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The Ultimate 2024 Washington State Hunting Guide: Explore the Evergreen State’s Abundant Wildlife!

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Nothing screams Elite Hunting more than Washington State Hunting. There is some slight bias in this guide, but if you haven’t had the opportunity to explore the Washington wilds, it should be at the very top of your hunting bucket list.

Nothing in the world removes the stress of every day life more than the scent of pine filling your nostrils as you set up camp, with the only sound you hear being the crunching of colorful leaves as you slowly stalk through evergreen forests of Washington State.

Washington State’s rugged coastline, rolling hills, and dense forests provide the perfect habitat for an array of wildlife. Whether it’s waterfowl, elk, black bears, cougars, or whitetail deer, there’s always something exciting to hunt all over.

In this Washington State Hunting guide, we’ll cover all the necessary information you need to know before heading into the wilderness. If you’re already familiar with certain subjects, feel free to skip ahead by following the appropriate links:

Washington is a hunting destination like no other. Its natural beauty is unparalleled, but that’s not the

A foggy mountain forest in Washington state hunting

only reason why other states struggle to compete with its hunting culture. Washington has strict hunting regulations in place to ensure the health and sustainability of game populations.

This provides a challenging and rewarding hunting experience without compromising the long-term viability of game populations.

Moreover, Washington has a robust hunting culture and infrastructure. From outfitters and guides to hunting lodges and campsites, the state provides everything a hunter needs to make the most of their trip. The Department of Fish and Wildlife offers a wealth of resources and information to help hunters plan their trips and stay safe in the field.

Overall, Washington’s combination of diverse wildlife, stunning landscapes, strict regulations, and top-notch hunting culture make it an exceptional destination for hunters of all skill levels.

When is the Washington State Hunting Season?

Bear: August 1 – November 15

Cougar: Year-round (subject to quota and harvest reporting requirements)

Close up of male Tule elk


General season: October 16 – 31

Late archery: November 1 – 30

Late muzzleloader: November 26 – 30


General season: October 30 – November 7

Late archery: November 1 – 30

Late muzzleloader: November 26 – 30

Gray Wolf: October 16 – March 31 (subject to quota and harvest reporting requirements)


Western Washington: October 2 – 31

Northeastern Washington: October 2 – 17

Mountain Goat: September 1 – November 15 (subject to quota and harvest reporting requirements)

Mountain Lion: Year-round (subject to quota and harvest reporting requirements)


Fall general season: September 25 – November 5

Common Pheasant

Spring general season: April 15 – May 31

Upland Birds:

Pheasant: October 23 – December 31

Quail: September 18 – January 31

Partridge: September 18 – January 31

Waterfowl: Varies by species, season, and location. Check here for more specific details.

Washington’s Incredible Wildlife

Washington State is a hunting paradise, offering a diverse range of game that attracts hunters from all over the world. Here are six of our favorite game to hunt in Washington State!


Waterfowl hunting in Washington State is a cherished tradition for many hunters. With thousands of acres of wetlands and marshes, the state offers a wide range of waterfowl species to hunt, including ducks, geese, pheasant and swans.

The Pacific Flyway, a major migration route for waterfowl, passes right through Washington, providing hunters with a unique opportunity to witness spectacular flocks of birds as they make their way south for the winter. Hunters in Washington can choose from a variety of hunting methods, including decoys, calls, and blinds.

Waterfowl is by far the easiest prey to stalk in Washington, regulation wise. All you gotta worry about is being over the age of 16, and posses valid hunting license. Do keep in mind though that depending on which bird you’re going after, you might also need a migratory bird stamp.

To see exactly what you need for each individual species, see more information on the official WDFW pages.

A normal small-game hunting license will run you about $40, and stamps will vary between $13 and $25, with the duck being on the higher end of the spectrum.

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Elk Hunting in Washington State

Elk hunting in Washington State is a must-do experience for any serious hunter, and even though it can be tricky to get all the right documents, this should most definitely be on your Washington hunting bucket list.

With a robust population of elk, Washington is one of the best places in the country to hunt this majestic creature. The Eastern Washington is particularly known for its large elk herds, and hunters can find both Rocky Mountain and Roosevelt elk in the region.

Rocky Mountain elk are typically found in the eastern Cascade Range and the Blue Mountains, while Roosevelt elk are commonly found in the Olympic Peninsula and the southwest region of the state. Both species offer a challenging and rewarding hunting experience, with the largest bulls weighing up to 1,000 pounds!

There are few places in the world more beautiful than the habitats where elk graze, especially in Washington. I mean, just look at this beauty.

The state has strict regulations in place to ensure the health and sustainability of elk populations, including restrictions on the number of tags issued and the use of certain hunting methods (spot-and-stalk, calling, and still hunting).

Hunters must have a valid hunting license and elk tag, which can be obtained through a lottery system. We’ll be going over more information on the Washington hunting tag lottery & raffle system later in the guide.

