Washington state offers a paradise for hunting enthusiasts, with its diverse wildlife, breathtaking landscapes, and favorable weather conditions during the hunting season. The state’s mountainous terrain provides a habitat for large game species like elks, deer, and bears, making it an attractive destination for hunters. Additionally, Washington offers hunting opportunities for migratory birds and small game, making it a versatile and rewarding location for hunters of all interests.
Washington Hunting Regulations
Before embarking on a hunting trip in Washington, hunters must familiarize themselves with the state’s hunting laws and regulations set by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. These regulations ensure responsible hunting practices and wildlife conservation. Some essential regulations include:
General Hunting Laws and Prohibition
- Identification Requirement: Hunters must carry a valid photo identification card, such as a driver’s license, while hunting.
- Hunting License: Hunters must possess a valid state hunting license either in electronic or printed format.
- Orange Dressing Requirement: Hunters must comply with the orange dressing requirement appropriate for the season.
- No Hunting Under Influence: It is strictly prohibited to hunt while under the influence of alcohol or any intoxicating substance.
- Deer Firearm Season Exception: Except for sea ducks in designated zones, taking game animals other than deer on the starting day of the deer firearm season is prohibited.
Use of Artificial Lights from Vehicles
- Illumination Prohibition: It is illegal to use artificial lights from vehicles for hunting purposes on residential homes, orchards, game animals, birds, livestock, farming lands, or woods.
- Limited Observations: Some counties allow the use of artificial lights from vehicles for wildlife observation or photography until 9 pm, provided no hunting weapon or device is present.
Washington Safety Hunting Zones
- Proximity to Residential Buildings: Discharging a firearm, taking, or trapping wildlife within 150 yards of an occupied residential building or camp without permission is prohibited.
- Archery Hunting Distance: The safety distance for archery hunting is 100 yards in Anne Arundel County and 50 yards in some other counties.
- School and Public Areas: Discharging firearms within 300 yards of public areas or schools during regular hours is prohibited.
- Trapping Regulation: Lawfully set traps within a hunting area should not be touched illegally.
Hunting Bag Limits in Washington
Bag limits are enforced to control the number of specific game animals taken during a hunting season. These limits can be daily or seasonal, depending on the animal type. The bag limits are defined by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and may vary from year to year.
Hunting on Washington Private Lands
To hunt or set traps on private lands, hunters must obtain written permission from the landowner, except when they are the landowners themselves.
Liabilities for Hunting on Private Lands in Washington
Hunters are held responsible for any damages to private properties while hunting on private land. The landowner cannot be held liable for any injuries or damages sustained by a hunter, regardless of whether permission was granted to hunt on the property.
Restriction for Hunting on Private Lands in Washington
Landowners can restrict hunters from taking game animals on their land using visible signs. Violating these restrictions can result in charges of trespassing.
Washington Lands Regulations
Some regulations apply to hunting on state-owned lands:
- Target Shooting: Target shooting is generally not allowed on state-owned land except in designated areas where it is permitted.
- Tree Stands and Hunting Blinds: The use of tree stands or hunting blinds on state-owned lands or controlled properties is generally prohibited, except with permits from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and these structures must be temporary.
- Setting Traps: Setting traps on state-owned lands requires permission from the agency in charge.
- Baiting Prohibition: It is illegal to set baits on state hunting lands.
Open Carry While Hunting in The State
Washington allows open carry during legal hunting activities, including bow hunting, as long as the following requirements are met:
- Age Requirement: The hunter must be at least twenty-one years old.
- Firearm for Personal Protection: The hunter must carry a firearm for personal protection.
- Firearm Use for Taking Wildlife: It is prohibited to use a firearm for taking wildlife while bow hunting.
Game Tagging in Washington
Hunters in Washington must tag specific game animals after hunting them, such as deer, turkey, bears, and elks. Tagging requirements include placing the tag on the animal carcass as per the hunting requirements, with important details such as the date of the animal’s taking and the hunter’s signature.
Washington Hunting Licenses, Permits, and Tags
Washington issues hunting licenses based on residency and age. Various licenses, permits, and tags are available for specific game animals and hunting seasons. Some of the most common licenses and permits include:
- Apprentice Hunting License: Available for residents of any age who have never possessed a valid state hunting license.
- Regular Hunting License: For residents aged 16 to 64, allowing them to participate in specific game seasons.
- Junior Hunting License: Issued to junior residents under 16 years old, with written permission from parents or guardians.
- Senior Residents Hunting License: Available for senior residents aged 65 and older.
- Apprentice Hunting License: Available for non-residents of any age who have never possessed a valid state hunting license.
- Regular Hunting License: For non-residents aged 16 to 64, allowing participation in specific game seasons.
- Junior Hunting License: Issued to junior non-residents under 16 years old, with written permission from parents or guardians.
- Senior Non-Residents Hunting License: Available for senior non-residents aged 65 and older.
- Three Days Waterfowl and Small Game License: Allows non-residents to hunt all possible games in Washington for three consecutive hunting days, except for deer, turkeys, and bears.
- Trapping License: Required for non-residents to trap furbearers in Washington.
Additional Licenses and Tags
- Regulated Shooting Area License: Required in addition to a hunting license for taking bird games raised in captivity.
Washington Hunting Seasons
Hunting seasons in Washington vary based on the game species and hunting weapon. Some of the hunting seasons for various wildlife in Washington include:
Washington Deer Hunting Season
- Archery hunting season: 11th of September to 21st of October and 25th of October to 27th of November.
- Firearms hunting season: 28th of November to 12th of December and 8th of January to 10th of January.
- Muzzleloader hunting season: 22nd of October to 24th of October and 19th of December to 2nd of January.
Washington Turkey Hunting Season
- Fall general hunting season: 31st of October to 8th of November.
