The future of hunting depends on the ability of hunters to gain access to the land. With more than half of the state’s landmass in private ownership, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has redoubled its efforts to secure hunter access to those lands in recent years.
Through new agreements with private landowners, WDFW has succeeded in opening up tens of thousands of acres of private farmland and timberland through programs such as “Feel Free to Hunt” and “Register to Hunt.” The latest program, “Hunt By Reservation,” allows hunters to get hunting information for specific properties and book a reservation online.
Private Lands Access is available through different types of access:
WDFW’s Quality Hunt Reservation System was released as an online application on Friday, April 12, 2013. It allows hunters to make a reservation on select sites under contract with private landowners.
On each site, hunter numbers are limited from one to a few hunters at a time to create a higher quality experience. In most cases they do not have to contact the landowner in advance.
Some reservation opportunities are for individuals and in others a group can register. All hunters must have an active account in order to be eligible to participate in any of the reservation hunts.
WDFW will continue to enroll private lands in its Feel Free to Hunt, Register to Hunt and Hunt by Written Permission programs as well. The new Hunt by Reservation option gives us another tool to help landowners provide access. We believe that some of the landowners who have signed new agreements in the past year would not have done so if this option was not available.
Landowners will have access to the names of hunters who have, or have had, reservations on their property. Only the names of hunters will be provided to landowners. WDFW law enforcement will have access to all reservation information.
During the initial launch of the system, reservations will be on a first-come, first-served basis. By fall of 2013, we hope to add the ability to conduct drawings for reservations as we expect more hunters to be using the system.
Hunters will be limited to three active reservations on future dates. This includes hunts where a hunter is part of a group created by someone else. Reservations on dates that have past do not count against this total. There is no annual limit to the number of reservations a hunter can make.
Hunters must agree to all of the rules of Reservation System and those for the individual site they will be hunting on.
General information and rules for each site are available on the WDFW website and are based, in part, on landowner preferences.