This is an ongoing series looking at each state from the point of view of a nonresident hunter trying to find information about deer hunting, the basic explanation is HERE.
Is the information easy to find?
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Hunting Regulations page is at the top of the search results.
Website: is it easy to use and understand?
Finding the hunting seasons and public hunting areas is quick and easy from the main page, but finding the license costs was something of a scavenger hunt requiring the user to use the top menu of the page and navigate away from Hunting to Licensing and Permits, then follow the link for ‘Online License Sales,’ then find the link to ‘License Fees and Types‘ on the right, to finally bring up the cost of hunting licenses and permits.
The site doesn’t have a very logical flow to the information, it desperately needs a ‘Start Here’ segment that leads a user through the information sequentially.
Does the state hold a lottery system for non-residents or are over the counter licenses available?
Washington state does issues both quota hunt and over the counter licenses depending on what species, where and what type of equipment the hunter is applying to use. The Special Hunt Permits & Raffles page has details on all of the programs available.
How much does it cost to hunt, and is there a short term license available?
Washington resident deer hunting licenses are priced at $44.90, though please note that is valid for one deer ONLY, nothing else. Nonresident licenses are priced at $434.30, with the same restriction as the resident permit, this is for one deer only.
No archery, muzzleloader, crossbow, or wildlife management unit access fees are listed.
One of the highest priced single-deer permits reviewed so far, and what appears to be only a partial list of fees detract from the user friendly aspect of this page.
Are the hunting seasons easy to find and laid out in a logical manner?
Hunting seasons are presented both as a page and hot links to the appropriate section on the Summary of General Seasons page. The hunts are broken up by equipment, species, and unit type, with various legal harvest definitions differing per unit:
|White-tailed Deer*||Oct. 13-26||101, 105, 108, 111, 113, 124||Any buck|
|117, 121||4 pt. min.|
This is an extremely micromanaged system. Hunters should make a list of every game unit they intend or even consider hunting, and make a chart of their own to carry with them with the list of dates and legal deer.
Is public hunting available, if so, are the rules different? If the rules are different, are they easy to understand?
The Washington DFW Hunting Access page lists public hunting opportunities such as private landowners that are working with WDFW to provide hunting opportunities, along with a Wildlife Areas page with drop down menus. There is also a Hunting Forecast page available from the Access page. There do not appear to be a wide variation of regulations for these areas; the units listed in the main seasons page is most likely the actual seasons per WMA.
Are there major issues in hunting this state as a non-resident?
Chronic Wasting Disease is not present in Washington state at this time. The WDFW Chronic Wasting Disease page has a useful map of North America with cases of CWD marked in red. As always, be careful and read the regulations carefully.
Summary: Final Grade B-
This state has one of the highest prices found to date for a single deer at $434.30 for the 2012 season. The web site is useful and for the most part easy to navigate, however having to work to find the license prices, the price of the licenses, and the incredibly micromanaged unit-by-unit seasons and legal deer by equipment type are phenomenally complicated. All things considered, short of an exceptional invitation from an outfitter or personal friend, this state would not be near the top of the ‘to hunt’ list. I would recommend: divide the state into 4-6 overall units and base the seasons, legal deer, and other regulations off of that list. Either lower the price of nonresident licenses and split off WMA fees and any other fees to keep the prices flexible, or find a way to make the license more attractive at the current price.