The sun is setting earlier and the leaves are beginning to turn color – signs of another change of season. Fall is in the air, and hunters are heading out for the first major hunting seasons of the year.

Archery hunts for deer get under way around the state Sept. 1, when hunting seasons also open for forest grouse, mourning dove and cottontail and snowshoe hare. Other seasons set to open this month include an archery hunt for elk, a black powder hunt for deer, and a turkey hunt in some areas of eastern Washington.

A youth-only hunt for ducks, geese, pheasant and other game birds runs Sept. 22-23 statewide. To participate, hunters must be 15 years old or younger and be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years old who is not hunting.

“We should have plenty of local ducks available in September, followed by a record number of birds coming down from the north later this year,” said Dave Ware, statewide game manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “The past mild winter and wet spring also bode well for deer and elk.”

But with wildfires burning in several parts of the state, Ware cautions hunters to be especially careful to avoid any action that might spark a blaze. Updates on fire conditions are available on the Washington Department of Natural Resources’ website at http://www.dnr.wa.gov/Pages/default.aspx.

Meanwhile, an estimated run of 655,000 chinook salmon is moving up the Columbia River, drawing anglers by the thousands. Farther north, coho salmon are pushing into the Strait of Juan de Fuca from the ocean, heading for rivers throughout Puget Sound.

“We’ve seen tremendous coho fishing the last two weeks of August in central Puget Sound,” said Steve Thiesfeld, Puget Sound salmon manager for WDFW. “Fishing should continue to be good as more of those ocean coho make their way into the area.”

As new fishing seasons open, others are coming to an end. Crab fishing in most areas of Puget Sound is set to close at sunset Sept. 3, and WDFW is reminding crabbers that summer catch record cards are due to WDFW by Oct. 1 – whether or not they actually caught crab this year. Completed cards can be submitted by mail or online at http://bit.ly/WkXeA from Sept. 3 through Oct. 1.

Other changes are also apparent as summer’s end draws near. Bull elk can be heard bugling in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains as they begin to establish breeding territories. Warblers, vireos and other neotropical birds are now moving through the region as they make their annual migration south.

For more information about fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing available this month, see the Weekender Regional Reports posted on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/weekender/. These reports are updated throughout the month to provide current information about recreational opportunities around the state.

Logo courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

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