Hunt Washington: a guide to getting started


Hunting is a vital way of life for many people in Washington, and it contributes to important statewide conservation efforts. There are a variety of hunting opportunities for seasoned and first-time hunters alike. Check out the resources below to learn the steps every hunter must take before heading afield, and how to report your harvest after a successful hunt.

A young archery hunter walking past the camera with a scenic background
Photo by Kate Flansburg

Learning to hunt

Review training requirements: Hunters born after Jan. 1, 1972, must show proof of completing a hunter education program before buying their first Washington hunting license.

Consider hunter education deferral program: Prospective hunters can apply for a one-year, once-in-a-lifetime hunter education deferral.

Refresh yourself on firearm safety: Learn the four basic rules of firearm safety.

A young hunter education student seated holding a firearm, with a hunter education instructor speaking to the student
Hunters born after Jan. 1, 1972, must show proof of completing a hunter education program before buying their first Washington hunting license.

Check out how-to-hunt resources: WDFW works with partner organizations to offer hunting resources, how-to clinics, and mentored hunts intended to teach hunters how to hunt species like turkey, pheasant, and deer. Experienced mentors provide invaluable coaching in workshop settings and/or in the field on real hunts.

Find a local hunting club: Hunting clubs can be beneficial for new and experienced hunters to establish new friendships with other hunters.

Know how to report a violation: WDFW encourages any community member who witnesses a fish and wildlife offense to report the violation. Poaching is the illegal taking or possession of game animals and fish, non-game, and protected, threatened, or endangered fish and wildlife species. Poaching steals the opportunity from those that correctly follow legal regulations. Reports can be submitted anonymously.

A hunter standing in a clearing in a mountain forest, glassing the distant mountainside
Photo by Chase Gunnell

Preparing for a hunt

Buy a hunting license: Find the hunting license that’s right for you.

Review summary of hunting seasons: Review hunting seasons and bag limits.

Find where to hunt: Explore where to hunt in Washington, including through WDFW’s private lands program.

Plan your hunt: Review hunting regulations data and plan your hunt with the Hunt Planner web app, and review the latest Hunting Prospects written by local wildlife biologists.

A woman and a young boy pose for a photo behind a harvested turkey
Photo by Tanya Williams

Reporting your harvest

Report your harvest: Mandatory hunter harvest reporting allows WDFW to better manage game species throughout the state and set permit levels for upcoming seasons, supporting future hunting opportunities.

A woman posing with her harvested mule deer buck
Photo by Cassandra Berry

Big game hunting

Review the rules: Big game hunting seasons and regulations

Tips and techniques: Learn from a pro who shares tips and tactics for deer and elk hunting.

Two hunters, one in a wheelchair, posing for a photo with their harvested waterfowl while their bird dog sits in the background between them
Photo by Mac Graff

Small game and bird hunting

Review the rules: Game bird and small game regulations

Tips and techniques: Read our blog with pointers for getting into resident game bird hunting and visit for a primer on duck hunting prep, gear, tactics, and resources.

Get ready for next spring turkey hunting — learn about turkey behavior, hunting strategies, hunting gear, and other tips from avid turkey hunters on the Turkey Takeover series on

Help WDFW monitor summer broods and year-round distribution of birds by reporting your observations.

Hunters share field-to-table recipes for resident game birds in the “Serving Upland” blog.

A river canyon in autumn
Photo by Jim Cummins

Hunting supports conservation

Hunters contribute funding for wildlife management and conservation through license sales and a federal excise tax on hunting equipment and ammunition. Anyone can contribute to wildlife habitat conservation by buying a federal duck stamp. There is also a Washington state duck stamp available for free with a copy of your Washington migratory bird permit.

Learn about game management

WDFW develops management plans for individual species, tracks statewide harvests of game species, and monitors the status of populations around the state.

Review special hunt permits and raffles

Special hunt permits, big game auctions, and raffle permit hunts offer a chance to participate in a coveted hunt while directly supporting conservation and management in Washington.

Share the space

WDFW Wildlife Areas and Water Access Areas are state public lands and are open to the public during posted access hours. Visitors include hunters, anglers, birders, and other outdoor recreationists. Everyone is reminded to be respectful of one another, to safely and responsibly share public lands and waters, and to appreciate that each visitor cares deeply about birds, wildlife, and their habitat. Read tips for sharing space on WDFW-managed lands.

Check out WDFW’s Recreation Strategy

WDFW’s 10-Year Recreation Strategy guides the Department’s efforts to respond to increasing demand for access, make public lands more welcoming to diverse visitors, and protect critical resources.



The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.