Application Strategy 2022: Washington sheep, moose, mountain goat


Photo credit: Dreamstime

If you’re a nonresident applying for bighorn sheep, moose and/or mountain goats in Washington, you need to know that it is rather expensive, extremely difficult odds and it is often argued that these are some of the worst applications in the country. Seriously. They are all brutal odds. Yet, the rigid management strategy of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has led up to these tags being some of the best in the country for each species.  Residents definitely have the upper hand here just due to application costs alone.  However, if you still feel compelled to apply, swing for the fence.  

Note: The all species application deadline for Washington is May 19, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. PST. You can apply online here.

TOTAL BIGHORN SHEEP PERMITS FOR 2022

Ram permits 22
Ewe permits 23
Youth ewe permits 2
Hunters with disabilities ewe permits 3
Hunters with disabilities juvenile ram permits 2

 

TOTAL MOUNTAIN GOAT PERMITS FOR 2022

Mountain goat either-sex permits 15

 

TOTAL MOOSE PERMITS FOR 2022

Bull moose permits 105
Antlerless moose permits 24
Youth only antlerless 1
65 and over antlerless 3
Disabled hunter — antlerless only 2

New for 2022

  • The 25 conflict goat reduction permits for 2021 are no longer available for the 2022 season.
  • Bighorn sheep ram and ewe tags were severely reduced for the 2022 season.  

WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF A JUVENILE RAM?

A juvenile ram is defined as a male bighorn sheep having at least one "unbroomed" horn that does not extend past an imaginary line beginning at the point on the animal’s forehead where the front of the horn base adjoins the skull and continues downward in a posterior direction through the posterior edge of the eye. A "broomed" horn is defined as a sheep horn that has been broken, splintered, frayed or rubbed in the wild, thus shortening its length and disrupting its natural taper. See the diagram below for the legal definition of a juvenile ram.


Source: Washington Big Game Hunting Regulations

State information

To view important information and an overview of Washington’s rules/regulations, the draw system, tag and license fees and an interactive boundary line map, check out our State Profile. You can also view the Species Profiles to access historical and statistical data to help you identify trophy areas.

IMPORTANT DATES AND INFORMATION

  • The application deadline is May 19, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. PST.
  • You can apply online here.
  • Results for deer, elk, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, moose and turkey will be available by the end of June.
  • Hunting licenses for mountain goat, moose or bighorn sheep do not have to be purchased unless you are selected for a special hunt permit. If selected, you must send a check or money order for the appropriate fee, to the WDFW's headquarters office by the deadline established by WDFW (15 day minimum) or the permit will become void and will be offered to an alternate. You may also purchase using a credit card by calling (866) 246-9453.
  • Washington does not refund any licenses or permits.
  • Hunter orange and/or fluorescent hunter pink is required for anyone hunting in an area open to modern firearm general deer or elk seasons.

INFORMATION FOR FIRST-TIME APPLICANTS IN WASHINGTON

If you've never applied in Washington before, you will need to have WDFW verify your hunter education information before you can apply. First step is creating your WILD ID account. Then after that, you will need to get your hunter education information added to your account, but to do that takes some time. So be sure to plan ahead.

ANTLERLESS MOOSE/EWE BIGHORN SHEEP

There are unique applications for antlerless moose and ewe bighorn sheep. These are set aside for normal adult applicants, youth, disabled and senior applicants. Unfortunately, these still have rough drawing odds and applicants should expect a long wait to draw one of these hunts.

MANDATORY HUNT REPORTING

Washington is a mandatory hunter reporting state. If you do not submit your report, you will be charged a $10 penalty and this penalty must be paid before you can buy a license the following year. 

By Jan. 31, 2023 11:59 p.m. PST, hunters must report their hunting activity for each special permit acquired and each deer, elk, bear, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat and turkey tag purchased in 2022 even if you did not hunt. For each transport tag, you will owe a general season hunting activity report and you will also owe a hunting activity report for each big game special permit awarded. You cannot submit this information by mail or email.

If your season extends beyond Jan. 31, 2023, the hunter report is due within 10 days of the close of that season.


Cost to apply

Washington does not require the purchase of a hunting license in order to apply for bighorn sheep, moose or mountain goat. They do not require the money up front for the cost of the permit at the time the application is submitted. Only the application fee is required in order to have your chance to draw. 

Resident big game annual license cost

Big game special hunt permit applications Cost
Special hunt permit application — quality $13.70
Big game special hunt licenses and tags Cost
Special moose license and tag $332.00
Special mountain goat license and tag $332.00
Special bighorn sheep license and tag $332.00

 

Nonresident big game annual license cost

Big game special hunt permit applications Cost

Special hunt permit application

(price per application)

$110.50
Big game special hunt licenses and tags Cost
Special moose license and tag $1,652.00
Special mountain goat license and tag $1,652.00
Special bighorn sheep license and tag $1,652.00

Current snowpack conditions


Washington snow water equivalent. Source: NRCS

Current drought conditions


Source: US Drought Monitor

In 2022, the western half of the state has shown quite an improvement in drought conditions from 2021.  The eastern half is seeing the majority of the drought effects.  Moving from abnormally dry to a moderate drought and a portion of the south central region is experiencing some extreme drought conditions.


