Washington Deer Hunting Season 2023

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Washington is known for having the most diverse deer hunting in the US. The state has a thriving population of over 100 000 mule deer, white-tailed deer, and black-tailed deer. On average, deer hunters only harvest 22 000 deer state-wide, sustaining healthy deer populations for the future. 

If you’re planning on harvesting your annual seasonal deer limit, there are some rules and regulations you’d need to adhere to. Thankfully, we’ve done all the research for you and compiled a list below of everything there is to know about hunting deer in Washington. 

Season Dates 2023

Washington has three (3) main deer seasons; Archery, Muzzleloader, and Modern Firearm. Each season has an early and late season, with Muzzleloader and Modern Firearm having an additional High Buck Season. 

Washington is divided into Game Management Units (GMU), established to manage deer populations in the area. Each GMU has its own applicable seasonal dates, bag limits, and weapon restrictions. Let’s look at the deer seasonal hunting dates for Washington.

Early Archery SeasonDates (start-to-end) 
Black-tailed deerSeptember 1st – September 29th,
White-tailed deerSeptember 1st – September 29th
Mule deerSeptember 1st – September 29th
Late Archery SeasonDates (start-to-end)
Black-tailed deerNovember 22nd – December 31st
White-tailed deerNovember 10th – December 15th
Mule deerNovember 20th – December 8th
Early Muzzleloader SeasonDates (start-to-end)
Black-tailed deerSeptember 30th – October 8th
White-tailed deerSeptember 30th – October 8th
Mule deerSeptember 30th – October 8th
Late Muzzleloader SeasonDates (start-to-end)
Black-tailed deerNovember 22nd – December 15th
White-tailed deerNovember 20th – December 8th
Mule deerNovember 20th – December 8th
Early Modern Firearm SeasonDates (start-to-end)
Black-tailed deerOctober 14th – October 31st
White-tailed deerOctober 14th – October 27th
Mule deerOctober 14th – October 24th
Late Modern Firearm SeasonDates (start-to-end)
Black-tailed deerNovember 16th – November 19th
White-tailed deerNovember 16th – November 19th
Mule deerNovember 11th – November 19th
High Buck Hunt SeasonDates (start-to-end)
MuzzleloaderSeptember 15th – September 25th
Modern FirearmSeptember 15th – September 25th
Youth Hunting SeasonDates (start-to-end)
White-tailed deerOctober 14th – October 27th
Hunters 65 years+ and Disabled HuntDates (start-to-end)
White-tailed deerOctober 21st – October 24th

In addition, there are two (2) separate deer hunting seasons for Youth, Disabled, and hunters 65 years or older.

License Cost

Regardless of age, all hunters must purchase and possess a valid big game hunting license and appropriate hunting tags, permits,  or stamps required to hunt wildlife in Washington.

LicenseResidentNon-residentYouth (under 16)
Deer License$44.90$434.30$21.80
Deer+Elk+Bear+Cougar License$95.50$860.00$46.00
Deer License W/discounted Small game license$66.90$531.10$30.60
2nd Deer Tag (only available by Special Permit)$43.40$252.40$22.50

To qualify for a resident license in Washington, hunters cannot be licensed to fish or hunt as a resident in another state.

Bag Limits and Hunting Hours

Deer hunters in Washington can harvest one (1) deer per license year, except where otherwise permitted. In addition, hunters are required to select one of the following hunting methods; Archery, Modern Firearm, or Muzzleloader. 

Hunters can only harvest deer from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. In addition, anyone hunting in an open area is required by law to wear a Hunter Orange or Hunter Pink vest.

What Weapons can you Hunt Deer with in Washington?

  • Archery- Bow & Arrow
  • Muzzleloading rifles
  • Rifles
  • Handguns 
  • Shotguns
  • Crossbows


ShotgunMust be 20 gauge or larger with shotgun shooting slugs size #1 or larger.
HandgunMinimum barrel length of 4 inches and must fire a minimum .24 caliber centerfire cartridge. Rimfire handguns are not permitted for hunting big game.
RifleMust be a minimum of .24 caliber (6mm) centerfire rifle.

Bow and Arrow:

ArrowsArrows must be a minimum of 20 inches in length.
BroadheadsBroadheads can be mechanical, must be sharp, and seven-eighths of one inch (7/8”) or greater at the widest point, including mechanical broadheads.
Bow characteristicsMinimum draw weight for hunting deer is 40 lbs, measured at twenty-eight inches or full draw. 


Crossbow draw weightCrossbows must have a minimum pull of 125 lbs, a working mechanical safety, and a total length greater than 25 inches. 
Arrows/ boltsBolts and arrows must weigh more than 350 grains. 
BroadheadsBroadheads must be sharpened and must be seven-eighths of one inch (7/8”) or greater at the widest point, including mechanical broadheads

Muzzleloading Rifle:

Powderblack powder or black powder substitute only.
CaliberA Muzzleloading shotgun or rifle used to hunt deer must be .40 caliber or larger. 
Legal projectileMust be a single-barrel firearm, where a single projectile can be loaded from the muzzle are permitted. Muzzleloading handguns must be a single or double barrel of at least eight inches and rifled.
IgnitionIgnition can be wheel-lock, matchlock, flintlock, and in-line ignition systems using percussion caps. Primers designed to be used in modern cartridges are legal.
AmmunitionSingle projectile, including round ball or maxi ball type projectiles. Buckshot size#1 or larger may be used in a smoothbore of .60 caliber or larger.

What Types of Deer Are Popular to Hunt in Washington?

Washington is home to four species of deer; black-tailed deer, white-tailed deer, Columbian white-tailed deer, and Mule deer. Whilst hunters are only permitted to hunt three (3) of the species; white-tailed deer, black-tailed deer, and Mule deer. The state offers one of the most diverse deer hunting experiences in the US.

What else is Popular to Hunt in Washington?

About 50% of Washington is publicly owned and open to recreational hunting. Hunters can also hunt in designated state-owned areas managed by WDFW and WDNR. Both public and state-owned land are teaming with various big and small game for hunters to target. Species include:

  • Mountain Elk
  • Roosevelt Elk
  • Cougar
  • Black bear
  • Mountain goat
  • Moose
  • Bighorn sheep
  • Waterfowl
  • Wild Turkey
  • Forest grouse

Hi there! I'm a passionate bowman and a fan of all target sports in general. You'll often find me at my local archery and shooting ranges honing my skills.

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