Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Latest big game hunting regulations and special hunt applications now available

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OLYMPIA — Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has released the latest big game hunting season and regulation information, including a decision from the WDFW director about 2024-2026 hunting season rule change proposals. The Department also invites hunters to submit their special hunt applications now for the 2024 seasons.

The 2024 Big Game Hunting Seasons and Regulations pamphlet outlines rules and regulations for big game hunters in Washington including seasons, equipment, licensing, access, and more. The regulations pamphlet is now available on WDFW’s website. An electronic version of the regulations (“eRegulations”) will be available on the vendor’s website soon, with print copies available at dealer locations across the state in early May.

The new regulations incorporate decisions made by WDFW Director Kelly Susewind on proposed three-year hunting season rule changes for 2024-2026. Proposals included in this round of rule making were related to game management unit boundaries, landowner hunting permits, pelt inspection and sealing requirements, weapon and hunting attire requirements, trapping, and various rules related to big game, small game, and migratory gamebirds.

Director Susewind accepted all but two of the rule change proposals recommended by WDFW staff. The director did not adopt a proposal that would have permitted crossbow hunting for hunters over age 65 during archery seasons, or a proposal that would have required florescent hunter orange or florescent hunter pink clothing for bear and cougar hunters outside of deer and elk modern firearm seasons.

The director also approved a regulation change that would allow a limited opportunity for harlequin duck harvest. A total of 38 harlequin duck permits will be made available in the 2024-2025 duck season through an application drawing tentatively scheduled for August. More information will be made available in the upcoming 2024 Game Bird and Small Game Regulations.

summary of final hunting season rule changes is available on WDFW’s website.

Beginning April 15, hunters may submit Special Hunt Permit applications for 2024 deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep, and fall turkey seasons. Hunters with a special hunt permit gain the opportunity to hunt at special times or places authorized by that permit. This can often result in fewer crowds and higher success rates for hunters. The submission period is open through May 15.

Instructions and details on applying for special permit hunts are available in Washington’s 2024 Big Game Hunting Seasons and Regulations pamphlet. To apply for a deer or elk special permit, hunters must first buy a hunting license and specify their tag choice, then apply with their preferred hunt choices. Applicants for mountain goat, moose, and bighorn sheep do not need to buy a license before they apply.

Hunters can buy special hunt applications and hunting licenses from license vendors, in-person at the Natural Resources Building in Olympia (1111 Washington St. SE), at WDFW regional offices, or on the WDFW licensing website. Hunters can also purchase a variety of general season licenses at these locations for hunting opportunities that do not require a special permit. Hunters must submit their special hunt applications through the WDFW licensing website.

Special hunt drawing results will be posted to applicants’ WILD accounts in June. Applicants with a valid email will also receive an email alert when the results are available.

Hunters should always consult the latest hunting regulations pamphlets for rules and information about hunting in Washington. Individuals may also contact WDFW’s Wildlife program (360-902-2515, wildthing@dfw.wa.gov) or Licensing division (360-902-2464, licensing@dfw.wa.gov).

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