Hunting season setting timeline

Buck staring into camera
Matt Gunter

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife monitors game population and harvest around the state, including big and small game, waterfowl, and migratory birds. Management of game species is primarily guided by the Game Management Plan, which has traditionally been reviewed and updated every six years.

The department uses the Game Management Plan as guidance for setting seasons annually and three-year season settings. Three-year season setting is an in-depth rulemaking process. From 2017-2020, the department passively collected proposals for seasons both internally and externally. The department then conducted two rounds of public comment on the proposals. Objectives from the GMP help shape these proposals. The Fish and Wildlife Commission sets seasons based on public input and staff recommendations.

Annual season setting is rulemaking for minor season changes or due to emerging needs. The Fish and Wildlife Commission also sets these seasons based on public input and staff recommendations.

Season setting and rulemaking

2014
  • 2015-2021 Game Management Plan approved

    September

    Management of game species is primarily guided by the Game Management Plan, which has traditionally been reviewed and updated every six years.

  • 2020

  • 2021-2023 Season setting

    Aug. - Sept.

    The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) sought comments on proposed alternatives for 2021-23 hunting seasons. The comment period ran from Aug. 17 to Sept. 15. 

    WDFW held a series of virtual public meetings by topic to discuss the 2021-23 hunting season alternatives.

  • Next Game Management Plan

    Fall

    SEPA extension for existing Game Management Plan

  • 2021

  • 2021-2023 Season setting rulemaking

    Feb. - April

    WDFW sought comments on the second round of proposed alternatives for 2021-23 hunting seasons. WDFW accepted public comments through Thursday, March 4.

    March 25-27

    Fish and Wildlife Commission members were briefed on 2021-23 hunting season setting proposals including deer and elk seasons, waterfowl, equipment, regulations, and hunting boundary changes for most game species. 

    April 9

    Fish and Wildlife Commission decision on 2021-23 hunting seasons

  • 2023-2029 Game Management Plan

    Spring - Fall

    • Game Management Plan public opinion survey conducted
    • Game Management Plan SEPA scoping begins
  • 2022

  • ANNUAL ADJUSTMENTS FOR 2022-2023 HUNTING SEASONS

  • 2023-2029 Game Management Plan

    Spring/summer

    Game Management Plan formal SEPA process with public comment

    December

    New Game Management Plan adopted

  • 2023

  • 2024-2026 Season setting

    • Annual adjustment for 2023-24 hunting seasons
    • Start 2024-26 season setting process
    • Public comment on 2024-26 season setting
    • Fish and Wildlife Commission 2024-26 season setting briefing
  • 2024

  • 2024-2026 Season setting rulemaking

    • Public comment on 2024-26 season setting rulemaking
    • Fish and Wildlife Commission 2024-26 season setting briefing
    • Fish and Wildlife Commission 2024-26 season setting decision
Updates to Game Management Plans and hunting seasons continue