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Game Bird Hunting

Game Bird Hunting

Summary of State Regulations

Decoy Restrictions

It Is Unlawful To:

  • Place waterfowl decoys prior to 4:00 a.m.; allow or permit waterfowl decoys to be unattended or not in your immediate control for a period greater than one hour; or fail to remove waterfowl decoys within two hours after the close of established daily hunting hours on days open to waterfowl hunting on department owned or controlled lands, waters, or access areas.
  • Place waterfowl decoys on lands or waters controlled by WDFW except as authorized by permit of the director, on days closed to waterfowl hunting on department owned or controlled lands, waters, or access areas.
  • Hunt waterfowl or wild turkeys using live birds as decoys.
  • Hunt waterfowl, turkey, or deer with the use or aid of battery-powered or other electronic devices as decoys.

Firearm Regulations

It Is Unlawful To Hunt:

  • Game birds with a shotgun capable of holding more than three shells.
  • Game birds or game animals with a shotgun larger than 10 gauge.
  • Wildlife with a fully automatic firearm.
  • Game birds with a rifle or handgun, with the exception of:
    • Forest grouse (dusky grouse, sooty grouse, spruce grouse and ruffed grouse), which may not be killed with any rifle or handgun 24 caliber or larger, or shotgun containing slugs or buckshot, during modern firearm deer or elk seasons unless appropriate deer or elk tags are in the hunter's possession. Forest grouse may be taken with shotguns as well as firearms smaller than 24 caliber during the entire grouse hunting season.
    • Turkey, which it is unlawful to hunt with any weapon other than the following:
      • Crossbow or bow and arrow;
      • Shotgun shooting #4 or smaller shot, or muzzleloading shot-gun shooting #4 or smaller shot;
      • Legal modern handgun designed for hunting, shooting #4 or smaller shot, and not capable of holding more than three shells. Hand-gun barrel length must be a minimum of 10 inches, inclusive of choke tube. Modern handguns must shoot a minimum three inch shotshell of .410 caliber or larger;
      • Legal muzzleloading handgun designed for hunting and shooting #4 or smaller shot. Handgun barrel length must be a minimum of 10 inches. Muzzleloading handguns must be .45 caliber or larger.
  • Game birds or game animals with anything other than a firearm, a bow and arrow, a crossbow, or by falconry, with the following exceptions:
    • Forest grouse, snowshoe hare, and cottontail rabbit may be hunted with an air rifle no smaller than .22 caliber and no larger than .25 caliber.
    • Bullfrogs may be hunted only by angling, hand dip netting, gigging, or bow and arrow.
    • Hunters with disabilities may also use a crossbow during any season that allows archery equipment with a special use permit as conditioned in WAC 220-413-130.

Unlawful Possession of Firearms:

  • According to RCWs 9.41.040 and 9.41.170 aliens and felons may not possess firearms. If you are in doubt, seek appropriate legal counsel. Possession rights may in some cases be restored, per RCW chapter 9.41.

Hunting Restrictions

It Is Unlawful To:

  • Hunt wild animals (except rabbits and hares) with dogs (hounds) during modern firearm deer or elk general seasons that occur in October or November in eastern and western Washington.
  • Hunt waterfowl, wild turkeys, or deer with the use or aid of electronic calls, except electronic calls may be used for lesser snow geese and Ross' geese during season dates occurring after February 1st in Goose Management Area 1 and Goose Management Area 4, when lesser snow geese and Ross' geese are the only species open to harvest as specified in WAC 220-416-060.
  • Hunt game birds over bait or baited areas, or areas posted as upland bird feeding sites. (See Game Reserves - Closed to All Hunting)
  • Destroy or possess the nests or eggs of game birds or protected wildlife.
  • Allow game animals or game birds you have taken to be recklessly wasted.
  • Hunt wildlife from a vehicle (except authorized disabled hunters) or from a boat propelled by a motor, unless the boat's motor is shut off and progress due to the motor has stopped.
  • Use a vehicle (including ATVs), aircraft, or boat to pursue, concentrate or harass wild animals or wild birds.
  • Possess wildlife taken by another person unless you have in possession a written statement showing name, address, license and/or tag number, date, county and area the animal was taken in, and the signature of the hunter who killed it.
  • Possess in the field or transport game birds unless a feathered wing or head is left attached to each carcass, except:
    • Falconry-caught birds
    • Turkeys, where the fully feathered head and the beard, if present at harvest, must be left attached
    • Canada and cackling geese harvested in Goose Management Area 2 (Coast & Inland), where the fully feathered head must be left attached
  • Avoid or fail to stop and report at a WDFW established check station, and produce hunting equipment, wildlife in your possession, and licenses, permits, tags, or stamps required.

