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Washington

Hunting

Equipment & Hunting Methods

Modern Firearm Regulations

Rifles:

Big game, except cougar, must be hunted with a minimum of .24 caliber (6mm) centerfire rifle. Cougar may be hunted with .22 caliber centerfire rifle. Rimfire rifles are not legal for big game.

Handguns:

Big game, except cougar, may be hunted with handguns with a minimum barrel length of 4 inches per manufacturer's specification, and fire a minimum .24 caliber centerfire cartridge. The minimum for cougar is a .22 caliber centerfire handgun. Rimfire handguns are not legal for big game.

A modern handgun may be carried for personal protection. Modern handguns cannot be used to hunt big game except as described above.

Shotguns:

Deer, bear, and cougar may be hunted with 20 gauge to 10 gauge shotguns shooting slugs or #1 or larger (0.30 inches diameter or larger) buckshot. Other big game may be hunted with a 10 or 12 gauge shotgun using slugs. Hunters must use #4 shot or smaller (0.13 inches diameter or smaller) (e.g., #6 shot is legal) to hunt turkey.

Crossbows:

  1. It is illegal to hunt big game with a crossbow outside of a modern firearm season. Crossbows cannot be used during muzzleloader or archery season.
  2. It is unlawful to hunt big game with a crossbow with a draw weight less than 125 pounds and a trigger safety that doesn't work properly.
  3. It is illegal to hunt big game with any arrow or bolt weighing less than 350 grains.
  4. It is illegal to hunt big game with any arrow or bolt that does not have a sharp broadhead and the broadhead blade or blades are less than seven-eighths inch wide.
  5. It is unlawful to discharge a crossbow from a vehicle or from, across, or along the maintained portion of a public highway.
  6. Exception, disabled hunters issued a Special Use Permit and in compliance with WAC 220-413-130 and 220-413-140. See Persons with Disabilities, Persons with Disabilities.

Muzzleloader Regulations

  1. Definitions.
    1. Muzzleloader: A firearm that is loaded from the muzzle and uses black powder or a black powder substitute as recommended by the manufacturer for use in all muzzleloading firearms.
    2. A muzzleloading firearm shall be considered loaded if a powder charge and a projectile, either shot or single projectile are in the barrel and the barrel or breech is capped or primed.
  2. It is unlawful to hunt wildlife using a muzzleloading firearm that does not meet the following specifications:
    1. A muzzleloading shotgun or rifle must have a single or double barrel, rifled or smooth-bored.
    2. A muzzleloading shotgun or rifle used for deer must be .40 caliber or larger. Buckshot size #1 or larger may be used in a smoothbore of .60 caliber or larger for deer.
    3. A muzzleloading shotgun, rifle, or handgun used for all other big game must be .45 caliber or larger.
    4. Persons lawfully hunting small game with a double barrel, muzzleloading shotgun may keep both barrels loaded.
    5. A muzzleloading handgun must have a single or double barrel of at least eight inches, must be rifled, and must be capable of being loaded with forty-five grains or more of black powder or black powder substitute per the manufacturer's recommendations. It is unlawful for any person to carry or have in his possession a modern firearm while in the field muzzleloader hunting, during an muzzleloader season specified for that area, except for modern handguns carried for personal protection. Modern handguns cannot be used to hunt big game or dispatch wounded big game during an muzzleloader, big game hunting season.
    6. A muzzleloading handgun used for big game must be .45 caliber or larger.
    7. A handgun designed to be used with black powder, including black powder percussion revolvers, can be used to hunt forest grouse, cottontail rabbits, and snowshoe hares.
  3. In addition to the above requirements, it is unlawful to participate (hunt) in a muzzleloading hunting season using a firearm that does not meet the following specifications for a muzzleloader. As in the past sabots are allowed. Any type of projectile is allowed.
    1. Ignition is to be wheel lock, matchlock, flintlock, or percussion. Primers designed to be used in modern cartridges are legal.
    2. Those persons lawfully hunting big game with a double barrel muzzleloader may only keep one barrel loaded.
    3. Sights must be open, peep, or of other open sight design. Fiber optic sights are legal. Telescopic sights or sights containing glass are prohibited.
    4. It is unlawful to have any electrical device or equipment attached to a muzzleloading firearm while hunting.
    5. Exception, disabled hunters issued a Special Use Permit and in compliance with WAC 220-413-130 and 220-413-140. See Persons with Disabilities.
  4. Muzzleloading firearms used during a modern firearm season are not required to meet ignition, sight, or double barrel restrictions.

Archery Regulations

  1. Rules pertaining to all archery hunting seasons:
    1. Mechanical broadheads are legal to use for all archery hunting.
    2. It is unlawful for any person to carry or have in his possession any firearm while in the field archery hunting, during an archery season specified for that area, except for modern handguns carried for personal protection. Modern handguns cannot be used to hunt big game or dispatch wounded big game during an archery, big game hunting season.
    3. It is unlawful to have any electrical equipment or electric device(s) except for illuminated nocks, attached to the bow or arrow while hunting.
    4. It is unlawful to shoot a bow and arrow from a vehicle or from, across or along the maintained portion of a public highway.
    5. It is unlawful to use any device secured to or supported by the bow for the purpose of maintaining the bow at full draw or in a firing position.
    6. It is unlawful to hunt big game animals with any arrow or bolt that does not have a sharp broadhead, and the broadhead blade or blades are less than seven-eighths inch wide.
    7. It is unlawful to hunt wildlife with any bow equipped with a scope.
  2. Rules pertaining to longbow, recurve bow, and compound bow archery:
    1. It is unlawful for any person to hunt big game animals with a bow that does not produce a minimum of 40 pounds of pull measured at twenty-eight inches or at full draw.
    2. It is unlawful to hunt big game animals with any arrow measuring less than 20 inches in length.

Dispatching Wounded Game

A hunter can only use a hunting method that meets the equipment requirements of his/her tag to dispatch wounded game.

Washington