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500 series unit information

As more and more information is added to each individual unit's information, we will dedicate full pages to them. 

Hunting success requires significant planning and preparation.  Very few hunters can be successful without properly scouting an area or preparing well before the season starts.  The most serious (and successful) hunters "hunt" year-round.  That is to say, they are continually improving their woodmanship, marksmanship, and knowledge of their quarry.  The most successful hunters are in the field every month of the year.  They know their quarry and their hunting areas very well.  Hunting is an activity that is directly affected by the amount of front-end work a person puts into it.

If you can contribute information click here Submit information (tips, area suggestions, etc)

If you would like to advertise for services located in the 500 series units  click here Contact Advertising


 WAC 232-28-335 Game management units (GMUs) boundary descriptions -- Region five.

("opportunity" = relative harvest of that species based on general season harvest statistics as compared to the state average. Special permits greatly increase the opportunity)

WDFW Wildlife Areas Region 5

GMU 501-LINCOLN (Lewis, Thurston, Pacific, and Grays Harbor counties):

General Season Opportunity (Deer - good) ( Elk - good) ( Bear - fair) ( Cougar - poor) (Turkey - fair)

Doty Hills hold significant numbers of deer. Independence rd and Lincoln Creek rd will get you into the unit and up where there are deer. Bunker Creek rd (Mcdonald Tree Farm) will also get you into some nice clearcuts.  Again, this area is heavily hunted, find roads that are gated or not well traveled. The majority of the deer will be in those areas.  You can also get in to state land called the Harris Block which butts up against the South bank of the Chehalis. Access points to the block are from the east on Independence Creek or from the west up Harp Road.  The roads have gates and they may or may not be locked.
GMU 503-RANDLE (Lewis County):

General Season Opportunity (Deer - fair) ( Elk - good) ( Bear - fair) ( Cougar - poor) (Turkey - poor)

Huffaker Mountain and the flats surrounding it hold good numbers of deer and elk.  Look for 5 to 10 year old reprod and this is where you will find the deer and elk.  The Kiona Creek Unit (415 acres) off of Savio Road west of Randle is managed for black-tailed deer forage and holds deer.  The Kosmos Unit (520 acres) at the east end of Riffe Lake holds deer and some elk.

GMU 504-STELLA (Cowlitz County):

General Season Opportunity (Deer - fair) ( Elk - fair) ( Bear - poor) ( Cougar - poor) (Turkey - poor)

Hazel Dell road will get you into the unit.  Lots of deer and elk for such a relatively small unit.  Most of the area is private or private timber lands.


GMU 505-MOSSYROCK (Lewis County):

General Season Opportunity (Deer - good) ( Elk - good) ( Bear - fair) ( Cougar - poor) (Turkey - poor)

The Peterman Ridge Unit (6855 acre) rises above the north shore of Riffe Lake, south of the town of Morton. Overall the area is managed for black-tailed deer that benefits elk as well.   The Mossyrock Unit is 1320 acres and is located NE of Mossyrock just on the North side of HWY 12.


GMU 506-WILLAPA HILLS (Wahkiakum, Pacific and Lewis counties): 

General Season Opportunity (Deer - good) (Elk - good) (Bear - fair) ( Cougar - poor) (Turkey - poor)

2007 General Harvest = (Deer - 193)  ( Elk - 244)( Bear -11)  ( Cougar - ?)(Turkey -1)

2008 General Harvest = (Deer - 227) ( Elk - 279) ( Bear - 14) (Cougar - ?) (Turkey -1)

2009 General Harvest = (Deer - 204) ( Elk - 229) ( Bear - ?) (Cougar - ?) (Turkey -0)

2011 General Harvest = (Deer - 182) ( Elk - 212) ( Bear - 15) (Cougar - 1) (Turkey -?)*

Lots of gated roads in this unit of mostly Weyerhauser lands.  Get up in the drainages of Elochoman River or Nelson Creek.  Lots of Elk are to be had in this area.  Little vehicle access is available, but is perfect for those with strong legs and heart.  A great area to hunt is between the deep river and the Naselle river.

Pe Ell Area has quite a bit of road closure availability for the non motorized hunter.

