt geese in Pacific County. Goose hunting opens in September for Gray’s harbor county and can be good in and around the harbor. Brant hunting can be productive in Willapa Bay. A few WDFW wildlife areas usually hold good numbers of waterfowl and their locations can be found by using the WDFW website.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics
Deer: Deer harvest has been consistently good in some GMU’s (Game Management Units) in District 17. In particular, GMU’s 648 (Wynoochee), GMU 660 (Minot Peak), GMU 672 (Fall River), and GMU 673 (Williams Creek) have averaged over 150 animals the last two seasons. A recent pre-season deer composition flight in GMU 672 yielded a fawn: doe ratio of 67: 100. Habitat for deer continues to improve with increased logging. Increased road closures should result in higher buck escapement.
District 17 - 2011 Game Harvest Statistics:
- Deer General Harvest
- Deer Special Permits Harvest
Elk: Harvest of elk has steadily increased during the past 10 years in Pacific County. This can be attributed to more favorable habitat conditions as a result of timber management practices. Specifically, Game Management Units 658, 672, and 673 have experienced record harvest levels. A recent preseason elk composition flight in Williams creek (GMU 673) resulted in 27 bulls:100 cows and 36 calves:100 cows. In addition a recent bull mortality study completed in GMU 673 documented high survivorship of yearling bulls. This high survival would lead to greater numbers of available legal bulls the following season.
Habitat conditions in much of District 17 continue to improve because of an increase in timber harvest which increases available forage. Private timberlands have initiated increased road closures in many of the Game Management Units, which should improve bull escapement rates and increase the number of bulls recruited to mature age classes. Additional road closures can provide a quality hunt for both deer and elk by reducing the number of hunters.
District 17 - 2011 Game Harvest Statistics:
- Elk General Harvest
- Elk Special Permits Harvest
Bear: Harvest of black bear in the coastal black bear management unit continues to be one of the highest in the state. Harvest of bear has been good in GMU’s 642 (Copalis), GMU 648 (Wynoochee), GMU 658 (North River), GMU 660 (Minot Peak), and GMU 672 (Fall River). In the fall, bears usually concentrate in areas where large numbers of fruits and berries occur naturally.
2011 Statewide Black Bear Harvest Statistics
Cougar: Cougar hunting in GMU 648 (Wynoochee) was good in 2011 with 7 cats being harvested. Hunting for cougar could be more productive in areas with high densities of deer and elk. WDFW changed cougar hunting season design for 2012 with a liberalized season coupled with harvest guidelines (see wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/cougar). Cougar seasons will run from September to December for any weapon, and may close after January 1 if harvest meets or exceeds the harvest guideline in the pamphlet.
2011 Statewide Cougar Harvest Statistics
Hunters bagged 101 quail in district 17 in 2011, most of them in Pacific County.† Most of these were harvested along the valley bottoms.
Hunters in Grays Harbor County harvested 3,860 forest grouse last season, while Pacific County hunters accounted for 2,719 birds. The harvest was down somewhat in Grays Harbor County, but up 25 percent from 2010 in Pacific County.† Blue grouse occur primarily in higher elevations above 500 feet while ruffed grouse can be found throughout the District.
Total deer harvest for general-season hunters in District 17 last year was 1,046, just under 90 percent of them bucks. Modern firearms hunters took 830 of those deer, bow hunters 150, muzzleloader hunters 52 and multiple-weapons hunters 14. Modern firearms hunters had the highest success rate, 17 percent.
Hunters in Game Management Unit 648 (Wynoochee) harvested 266 deer, while GMU 660 (Minot Peak) and GMU 672 (Fall River) produced 175 and 184 deer, respectively. The best hunter success rate among the districtís modern firearms hunters was 30.8 percent, in GMU 684 (Long Beach).
Bow hunters and modern firearms hunters accounted for over 90 percent of the elk harvest in District 17 during last yearís general seasons. That total harvest was 685 elk, 81 percent of which were bulls. Hunters in GMU 673 (Williams Creek) harvested 193 elk, GMU 658 (North River) 115 and GMU 672 (Fall River) 104.
Hunters in coastal and southwestern Washington harvested 87 black bear in 2011. That harvest was fairly well spread across all of District 17, but units with double-digit bear harvests included GMU 642 (Copalis), GMU 648 (Wynoochee), GMU 658 (North River), GMU 660 (Minot Peak) and GMU 672 (Fall River).
All seven cougar harvested in District 17 during last yearís general season came from GMU 648 (Wynoochee).
The harvest was up 22 percent from 2010 in Grays Harbor County, down 12 percent in Pacific County, as District 17 hunters bagged 23,758 ducks during the 2011 waterfowl season. Waterfowl hunting in District 17 occurs from tidal lands in Grayís Harbor and Willapa Bay upland into the major river drainages and inland lakes.
The goose harvest was down from 2010 in both Grays Harbor and Pacific counties, but hunters managed to bag 2,349 geese in District 17 during the 2011 season. During the September early goose season hunterís harvested 175 geese which was down 22% from 2010.