WDFW LogoWashington Department of Fish & Wildlife
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Mailing Address:
Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife
Wildlife Program
Master Hunter Section
600 Capitol Way North
Olympia, WA  98501-1091

Physical Address:
WDFW – Wildlife Program
Natural Resources Building
Fifth Floor
1111 Washington Street SE
Olympia, WA 9850

Master Hunter Permit Program will
accept applications starting Jan. 1 - Feb 15, 2014

OLYMPIA - The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will accept applications for its Master Hunter Permit Program from Jan. 1 through Feb. 15, 2014. The program is designed to promote safe, lawful and ethical hunting, and to strengthen Washington’s hunting heritage and conservation ethic.

WDFW enlists master hunters for controlled hunts to remove problem animals that damage property. Master hunters also participate in volunteer projects involving increasing access to private lands, habitat enhancement, data collection, hunter education, and landowner relations.

"To qualify for the program, applicants must demonstrate a high level of skill and be committed to lawful and ethical hunting practices," said David Whipple, WDFW Hunter Education division manager.

Hunters enrolling in the program must pay a $50 application fee, pass a criminal background check, pass a written test, demonstrate shooting proficiency, provide at least 20 hours of approved volunteer service and meet other qualifications described on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/masterhunter/.

Whipple encourages individuals who enroll in the program to prepare thoroughly for the written test, because applicants are allowed only one chance to re-take the exam.

There are about 1,850 certified master hunters currently enrolled in the program, which is now administered by WDFW’s Wildlife Program. Enrollment was closed during calendar year 2013 to allow WDFW time to review the program, clarify its role, and identify strategies to better engage members in high-priority volunteer work.

Approved volunteer work conducted during 2013 will be honored for individuals applying in 2014

The pause in 2013 enrollment announced in December 2012 was to evaluate and determine:

  • The number of available volunteer conservation projects for Master Hunters.
  • The identification of supplemental volunteer conservation projects for Master Hunters to address WDFW priorities.
  • The desired future direction and focus for the MHPP and Master Hunter Advisory Group (MHAG).
  • Potential changes in the curricula, bylaws, and roles and responsibilities, for the MHPP and MHAG.
  • The most effective roles of Master Hunters in controlling wildlife depredation/conflict.

WDFW Administration recently transferred the responsibility for the Hunter Education Division from the Law Enforcement Program to the Wildlife Program effective July 1, 2013. The Hunter Education Division includes the Master Hunter Permit Program (MHPP) and facilitation of the Master Hunter Advisory Group (MHAG).

The Master Hunter Permit Program is designed to promote responsible hunting. In addition to training, the program emphasizes safe, lawful and ethical hunting priorities while upholding the highest standards. The program offers an opportunity for conscientious, committed hunters who care about the future of hunting to assume a leadership role among their peers. Through their knowledge and conduct in the field, Master Hunters play a key role in improving relationships with landowners, thus ensuring continued hunter access to private lands.

Individuals who successfully complete the Master Hunter Permit Program receive a patch as recognition of their accomplishments. A personalized Master Hunter permit with the person's name, Master Hunter number, issue date, and renewal date will also be provided. Master Hunters are eligible to participate in special hunts aimed at reducing property damage and/or public safety problems posed by wildlife. Special hunt opportunities vary from year to year, and may include elk, deer, bear, turkey and goose hunts in designated areas throughout Washington.

Training and certification
Those enrolling in the Master Hunter Permit Program should be motivated by a genuine desire to learn and model a high level of hunting knowledge and skill. Training is offered through independent study, offering maximum flexibility for candidates.

To become a certified Master Hunter, each applicant is required to:

  • Demonstrate proficiency with a bow, handgun, muzzleloader, rifle, shotgun shooting shot, shotgun shooting slugs, or crossbow.
    Scoring your shooting instructions
  • Provide at least 20 hours of volunteer service on a project benefiting state wildlife resources.
  • Attend Crime Observation and Reporting Training (C.O.R.T.).
  • Receive a score of at least 80 percent on a written examination, based on provided independent-study materials.
  • Sign an agreement to abide by the Master Hunter Code of Ethics.
  • Submit to and pass a law enforcement background check.

The examination to become a Master Hunter is difficult. Here are some tips to help you prepare: Advice for Master Hunter Applicants Preparing to Test [PDF]

Master Hunter Applications will only be accepted during the open enrollment period of January 1 – February 15 of each year.  All program requirements must be completed by November 15, of the year the application is received.

How to enroll
To enroll in the Master Hunter Permit Program, download and fill out the Master Hunter Permit Application form. Mail the completed application, with the $50 application fee payable by check to: WDFW Master Hunter, to the address listed on the application form.

Beginning October 16, 2009, the fee for a Master Hunter permit application will be $50.00, payable by check or money order to: WDFW Master Hunter. The fee includes independent study materials in CD format and printed documents.

Effective October 16, 2009, the cost to renew a Master Hunter permit for an additional five year period will be $25.00, payable by check or money order to: WDFW Master Hunter. This non-refundable fee will apply to any certified Master Hunter with a renewal anniversary date of October 16, 2009, or later.

More Information
For more information about the Master Hunter Permit Program, contact the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Hunter Education staff in Olympia at (360) 902-8412 or tracy.loveless@dfw.wa.gov

Lost Permits
If you have lost your Master Hunter permit, contact WDFW at (360) 902-8412. You may request a duplicate permit but will be charged a $5.00 fee. Checks MUST be written to: WDFW Master Hunter.

Update your contact information
Please remember to update your contact information including phone, mailing address, and e-mail address. Notify WDFW at (360) 902-8412, tracy.loveless@dfw.wa.gov

Contacting the WDFW Master Hunter Permit Program
Mailing Address:
Master Hunter Permit Section
Wildlife Program
600 Capitol Way North
Olympia, WA 98501-1091

Phone: 360-902-8412
FAX: 360-902-2155
E-Mail: tracy.loveless@dfw.wa.gov

April 25, 2014 - 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
Washington Cattlemen’s Association Offices, Ellensburg, WA
  Policy Statement Regarding
Master Hunter Permit Program
  Master Hunters should always remember to seek advance permission to hunt on private land before hunting. Too often Master Hunters don’t approach a landowner until they actually see elk within the legal hunting area on private property. You should contact landowners at least 6 months ahead of the actual hunt to gain permission, and hopefully to arrange volunteer work on the landowners behalf.
Tips and Reminders for Hunting in Elk Area 3911
Elk Activity Updates
Master Hunter History
Master Hunters That Have Qualified With All Seven Hunting Implements
Master hunters stalking to save Snoqualmie Valley elk herd Snoqualmie Valley Record
Master Hunters help the Lincoln County Conservation District
First Hunt: A presentation at the first Master Hunter orientation meeting
Master Hunters Share a Hunting Experience
Master Hunter Advisory Group  has developed several detailed Hunt area descriptions to assist hunters in making decisions when applying for special hunt permit applications
Elk Area 5051 - Cowlitz County
Elk Area 5052 - Mossyrock
Elk Area 5062 - Klickitat County
Elk Area 2714 - Cowlitz Valley
Elk Area - North River
Elk Area - Rattlesnake Hills
Elk Area - Regions 5 and 6
Elk Area - Toledo
Merchandise Order Form