Grays River and Mitchell Creek drainages will hold nice amounts of elk and deer.  The terrain is haphazard in this unit.  Bring a map, compass and GPS.  Cell phone coverage is almost non existent!

The WDFW reports that there is extensive timber harvest in this unit.  The replanted seedlings are being damaged extensively by elk and deer and are subject to complaints by private timber companies. (2007 Game status and trend report)

GMU 510-STORMKING (Lewis County):

General Season Opportunity (Deer - good) (Elk - fair) (Bear - fair) ( Cougar - poor) (Turkey - poor)

The area between Round Top mountain and Storm King mountain hold deer and some elk.  This area is located just east of Mineral.  You will find numerous newly made clearcuts.  The 243 acre Davis Lake Unit holds deer.  It is located 2.2 miles up Davis Lake Rd.  Look along the Mineral and Washington Creek drainages.

Late Season hunts in this unit provide for almost guaranteed snow in the highest points of the GMU (and feeding out of the even higher GMU 513) which provides for great opportunity for tracking in the first snows and then as those snows increase, the deer get pushed lower and lower and they begin to congregate. _______________________________________________________________________

 GMU 513-SOUTH RAINIER (Lewis County): 

General Season Opportunity (Deer - fair) (Elk - good) (Bear - fair) ( Cougar - poor) (Turkey - poor)

Great Deer and Elk area as the weather rolls in, the animals move out of the Park and down into lower elevations.  The 52 road offers a number of skid roads to hunt on.  Look for clearcuts in the Skate Creek Drainage.
GMU 516-PACKWOOD (Lewis and Skamania counties): 

General Season Opportunity (Deer - good) (Elk - good) (Bear - fair) (Cougar - poor) (Turkey - poor)

Johnson Creek, Hagen Creek, and Lake Creek to the south of Packwood are productive areas.  Lots of deer are taken out of these drainages. Forest roads 21, 23, 26, 27 and 28 will all get you up into some great areas.  Remember to find yourself a gated road or clearcut and get out and walk.  The other guys road hunting will push the deer and elk to you.

The Spears Unit (418 acres) south of Randle is managed for black-tailed deer. The area also provides wintering habitat for area elk.
GMU 520-WINSTON (Cowlitz, Lewis and Skamania counties): 

General Season Opportunity (Deer - good) (Elk - excllent) (Bear - fair) (Cougar - poor) (Turkey - poor)

Winston Creek drainage is where most of the access will be found.  Deer and Elk will be found in the clearcuts.  Primarily off of the gated roads.  Just like unit 524, this area is loaded with Elk.   Pretty much any clearcut south of Riffe Lake will hold significant numbers of elk and deer.  The roadless areas around Winters mountain and elk creek will be very productive.

GMU 522-LOO-WIT (Cowlitz and Skamania counties):

Gen Harvest = (Deer - none) ( Elk - Special Permit) 

Mudflow information: Elk Area 5099 (Mudflow) is the valley floor portion of the Mount St. Helens Wildlife Area. The      
 topography is mostly flat with some hills and small drainages caused by the deposit of avalanche debris from the eruption in 1980. There is one road on the valley floor; it is approximately 3 miles long. There is an excellent view of the Elk Area at the Forest Learning Center on SR 504 at milepost 34. Please consider looking the area over before applying for these special permits.                
 The boundary for Elk Area 5099 is not signed. The boundary on the north and south side is the upland slope of the adjacent forest. The eastern boundary has a sign and fence that denotes United States Forest Service property line. WDFW suggests you use the old remnant, N-1 dam as a landmark for the western boundary of the Elk Area.    
 Access and Restrictions                                                                             
 This can be a strenuous hunt for seniors and youth. Hunters may enter the Mount St. Helens Wildlife  Area before hunting hours. Senior hunters and youth hunters may use motorized vehicles to retrieve harvested elk during the hours of 12:00 noon and 2 :00 p.m., only. At other times access is limited  to non-motorized means. Please do not apply for this hunt if you are not in good physical condition.
 Vehicles can be parked outside the gate, north of the WDFW bridge at Bear Creek. Do not block the gate with your vehicle. Vehicles blocking the gate will be towed at the owner’s expense.   Hunters will be issued keys to the Weyerhaeuser gate at the junction of the 3100 road and SR 504.   The keys must be returned at the end of your hunt.    
 Hunters selected for a “Hunters with Disabilities Special Elk Permit” can use motorized vehicles on  the Wildlife Area during their hunt. WDFW recommends that motorized vehicle use (including off  highway vehicles) be kept to a minimum to reduce disturbance to the elk and other hunters.   A maximum of 3 helpers may assist the special permit holder.   All hunters and helpers must wear hunter orange, regardless of weapon choice.                       
 Other Information                                                                                   
 Elk numbers on the Wildlife Area are variable, with the highest numbers occurring later in the fall.  A resident herd of approximately 75 elk uses the Wildlife Area, but often leave if disturbed. A special permit does not guarantee a successful hunt.  (source WDFW News Brief)

