Big Game Hunting
Big Game Units
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.
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WAC 232-28-335 Game management units (GMUs) boundary descriptions -- Region five.
(all harvest statistics are from the WDFW)
2006 General Harvest = (Deer - 414) ( Elk - 78) ( Bear - 5) ( Cougar - 1) (Turkey - 10)
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.
2006 General Harvest = (Deer - 69) ( Elk - 55) ( Bear - 3) ( Cougar - 1) (Turkey - 0)
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.
2006 General Harvest = (Deer - 65) ( Elk - 61) ( Bear - 3) ( Cougar - 0) (Turkey - 0)
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):
2006 General Harvest = (Deer - 325) ( Elk - 110) ( Bear - 10) ( Cougar - 0) (Turkey - 0)
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):
2006 General Harvest = (Deer - 281) ( Elk - 219) ( Bear - 11) ( Cougar - 0) (Turkey - 3)
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):
2006 General Harvest = (Deer - 159) ( Elk - 4) ( Bear - 3) ( Cougar - 2) (Turkey - 0)
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):
2006 General Harvest = (Deer - 68) ( Elk - 27) ( Bear - 5) ( Cougar - 0) (Turkey - 0)
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.
2006 General Harvest = (Deer - 279) ( Elk - 115) ( Bear - 11) ( Cougar - 4) (Turkey - 1)
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.
2006 General Harvest = (Deer - 381) ( Elk - 390) ( Bear - 6) ( Cougar - 2) (Turkey - 7)
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.
06 & 07 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
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.
2006 Gen Harvest = (Deer - 13) ( Elk - Spec Permit) ( Bear - 0) ( Cougar - 0) (Turkey - 0)
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.
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.
GMU 530-RYDERWOOD (Cowlitz, Lewis and Wahkiakum counties):
2006 General Harvest = (Deer - 444) ( Elk - 299) ( Bear - 17) ( Cougar - 1) (Turkey - 3)
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) _______________________________________________________________________
2006 General Harvest = (Deer - 378) ( Elk - 289) ( Bear - 11) ( Cougar - 0) (Turkey - 10)
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.
2006 General Harvest = (Deer - 36) ( Elk - 15) ( Bear - 1) ( Cougar - 0) (Turkey - 3)
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):
2006 Gen Harvest = (Deer - 105) ( Elk - SpecPermit) ( Bear - 1) ( Cougar - 0) (Turkey - 1)
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
2006 General Harvest = (Deer - 140) ( Elk - 322) ( Bear - 18) ( Cougar - 2) (Turkey - 3)
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.
2006 General Harvest = (Deer - 339) ( Elk - 109) ( Bear - 5) ( Cougar - 0) (Turkey - 1)
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 also 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. 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.
2006 General Harvest = (Deer - 412) ( Elk - 47) ( Bear - 21) ( Cougar - 3) (Turkey - 0)
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.
2006 General Harvest = (Deer - 158) ( Elk - 96) ( Bear - 6) ( Cougar - 6) (Turkey - 0)
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.
2006 General Harvest = (Deer - 80) ( Elk - 102) ( Bear - 8) ( Cougar - 1) (Turkey - 15)
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):
2006 General Harvest = (Deer - 338) ( Elk - 194) ( Bear - 25) ( Cougar - 1) (Turkey - 176)
Try out Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Here is a great map and contact information. http://www.fws.gov/ridgefieldrefuges/CLNWRMap.htm
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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