Washington’s Big Game Regs Out

WDFW’s 2023-24 big game hunting pamphlet for Washington deer, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats and black bears is now available.

You can find it and all the season dates, permit levels and more here.

This year’s cover features sisters Tasha Bovan (left) and Tonya Peon with Tasha’s Sprague-area mule deer. They won WDFW’s “Who hunts?” cover contest for this season’s edition of the regs.

“We grew up hunting with our Dad, Leo Bruce. He raised his family of 5 girls on wild game meat. Our mom did not buy any red meat from the grocery store. We love to show this way of life to our children who now also hunt to put meat in the freezer,” they wrote.

The 2023-24 big game season-setting process was a little different than what’s been done in past years. Typically, WDFW staff bring forth proposed permit level and other tweaks for a late winter public hearing and Fish and Wildlife Commission perusal before a typically early April decision by the panel.

But back in December, the commission designated rule-making authority for setting the 2023-24 big game as well as small game and waterfowl hunts to Director Susewind.

Commissioner Lorna Smith had tried to peel the small game regs out of that, but her motion was defeated 5-3 and ultimately handing over rulemaking to Susewind for this season passed unanimously.


The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has released the 2023 Big Game Hunting Seasons and Regulations pamphlet.

Beginning April 24, hunters may submit Special Hunt Permit applications for 2023 deer, elk, mountain goat, moose, bighorn sheep, and fall turkey seasons. The submission period is open through May 24.

Hunters with a special hunt permit gain the opportunity to hunt at special times or places authorized by that permit. This can often result in fewer crowds and higher success rates for hunters.

“Special hunt permits offer a chance to participate in a unique hunt while directly supporting conservation and management in Washington,” said Anis Aoude, WDFW Game Division Manager. “Our district biologists closely monitor the wildlife populations in their area, and we monitor permit numbers annually to support sustainable wildlife populations and recreational harvest opportunities.”

Instructions and details on applying for special permit hunts are available in Washington’s 2023 Big Game Hunting Seasons and Regulations pamphlet. To apply for a deer or elk special permit, hunters must first buy a hunting license and specify their tag choice, then apply with their preferred hunt choices. Applicants for mountain goat, moose, and bighorn sheep do not need to buy a license before they apply.

Hunters can buy special hunt applications and hunting licenses from license vendors, in-person at the Natural Resources Building in Olympia (1111 Washington St. SE), at WDFW regional offices, or on WDFW’s website. Hunters can also purchase a variety of general season licenses at these locations for hunting opportunities that do not require a special permit. Hunters must submit their special hunt applications through the WDFW licensing website.

Most special hunt permit applications cost $7.10 for residents, $110.50 for non-residents, and $3.80 for youth under age 16. Resident applications for mountain goat, bighorn sheep ram, moose, and “quality” categories for deer and elk cost $13.70.

Drawing results will be posted to applicants’ WILD accounts in June. Applicants with a valid email will also receive an email alert when the results are available.

The Big Game Hunting Seasons and Regulations pamphlet is now available on WDFW’s website in portable document format (.PDF). An electronic version of the regulations (“eRegulations”) will be available on the vendor’s website later this month, with print copies available at dealer locations across the state starting in May.

WDFW’s Game Division is glad to announce that this year, pop-up advertisements will no longer appear on WDFW’s eRegulations webpages.

“Pop-up ads will be phased out of all electronic regulation webpages as each set of regulations are updated for 2023, starting with the Big Game eRegulations,” said Aoude.