Pumice Plain elk hunt information:  Effectively there are only 4 ways to boot into the area.  Hummocks trail, Coldwater ridge, Windy Ridge, and through the area around Castle Lake.  Hummocks and Coldwater require that you cross the river using waders (very dangerous if the river is high)  Windy Ridge requires quite a bit of hiking to get into the elk.  Due to the logging road closure, Castle Lake approach requires 5+ miles (one way) just to get into the hunting area.   Elk will be found aplenty in all areas of the unit.  It would be in a hunter's best interest to glass from the Coldwater Ridge road the day before the opener and pinpoint where the elk are that day.  Little will make them move out of the general area for the next day's hunt. For the times we hunted this unit, it was not uncommon to see well over 200 animals per day on this hunt. It is by no means easy, but probably the most unique elk hunt in North America.

Upper Smith Creek elk hunt information. 2014 modern special permit season. Weather is an issue here. There are two drainages (the entire NE side of Mt St Helens converges at this one point) which converge at the top of this unit. Top of the unit is called Windy Ridge for a reason. Lots of weather and area was socked in for most of the hunt. This is an issue because the area is very steep. Fog can lead you down a draw where the bottom cannot be seen. Some of the more southern area has draws which drop off into steep cliffs. The most logical way to hunt this unit is from the top down. The top is accessed through the Windy Ridge VIewpoint area of the monument. You need a NW Forest Pass to Park anywhere off the road. The trail along the east side is the unit boundary and provides less steep alternatives to get into the bottom of the unit. In October of 2014, the elk were scattered everywhere within the unit in small groups. The largest group our party saw was 7 animals. The biggest issue a hunter will have is how to get the harvested animal back up the steep terrain. Elk were in the deep holes of the area and relatively unperturbed. For entertainment, get some good binos and glass the Pumice Plain area and look for the mountain goats near the crater rim and the many bulls sitting in plain sight down a bit lower. It is possible to approach the unit from below but the trailhead is accessed from the town of Cougar and you have to travel on trail about 5 miles before you actually get into the unit. As the WDFW warns, this is not an easy hunt. Do not put in for the tag if you are not in good shape. The terrain is steep and thick. But, overall, a very fun hunt with tons of hunting options and relatively little hunting pressure. There were 2 bull tags and 4 cow tags in 2014. Introduce yourself to the other hunters whom you will undoubtedly see and coordinate your strategies to effectively hunt the unit.


Pumice Plains

GMU 524-MARGARET (Cowlitz, Skamania and Lewis counties): 

General Season Opportunity (Deer - fair) (Elk - special) (Bear - poor) ( Cougar - poor) (Turkey - poor)

Arguably the finest Elk hunt in Washington State.  In 2006 the WDFW allotted around 80 permits for this unit.  This is a draw only permit area and the numbers of applicants make your draw success rate around 5%.  However, if you do get lucky, go buy a Washington State lottery ticket as well because you have it the jackpot of Elk hunts in Washington.  This unit butts up of the North side of Loo-Wit (Mt St Helens blast zone).  The elk have come back with a vengeance in this country.  The salvage loggers have made hundreds of clearcuts available to the hunter.  Logging roads criss-cross all over the unit. You can access from many points along Hwy 504 (Coldwater Creek Rd) on the South side.  You can come in along the Green River on the North or you can get in from the East side on Forest Road 25.  There are some great open pockets available on the east side of the unit around Mt Venus.  The Elk move in and out of this unit frequently and the populations and bull/cow ratios are high!   There are some deer in this unit, but overwhelmingly, this is an elk unit.