The hunting season for elk in Washington usually begins in mid-September and lasts until the end of December depending on what your status is. The specific details on the season can be found here.

Bull Elk Portrait

Black Bear

Black bear hunting is a popular activity in Washington State among the more experienced ranger, with a thriving population found in several regions across the state. Black bears are primarily found in Western Washington, including the Olympic Peninsula, Cascades, and the coastal regions.

With their keen sense of smell and ability to climb trees, black bears can be challenging to hunt, making it a thrilling and exciting experience for the most Elite Hunter.

Black Bear Portrait

Hunters must have a valid hunting license and bear tag, which can also be obtained through the lottery system. Just like the elk, the state has strict regulations in place to ensure the health and sustainability of black bear populations, including restrictions on the number of tags issued and the use of only certain hunting methods. Hound hunting and baiting are thankfully prohibited.

Note that Washington is also the home to the grizzly, which is protected under federal law. And of course, you know, might decide to hunt you instead. Before going out on your black bear hunt, you’re required to pass the bear identification program to ensure you don’t accidentally snipe a grizzly.

When is the Black Bear Hunting Season in Washington?

This year, hunting season for black bears in Washington starts August 1st 2024, and lasts until November 15.


Deer hunting is a beloved sport with roots steeped in tradition. Mule and whitetail deer roam the varied landscapes of dense forests and rolling hills for their perfect habitat. Washingtonians have enjoyed tracking these graceful animals all over the state for hundreds of years.

With their acute senses and impressive speed, deer can be a challenging quarry, making it by far our favorite animal to hunt. There is no doubt that deer are some of the most honored and respected creatures by Washington hunters, and there is a huge sense of pride for anyone who can bring home a venison dinner.

Red deer stag in morning autumn mist

How to Hunt Deer in Washington State

The hunting season for deer in Washington State typically runs from mid-September to early December, with specific dates varying depending on the region and the type of deer being hunted.

Hunters must have a valid hunting license and tag, which must also be obtained through the government lottery system.

Hunters can choose from spot-and-stalk, still-hunting, and stand-hunting. Hunting with archery equipment is also popular among deer stalkers in Washington, with a separate season designated for bow hunters.

When is the Deer Hunting Season in Washington State?

For modern firearms, deer hunting in Washington lasts all of fall. Depending on your tag status, the season can be any time from August 1st to December 31st. Keep in mind that a lot of the time, the answer to your lottery status might not arrive until mid-August.

Mountain Goat

Mountain goat hunting in Washington State is not for the faint of heart. It requires significant physical fitness and outdoor skills, but the rewards are well worth it. Mountain goats can be found in the high elevations of the state’s Cascade Mountains and Olympic Peninsula, and their impressive horns and majestic appearance make for an unforgettable hunting experience.

It’s important to note that mountain goat hunting in Washington is highly regulated, with strict quotas and permit requirements. Hunters must also be aware of the challenging terrain and weather conditions that come with hunting in the mountains.

Mountain goat

But for those willing to take on the challenge, mountain goat hunting in Washington State can be a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

And we mean that literally.

You are literally only allowed to hunt 1 Mountain Goat in your lifetime.

Looking to take on the challenge? Start the process here.


Coyote hunting in Washington State is a popular activity for hunters looking for a year-round challenge. These wily predators can be found in a variety of habitats across the state, including forests, grasslands, and agricultural areas.

Coyote Looking Ahead

Coyote hunting is not only a thrilling experience, but it also helps manage their populations, which can cause damage to livestock and other wildlife. With no bag limit on coyotes, you can take advantage of the opportunity to sharpen your skills and enjoy the outdoors any time of year. The best way to become an Elite Hunter is to practice, after all.

When is the Coyote Hunting Season in Washington State?

You can much hunt coyote all year round in Washington, just ensure that if it’s deer hunting season, there are no active hunts in your area.

Honorable Mentions

Washington offers a large variety of wildlife you can legally hunt in Washington State. The game mentioned above is definitely the most unique, and in our opinion, the most thrilling – but there are also tons of opportunities for other animals. Some honorable mentions go to rabbits, squirrels, quail, turkey, grouse and of course, the bobcat.

A Bobcat in Florida

Obtaining a Washington State Hunting License and Regulations

Washington values wildlife conservation and works hard to ensure the wellbeing of its animal inhabitants, which is one of the reasons Washington will always remain one of our top hunting destinations. Remember, the one rule of hunting is to always respect your game.

To ensure that you’re hunting legally, make sure you do all the research on your respective game before trekking into the wilderness. We’ve made sure to collect all the information you need right here.

Regulations book. Law, rules and regulations concept.

How much is a Hunting License in Washington State?

Hunting in Washington State requires a hunting license to be legally obtained, and the cost of this license varies depending on the type of game being hunted. For example, a basic big game hunting license for deer, elk & bear costs $95.00 while waterfowl will be closer to $40. Prices vary wildly depending on your game, status and residence. Check out the price table below for more detailed information.


How do you obtain a Washington State Hunting License?

