The Washington State Big Game Council was organized in 1948. The reason being, there was dissatisfaction with the big game situation in the state. The Washington State Sportsmen's Council (now defunct) was almost ignoring big game and Bill Pierce was not only dissatisfied with the lack of action on the part of the Washington State Sportsmen's Council, but felt that the Game Department (now Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife) was remiss in its duties toward big game.
In September, a meeting was called in Issaquah to organize the Washington State Big Game Council. Later another meeting in Yakima completed the organization. It was to have a central state body and local chapters with every member having a vote in the state meetings. The Seattle Chapter was formed at that time and this is the story of the Seattle Chapter. (January 1949)
Bill Pierce was elected President of the Seattle Chapter. (He also was the President of the State Council.) He held those offices for three years. During this time he bore down heavily on the Game Department, not always considering the validity of his claims. As a result, there was very little cooperation between the Big Game Council and the Game Department. This was carried over through the next administration. When Joe Brugman became President in 1953, he met with members of the Game Commission and promised less heckling of the department and big game men. Most of the friction was due to the lack of understanding of what the Game Department was really doing.
January 27, 1951, the Seattle Chapter held it's first dinner. It was an elk dinner held at the Knights of Columbus hall and was a great success. After that, a drawing for two members to go to Canada for a moose hunt was inaugurated. The moose dinners were held in the Norway Center with a limit of 500 guests. These were always a great success, but the work was tremendous. After five years, they were discontinued. After discontinuing the big game dinners, the moose was used for pot-luck dinners for the members and families and the hunt was paid for by a raffle. Later, one name was drawn for the hunt and the winner had to take a partner of his choice from the membership
One of the first projects taken up was to take a look at the management of the public lands which were owned by all but was serving only the sheep herders and cattlemen. Bill Pierce appointed B. W. Lyons, who was also working with the Tacoma Sportsmen's Club at that time. He investigated the situation thoroughly. Many bulletins were published. The first one was "Where do we go from here". This compared the financial returns from game with the returns to the government for grazing. Later, maps were printed showing all public and private lands in the state and another one showing the cattle and sheep range in the Wenatchee National Forest. There was also another map showing Federal, State and private ownership in Kittitas County. These were paid for by the Seattle Chapter and the Tacoma Sportsmen's Club. Other pamphlets were printed and the subject was taken up by B. W. Lyons at a meeting in St. Louis. The National Wildlife Federation then took over this issue. As a result, we have the multiple use of public lands now in force. The Seattle Chapter deserves a lot of the credit for the present multiple use of public lands.
In the early 50's, the members got together with the stockmen around Ellensburg. They succeed in having the cattle moved off the range (before hunting season) to small areas so the big game hunters could hunt areas previously closed because of the presence of cattle.
In 1956, it was decided to help with the browse of deer. Arrangements were made with the Game Department whereby they would furnish bitter brush seed and the Seattle Chapter would see to the packaging, distribution and planting. The seed was distributed to hunters throughout the state with instructions for planting. This was done for about six years. Because of the slow growing characteristics of this shrub, the results were not fully recorded.
Each year, the Council sent a boy to conservation camp on Orcas Island. Now the club sends a boy and a girl each year to conservation camp and continues to do so presently. We ask each youngster to make a report about their experiences at camp and either submit this in writing or make an oral report at one of our monthly meetings.
In 1960, posters were printed, asking hunters to leave a clean camp. These were posted all around the state in big game hunting areas. In 1961, another poster program was begun, this time dealing with property damage. A $200.00 reward is offered for information leading to a conviction of property damage done by hunters. This program has run continuously since 1961 with good results. The timber people have stated that the signs have caused a big drop in damage they sustain each year.
Firearms safety laws was another project that took a great amount of time and energy over the years and is something that the Council is very active in to this day.
Over the years, problems concerning big game have arisen for which the Game Department was blamed. Hunters in certain areas were dissatisfied with the Department concerning doe and/or cow permits. On many occasions members have gone to members of the Game Department, and when possible, with the dissatisfied parties and looked over the area. In every case, it ended with a positive understanding.
Members have gone on deer and elk counts that the department conduct each year, whenever possible. Some years with mild winters this is not possible as the deer and elk do not herd together and a good census is just not possible. These animal counts gave the Council facts to intelligently discuss upcoming seasons and doe and cow permit levels.
Since it's inception, the Seattle Chapter has been a member to the Washington State Sportsmen's Club and King County Outdoor Sports Council.
1981 was the year that the Washington State Big Game Council saw the need to work with the Game Department for better habitat and the protection of the habitat. The result was the sponsoring of an annual work party on the L.T. Murray Habitat Management Area owned by the Game Department.
In 1982, the Washington State Sportsmen's Council recognized the Washington State Big Game Council as the "States Outstanding Sportsmen's Club" for 1981. We were again recognized for this same award for 1982.
In 1983, the National Wildlife Federation presented the Washington State Big Game Council with the Federation's "Conservation Service Citation" award.
The Washington State Big Game Council has been very involved in the "Omak Work Party" through the years and had a strong showing in 1983, the 25th anniversary of this program.
In the early 1980's the Council formed the Citizens Wildlife Patrol that worked in conjunction with the Game Department. Their job was to train other hunters to be alert and aware of those that would break hunting laws. This training consisted of the proper way to collect information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of the individual.
In 1983 we again paid $200.00 to three sportsmen, who turned in an individual in a vandalism related incident.
Early in 1983, the Washington State Big Game Council initiated a new reward poster program which, works directly with the Game Department's program, "Help Stop Poaching". Our new poster is a $200.00 reward for the first arrest and conviction of any person involved with big game poaching and/or vandalizing property in conjunction with big game hunting each year. Thousands of posters are distributed throughout the state each year in this very visible program.
For several years the Washington State Big Game Council has been a supporter and member of "Keep Washington Green, Fires Destroy Wildlife Habitat and Wildlife".
Several years ago, (I know it was before 1980 but if any members "knows" when please contact us) the Washington State Big Game Council saw the need and became an affiliate club of the National Rifle Association and has continued to do so each year.
The forth Saturday in September is "National Hunting and Fishing Day". The Council supports this program.
Over the years, for a veriety of reasons, the different chapters of the Washington State Big Game Council ceased to exist. The Seattle Chapter, because of location always had the largest membership and is now the only chapter left. It is now the "Washington State Big Game Council". We have members all over the state that still participate in our many programs and activities. The Washington State Big Game Council represents all members, regardless of their location and/or weapons choice equally.
In the mid 1990's we were able to secure funding from the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife for assistance in our "Help Stop Poaching" program. We were able to purchase reward posters, hats, tee shirts and other items that carried our logo and the "Help Stop Poaching" 1-800-477-6224 hot line number. During this time period we saw at least three rewards dispersed to individuals that turned in poachers.
Since 1979, we have recognized one outstanding member each year at our annual banquet with the "Member of the Year" award. In 1992, we honored one of the founding fathers of our council. We now present the FRANK BEAVERT MEMORIAL "Member of the Year" award to our most outstanding member each year. This is the most prestigious award issued by the Washington State Big Game Council.
The Washington State Big Game Council funds it's various projects from funds gained through dues, raffles, rest stops, social activities and donations.