One of my buddies at work was selected for a doe tag for this upcoming deer season, much to his surprise. In Washington, you earn points each year you are not selected for a special permit, which then increases your chances in future years. Since he was just selected two years ago, he really wasn't thinking he was going to be selected again so soon, so he just kind of threw a couple of preferred areas on the drawing worksheet.
The area he got selected for is a special hunt area around the town of Colfax, over near the Idaho border. It's all agriculture land, and basically, I think what happened is that enough farmers and town-folk have complained about the deer taking food out of their children's mouth's that the WDFW issued 125 antler-less only tags for the area around town. It's also an area that buddy has never been to before, and he decided that since we are about 6 weeks out from the start of modern firearm season, he should probably go at least check out the lay of the land. He asked if I was interested in going along for the ride, and waited until I said sure to tell me that he was planning on heading out at 4AM, so he could see what was moving around.
It was a worthwhile trip. I have only previously driven through Colfax twice, on my way to the WSU campus back in February. This time around, riding in the passenger seat without children behind me, I got to look around and take in the scenery even more. It's a neat area...mostly rolling hills, although there is an occasional windswept rocky outcropping, and then on the west side of Colfax, you start seeing actual trees growing on some of the hillsides that are too steep to clear for farming.
Of the fields we drove by, I would say about a quarter of what we drive by looked to be totally open to public hunting...undeveloped state land. Another quarter was clearly posted No Hunting, although one NICE looking area had a sign with a name you could contact to attempt to request permission for hunting. Using the power of the portable internet, my buddy already looked up his phone number and left a polite message.
The availability of the other half of the land is sometimes hard to determine. Obviously, if you see a farm house, it's easy to guess the land belongs to someone. If you haven't seen a house for a mile or so though, and their is no fence, and the field isn't cultivated...well...each person has to have their own pain threshold. The LAW is clear...hunting on private land requires permission.
The advantage my buddy has is that he is running around with a doe tag. Most landowners aren't going to mind you reducing the doe population, as long as you don't bother 'their' bucks. He is planning to go back next weekend, looking nicer than we were dressed today, to do things the old fashioned way...knock a few doors, and just come out and try to politely describe what he is looking for.
I have more than a passing interest in his luck finding someplace to hunt. Most of Eastern Washington is listed as antler-less area for youth hunters, which means that when my daughters do express an interest in hunting, it would be really nice to have an in with a couple of landowners.
I'm just as willing to fill the freezer with does that my daughters shoot as I am to fill it with bucks I shoot.