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Welcome to 2021-22 Washington Hunting

A person’s first big game hunt can be memorable for any number of reasons. I know I’ll never forget mine.

I was 12, and it was a white-tailed deer in Wisconsin where I lived at the time. After months of preparing by taking hunter education, packing gear, and sighting in a rifle, I was finally sitting in the woods with my father, waiting for the sun to rise and for a deer to make its way past my stand.

I, of course, had high hopes of harvesting my first deer. But I knew that whatever happened that day, there would be stories to tell around the campfire that night. Even then, I was learning that hunting can be an intensely private thing but that it was also supported by a broader community – a community that I wanted to be a part of.

In recent years, our first-time hunter numbers have increased significantly, and we are so grateful that Washington’s residents are reconnecting with nature, learning a skill, and passing down this time-honored tradition. We are encouraged to see steady numbers of new youth and women hunters taking up the sport, but know we have a long way to go to engage Washington’s diverse populations.

We know hunting for the first time can be a daunting experience. Similar to my past, many hunters experience their first hunt as children with a parent or grandparent helping them through the hunter education process. They may have a mentor or family member help them with field testing, learning how to shoot trap or skeet or go target shooting. These experiences are priceless and create lifetime memories.

And while all the preparation is exciting and sometimes the anticipation makes it difficult to sleep the night before, the first hunt outing is unforgettable. Even if you aren’t successful, there is something magical about sitting in a blind or hiking to the perfect spot for a day in the field at sunrise and feeling the cool morning breeze, seeing first tracks and other wildlife.

If you are successful on your first hunt, the first meal prepared from the animal you harvested is also memorable. And every meal thereafter has the power to bring back memories of the hunt and provide an opportunity to tell the story to your friends and family, so that they can also appreciate you and the sport of hunting.

We hope that you have a successful season, and if you’re hunting for the first time, a successful first harvest. Thank you for choosing to hunt in Washington!

Eric Gardner,

Wildlife Program Director