By Leon Archer
For those of you who have never been to the Pacific Northwest, you have missed a beautiful section of our country, complete with 3,026 miles of tidal shoreline, snow-capped mountains, more than 5 million acres of state owned lands with seemingly unending forests, and a plethora of streams and rivers.
It is a spectacular area because of the abundance of fish and wildlife as well, and so it is a mecca for hunters and fishermen.
Big-game hunters have a wide variety of species to choose from. Some of them only have a limited number of permits each year, but hunters are able to find lots of deer in the state.
Actually there are mule deer, black tailed deer and Whitetails. In addition, Washington big game includes black bear, elk, cougars, mountain goat, moose and bighorn sheep.
Small-game hunters have an even wider variety available to them. Think about our choices in New York state and then check out this list of Washington small game: wild turkey, pheasant, chukar partridge, grey partridge, blue grouse, ruffed grouse, spruce grouse, California Quail, mountain quail, northern bob white quail, band tailed pigeons, mourning doves, raccoon, cotton tail rabbit, snowshoe hare, jack rabbits and California grey ground squirrels.
All of that plus a wide range of waterfowl. With all the game birds with open seasons in Washington, it seems to me that a hunter would be wise to own a well-trained bird dog.
I must say I was surprised to learn that squirrel hunting, other than hunting the ground squirrels, is closed out here. They don’t do as well here as they do back in New York apparently. As a matter of fact, I haven’t seen a single squirrel since I got here.
Many of the housing subdivisions here east of Seattle are surrounded by trees and undergrowth with plenty of undeveloped property that is unsuited for building.
There are also plenty of trees and shrubs on and around each individual housing unit in the various communities. Wildlife abounds pretty much unmolested in such areas, so it is not all that unusual to see deer munching one’s roses or hosta.
Black bears are a nuisance that homeowners have to deal with by keeping their garbage secure and out of reach of the foraging bruins.
Just a few nights ago we had a black bear in the front yard that had been cruising the neighborhood looking for a free meal. It was a mature black bear that I estimated to be about 350 pounds; not huge but not small either.
We had just arrived at the house in our car and the bear headed out for the woods. We could hear his claws clicking on the pavement even after he went out of sight around the corner.
Raccoons and foxes are a little more common than bears and just as interested in any loose garbage. I have heard a pack of coyotes a couple times as Sweet Thing and I were in bed trying to get a little shuteye.
Ben told me that not too long before we came out, a cougar had caused a stir by moving through the area. It was apparently a young animal looking for a territory it could call its own. Thankfully he didn’t like this area as much as I do, because he hasn’t been seen since.
That’s fine with us.