Despite the winter chill, Washingtonians have plenty of reasons to head outdoors during the holiday season. Steelhead are surging up coastal rivers, waterfowl hunting is in full swing and birders are gearing up around the state for the 113th annual Christmas Bird Count.

Those planning to do some holiday shopping between their outdoor adventures can share their appreciation for Washington’s renowned recreational opportunities with the gift of a fishing license, hunting license or a Discover Pass.

Although the new licensing year doesn’t begin until April 1, a lot of people like to have their license in hand a few months early, said Bill Joplin, licensing manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

“It’s always great to be prepared when the new season arrives,” Joplin said. “Besides, hunting and fishing licenses make great holiday gifts.”

Starting Dec. 1, state fishing and hunting licenses are available for the 2013 season by phone (866-246-9453), online ( ), and from licensing dealers around the state ( ). A Vehicle Access Pass to lands owned by WDFW is free with most types of fishing and hunting licenses.

For even broader access to state lands, a state Discover Pass also makes a fine holiday gift. At $35, an annual pass provides access to nearly seven million acres of state-managed recreation lands, including state parks, water-access points, heritage sites, wildlife and natural areas, trails and trailheads.

New this year is the option to choose the activation date for an annual Discover Pass purchased online or from an authorized WILD licensing dealer.

“Those who buy an annual Discover Pass through the WILD system can now activate the pass immediately or anytime within one year of the purchase date,” Joplin said.  “On-line gift buyers can select a future start date so long as they allow 10 days to receive their Discover Pass by mail.”

For details on purchasing a Discover Pass, see .

Logo courtesy Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

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