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Hunting in Washington: How to Prep for
Hunting Season in Washington

Hunting in Washington

The hunting season in Washington is all set to kick off from August 1st and go on till late December 2021. While season dates may vary based on animals and season, some things remain constant. Hunters enjoy the perfect combination of scenery, weather, and game during Washington hunting seasons. 

With 63 named mountain ranges, Washington offers everything from deer, elk, bear, and migratory birds to the hunters. However, most seasoned hunters know that you can’t simply pack your muzzleloader and head to a Washington GMU to start hunting. It takes weeks and months of prep to be in the right place at the right time for hunting.

Weather can affect hunting various games differently. No one knows what the weather tomorrow will be like. That is why a hunter should get current weather information, research regulations, and obtain permissions from landowners in Washington, among other things, to have a successful hunting season. There’s still some time left before hunting season takes off, and here’s how you can prepare for it in advance.

Take a Hunter Education Course

For hunting, a license to hunt in the State of Washington is essential. Without the permit, no one can hunt either large or small games within the state. To obtain this license, they must finish an approved Hunter Education course as well as pass in all the subjects. Everyone born after January 1st, 1972, must take this course to hunt in Washington.

There are both online and conventional classes for Hunter Education Course, and one must clear a hands-on evaluation course and test. The Hunter Education Course fills up fast, especially during summer and early fall. If you miss out on the system, you can opt for the Hunter Education deferral option for a year that comes up once in a lifetime.

Those who opt for the Hunter Education Deferral option will be able to hunt but with a catch. They must have a veteran hunter accompanying them, who has a Washington hunting license for over three years.

Get Familiar With Washington Hunting Regulations

Once you have your Washington state hunting license, the first hurdle is over. You can now legally hunt in the state of Washington, but the prep is far from over. The next step is to acquaint yourself with all the Washington hunting regulations of the state.

These details include upcoming season dates, licenses, and other permit requirements. Additionally, one must also check out the hunting fee, luggage limit, and other regulations in place. Don’t make the mistake of checking the last year’s rules to prep since these regulations change every year.

Overlooking a tiny detail might derail your hunting plans and send you back without even raising your firearm. Go through various pamphlets on the Washington hunting regulations site linked above and carefully study the sections concerning the areas and game you plan to hunt.

Research and Obtain the Appropriate License, Tags, and Stamps

Once you go through the hunting regulations in Washington, you will know that the state requires you to obtain one or more documents to hunt legally. These include hunting licenses, tags, and stamps, with a big game or small game license being the primary requirement.

Those hunting big games like deer, elk, and beer require a unique species tag to hunt. Similarly, waterfowl hunters are required to obtain a federal migratory bird stamp. On the other hand, duck, and geese hunters need Washington state validation for hunting. 

Hunters who are eyeing upland birds need only a small-bird game license, whereas pheasant hunters need a western Washington pheasant license. Washington state has issued relevant pamphlets with license details, which can be purchased from the local license dealer.

Familiarise Yourself With the Terrain

Any hunter worth their gun will tell you how important it’s to know the hunting area to get the best out of it. It’s advised to visit the grounds even before the season begins and scourge every inch of it. The more you know about a particular hunting ground and its fauna, the better your hunting season will be. This way, you increase your chances of being at the right place at the right time.

Notably, many of Washington’s hunting opportunities are on private land. Some of these are open to hunters under the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife agreements. However, in many cases, hunters will need to obtain permission to hunt from the landowner. 

Obtaining permission and sticking to ground rules laid by landowners will ensure success in the current season and upcoming seasons in the future. Follow through the special considerations for accessing the land, close the gates as advised, and respect off-limit areas. 

Get in Shape

You cannot possibly hunt nature’s creatures if you are not in the best shape yourself. Hunting requires covering a lot of ground in a short period and being alert from dusk to dawn.

Therefore, getting in shape before the season is particularly essential for those who don’t get much physical activity in their day-to-day lives. Start hiking, trekking, jogging, and work out much ahead of the season to prepare. In case you have new hunting boots, try wearing them during workouts to break them in.

If your hunting companion is your dog, it’s best to get them in shape and achieve the top form. Hunting dogs are prone to lose their edge during the offseason. Start a training and workout regime a couple of months ahead to remind them of the rush of retrieving a bird and help them lose the weight gained.

Apart from these, make a checklist and ensure your backpack and luggage are organized before the hunting season. You wouldn’t want to be missing a sleeping bag or a compass mid-season.


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