Alert received 10-6-10: Be aware, GMU-524 (Margaret area). Approximately 5,000 acres of the high country around the lakes has been sold to a private developer so it has been gated off - No Access.  The only access to the higher country is only available on saturdays/sundays.  Warehouser blocks off access on the 2500 road Monday-Friday.  We used to be able to get up there via 2520 road, but that now has been trench blocked.

Verified in the beginning of Nov... Most of the access points to the Margaret from the coldwater ridge road are posted by signs by a company called the Mt St Helens Noble Tree Farm prohibiting all access (aka Weyco).  We are currently researching this issue. No known access from the Coldwater ridge side of the unit.

More of the same from Bill, July 2014. Letters sent to Margaret tag holders from The Agnew Company describe poor previous hunter behavior in seasons past. They are purported closing all access to and through the vast majority of the North part of the unit and have active logging operations going on 24/7. It now appears that most of the public land is now "landlocked" around private company holdings. People holding this tag will need to get creative (long hikes in from surrounding units) in accessing any legal hunting area. Do not trespass, it is illegal and sets a bad example for your fellow hunters.


Margaret Unit looking North to Rainier


GMU 530-RYDERWOOD (Cowlitz, Lewis and Wahkiakum counties):

General Season Opportunity (Deer - good) (Elk - good) (Bear - fair) ( Cougar - poor) (Turkey - poor)

Bebe mountains outside of Vader hold some elk and deer.  Look for the clear cuts and get out of the truck.  Wise Creek, Coal Creek and and Germany Creek will provide great access.  There is quite a bit of pressure in here, but, if you can locate more secluded areas, the elk and deer will tend to gravitate to these locations.

The WDFW reports that there is extensive timber harvest in this unit.  The replanted seedlings are being damaged extensively by elk and deer and are subject to complaints by private timber companies. (2007 Game status and trend report)  _______________________________________________________________________
GMU 550-COWEEMAN (Cowlitz County): 

General Season Opportunity (Deer - good) (Elk - good) (Bear - fair) ( Cougar - poor) (Turkey - poor)

This unit has a ton of clearcuts, reprod, and second growth.  Take the Headquarters Road of f of I-5. Get on to the 1600 road which can take you all the way to Cougar.  All of these spur roads will feed into different ages of clear cuts.  

East on the Rose Valley Road or the Kalama River road will also get you into the unit.
Get into any of the multitude of roads this unit has to offer.  Especially the roads which are tank trapped or gated.  Most of the hunters will be driving the roads.  In late season, hunt the snow line
GMU 554-YALE (Cowlitz and Clark counties): 

General Season Opportunity (Deer - good) (Elk - fair) (Bear - poor) (Cougar - poor) (Turkey - poor)

2007 General Harvest = (Deer - 34)  ( Elk - 14)( Bear -2)  ( Cougar - ?)(Turkey -3)

2008 General Harvest = (Deer - 38) ( Elk - 7) ( Bear - 0) (Cougar - 1) (Turkey -1)

2009 General Harvest = (Deer - 45) ( Elk - 13) ( Bear - ?) (Cougar - ?) (Turkey -3)

2011 General Harvest = (Deer - 47) ( Elk - 15) ( Bear - 0) (Cougar - ) (Turkey -?)*

Weyerhauser property and will probably be gated hunt south of the 1600 line up Arnold Creek or Jack Creek.  Lots of new clearcuts in the unit.  This unit is primarily only hunted by early season bowhunters or muzzleloaders.


