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Washington Hunting License

Washington hunting licenses are required of all prospective hunters in the state. Prior to buying hunting licenses, applicants must first meet the requirements set by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW). License classes are based on factors such as the applicant’s residency status, the applicant’s age at the time of application, the type of game the applicant plans to hunt and how long he or she would like the license to be valid. Via the web and authorized license agents, WA hunting license applicants can conveniently procure the credential that is appropriate for them. The types of hunting credentials available to choose from include a small game hunting license, which allows individuals to hunt bobcat, coyote and more. Big game hunting licenses are available for harvesting large game species. Large species game hunting is plentiful in the Evergreen State. Appropriately licensed hunters have access to species such as elk, bear, cougar, mountain goat and many others. Not to mention, turkey, waterfowl and pheasant hunting permits are also highly sought after. To qualify for a license to hunt by means of shooting, bowhunting or trapping, most new WA hunting license applicants will be required to complete some sort of safety education course. The content below contains information on hunter education courses offered by the WDFW, including online and home study learning options. For more information on Washington hunting permits, take a look at the information provided in the sections below:

  • Types of hunting licenses in Washington
  • How to buy hunting licenses in Washington
  • Hunter education in Washington
  • Replacing hunting licenses in Washington


What types of hunting licenses are available in Washington?

A variety of hunting licenses are available through the Washington DFW. Hunting licenses are classified by factors such as the applicant’s age and the type of game he or she plans to hunt. Prior to getting a hunting license, you must meet the hunter safety requirements set by the DFW. Types of licenses include:

  • Big game hunting licenses.
  • Small game hunting licenses.
  • Three-day small game hunting licenses.
  • Turkey tags.
  • Migratory bird permits.
  • Western WA pheasant hunting licenses.

Washington big game hunting licenses are categorized by the species of game hunted. For example, licenses to hunt deer, elk, big horn sheep and moose, among others, may be purchased separately through the WDFW. However, deer/elk as well as deer/elk/bear/cougar combination licenses are also offered.

How do I purchase hunting licenses in Washington?

Buying hunting licenses in Washington is a simple process that requires applicants to complete a hunting license application through the WDFW. Prior to applying for a hunting permit, candidates should make sure that they have completed the hunter safety course requirements. Both online and in-person methods are available for purchasing hunting permits in Washington. To order online, you will need to provide your Social Security Number and credit card information, and any previous or current hunting licenses should also be kept handy.

The other method available to purchase hunting licenses in WA is by applying in person at an authorized licenser. License dealers are located throughout the state at various retail locations, such as hardware stores, convenience shops and sporting goods stores. Hunters looking to obtain a license to hunt within 10 days should apply using this method. Once you receive your new WA hunting permit, you are authorized to conduct hunting activities in Washington.

Am I required to take any hunting classes in order to purchase a Washington hunting license?

Prior to buying hunting licenses in Washington, applicants must check to see if they are required to take a hunter safety course. Hunter education courses are required for all WA hunting license applicants born after January 1, 1972. Though the WA Department of Fish and Wildlife offers three different types of hunting education courses, only two are mandatory.

The basic hunting course is the main course that is mandatory for new hunters born after 1972. The trapper education course is also required but only for hunters seeking licenses to trap. The final course offered by the WDFW is the bowhunting education course. Though it is not required in order to obtain a WA license to hunt, many other states do require bowhunters to complete a hunter education course to be eligible to hunt with a bow and arrow. Nevertheless, the WDFW strongly recommends that hunting license applicants who practice archery take the bowhunting education class.

Basic hunter education course students have the option to take the course either online or in person. Whichever option students choose, they will receive instruction on topics such as hunter awareness, wildlife conservation, wildlife identification and hunting safety. Online applicants will complete their final assessment during an in-person field day.

The trapper education class is required for first-time trappers in the state, regardless of age. Similar to the basic hunter education, remote course offerings are available to students. The trapper education course home-study option allows students to learn at home and at their own pace. Upon studying the manual and study guide, students should be able to pass the written examination to receive certification to trap in Washington.

Finally, the bowhunter education course is offered by the WDFW in partnership with the Washington State Archery Association. Both traditional and distance learning formats are offered to archery students. Although the in-person class session is highly recommended by the WDFW, online students will benefit from in-person instruction by having to complete their skill assessment portion of the course in a traditional classroom setting.

Hunting safety courses are taught by qualified volunteers and administered by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

How do I replace a lost Washington hunting license?

To replace a lost hunting license in Washington, visit an authorized license dealer. For a fee, you can obtain a duplicate copy of your hunting license, endorsement or hunting tag. In the case of a lost hunting tag, hunters may not transport a harvested animal without first contacting a local Fish and Wildlife officer. The officer will advise the hunter on whether or not to request a duplicate hunting tag.

In addition to offering duplicate hunting licenses, the WDFW can also assist individuals with recovering lost WILD ID numbers. A WILD ID is a unique identifying number that an applicant is assigned when he or she applies for a Washington recreational license. This number is necessary to know when requesting a duplicate hunting license. However, applicants can provide their Social Security Number in lieu of their WILD ID number. Those who wish to recover their ID number can do so by calling the WDFW Licensing Division.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. All throughout the United States, hunters safety classes must be completed in order for applicants to obtain their desired hunting permits and stamps. Failure to take this specific course will result in the rejection of your hunting license request, thus requiring you to start over.
Depending on your state of residence, you may be able to buy hunting licenses in a variety of ways, including online (through your state department’s portal), by mail, by phone or in person. Choose the option that is most convenient for you. Make sure to also have any type of official documentation and payment for fees on hand.
No. Different states have different limits and regulations on hunting licensure. Certain animals may be considered “prohibited species,” whereas other animals may be legal to hunt, so long as you have the necessary hunting permit/stamp. Keep in mind that if you do hunt for any type of prohibited species, you will be subject to serious consequences.
Yes. States typically offer various short-term hunters license options, such as one-day and one-week passes, to those who do not meet residency requirements. In order to receive issuance of a short-term hunting license, make sure to get in touch with your state/hunting wildlife department to find out the available methods you have to apply.
In the event your hunting credentials are lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed, contact your state hunting/wildlife department to order a hunting license replacement. You may have to make an in-person visit to a local office to complete the process. At the time of your replacement request, you may be asked to present your state driving license or another type of identification.
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