District biologists have provided hunting forecasts for their
district based on surveys and field work.
Counties: Kitsap, Mason and Jefferson (East)
Jeff Skriletz, District Wildlife Biologist
District 15 is located along the east side of the Olympic Peninsula. The district covers Mason, Kitsap and the portion of Jefferson County that lies east of Discovery Bay. The Game Management units are quite diverse, with GMU 621 (Olympic) and GMU 636 (Skokomish) bordering the Olympic National Park and offering quite a bit of hunting opportunity on National Forest lands. Game Management Units 651 (Satsop) and 633 (Mason) are comprised of mostly commercial timber lands, private property and some Department of Natural Resources parcels.
The remaining units, GMU 624 (Coyle) and GMU 627 (Kitsap) have some public parcels and commercial timberlands but are comprised mostly of private property, much of which is heavily developed, especially near Puget Sound. Hunting and vehicular access is constantly changing on private property, including the timberlands, so be sure to contact the owners before hunting. The easiest way to determine ownership is to access the County Assessor’s webpage on the internet and check the parcel maps for the area where you plan to hunt.
The habitat across District 15 is mostly Douglas fir/western hemlock second or third growth with clearcuts scattered throughout. Farmlands are rapidly disappearing due to residential sprawl. Unfortunately, virtually all shorelines in the district are privately owned so access for waterfowl hunting is very limited. However, district staff is currently working on increasing access through the Waterfowl Quality Hunt Program. Information on this new program including hunting locations and rules is available on the WDFW website.
Pheasant: Pheasant numbers should be similar to last year’s at this district’s three release sites. Nontoxic shot is required on all pheasant release sites. More information is available at the WDFW GoHunt site and the Western Washington Pheasant Release brochure.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics: Pheasant - Statewide and by County
Quail: District 15 contains the largest population of mountain quail in the state. Although frustratingly unpredictable, they are most likely to be found in two- to six-year-old clearcuts and tall stands of Scot’s Broom throughout Mason and Kitsap Counties. Their tendency to run rather than fly or hold for a pointing dog makes them an especially challenging upland game bird.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics: Quail - Statewide and by County
Forest Grouse: Hunting on the Olympic National Forest can prove highly successful for a combination of blue and ruffed grouse. The Skokomish Valley is another popular grouse location. However, numbers of young birds district-wide may be down again this year due to another late, wet spring.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics: Forest Grouse - Statewide and by County
Band-tailed Pigeon: Hunter success should be similar or slightly down due to lower pigeon numbers observed during surveys in District 15 earlier this year. Band-tails are most prevalent in the district along marine shorelines near mineral locations or in the higher elevation berry fields.
Waterfowl: Waterfowl hunting should be similar to 2011. Public hunting access exists in the Skokomish and Chimacum Valleys and at the mouth of the Duckabush, Quilcene and Union rivers. Many of the undeveloped lakes and marshes on the Tahuya Peninsula offer an untapped and remote walk-in hunting opportunity for mallards, ringnecks and scaup. 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. District 15 wildlife biologists plan to increase new waterfowl hunting sites enrolled in the Waterfowl Quality Hunt Program. Check the WDFW website for locations and restrictions.
2011 Statewide Small Game Harvest Statistics
Deer and Elk: While elk hunting opportunities in District 15 have steadily declined over the past several decades, deer hunting continues to be promising across the district. For those who like to get away from the crowds, the rugged terrain of Olympic and Skokomish Units can provide a quality hunting experience. While much of the property in the lower altitude units is private, access can often be obtained by a friendly contact with the landowner. And many of the commercial timberlands may be gated off to vehicles, but walk-in opportunities abound and these clearcut areas produce some of our biggest bucks.
District 15 - 2011 Game Harvest Statistics:
- Deer General Harvest
- Deer Special Permits Harvest
- Elk General Harvest
- Elk Special Permits Harvest
Cougar: The big cats can occur anywhere across the district but are most likely to be encountered in areas with high deer and elk densities in GMUs 621 and 636. 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
Mason County hunters accounted for all 31 of the quail harvested in District 15 during the 2011 season.
Mason County hunters took all but 29 of the 1,714 forest grouse harvested in District 15 last year.
District 15 hunters harvested 1,394 deer during last year’s general season, 90 percent of them bucks. Modern firearms hunters accounted for 78 percent of the harvest and had a 17.8-percent success rate.
Three units in the district, GMU 621 (Olympic), GMU 633 (Mason) and GMU 651 (Satsop), produced over 200 deer each. Hunters in the Olympic Unit harvested 356 deer, 93 percent of them bucks. Modern firearms hunters there had a 26.6-percent success rate.
Elk hunters harvested 17 elk in District 15 during last year’s general season, and 16 of them came from GMU 651 (Satsop). All 16 were bulls and all were harvested by modern firearms hunters.
District 15 hunters harvested 117 black bear in 2011, with nearly half (50) of them coming from GMU 621 (Olympic) and 20 each from GMU 624 (Coyle) and GMU 627 (Kitsap).
District 15 hunters took five cougar during the 2011 general season, three from GMU 651 (Satsop) once each from GMU 621 (Olympic) and GMU 633 (Mason).
The duck harvest was up 67 percent in Mason County last year, waterfowl hunters took 5,858 ducks in District 15. The final tally was 4,745 (81 percent) from Mason County, 1,113 (19 percent) from Kitsap County.
The goose harvest was up from 2010 in both Kitsap and Mason counties, but the season total was only 181 birds in District 15.