Washington’s 2022 big game application period closes May 19, 2022 at midnight (PDT). Big Game Hunting Seasons and Rules are available in printed form at WDWF offices and statewide hunting license vendors. For online access to the regulations, visit http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations. Results of the draw should be available by the end of June.
Washington continues their special permit draw system with expensive application fees and rough draw odds for nonresidents. However, if you want to apply for some great trophy opportunities and can justify the $110.50 cost per application, you may need to add this to your strategy. If Washington ever decides to set some permits aside for non-residents, having points there will be a much better investment than it is today. For now, if your application budget is robust, add Washington. If you’re on a tighter budget, Washington remains as one of the first states to cut for all species.
In addition to the draw, Washington offers more chances at permits for California bighorn sheep, moose, mountain goat, elk, and deer through a state raffle system. Tickets for the raffle can be purchased by species or for multi-species, in some cases. The only caveat is that tickets must be purchased in person through Washington license vendors, meaning you can’t purchase them online or over the phone. For more information on the state raffle, refer to Washington’s Big Game Hunting Seasons and Regulations pamphlet or visit the WDWF website.
Washington Special Permit Applications are separated into categories within each species. For example, there are multiple categories for moose, including any antlered moose, antlerless moose, and youth antlerless moose. As a result, a youth under the age of 16 could apply for all three categories of moose. To do so, a Special Permit Application fee must be paid for each of the categories and separate bonus points would be built in each category. The bag limit for a hunter is one moose, one goat, or one bighorn sheep, even if permits are drawn in more than one category in the same year.
There is a two-part process to apply for Washington’s permit hunts. Step one requires applicants to purchase the Special Permit Application for each category they want to apply for. These applications can be purchased in person at license vendors or online at www.wdfw.wa.gov. Step two requires applicants to submit their Special Permit Application with their unit choices. They can be submitted at www.wdfw.wa.gov. Once submitted, applications cannot be withdrawn. However, amendments can be made on your online account prior to the draw taking place.
Washington provides applicants with a points only option. However, this is never recommended as it is the same cost to apply for a permit versus points as well as the long draw odds. A maximum of two applicants may apply for sheep, moose, and goat hunts. For party applications, the ??group leader is responsible for creating the application, adding each group member’s WILD ID, entering the hunt choices, submitting the group application, and sharing the confirmation number with other group members. The other group member then applies separately using the same confirmation number. The points accumulated by each hunter in the group are averaged and applied to the group application. We highly recommend that nobody applies for sheep, moose, and mountain goat permits on group applications because of the limited number of permits available.
You will be given four hunt choices when applying for the special drawings. It is possible to draw a permit on any of your listed choices. All of your choices will be considered before the next applicant is drawn. There is no non-resident quota or cap for all species, so the draw odds are the same for residents and nonresidents. If you were drawn for an any ram license or an any bull moose license and were successful in harvesting, you may not apply for that species again. Anyone who has harvested a mountain goat since 1998 may not apply again. However, if you already harvested a mountain goat on the Conflict Reduction Hunts, there is no waiting period or once-in-a-lifetime bag limit.
Draw results will be available at the end of June. To see if you have been awarded a special permit, you must visit the Department’s website. In Washington, it is the applicant’s responsibility to verify if they have been selected for sheep, moose, and goat permits. Special hunting licenses for sheep, moose, and goat must be purchased within 15 days of the notification date or the permit will be void and offered to an alternate.
A non-refundable Special Permit Application fee of $110.50 will be assessed for each category of hunt within each species applied for. For youth 15 years old or younger, the non-refundable fee is only $3.80 for each Special Permit Application. If successful, the license for the species drawn must be purchased within 15 days of the drawing. Adults pay $1,652 per license, and youth pay just $57 per license.
Anyone born on or after January 1, 1972 must show proof that they have completed a hunter education class or that they are not a first-time hunting license buyer in Washington when applying. Online applicants should apply early as hunter education documentation must be submitted before a license can be purchased.
Hunter orange is not required during the sheep, goat, or moose seasons unless a modern firearm season is open for deer or elk in the same unit. The use of one leashed dog for tracking purposes of wounded big game animals is now allowed.
There is no minimum age to apply or hunt in Washington. However, you cannot apply for moose, sheep, or goat unless you provide proof that you have completed a hunter education class if you were born on or after January 1, 1972.
