As the weather begins to cool, and summer shifts into fall, many hunters are trading in their summer hiking gear for warmer hunting garb. The hunting preparation season is just beginning. Ammo will be dusted off. Tags will be purchased. Crossbows will be restrung. Avid hunters will begin to seek out their favorite stomping grounds or research new ones. For those in search of new sites, look no further than the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). With more than 3 million acres of state trust lands, DNR offers a range of ecosystems in which to hunt. But before you start hunting on DNR land, here are some basics you need to know.
1) Find The Perfect Hunting Spot
Looking for hunting spots near you? DNR manages millions of acres that are open to hunting. But remember, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) regulates hunting. To learn more about accessible hunting grounds close to you, visit WDOFW’s hunting page. On this page, you’ll find downloadable maps, hunting areas, and site suggestions.
2) Don’t Forget Your Discover Pass
Anyone who used state-managed public lands by car must have Discover Pass. This pass enables users to enjoy state parks, water-access points, heritage sites, wildlife and natural areas, trails and more. Recreationists can buy a one-time day pass, or an annual pass. Discover passes are available for purchase at select State Parks, online, or at various local retailers.
3) Know Before You Go – Rules and Regulations
Whether you’re hunting bear, elk, ducks, or any other creature, you’ll find all the rules and regulations on the WDOFW’s licensing page. Each animal has different tag requirements, and depending on what weapon you use, the rules are subject to change. You always need a license to hunt, so be sure to do your research and to purchase the correct kind. Game wardens frequently patrol DNR properties and will ask to see your license on site.
4) Clean Up Your Casings
So, you just shot your first elk of the season and are ready to take it home. Before you leave the site, make sure to pick up your bullet casings and pack out whatever trash you may have brought in with you. Shell casings pollute the environment, and depending on the type of bullet, can even leak heavy metals into groundwater. Let’s keep our environment clean and safe for everyone.
5) Stay Warm and Stay Seen: Dressing for Success in the Woods
Although as a hunter you want to stay camouflaged from whatever you’re hunting, it’s more important to be seen by fellow hunters. Depending on the season, the weapon you use, and the prey you plan to hunt, Washington State requires that hunters wear a minimum of 400 square inches of bright orange clothing.
This rule keeps hunters safe and seen when walking through highly trafficked sporting areas. Hunting can also be a stationary activity if you’re lying in wait. That’s why it’s essential to bring layers and warm gear. A warm coat or pair of gloves can be the difference between a great hunt or a cold and miserable one.
Do You Need Special Access?
In cooperation with WDFW, DNR runs a program that allows hunters with disabilities to access areas that may be located behind gates. Learn more here.