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Hunting in western Washington

What and where to hunt

The Northwest is teeming with hunting opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. File photo

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The fall hunting season is upon us. The Pacific Northwest is famous for its green forests and the wide variety of animals that inhabit them - many of them legal game for hunters. Washington state is home to several varieties of deer, as well as elk, pheasants, grouse, waterfowl, wild turkey, cougars, bears and much more.

The state is divided into six regions, half of which fall west of the Cascade Mountain range. There's a lot of land to explore and interesting places to hunt. We'll talk about just a few of them.

Head toward the mountains if you want to move into elk country. The hills around the small town of Elbe are particularly good for stalking elk. The little town is just a stone's throw from Rainier National Park, and offers ample decent lodging and good eats for those passing through. There's more hunting around the Cascade Mountains for those willing to do a little exploring.

There's also opportunities for deer, elk and bears in the Olympics and all along the Washington coast. You can easily combine your hunting adventure with a trip to the beach. Adventurous hunters can check out the rainforests of Snohomish, San Juan and the Island counties.

Many of these locations need to be accessed by ferry. Most of the deer on the islands are smaller than the ones on land, and most of them dwell on private land - getting the land owners' written permission is required. But it's hard to beat the seclusion of hunting on an island in Puget Sound. The islands are also home to pheasants, water fowl and other birds.

You can also get special permits from tribal authorities to hunt on reservation land in many parts of Washington. Once you've explored western Washington, you can set your eyes across the Cascades to hunting grounds in eastern Washington. In addition to mule deer and all the other large game you'd expect, there's also a wide range of small game like rabbits and even rattlesnakes.

But for those who want to hunt but don't want to make it into an epic journey (or those who just want to save money on gas), you can also hunt in the forests in and around Joint Base Lewis-McChord. For those interested in hunting on base, contact Northwest Adventure Center for information on where to hunt and how to get authorization.

Washington state allows both rifles and bows hunting. Check with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to verify seasons for each variety of game, and ensure you have all the proper permits before you hunt. Washingtonians are fiercely protective of their wildlife, and the penalties for poaching can be steep.

But so long as everything is done above board, Washington also offers an unparalleled hunting experience.

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