Hunting for a place to hunt? Start here! Since 1933, department staff have been working to protect wildlife habitat across the state, and to provide recreational access to prime hunting spots for all hunters.
Washington hunters have harvested about 430,000 ducks and 72,000 geese during each of the past five years, and every county in the state was represented in those harvest figures. Some parts of the state, though, stand head and shoulders above the others in terms of waterfowl harvest. Grant County is traditionally eastern Washington’s top duck producer, averaging just under 70,000 birds harvested annually. Yakima County is a distant second at 30,000 ducks a year, followed by Benton (25,000), Franklin (23,000) and Walla Walla (19,000) counties. West of the Cascades, Skagit County hunters take about 50,000 ducks a year, followed by Whatcom (26,000), Snohomish (23,000), Grays Harbor (16,000) and Clark (12,500) counties.
Grant County is also the state’s top goose-hunting spot, with an average annual harvest of more than 17,000 birds. Other top goose-producing counties are Franklin (7,300), Benton (5,700), Skagit (5,400), Yakima (3,500), Walla Walla (3,200) and Spokane (3,000) counties.
The five-year average duck and goose harvest figures for all Washington counties are listed is the Washington State Migratory Waterfowl & Upland Game Seasons pamphlet.
A number of options are available to duck and goose hunters on public land here in the Evergreen State. WDFW Wildlife Areas are good places to start, as are the public and private lands under WDFW’s Regulated Access Program and some state lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources. Waterfowl hunting opportunities abound on several of the Northwest’s National Wildlife Refuges and on properties managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The Youth-Mentor Hunts that take place in late-September provide great duck-hunting opportunities for kids under the age of 16. Check out the “GoHUNT” online mapping system for details on these and other places where waterfowl hunting may be available.
If you’re looking for hunting opportunities on private land, some 600 landowners who own a million acres are enrolled in WDFW’s Private Lands Program. For more information, check out the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s hunting access website,
If you want to strike out on your own to gain access to private property, do some scouting and door-pounding to get permission to hunt. Landowners contact information can be obtained from your county tax assessor office. Some landowners will refuse to grant permission, but persistent hunters will gain access to some lightly hunted areas and make new friends along the way. Other options include hunt clubs and hiring a waterfowl guide who has access to private farms and ranches. Some areas are off limits because of local and county shooting restrictions, which can be identified by contacting your county sheriff’s office. Some areas are closed by WDFW for resource management reasons, and can be found in the WDFW waterfowl and big game pamphlets.
Recently added to the department’s web pages, the annual hunting prospects details WDFW biologists expectations for hunting for this year’s seasons. Broken down into 17 districts, this should be a hunter’s first place to research.
For additional information, turn to these regional write-ups and maps of prime hunting spots.
On-line, detailed maps of the entire state are available at GoHunt. This WDFW endeavor is a one-stop-shopping site for individualizing a map to your specifications.
For eight decades, WDFW and its precursors have been creating diverse opportunities for hunters, anglers and wildlife viewers. Securing prime wildlife lands for recreation and protection from development has long been an institutional value of the department. Those actions are highlighted through the 1 million acres owned and managed by the WDFW for your recreation. These lands are organized into Wildlife Areas, most of which have distinct Units. To find wildlife areas where you’d like to hunt, start here. Maps of each unit and driving directions are provided in the “How to Get Here” section in the middle of the page. Not all units are great waterfowl hunting areas (although some are fantastic!,) these are public hunting areas that you should explore.
Purchase of your Washington hunting license includes a Vehicle Access Pass, which is all that you need to utilize WDFW lands for hunting. It is also all that you need to use one the hundreds of boat launches throughout the state. Boat launches on lakes and rivers can be a great way to explore un-tapped waterfowl hunting areas.