The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will accept applications for its Master Hunter Program from January 1 through February 15. 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 an application fee, pass a criminal background check and written test, demonstrate shooting proficiency, provide at least 20 hours of approved volunteer service and meet other qualifications.
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 1,800 certified master hunters currently enrolled in the program, administered by WDFW’s Wildlife Program.
The last local hunt specifically for Master Hunters was held in 2012 for antlerless elk near Grayland. According to WDFW, the elk were causing damage to cranberry crops, and a controlled hunt was intended to remove the elk from the area.
Enrollment was closed during 2013 to allow WDFW time to review the program.