Prohibited Hunting Methods in Washington State

To ensure ethical and responsible hunting practices and wildlife conservation, Washington State has strict regulations prohibiting certain hunting methods. Violating these regulations can result in legal penalties. Here are the prohibited hunting methods in Washington State:

1. Hunting with Artificial Lights (RCW 77.15.450)

Violation: Hunting big game with the aid of artificial lights, spotlights, or night vision equipment is prohibited. This includes electronic light amplification devices, thermal imaging devices, and similar equipment used to enhance night vision.

2. Using Night Vision and Laser Sights (WAC 220-414-010)

Violation: It is illegal to hunt all big game with the aid of infrared night vision equipment or laser sights (excluding range finders) capable of projecting a beam onto the target while in possession or control of a firearm, bow and arrow, or crossbow.

3. Shooting at Wildlife on Utility Lines

Violation: Shooting at wild animals or birds while they are on utility lines, poles, crossarms, or insulators is prohibited.

4. Using Aircraft

Violation: It is unlawful to use aircraft, including unmanned aircraft, to spot, locate, or report the location of wildlife for hunting purposes. Additionally, hunting big game on the same day you were airborne for any purpose, except for a regularly scheduled commercial flight, is illegal.

5. Pursuing Wildlife with Vehicles

Violation: Using aircraft, unmanned aircraft, boats, motor-driven vehicles, or ATVs to pursue, concentrate, or harass wildlife is prohibited. Hunting from boats with motors is allowed only if the motor is off and not contributing to the boat's propulsion.

6. Hunting from Motor Vehicles

Violation: It is unlawful to hunt wildlife from a motor vehicle, except for individuals with disabilities who have a designated hunting companion (see Persons with Disabilities).

7. Negligent Discharge of Firearms

Violation: Negligently discharging a firearm from, across, or along the maintained portion of any public highway, regardless of the surface, or from within a moving vehicle or off-road vehicle is prohibited. Hunters with disabilities, holding a vehicle identification placard in compliance with WAC 220-413-140, may discharge a firearm from a non-moving motor vehicle with the engine turned off.

8. Party Hunting

Violation: Party hunting, which involves shooting or killing big game or turkeys for another person, tagging an animal killed by someone else, or having someone tag an animal you've killed, is illegal, except for hunters with disabilities who have a designated hunting companion.

9. Failure to Properly Tag

Violation: Failing to immediately cut out and remove the month and day of the kill on your tag is unlawful. You cannot use a tag for an animal you have killed if it is not your tag (except under WAC 220-413-140).

10. Using Dogs


  • Hunting wild animals (except rabbits and hares) with dogs (hounds) during October or November during the dates established for modern firearm deer or elk general seasons in eastern and western Washington is prohibited.
  • Allowing a dog, owned or controlled by you, to pursue or injure deer or elk while hunting is prohibited.
  • Hunting or pursuing any big game animal, bobcat, or coyote with dogs is prohibited, except for cougar during cougar management removals authorized by the Fish and Wildlife Commission.
  • The use of one blood-trailing dog controlled by a leash within 72 hours of shooting a big game animal (except bear and cougar) is allowed to track wounded big game and aid in recovery.

11. Hunting during Modern Firearm Seasons

Violation: You may not hunt wildlife during any modern firearm deer or elk season with a firearm .24 caliber or larger or containing slugs or buckshot for big game unless you have a valid license, permit, and tag for the specific species you are hunting.

12. Prohibited Firearms and Hunting Methods

Violation: It is illegal to:

  • Hunt game birds or game animals with anything other than a firearm, a bow and arrow, a crossbow, or by falconry.
  • Hunt any big game with a fully automatic firearm.
  • Hunt game animals or game birds with a shotgun larger than 10 gauge.

13. Using Decoys and Calls

Violation: Hunting turkey, deer, and waterfowl with electronic calls or aids is illegal, except during white goose-only (lesser snow geese, Ross' geese) season dates.

14. Radio-Telemetry Equipment

Violation: Using radio-telemetry equipment to locate and hunt wildlife with transmitters attached to them is prohibited.

15. Night Hunting

Violation: Hunting wildlife at night during the months of October and November in areas open to modern firearm deer or elk hunting is illegal.

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The legal advice provided on Wild Advisor Pro is intended as a summary of the hunting, camping, hiking, and fishing laws and regulations and does not constitute legal language or professional advice. We make every effort to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, but it should not be relied upon as legal authority. For the most current and comprehensive explanation of the laws and regulations, please consult the official government websites or a qualified legal professional. Wild Advisor Pro is not responsible for any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the information presented and shall not be held liable for any losses, damages, or legal disputes arising from the use of this summary information. Always check with the appropriate governmental authorities for the latest information regarding outdoor regulations and compliance.