GMU 556-TOUTLE (Cowlitz County): 

General Season Opportunity (Deer - fair) (Elk - special) (Bear - fair) (Cougar - poor) (Turkey - poor)

You can get into this unit by two main ways.  You can either get in from I-5 through the Coweeman unit or if there is a ton of snow, you can get in from the South via Cougar.  There are miles and miles of logging roads in this unit.  Hunt the roads which are closed off and not accessible from the road hunters.  This is part of the Weyherhauser Mt St Helens Tree Farm.  You can get great maps from Weyerhauser to see which areas are being actively logged and areas which allow for hunters to go in.  A hunter would do best by getting in to the areas around the Loowit GMU which is closed to hunting except by very few special permits.  Check out the areas around Butler Butte and Georges Peak (north of Camp Kalama)  South Fork  of the Toutle R basin will be the place to concentrate when snow falls on Mt St Helens. Permit only elk unit

Toutle River
GMU 560-LEWIS RIVER (Cowlitz, Skamania, Klickitat, Yakima and Lewis counties):

General Season Opportunity (Deer - good) (Elk - excellent) (Bear - good) (Cougar - poor) (Turkey - poor)

The areas just south of Mt Adams are well known for the berry fields.  Lots of Bears in this unit.  Just look for areas with huckleberries and little road intrusion (roads usually mean berry pickers in September and October)  There are tons of roads in this unit and the key to finding deer is to get on a 5-10 year old clearcut, get out of the truck, and hunt the fringes.  The amount of logging occurring on the Gifford Pinchot has been slowing down over the years and is allowing for prime deer habitat to become more grown over and less browse is available.  But, still the amount of land and access in this unit should provide anyone wanting to get out and hike, quite a bit of opportunity to find deer.

A hunter could find some good success in the early season around areas like French Butte an Badger Peak.  Early season North Facing slopes should hold deer and elk.  South slopes (where the ripe berries are) should hold your bears.

The areas around the the south side of the Monument hold early season elk and deer populations.  Perfect for bowhunters.

GMU 560 clearcut (fka Marble GMU)
GMU 564-BATTLE GROUND (Clark, Skamania, and Cowlitz counties): 

General Season Opportunity (Deer - good) (Elk - good) (Bear - fair) ( Cougar - poor) (Turkey - poor)

Traditionally, this unit is a firearms restriction unit and nothing but shotguns, bows and smokepoles allowed.  There is a lot of private land in this unit.   As the Vancouver suburbs encroach, two things happen… Access becomes more difficult, but, deer densities increase.  Look for Elk and deer around Spotted Deer Mountain and Elkhorn Mountain.  You can get up in the Gifford Pinchot NF lands, but they become much more rugged, but, when the snow line starts dropping, look for the deer and elk to follow the line.  The Yacolt area has been very productive for many years.  Yacolt Burn State Forest  has great areas off of the L1410 line and the L1000 line.  There is also a trail system in this unit which is frequented by horsemen.
GMU 568-WASHOUGAL (Clark and Skamania counties):

General Season Opportunity (Deer - good) (Elk - good) (Bear - fair) (Cougar - poor) (Turkey - poor)

You can find great areas along the Dole Valley rd.  You can get up in the Gifford Pinchot NF lands, but they become much more rugged, but, when the snow line starts dropping, look for the deer and elk to follow the line.
GMU 572-SIOUXON (Skamania and Clark counties): 

General Season Opportunity (Deer - good) (Elk - good) (Bear - fair) ( Cougar - poor) (Turkey - poor)

Check out the roads and clearcuts up around Trout lake.  Horseshoe ridge and Bare mountain have great access and lots of areas for hunters to find deer and bear.  Lemei peak, Soda Peak, and the North side of Red Mountain will hold good numbers of deer and bear.  Lots of huckleberries means lots of turkeys and bear.
GMU 574-WIND RIVER (Skamania and Klickitat counties):

General Season Opportunity (Deer - good) (Elk - good) (Bear - fair) ( Cougar - poor) (Turkey - fair)

Oklahoma rd and South Prairie road all have great access  There are numerous access points just south of the ice caves.  Huckleberry mountain holds some elk.  Lots of huckleberries means lots of bears and turkeys.  There are good populations of deer in here, fairly open underbrush.  Lots of hunters in this unit during the early season. 

GMU 578-WEST KLICKITAT (Klickitat, Yakima, and Skamania counties):

General Season Opportunity (Deer - good) (Elk - good) (Bear - fair) (Cougar - fair) (Turkey - good)

Try out Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge.  Here is a great map and contact information.

Lots of Private land in this unit and a nice size deer and elk harvest.  Go knocking on some doors in the off season and perhaps secure a nice little piece of private deer hunting land.

*harvest statstics are from WDFW website

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