- Winter general hunting season: 21st of January to 23rd of January.
- Spring general season: 19th of April to 24th of May.
Washington Black Bear Hunting Season
- General hunting season: 26th of October to 30th of October.
Washington Small Games Hunting Season
Hunting seasons for small game animals in Washington include:
- Rabbit hunting season: 7th of November to 27th of February.
- Squirrel hunting season: 5th of September to 30th of January.
- Quail hunting season: 7th of November to 15th of February.
- Ruffed Grouse hunting season: 3rd of October to 31st of February.
- Pheasant hunting season: 7th of November to 28th of February.
- Crow hunting season: 15th of August to 15th of March.
Hunters are advised to check with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for specific hunting regulations, laws, bag limits, and requirements for different game species and hunting seasons in their respective units.
Washington Hunting Wildlife, Games, and Fishes
Washington boasts a variety of wildlife and game species, providing ample hunting opportunities. Some of the most common species found in the state include:
Washington Deer Hunting
Washington is home to both mule deer and white-tailed deer, with populations thriving in different parts of the state. These deer species inhabit the diverse landscapes of Washington.
Washington Bear Hunting
Black bear hunting is available in specific counties in Washington, but hunters need a special permit from the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Washington Turkey Hunting
Turkey hunting is popular in the western part of the state, with many wildlife management areas providing excellent opportunities due to the region’s picturesque landscapes and turkey populations.
Washington Duck and Goose Hunting
Waterfowl hunting, particularly for ducks and Canadian geese, takes place in various wildlife management areas across the state.
Washington Pheasant Hunting
Public hunting lands in Washington are abundant with pheasants, making pheasant hunting a popular choice among hunters.
Washington Quail Hunting
Bobwhite quail is a common quail species found in Washington, with populations concentrated in the southern part of the state and the eastern shore.
Washington Shooting Ranges
For those interested in target shooting, Washington offers several public shooting ranges where enthusiasts can practice their skills:
- Boyd Mordhorst Memorial Shooting Range
- Wolverton Mountain Gun Club
- Spokane Gun Club
- Tacoma Sportsmen’s Club
- Sun Valley Shooting Park
- Sumner Sportsmen’s Association
- Skagit Shooting Range
- Mid Valley Gun Club
- Norpoint Shooting Range
- Renton Fish and Game
- Poulsbo Sportsman Club
- Port Angeles Gun Club
- Plantation Range
- Orcas Island Sportsman Club
- Capitol City Rifle and Pistol Club
- Chewelah Trap Club
- Cowlitz Game and Anglers
- Clark Rifles
- Evergreen Sportsmen’s Club
- Granite Falls Sportsmen’s Club
- Kenmore Ranges / Wildlife Committee of Washington
- Issaquah Sportsman Club
Washington Hunting Lands for Lease and Sale
For those interested in owning or leasing hunting lands in Washington, various properties are available:
- Tonasket, Washington (Okanogan County), 150 acres.
- Chehalis, Washington (Lewis County), 7.48 acres.
- Dayton, Washington (Columbia County), 87.2 acres.
- Trout Lake, Washington (Klickitat County), 1,112 acres.
- Hoquiam, Washington (Grays Harbor County), 60.34 acres.
- Chehalis, Washington (Lewis County), 11.89 acres.
- Trout Lake, Washington (Klickitat County), 641 acres.
- Tonasket, Washington (Okanogan County), 3,646 acres.
- 40-acre hunting tract 20 minutes from Tonasket, Okanogan County.
- Davenport, Washington (Lincoln County), 40 acres.
Washington Public Hunting Lands
Washington offers vast public lands for hunting, with diverse game species available in different wildlife management areas (WMAs). Some of the public hunting lands in Washington include:
- 4412 Acres in Okanogan county for hunting Mule Deer, Dove, Quail, and Exotics.
- 162 Acres in Chelan county for hunting Duck and Exotics.
- 280 Acres in Lewis county for hunting Duck, Predator, and Exotics.
- 185 Acres in Grays Harbor county for hunting Duck and Exotics.
- 5150 Acres in Habersham county for hunting Mule Deer and Duck.
- 10386 Acres in Kittitas county for hunting Elk, Mule Deer, and Exotics.
- 8694 Acres in Okanogan County for hunting Duck and Exotics.
Washington state is a hunter’s haven, offering an abundance of wildlife, beautiful landscapes, and favorable hunting regulations. Whether you’re interested in deer, bear, turkey, or small game hunting, Washington provides diverse opportunities for hunters of all levels. Remember to obtain the necessary licenses and permits, adhere to bag limits and regulations, and respect private landowners’ rights. Enjoy your hunting experience in the picturesque wilderness of Washington.
1. Can hunters carry firearms openly while bow hunting in Washington?
Yes, hunters can carry firearms openly during legal hunting activities, including bow hunting, as long as they meet specific requirements, such as being at least twenty-one years old and carrying the firearm for personal protection.
2. Are there shooting ranges open to the public in Washington?
Yes, Washington offers several public shooting ranges where enthusiasts can practice target shooting and hone their shooting skills.
3. What are the hunting seasons for deer in Washington?
The hunting seasons for deer in Washington vary based on the type of hunting weapon used. Archery, firearms, and muzzleloader seasons are available at different times throughout the year.
4. Do hunters need written permission to hunt on private lands in Washington?
Yes, hunters must obtain written permission from landowners to hunt or set traps on private lands, except when they are the landowners themselves.
5. Are bag limits enforced in Washington for hunting seasons?
Yes, bag limits are enforced to restrict the number of specific game animals that can be taken during a hunting season. These limits may be daily or seasonal, depending on the type of animal, and are defined by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Violating bag limits can result in penalties, such as fines or license revocation.