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No one is going to confuse Washington’s elk hunting with that of Colorado, or in-state pheasant shooting with what’s found in South Dakota.
Still, Washington’s big-game, upland birds and waterfowl fuel 2 million days afield starting in September and extending deep into January. There’s also a growing spring turkey hunt in April and May.
Thousands of deer, elk, ducks and upland birds are killed each fall.
What Washington lacks in quality, it makes up in quantity.
There are blacktail, whitetail and mule deer; Roosevelt and Rocky Mountain elk, plus moose, mountain sheep and mountain goats.
Upland birds include pheasants, grouse, quail, two types of partridge and three species of wild turkey. Washington’s waterfowl hunting regulations booklet identifies 13 duck species, with special bag limits for nine.
Washington hunters need a hunting license from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The licenses are sold at sporting goods stores or online from the agency. Ironically, as a budget-saving measure, the department does not sell its own licenses in its own offices.
License amounts depend on the species to be hunted. A state resident deer license costs $42.90 for an adult and $19.80 for a youth (age 15 and younger). An elk license costs $48.40 and $19.80, respectively.
The two can be bought in combination for $82.50 for adults and $38.50 for youth.
For birds, a small-game license is required. That will cost adult state residents $38.50, but is only $16.50 for youths.
Newcomers to hunting in Washington will want to study the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s hunting pamphlets in great detail, because the regulations and seasons are horribly complicated.
The agency’s online site is http://wdfw.wa.gov. There’s a wealth of information including all the hunting regulations, season dates, harvest information from previous years and maps of state wildlife areas, which are open for public hunting.