As season opens, Kitsap deer hunters have limited options

Firearm restrictions are in place for most of the county.

On Saturday, Oct. 13 hunting season for black-tailed deer will open in Kitsap County to those seeking to use a modern firearm to hunt their big buck this year.

A large portion of Kitsap County’s north end lies within a firearm restriction area, which limits the type of firearms that may be used to hunt. Due to this restriction, hunting in the north end with a centerfire rifle is off the table. However, shotguns may still be used. Hunters can use a 20 to 10 gauge shotgun, shooting slugs or #1 or larger buckshot as per regulations.

Centerfire hunters have the option of going across the Hood Canal Bridge into the nearby Coyle game management unit. Aside from accessing state lands located to the northwest of the Hood Canal Bridge, one can also hunt on timberlands owned by Pope Resources as well.

Pope Resources owns a number of properties in the Kitsap, and Coyle game management units and allows the public — including hunters — access to the certain lands that are not being actively harvested for timber. Pope also provides maps, which detail the areas currently being harvested, gates, logging roads and off-limit areas on their website at

Mike Mackelwich is vice president of Pope’s timberland operations. Mackelwich said numerous hunters have had success using Pope’s forest lands west of Thorndyke Road near Bridgehaven, across the Hood Canal in Jefferson County.

“Some of the better areas, I think, are over near the Thorndyke area and over against the Olympics, sort of the Snow Creek Area in and around Quilcene,” Mackelwich said. “South Kitsap I do believe has some areas that are open, too.”

Mackelwich said folks looking to hunt successfully on Pope lands should come prepared for a hike.

“A lot of people penetrate pretty deep in there,” he said. “They’re getting in there, and it looks like it seems to work for them.”

“You see people who walk out through the clear cuts … a lot of them just stick to the roads, too. It’s kind of a combination,” Mackelwich added.

Mackelwich was careful to note that Pope defers to state and county laws concerning hunting.

“We require that people have to comply with the law. If it’s not something that’s allowed by law, then we don’t allow it,” he explained. Additionally, Pope has other rules for the public to follow while accessing their lands:

  • No target shooting
  • No campfires
  • No littering
  • No firewood cutting
  • No overnight camping
  • No building of cabins or any other structures
  • No parking in front of gates – vehicles blocking gates will be impounded

Mackelwich also said navigation shouldn’t be much of an issue for folks who are staying close to the roads.

“It would be pretty difficult to get lost unless you were just going cross-country or something. Hopefully most people are woods-savvy enough that they don’t need a compass. I do see a lot of people with GPS units so they can track where their car is and that kind of thing.”

Hunting hours in Western Washington are from 6:50 a.m.-7 p.m. on Oct. 13-14, 7 a.m.-6:45 p.m. on Oct. 15-21, 7:10 a.m.-6:35 p.m. on Oct. 22-28 and 7:20 a.m.-6:20 p.m. Oct 29-31.

One black-tailed buck per hunter is permitted in the Kitsap and Coyle game management units, except for holders of second deer special permits and tags. An additional late general season will be held from November 15-18.

If you are looking to do some hunting within Kitsap County, or anywhere in Washington for that matter, first consult the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s 2018 Big Game Hunting Seasons and Regulations book, available as a free download at

—Nick Twietmeyer is a reporter with Kitsap News Group. Nick can be reached at