In order to obtain a hunting license in Washington, you must first submit an application for the relevant license. Once your application is approved, you will receive a hunting license that will be valid for one year from the date of issuance.

What are the requirements to obtain a Washington State Hunting License?

washington hunting card

In order to obtain a hunting license in Washington, you must meet certain minimum requirements and have the appropriate documentation. All applicants must be at least 16 years old and provide proof of age by showing a U.S. driver’s license, state ID card, passport or birth certificate.

Applicants must also present a Hunter Safety Course completion card, if applicable. When in doubt, make sure to check the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website for all the most up-to-date information regarding hunting licenses and regulations.

Hunters who violate these laws can face a variety of penalties including fines, revocation of licenses, and jail time.

What is the Washington State Hunting Lottery Raffle?

We’ve mentioned this magical lottery tag several times throughout this guide, but what is it really?

The Washington State’s Hunting Lottery Raffle offers a special chance for experienced hunters to gain access to tags that are otherwise difficult to obtain. The raffle is a way for the state to raise funds for wildlife management programs and conservation efforts.

The more tickets a person buys, the better their chances are of winning. This way, an opportunity is provided for more dedicated hunters and wildlife enthusiasts to experience the thrill of big game hunting in some of the most highly coveted areas of the state.

We understand that there can be frustration regarding the acquisition of these hunting tags, but it is all for the better of Washington’s gorgeous nature and wildlife preservation. The lottery has been in place for a long time and has successfully raised millions of dollars for wildlife management programs.

How much is the raffle?

You can buy as many tickets as you want to get your respective tag. A normal ticket will run you about $6 each, with multi-species coming in at $17.

Depositphotos 380418226 XL

For big game hunting, such as elk, deer, and bear, centerfire rifles are the most common choice for hunters. However, rimfire rifles and shotguns are also legal for hunting small game such as waterfowl, rabbits and squirrels. Please note that Washington State law prohibits the use of fully automatic firearms for hunting.

Handguns are legal for hunting in Washington State but must meet specific requirements. Handguns must have a barrel length of at least four inches, and they must fire a cartridge that has a case length of 1.2 inches or longer. Additionally, handguns must have open sights or a scope, and they must be loaded with expanding bullets.

It’s also worth noting that Washington State has restrictions on the use of lead ammunition. In areas where California bighorn sheep or other sensitive species are present, hunters are required to use non-lead ammunition.

Many hunting rifles on weathered wooden surface

5. Washington State Hunting Resources

Hunting is is an honored and popular sport in Washington, and there is a vast array of online and in-person resources for you to take advantage of.

The Washington Hunting Forum is an online hub dedicated to connecting hunters in Washington State. The forum provides a platform for hunters to share their experiences, ask for advice, and connect with other hunters.

For more information regarding the specifics of licenses, Washington State hunting laws and regulations, as well as what game is available to you as both a resident and out-of-state traveler, check out the official government website for Washington State’s Department of Fish & Wildlife here.

6. FAQ

What is the most common wildlife to hunt in Washington?

Illustration of hunter fires a shotgun while we discuss the role of State Wildlife Agencies

Waterfowl, with duck taking the state crown, is the most common target for Washington state hunters. Deer and elk come in second, with black bears and mountain goats being the more rare and coveted targets.

How do I get a hunting license Washington?

You can start obtaining your hunting license in Washington State here. You’ll need to be 16 years of age and complete a small number of courses.

What firearms are illegal in Washington?

Automatic weapons are strictly prohibited for hunting in Washington State.

When is the hunting season in Washington?

The season varies depending on your game, but is usually between August 1st and December 31st. Coyote is year-round.

What are the Washington hunting regulations?

Washington has a lot of strict regulations in place to ensure the preservation of its nature and wildlife. Most notably, you need a valid hunting license and tag for your respective game before you can head on out.

Mountains in Washington

Why Washington Hunting?

Like I said at the beginning of the guide, I am slightly biased, being a Washingtonian myself. However, I can promise you that hunting in a state that is known across the world for its natural beauty is nothing but a magical experience that every hunter should have the opportunity to experience at least once in their lifetime.

Roe deer buck running through a meadow wet from morning dew in summer

I won’t hide the fact that Washington State has a lot stricter hunting regulations than most, and the tags, licenses, and lottery system also run a much higher price tag than the average US hunting state. But trust me, it is a small price to pay to be apart of some of the most beautiful scenery and wildlife in the world. Truly, it is in moments like these I wish I was a writer and not a hunter, so I could really put into words how beautiful, magical, and life-changing hunting in Washington is.

Either way, there is no doubt that if you have the opportunity to pick up your rifle or bow and head into the trees of the Evergreen State, your life will be just as positively affected as mine was. Hunting encapsulates the primal nature of humans and how we interact with the world around us. It is a journey that balances life, nature and our very worldview.

It is a journey everyone should have the chance to experience. Where better to take this journey than Washington State?

Looking for information on hunting in other states? Check out our other state guides here.

Happy Hunting!

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