The Washington draw system

One of the best things about applying in Washington is that there is no quota split for residents and nonresidents. What this means is that every applicant has the same chance at drawing regardless of where you live. 

When applying, you will first need to purchase the applications you are interested in submitting. Once you have purchased them you will then need to go into the applications and select the hunts you are interested in drawing. 

THE POINTS SYSTEM

Washington is a pure bonus point system.  The more points you have, the more applications go into the bucket and increase your chances of drawing a tag. There is no maximum point draw, but your points are squared, which gives you more presence in the draw each year you are unsuccessful. Essentially, it gives you a slightly better random chance of drawing. You will be awarded a point when you purchase your application. So if it’s your first time entering the draw, you will have one point.  If you have 10 points, you square them and add the current year’s point, giving you 101 applications in the bucket.  The good thing about a bonus point system, is whether you have 1 point or 20 points, you always have a chance of drawing.

At face value, this is a great system as it gives exponential value to unsuccessful applicants. The problem with this is that the system is now very mature and going into its 30th year. For 2022, applicants could have 29 points going into the application period. When squared, this means you would go into the bucket with 842 tickets and, yet, if there were 100 applicants with five points, this group of applications would have 2,600 tickets in the bucket, not to mention all of the applicants with points above and below five points. As you can see, your tickets don’t have much presence in the draw when considering all other applicants. This is why Washington is a hard state to commit to year after year. Points are accumulated in each species category. 

MULTIPLE HUNT CHOICES

For moose, you can purchase and submit up to five moose permit applications (one permit application per hunt category, for which you qualify). 

For moose, mountain goat and bighorn sheep, you can apply for a maximum of four hunt choices per application. You do not have to apply for more than one hunt. If more than one hunt choice is requested, each hunt will be considered in the drawing in order of the priority you chose, prior to moving onto the next applicant.

YOUTH’S AND SPECIAL PERMITS

If a youth is awarded a youth permit and turns 16 before purchasing the hunting license and tag, the full resident or nonresident price will be charged. Permit price is determined by the youth's age at the date of the special permit purchase. No refunds or exchanges will be made for those purchasing a hunting license for mountain goat, moose or bighorn sheep.

PARTY APPLICATIONS

When applying as a group, you will have a group leader and group members.  The group leader must submit as the group leader for the category first.  Each group member must submit their application as a group member and MUST know the group leaders WILD ID to join as a group member.  Any points that have been accrued by any party member are considered and averaged across the application. If one member of the group draws, then all members of the group draw. Be sure to apply only for hunt selections that have enough permits available to suffice the group. 

THE MAXIMUM GROUP SIZES FOR EACH SPECIES CATEGORY ARE AS FOLLOWS:

  • 8 - Deer and elk
  • 2 - Bear and mountain lion
  • 2 - Goat, moose and bighorn sheep
  • 4 - Turkey
  • 2 - Multi-season deer and elk

Note: With the extremely low number of tags available, we strongly suggest that you avoid submitting a group application.  Group applications will only decrease your odds even further.  


Washington 2022 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep breakdown

There are currently 11 ram hunts with 22 tags and 4 ewe hunts with 23 tags available in Washington this year.  9 ram hunts and all 4 ewe hunts, take place in the central region of the state, while the remaining two ram hunts take place in the Blue Mountains, down in the southeast corner.  

The most current state data shows an average bighorn sheep population of approximately 1,675 that spreads across 16 different herds. This does not include the herds that are being managed by tribal governments. Six of these herds are Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep while the remaining 11 are California bighorn sheep. 

In 2013, a severe outbreak caused considerable mortality in the Tieton herd near Naches. Concern about the potential spread of disease to the adjacent Cleman Mountain herd prompted WDFW to remove this herd entirely.

HORN MARKING REQUIREMENTS:

A hunter who kills or possesses a bighorn sheep ram taken in Washington must present the horns for inspection and marking within 10 days to a WDFW regional or district office or a location designated by a department representative. Call a WDFW regional or district office to schedule an appointment with a biologist for horn marking. A WDFW employee will permanently mark an identification number on one of the horns. Inspection and marking do NOT substitute for mandatory hunter reporting. For bighorn sheep, both are required.

Hunters are also required to submit a harvest report online regardless if they were successful or not. 

THE GOHUNT HIT LIST UNITS FOR WASHINGTON BIGHORN SHEEP

Washington has brutal odds no matter how you apply. However, Unit 18 is considered the top unit in the state and has been for a number of years. Unit 14 holds its own most years and is one heck of a consolation prize. Regardless, a ram is a ram.  It's best to weigh your options and then cross-reference your choices on Filtering 2.0 and our standalone Draw Odds.