A single bonus point is accrued for each year of application for each species category. For example, an application for sheep (any ram) and a separate application for sheep (ewe) would result in two separate bonus point groups for the applicant. Accumulated bonus points are squared for the applicant when entering the draw. No permits are set aside for those with maximum points. An applicant can only draw one permit per species per year. Once drawn for a special permit, bonus points for that species category will revert back to zero.
The draw odds we list are not the true odds of drawing a particular permit as they do not reflect the number of bonus points each applicant has accumulated. These simple odds are calculated by dividing the total number of applications by the total number of permits authorized for a particular hunt. All applicants are included in one drawing, with no limits or quotas on non-resident permits.
Hunters who have completed a hunter education class and are under 16 years of age at the time of application may purchase youth-priced Special Permit Applications for $3.80 each. Additionally, if youth are drawn for moose, sheep, or goat permits, they are only required to pay a youth permit fee of $57, compared to $1,652 for nonresident adults. Youth can apply for the trophy hunts for sheep, moose, and goat, but they can also apply for youth-only ewe sheep and youth antlerless moose permits.
All hunts for bighorn sheep, moose, or mountain goat are designated as any weapon hunts. For archery hunters, it is unlawful to use any of the following: a bow equipped with a scope, electrical equipment or electronic devices on your bow, any device that helps keep the bow at full draw, a bow that does not produce a minimum of 40 pounds of draw weight, any arrow that measures less than 20" a broadhead that has blades less than 7/8" wide, or a bow equipped with a scope. Crossbows are illegal to use during the archery-only season unless you have a disabled hunter permit. Illuminated nocks, verifier peep sights, and mechanical broadheads are legal in Washington.
To be a legal muzzleloader for muzzleloader only hunts, it must meet all of the following requirements: black powder or black powder substitute and the projectile must both be loaded from the barrel; have a single or double barrel; be at least .45 caliber; sights must be open or peep style or fiber optic; ignition must be wheel-lock, matchlock, flintlock, or percussion cap (primers designed to be used in modern cartridges are legal). It is illegal to carry a modern firearm in the field while muzzleloader hunting during a muzzleloader-only season, except for modern handguns carried for personal protection.
There are no landowner permits for sheep, moose, or goat in Washington. Additionally, due to high demand, there are never any leftover permits. Washington offers raffle permits for California bighorn sheep, moose, goat, deer, and elk. Multi-species tickets are $17, California bighorn sheep tickets are $11.50, and all other tickets are $6. The deadline to purchase raffle tickets is July 15, 2022. These tickets must be purchased in person at license vendors in Washington state. A Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep raffle permit will also be available this year from the Washington Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation. Refer to the raffle permit section in this article for more information.
There are no refunds for hunting licenses. Exchanges of hunting license documents will not be made after applying for a special permit or after the hunting season opens. Washington now allows successful applicants for all big game special permits to return their permit to the Department for any reason two weeks prior to the opening day of the season and have their points restored.
Hunter reports are required for all turkey, deer, elk, black bear, sheep, moose, and goat hunters. Reports are due by January 31, 2023, even if you did not hunt or harvest. There is a $10 penalty for not reporting on time or at all. Reports can be filed online at www.wdfw.wa.gov or over the phone at 877-945-3492.
Anyone who harvests a bighorn sheep or mountain goat must present the head and horns completely attached for inspection and marking within 10 days of harvest. Successful hunters need to call a WDFW Regional or District office to schedule an appointment with a biologist for horn marking. The inspection does not substitute for the mandatory harvest reporting. For sheep and goat, both processes are required for proper reporting.
Washington has provided a new free web map hunt planning tool at https://geodataservices.wdfw.wa.gov/huntregs/, and it should be utilized by all Washington hunters.
The Department of Wildlife’s Private Lands Program strives to provide access to hunters, but western Washington timber companies continue to increase the number of acres that are “pay to play” when it comes to access. In spite of that, over one million acres are enrolled in the public access and habitat development agreements through WDFW’s private lands program. Washington has multiple types of access passes required in various areas. Before your hunt, visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/hunting_access/ and familiarize yourself with the opportunities and requirements for access for your hunt.
Wolf populations in Washington continue to grow as stated in the state’s 2021 annual report. As of December 2021, 206 wolves in 33 different packs were surveyed and counted in their base minimum counts. The reality is that the actual wolf numbers may be much higher than this visual count. Wolves were federally relisted in the western two thirds of the state in February 2022. We hope that Washington is able to address the burgeoning population of wolves in the eastern portion of the state before their moose population bears the brunt of a statewide mandate that doesn’t make sense from a geographical point of view. For now, wolf management from a hunting point of view is likely several years out, if ever.