Glossary of Hunting Terms

Antler Point

  • Deer: A projection from the antler at least one inch long, measured from the longest side. Eye guards count if they meet the length requirement.
  • Elk: Similarly, a projection from the antler at least one inch long. Eye guards are included in the count.


Refers to deer, elk, or cow moose without antlers. This includes doe and fawn deer, cow and calf elk, and calf moose.

Any Buck/Bull

Only deer/elk/moose with visible antlers can be hunted. Fawns and calves are excluded. Visible antlers are defined as horn-like growths above the hairline.

Bag Limit

The maximum number of specific game animals or birds one can hunt. It may vary based on time, size, sex, or species.

Big Game

Includes elk, deer, bear, moose, pronghorn antelope, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, and cougar.

Black-tailed Deer

A subspecies of deer located west of a defined geographical line in Washington, primarily in regions west of the Pacific Crest Trail.

Closed Area/Season

Areas or times where hunting specific wild animals or birds is prohibited.

Dashed Lines or Hyphens

Indicates a range or inclusive period, e.g., Sept. 1-30 includes every day in September.

Eastern Washington

Areas east of the Pacific Crest Trail and the Big White Salmon River.

Endangered Species

Species designated by the Fish and Wildlife Commission as facing a high risk of extinction.

General Season

Open hunting seasons accessible to all licensed hunters, excluding those requiring special permits.

GMU (Game Management Unit)

Designated areas for management and regulation purposes.


A permanent, hard projection found on the heads of mountain goats and bighorn sheep.

Hunt Choice Number

A four-digit number required for special permit applications.

To Hunt

Efforts to kill, capture, injure, or harass wild animals or birds.

Migratory Game Birds

Includes species like coots, ducks, geese, mourning doves, band-tailed pigeons, and snipe.

Military Personnel

Those stationed in Washington are entitled to resident licenses. This includes all necessary tags, stamps, or permits for fishing or hunting.

Mule Deer

Deer species found east of a specific geographical line, primarily in regions east of the Pacific Crest Trail.


Individuals not meeting the 90-day residency qualification in Washington.

Open Season

Periods when hunting or possessing game animals or birds is legally permitted.

Protected Wildlife

Species not allowed to be hunted or fished, as designated by the Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Public Highway

Any road maintained with public funds, regardless of its surface.

Replacement Tag

Reissuing a tag for the same species and weapon type for transport.


  • Criteria: A resident is someone who has lived in Washington for at least 90 days before applying for a WDFW license. They must show intent to continue residing in the state through formal evidence such as a driver's license or voter registration card. Additionally, a resident cannot be licensed to hunt or fish as a resident, or receive resident benefits, in another state.
  • Legal References: RCW 77.08.075 and WAC 220-220-050.

Safety Zone

  • Definition: A Safety Zone is an area designated by the WDFW, marked as no hunting, specifically for safety reasons.

Special Permit Hunting Seasons

  • Purpose: These are hunting seasons established by the Fish and Wildlife Commission for hunting specified wildlife with a special hunting permit.

Spike Bull Areas

  • Elk Regulations: In these areas, legal elk must have at least one antler with no branches more than four inches above where the antler attaches to the skull. An elk with a spike on one side (1x2) is legal, whereas an elk with more than one antler point longer than four inches on both sides (2x2) is illegal.

Three Point Minimum Buck

  • Deer Regulations: Any buck deer with at least three antler points on one antler qualifies as legal game.

3 Point Minimum (Elk)

  • Elk Regulations: In these units, a legal elk must have at least 3 antler points on one side. Eye guards count as points if they are at least one inch long. Both 1x3 and 2x3 elks are legal in these units. Antler restrictions apply to all hunters during any open season.

True Spike Bull Restrictions

  • Elk Regulations: In these units, legal bull elk must have both antlers with no branching more than four inches from the skull. Violations of true spike restrictions range from infractions to more severe penalties, depending on the nature of the violation.

Unclassified Wildlife

  • Definition: This category includes all wildlife not classified as game, threatened, endangered, or otherwise protected.

Valid License

  • Requirement: A current, unaltered license signed by the holder is required before participating in licensed hunting or fishing activities.

Valid Tag

  • Requirement: A current, unaltered, unnotched tag issued to the holder is required to hunt for the specified game animal.

Visible Antler

  • Definition: A horn-like growth on the head of deer, elk, or moose that is visible above the hairline.

Western Washington

  • Geographical Area: This region includes all areas west of the Pacific Crest Trail and west of (and including) the Big White Salmon River in Klickitat and Skamania counties.

White-tailed Deer

  • Species Definition: Refers to the species Odocoileus virginianus, excluding the Columbian White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus leucurus).

Wild Animals

  • Inclusion: This term encompasses all mammals in Washington, except feral domestic mammals and old world rats and mice.

Wild Birds

  • Definition: Includes all bird species existing in Washington in their wild state.


  • Age Criteria: Refers to individuals under 16 years of age at the time of license or special permit application purchase.
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