Yesterday, the Special Hunting Permit results posted on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website, and I am pretty stoked.
First off, I am going to get the opportunity for a quality deer hunt with my daughter. As a youth, she is able to shoot a white-tail doe in most of eastern Washington...but, the problem is, the white-tail population shades to the north. To get to the part of the state where the white-tails outnumber the mule deer, it's about a 4 hour drive...where as it's only an hour, hour and a half to prime mule deer country. And so, my daughter was able to draw a tag which let's her shoot ANY doe, white-tail or mule deer for the hills around Walla Walla, which are positively teaming with deer.
Now the challenge will be finding a nice farmer to let us his property. While there are several thousand acres of 'feel free to hunt' land in that area...there are several thousand hunters who swarm into that area during modern season(it's one of the reasons I do muzzleloader now). I am more than willing to trade on the cuteness of a 12-year old looking to shoot her first deer in an effort to get her access to a less crowded hunting situation.
As for me, I got selected for two special permits...first, I drew a 2nd Antlerless Deer tag, which is nice. Everyone in Washington can buy a deer tag, but the state opens up some overrun areas to give hunters a 2nd chance. One of the nice things about being a muzzleloader hunter. Looking at the odds, you have about 30-40% chance of being picked in this drawing, so, I'm pretty happy being drawn for this type of tag 3 years in a row. The only difference is the last two years my tag was for the Pomeroy area, and now this year it's for Colfax, which is about 60 miles north of Pomeroy.
Finally, in a quite surprising turn of events, I was selected for a cow elk tag in the Umptanum area. It's surprising because I just drew a cow tag the year before last...and the way preference points work, it's typically 5-7 years in between being selected for an antlerless elk tag. See...each year you earn a 'preference point'...and the number of entries you get in the lottery is the square of how many point you have...so I had 4 entries in the lotto, and was going up against guys with 25-36 entries. So...hurray for me!
There is a glass-half-empty side to this bounty of special tags...none of these hunting areas are really close enough to each other to cover on the same scouting trip. To get properly ready for these seasons, I'm going to have to put some decent mileage on my truck, and I won't have a lot of August/September weekends with nothing on the schedule.