Property Laws

Hunters are welcome on most state-owned lands, although some lands leased to private owners may be posted closed to protect livestock, equipment, or crops. Courtesy shown while hunting and respect for property rights will prevent the closing of more of these lands to hunting. (See Public Conduct on WDFW Lands, Hunting Area Information)

It Is Unlawful To:

  • Remove, possess, or damage printed material or signs placed by authority of the Fish and Wildlife Commission.
  • Place or leave litter on any land, either public or private, which is not your own.
  • Post signs against trespass or otherwise prevent hunting on lands not owned or leased by that person.
  • Operate a motor vehicle on lands owned, controlled, or managed by the WDFW, except as authorized. (Off-road travel on Department lands is usually prohibited.)
  • Take a wild animal from another person’s trap without permission or to damage or destroy a trap, except a trap may be removed by the property owner.
  • Hunt or trap on state park lands.

Safety Violations

It Is Unlawful To:

  • Carry, transport, convey, possess, or control in or on any motor vehicle, a rifle or shotgun containing shells or cartridges in either the chamber or magazine, or a muzzleloading firearm that is loaded and capped or primed.
  • Negligently shoot a firearm from, across, or along the maintained part of any public highway.
  • Hunt while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs.
  • Shoot at wild animals or wild birds while they are on any utility line, pole, its crossarm, or insulator.
  • Hunt upland birds with a modern firearm unless you are wearing hunter orange or fluorescent hunter pink.

Eastern and Western Washington Defined:

EASTERN Washington includes all areas lying east of the Pacific Crest Trail and east of the Big White Salmon River in Klickitat and Skamania Counties, while WESTERN Washington refers to all areas west of the Pacific Crest Trail and west of (and including) the Big White Salmon River in Klickitat and Skamania Counties.

Private Lands

It is unlawful to trespass. State hunting regulations apply to hunting private land, but do not guarantee access. Entry without permission onto any lands that are fenced, posted, cultivated, or used for commercial agricultural crops or aquaculture is considered trespass. Some private landowners (individuals or corporations) have chosen to deny access to, or across, their property. Check with landowners before entering their property. It is always best to obtain landowner permission before entering private property.

It Is Unlawful To:

  • Hunt in areas posted with Hunting Only by Written Permission without a permission card signed by the landowner on your person.
  • Hunt in areas posted with Hunt by Reservation without a valid permit.
  • Hunt or shoot behind a Safety Zone sign.
  • Operate a motor vehicle (including ORVs) behind a No Unauthorized Vehicles sign unless specifically authorized by the landowner under the Regulated Access Cooperative Agreement with the WDFW.
  • Disobey posted notices or signs on private lands under cooperative agreement with WDFW (WAC 220-500-230).

Some private lands may be open weekends only.

Licensing Violations

It Is Unlawful To:

  • Hunt (regardless of age) without a valid hunting license and any required tags, permits, authorizations, or stamps in your possession (see exceptions on License Fees & Information for hunting with an authorization number).
  • Buy, possess, or attempt to obtain any license, tag, or permit by using false information, or to buy, possess or attempt to obtain a license, tag, or permit when such license privilege has been revoked.
  • Purchase or possess more than one of each license, tag, permit, or stamp during the same year, unless it is a legally obtained duplicate or authorized by the Fish and Wildlife Commission.
  • Transfer, loan to, or borrow from another person any license, tag, permit, or stamp.
  • Refuse to show a license, tag, or permit, or to refuse to display wildlife taken when asked to do so by a fish and wildlife officer or other law officer.
  • Purchase a hunting license for the first time if you were born after Jan. 1, 1972, unless you have successfully completed Hunter Education training.

For more complete information on regulations affecting wildlife, hunting and firearm safety, see the Big Game Hunting Seasons and Regulations pamphlet, available from license dealers throughout the state and online at

Import and Retention of Dead Wildlife

It is unlawful to possess or import into Washington wildlife taken in another state or country, unless the wildlife was acquired lawfully. Proof of legal acquisition must be retained during the period of retention of the edible parts.

Hunter Orange and Fluorescent Hunter Pink

Anyone hunting upland birds (pheasant, quail, and partridge), rabbits, or hares with a modern firearm during any upland game bird season is required to wear hunter orange/fluorescent hunter pink clothing. Those hunting forest grouse, rabbits, turkey or hares during those times and in those places open to taking of deer or elk during nonmaster hunter, modern firearm general seasons must also wear fluorescent orange/pink clothing. A minimum of 400 square inches of fluorescent orange/pink exterior clothing, worn above the waist and visible from all sides, is required to comply with this regulation.