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A Comprehensive Guide

% Public Land
Species Available
# of Hunters

2024 Washington Big Game

Washington offers multiple big game hunting opportunities through both over the counter and limited draw hunts. Coastal region offers challenging hunts for deer, elk and moose in dense evergreen forests while the Eastern region features rolling hills, grasslands, and open forests. Black bear and mountain lion are found throughout much of the state. Sheep and mountain goat are found throughout many of Washington's rugged mountain ranges.

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Species to Hunt

Black Bear

Blacktail Deer



Mountain Goat

Mountain Lion

Mule Deer

Rocky Mtn Bighorn

Whitetail Deer


Big Game                       May 15 (extended to May 22)

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Over the Counter Hunts

Black bear, deer, elk and mountain lion can be pursued over the counter by both residents and nonresdients. There is ample public land and some private company timberland that can be accessed for a fee. Rocky mountain elk and mule deer can be found throughout the eastern 2/3rds of the state. Black-tailed deer and roosevelt elk are found in the western third of the state. Many of the large tracts of public land have significant swaths of land with wilderness designations for those wanting a remote hunting experience.

Limited Entry Hunts

While Washington offers a lot of over the counter deer and elk hunting opportunities, there are quality deer and elk hunts offered through the special drawing. Moose, sheep and goat hunts are also allocated through the special drawing. Although these permits are exceptionally hard to draw.  

One thing that is unique about Washington's limited draw hunt system is applicants can submit applications for multiple hunt categories for the same species. For instance, an applicant could submit one application for a quality deer hunt and another application for a buck hunt. They could also potentially draw a hunt from both categories but are restricted to the state harvest limit for the species. Applicants can build points for each category listed in the regulations.

The Draw

Washington uses a squared bonus point system to allocates licenses. This system is used across all hunt categories. Squaring an applicants points gives them a better chance of being drawn. For instance, an applicant with three bonus points would receive 9 opportunities of having their application receive a low random number and therefore rank lower than other applicants. 

When evaluating applications for a hunt category, applicants are ranked and each application is evaluated in its entirety before moving on to the application. The first choice on the application is considered and if enough quota exists to award a permit, the applicant is awarded a permit. If there was not enough quota for the first hunt choice, the second choice would be considered. This continues until either a hunt is awarded or all choices on the application have been evaluated.


Each special hunt listed in the regulations has a quota attached to it. The quota limits the number of licenses awarded. Unlike many other states, Washington does not have a separate pool or quota percentage for nonresidents. A nonresident with the same number of points as a resident has the same odds of drawing. However, it is comparatively expensive for nonresidents to build points in Washington which reduces the number of nonresident applicants.

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