Thanks for the advice. I think that might be my frustration. I am used to being able to see a lot farther than what is available around here. I'm sure it is just a matter of adapting to the surroundings.
Your words could'a come straight outta my own mouth a few years back. I grew up over in Spokane and always hunted the more open areas of Eastern Washington. The area up North of Spokane is absolutely incredible whitetail hunting.
When I moved to Western Washington, I experienced a rude awakening. It's SO thick. And it seems that unless you have logger friends, you never know the real good clearcuts. Oh sure, you can check with the timber companies or DNR, but it helps to know people in the timber industry. Maybe the best advice I could give you is go find some bar where a lot of loggers hang out.
I hunted elk for several years out on the Olympic peninsula. Never had any luck. Then I chose the Eastern tag and things improved. It can be pretty good hunting for elk, although in recent years there hasn't been very many late hunt opportunities for us muzzleloaders. WDFW "took away" one of our best hunts, the late hunt in unit 346. I'm still pissed about that one.
So anyways, I now hunt pretty much exclusively over in eastern Washington. But if I had a western muzzleloader elk tag I think I would head more SW from where you are, over more towards the coast. I think there is a late hunt over in the Willapa hills area where you would at least have a chance.
But overall, what you have to remember is that in Western Washington there are more people than game. It will never approach Montana hunting for that simple reason.
Now, for STEELHEAD fishing, it's a different story. Western Washington is the place to be!
Welcome to Puyallup, tcgeester. That's my home town too.
I spent last weekend (late elk opener) in the Williams Creek GMU, # 673 south of South Bend/Raymond around the A-Line road. There was quite a bit of activity (i.e., shooting) and I actually got to watch a guy from another hunting party take down a decent sized 3-point. We were hunting on Weyerhaeuser land in an area of mixed clear cuts and timber. The 3-point was taken while moving through a clear cut. At the same time I was watching that happen the rest of the guys in my camp watched about 5 cows high tail it around the back side of a hill and into some short trees. On Sunday right before we broke camp another hunter took a bull close to our camp.
If you check out the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife webpage at: http://www.wdfw.wa.gov/ and follow the hunting link you can look at the harvest reports for each GMU.
Thanks for the advice. I know I was spoiled by the hunting in Montana. I just wish the wages were better over there!!! But, I do have the connections to do a cheap hunt over there when I get a chance. (Bitterroot Valley)
SW is another area that I have not been to. Maybe I will check into that. I need to have patience and learn the area, and remember that its still fun to be out in the woods.
I can't wait to get into the steelhead. I miss that from Michigan, plus they are bigger out here!
Good info. Do you have to have a permit to access that land? I was driving through some timber company land this past weekend and ran into a security guard. He told me that you have to buy a permit to access and that they regulate how many are given out. From what I understand, that particular land was a special draw for elk as well.
Tactics for elk out here can vary, but finding your area can also determine your tactics. Mt. st helens has som good elk, same with Ryderwood/Vader area. Mason county and grays harbor are also good spots with open timberlands. In my experience, lots of scouting and off-hunting time in your hunting grounds is very important to success. Bugeling is a good skill to master, for locating heards in our dense forests. Hard to glass other than clearcuts, unless your hunting blacktail in which clearcuts are a major focus for many rifle and muzzleloader hunters. One downside I have learned about here, is short seasons. I wish Washington hunting politics were a little better, as well as game management, but otherwise a beautifull state to hike and hunt. Im not much on the bear, but I know mason county and grays harbor have lots of black bear.
As a Taxidermist I look at hundreds of Whitetail Bucks every year. I know that I have seen many different ways people judge the size of racks on live deer. I think for the most part they all are pretty close. I'm going to give you some measurements that I have noticed being right on in just about every deer. We have used it in the last couple years and have only been off by about 5-6 inches. We do study the deer while bowhunting so we get a little more time to look at them....