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, cottontail rabbit, and snowshoe hare. Other seasons set to open this month include archery hunts for elk, high-buck hunts and muzzleloader hunts 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. 21-22 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 near-record number of birds expected from the north later this year,” said Dave Ware, statewide game manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “Hunting for deer and elk should also be good in most areas, just as it was last year.”

Area-by-area summaries of the hunting prospects throughout the state are available on WDFW’s website at Hunters can see what private lands are open to hunting through several WDFW agreement programs – Feel Free to Hunt, Register to Hunt, Hunting by Written Permission, and this year’s new “Hunt by Reservation” – all detailed at

With several wildfires burning in eastern Washington, 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

“Hunters planning to hunt in the central Cascade Mountains should be aware that recent wildfires have altered conditions in some areas, and have resulted in new fire restrictions,” Ware said.

Meanwhile, an estimated run of 678,000 chinook salmon – and 434,000 coho – is moving up the Columbia River, drawing anglers by the thousands. Further north, chinook, coho and pink salmon are also pushing into Puget Sound from the ocean, while eastside anglers await a surge of chinook and steelhead on the Snake River.

“September is a great time to go fishing, regardless of which side of the Cascades you live on,” said John Long, WDFW statewide salmon manager.

As new fishing seasons open, others are coming to an end. Crab fishing in most areas of Puget Sound is set to end Labor Day at sunset, 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 from Sept. 3 through Oct. 1.

Other changes are also apparent as summer’s end draws near. Warblers, vireos and other neotropical birds are now moving through the region as they make their annual migration south. Bull elk can be heard bugling at dawn and dusk to build harems.

For more information about fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing available this month, see the Weekender Regional Reports posted on WDFW’s website at 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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