Washington Archery Elk: Season Changes

why has washinton state archery elk seasons changed

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has proposed changes to the state's archery elk hunting season. One notable change is the removal of the true spike restriction for Colockum herd general season archers. This means that archers will no longer be restricted to hunting elk with antlers that have no branches originating more than four inches from the skull. Other proposed changes include switching the Stillaguamish Unit from any elk to a three-point minimum and adding some Chelan and Grant Counties Game Management Units (GMUs) to early and general archery and muzzleloader seasons. These proposals are part of WDFW's effort to gather feedback from hunters and understand the type of hunting experience they want.

Characteristics Values
Reason for Change To incentivize the killing of elk with hoof rot, a condition hitting the Mt. St. Helens, Willapa Hills and other herds
Date of Change 2021-23
Area Colockum, Stillaguamish, Chelan and Grant Counties
Type of Season Early and general archery and muzzleloader seasons

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Early and late archery elk seasons

The early and late archery elk seasons in Washington State are part of the state's Elk General Seasons. These seasons are designed for hunters using archery equipment and have specific rules and requirements that must be followed.

Early Archery General Elk Season:

The early archery elk season in Washington State typically starts in August and overlaps with the modern firearm damage control Elk Area 3911 Fairview hunt in portions of GMUs 328, 329, 334, and 335. During this season, hunters are allowed to target spike bull elk or antlerless elk in specific GMUs. Hunters must follow the regulations for archery equipment and are required to wear hunter orange and/or hunter pink in certain areas.

Late Archery General Elk Season:

The late archery elk season in Washington State also starts in August and overlaps with the late muzzleloader elk season in certain GMUs. This season allows hunters to target true spike bull elk or antlerless elk. Hunters must follow the same archery equipment regulations and wear requirements as the early season. The late season usually extends until January of the following year.

It is important to note that Washington State has specific requirements for hunting elk. Hunters must choose either an eastern or western Washington archery elk tag and follow the corresponding regulations. Additionally, there are bag limits, with hunters allowed to take only one elk during the hunting season, except in specific cases. Hunters must also adhere to the Treponeme-Associated Hoof Disease (TAHD) regulations to prevent the spread of this disease among elk.

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Elk hunting equipment regulations

To hunt elk in Washington State, you must purchase a big game hunting license with elk as a species option. You must then choose an elk tag for the area you will hunt in (eastern or western Washington) and the hunting method you will use. You must select one hunting method: modern firearm, archery, or muzzleloader.

Archery

If you are using archery equipment, you can only hunt during archery elk seasons and must comply with the relevant archery regulations. Archery equipment includes bows and crossbows. Mechanical broadheads are legal to use.

Modern Firearm

If you are using a modern firearm, you can hunt during the modern firearm seasons. Modern firearms include rifles, shotguns, and handguns.

Muzzleloader

If you are using a muzzleloader, you can only hunt during muzzleloader seasons. In addition to muzzleloaders, you are also permitted to use crossbows or archery equipment.

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Elk hunting bag limits

When hunting elk in Washington State, hunters must select one of three hunting methods: modern firearm, archery, or muzzleloader. Each method has its own designated seasons and bag limits.

For the 2021-2023 seasons, the bag limit for modern firearm elk hunting was one elk per hunter during the season, with the same limit of no more than two elk per hunter for the license year.

For archery elk hunting, the same bag limits apply. Archery tag holders can only hunt during designated archery seasons and must use archery equipment.

Muzzleloader elk hunting also follows the same bag limits. Muzzleloader tag holders can only hunt during muzzleloader seasons and must use muzzleloader or bow and arrow equipment.

It is important to note that elk hunters in Washington State must choose to hunt in either Eastern or Western Washington and purchase the appropriate tag for that area.

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Elk hunting permits

To hunt elk in Washington State, you must purchase a big game hunting license with elk as a species option. You must then choose an elk tag for the area (Eastern or Western Washington) and the hunting method you will use. The available methods are modern firearm, archery, or muzzleloader.

There are specific seasons for each hunting method, and these seasons vary between Eastern and Western Washington. For example, the early archery elk season in Western Washington runs from September 7-19 and December 1-15, whereas in Eastern Washington, it runs from August 1-31.

You may also apply for hunts that are open to hunters by special permit only. Special permits are available for several categories, including Bull Elk, Antlerless Elk, Elk - Youth, and Elk - Hunters with Disabilities.

All hunters in Washington, regardless of age, must have a valid hunting license and any required tags, permits, or stamps to hunt wildlife. Youths under 16 years of age are eligible for reduced license fees.

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Elk hunting areas

Eastern Washington

EA - Eastern Washington Archery Tag

EF - Eastern Washington Modern Firearm Tag

EM - Eastern Washington Muzzleloader Tag Multiple Season Elk Tag

Western Washington

WA - Western Washington Archery Tag

WF - Western Washington Modern Firearm Tag

WM - Western Washington Muzzleloader Tag Multiple Season Elk Tag

In addition to these tags, there are specific areas within Eastern and Western Washington that require special permits for elk hunting. These areas include:

  • Mount St. Helens
  • Long Beach
  • Forks
  • Wenaha
  • Turnbull
  • Methow Valley
  • North Bend
  • West Goat Rocks
  • Upper Smith Creek
  • Puyallup River
  • Twin Satsop Farms
  • Quinault Valley
  • Hanaford
  • Mallis
  • Puyallup River
  • Joyce
  • Forks

Each elk hunting area has specific boundaries and restrictions that hunters need to be aware of. These areas are managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), which provides detailed information on its website. Hunters are advised to review the regulations and restrictions for their desired hunting area before venturing out.

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Frequently asked questions

The Washington state archery elk seasons have been changed to incentivize the killing of animals with hoof rot, a condition affecting herds in the Mt. St. Helens and Willapa Hills areas.

Hoof rot is an incurable condition that affects elk populations.

The new rule allows hunters who submit a hoof at collection locations to enter a special drawing.

Another option is to task Master Hunters with killing elk with hoof rot through a special permit.

The early archery elk season in Washington state runs from August 1 to January 20, and the late archery elk season overlaps with this date range.

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