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Everything You Need to Know About the Washington State Deer Slam

Benjamin Zingg/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

Collect all four Washington State deer. Here’s how!

Only a few states in the union can boast of having two deer species, let alone four – which is how many call the Evergreen State home, meaning the Washingtonian or visiting hunter could relish the challenge of a deer slam in one state. Taking all four isn’t necessarily easy.

If you live in Washington or visit regularly, completing the Washington state deer slam would certainly be an accomplishment.

Eastern Washington Whitetail

US Fish and Wildlife/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA
US Fish and Wildlife/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

Eastern Washington state is geographically diverse, as rolling wheatfields and high desert in the south give way to sub-alpine forests in the north. Throughout Eastern Washington is a healthy and large population of whitetail deer.

Washington state deer harvest rates are among the highest in this area and there is an abundance of public lands, such as the Colville National Forest and other public land areas.

However, the ease on paper is deceptive. Pressure is high in many game units and large swathes of national forest in the area is privately owned by farmers and timber companies. Spot and stalk hunts may prove impractical, as dense timber and impossible hills abound, especially in the Aladdin/Selkirk area in the northeast corner of the state.

Washington Mule Deer

US Fish and Wildlife/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA
US Fish and Wildlife/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

Washington is also home to a large population of mule deer. They are more common in the southeastern part of the state, the Cascade mountain range and in the Okanogan highlands.

Mule deer hunting in Washington either means spot-and-stalk hunts in the high desert or hikes into hill country, much as in other parts of the U.S. However, some areas are known for producing trophy bucks, such as the Blue Mountains close to the Idaho and Oregon borders. Quality mule deer hunts, though, are often awarded solely on a lottery basis.

Sleepless in Seattle… Dreaming of Blacktail Deer

Benjamin Zingg/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA
Benjamin Zingg/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

Washington’s west side harbors so much more than Starbucks and hipsters – this is where you’ll find Columbian Blacktail deer. Blacktail are a subspecies of mule deer, but are smaller than their cousins to the east. These deer are much more akin to the Sitka deer of Alaska and Canada, though they are a different species.

They’re smaller than both the mule deer of Washington’s high desert and the whitetail of eastern Washington. Access is a serious challenge, as less public land is available and what little IS available is heavily hunted. Additionally, forests in this part of Washington are dark and dense with underbrush, so pursuit is difficult.

However, only three states hold populations of this species. Bagging one is a rarity that few hunters can boast of.

Rarest of the Rare: The Columbian Whitetail

Glacier NPS/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA
Glacier NPS/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

The Columbian Whitetail deer, a whitetail sub-species, is only found in Washington and Oregon and is an endangered specie. Very little hunting occurs; Washington residents aren’t even allowed to keep deer from it’s home range if discovered as roadkill under the state’s new roadkill law.

There are limited hunting opportunities available on the Umpqua river, though these are lottery tags and awarded in limited quantities.

NEXT Here’s the National Whitetail Slam Everyone’s Talking About

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Everything You Need to Know About the Washington State Deer Slam