Tips for sharing WDFW managed lands during hunting seasons

Suggestions for birders, hunters, and other visitors to WDFW lands.

Two generations of deer hunters in Eastern Washington’s Whitman County by Lucas Gilbert.

Hunting seasons for forest grouse and upland game birds begin in September or October depending on the area. General waterfowl hunting seasons run from mid-October into late January.

Please see for more detail including Big Game and Small Game hunting seasons, and additional Goose Management or Youth, Veterans, and Active Military hunt days.

Hunting is allowed on most state public lands (excluding State Parks and designated Game Reserves). Hunters are required to abide by hunting regulations and county no-shooting ordinances as well as officially posted signage, including designated Safety Zones on Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) lands.

WDFW Wildlife Areas and Water Access Areas are state public lands and are open to the public during posted access hours. Visitors include hunters, anglers, birders, and other outdoor recreationists. Visitors must obey all posted rules, including area restrictions or closures.

Hunters, birders, and other outdoor recreationists are reminded to be respectful of each other, to safely and responsibly share public lands and waters, and to appreciate that each cares deeply about birds, wildlife, and their habitat.

Birders at the Samish River Unit of Skagit Wildlife Area near Edison.

Note that some WDFW Wildlife Areas, including pheasant release sites, have restricted access hours, hunter orange requirements, or other posted rules for visitor’s safety.

Privately-owned lands within WDFW’s Private Lands Hunting Access program are managed and reserved for hunting access only. To manage orderly hunting access to established blinds, certain portions of specific WDFW Wildlife Area Units — including some Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)-accessible blinds and units of the Skagit Wildlife Area — are also managed through this program and include areas designated for waterfowl habitat and hunting. Due to safety concerns, WDFW recommends that non-hunters keep out of these specific hunt areas, which are posted with signs marking the boundaries.

Reminder to all that intentionally obstructing the lawful taking of fish, shellfish, or wildlife — including waterfowl and upland game birds — is a crime in Washington as detailed in our state’s “hunter harassment” law RCW 77.15.210.

Respectful communication and dialogue go a long way toward creating positive connections between outdoors enthusiasts and avoiding potentially negative encounters on our public lands. Many visitors may be unaware of hunting seasons or regulations, and a polite conversation can often resolve issues before they become a dispute.

Anyone who experiences legitimate hunter harassment or intentional obstruction of lawful hunting, fishing or shellfish gathering should contact WDFW Police immediately: or call 360–902–2936 Option 1.

Update: The Samish River Unit of Skagit Wildlife Area now has a designated Hunters Only Area to support visitor safety and reduce the potential for conflict. Access rules are posted at the field entrances and there is increased signage at the boundary of the Hunters Only Zone. This is a seasonal access rule, applying from the beginning of the general waterfowl hunting season and running through the first Saturday in February. Spatially separating user groups on this small Wildlife Area Unit will increase safety and improve experiences for all users while reducing the potential for negative interactions or conflict.

For more information on state public lands managed by WDFW, please visit our Places to Go webpage, or see our recent 10-year Recreation Strategy for WDFW-managed Lands.

A great blue heron photographed at WDFW’s Skagit Wildlife Area Headquarters Unit near Wiley Slough.



The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.