Top hit list units to consider for 165” or better bighorn sheep

Unit Trophy
potential
Harvest
success
Public land %
14 175"+ 100% 65%
18 175"+ 100% 39%
12 170"+ 100% 6%
4 165"+ 100% 35%
5 165"+ 100% 81%
7 165"+ 100% 75%
13 165"+ 100% 68%
16 165"+ 100% 82%

HOW TO UNCOVER HIDDEN GEMS

Unfortunately, as it is in any state and with any bighorn sheep application, there really are no secrets.  Your best bet is to look for the best odds and shoot for the moon.  


Managing points and expectations

To make a long story short, you are going to start at less than 1% for a first timer and, even if you have applied since the very beginning (almost 30 years now), you will still have less than a 1% chance of drawing. Yet, you can’t win if you don’t play and if you want a California or a Rocky Mountain ram, then you need to get your name in this hat.

Find your resident bighorn sheep ram draw odds here

Find your nonresident bighorn sheep ram draw odds here


Washington's 2022 moose breakdown

There are 11 different moose units in Washington. Nine of them offer bull moose permits. Many of these units offer two different hunts — an early and late — for a total of 14 different hunt codes to apply for if you are looking to hunt bull moose. Six of these hunt codes have 10 or more moose tags available. The Selkirk Unit in the far northwest corner of the state has the most permits with 15 up for grabs in this year's draw. These are very hard tags to draw, but the age class across most all units is excellent. If you are lucky enough to draw one of these incredible hunts, you are in for some of the very best Shiras moose hunting in the country. 

If you choose to apply for an antlerless hunt, you are strongly discouraged from harvesting a cow with a calf anywhere near them. With wolf predation and other factors, the WDFW wants to give moose the best chance possible and harvesting cows with calves has a major impact on the health of the herd. 

Washington bull moose are once-in-a-lifetime. If you have previously taken an antlered bull moose in Washington, you cannot apply again; however, you could apply for cow moose or raffle/auction permits.

SUBMISSION OF MOOSE INCISOR TOOTH

If you are successful in harvesting a moose in Washington you are required to send an incisor tooth within 60 days. You will be provided a pre-paid postage envelope so you can return the tooth. Returning the tooth helps the WDFW in managing the moose populations and determining the age of the moose that are harvested. If you would like to check the age of the moose you harvested, you can visit the following website here.

HOW TO UNCOVER HIDDEN GEMS

Unfortunately, like most once-in-a-lifetime hunts in the country, there really are not any “hidden gems.” If you are looking to hunt sooner rather than later, you may have a little more luck applying for an antlerless permit, but even with 26 points, the easiest hunt to draw only had a 3.3% chance of drawing.

2022 Antlered Moose Opportunities

Unit 2022 Tag Quota Harvest
success
Public land %
Unit 1 - Mt Spokane South A 8 100% 10%
Unit 2 - Mt Spokane North A 8 86% 7%
Unit 4 - 49 Degrees North A Early/Late

12

12

E - 100%

L - 91%

40%
Unit 5 - Aladdin A Early/Late

3

3

E - 100%

L - 50%

65%
Unit 5 - Hangman 4 75% 8%
Unit 6 - Douglas A Early/Late

4

4

E -100%

L - 100%

23%
Unit 7 - Huckleberry A Early/Late

10

10

E - 100%

L - 100%

14%
Unit 8 - Kettle Range - East Okanogan 10 86% 58%
Unit 10 - Selkirk 113 15 69% 76%
Unit 11 - Spokane West A 2 100% 7%

Managing expectations

Washington’s system definitely caters to the resident as far as the costs of applying.  If you are a nonresident and feel the need to take a chance, swing for the fence and apply for what you believe to be the best hunts. Someone is going to win. 

Find your resident bull moose draw odds here

Find your nonresident bull moose draw odds here


Washington’s 2022 mountain goat breakdown

Near the turn of the century it was possible to take two mountain goats annually in the Evergreen State. Things have been a bit of a roller coaster since then and, now, there are only 15 total permits up for grabs in these once-in-a-lifetime hunts. These are extremely hard permits to draw — some of the hardest in the county.

To be a legal mountain goat, a hunter can take a goat of either sex, but the horns must be 4” or longer (except where otherwise permitted by a WDFW rule even if permits are drawn for more than one mountain goat hunt category). 

Along with that, WDFW strongly encourages hunters to refrain from shooting nannies even though nannies can be legally taken by permit holders. WDFW also encourages permit holders to avoid taking a radio-collared mountain goat. Applicants drawn for a permit may only purchase their license after successfully completing the WDFW online mountain goat gender identification training.

SEASONS

All but two of the normal mountain goat opportunities will run from Sept. 1 through Nov. 30. The other units — Mt. Margaret Backcountry and Mt. St. Helens South — run from Oct. 1 through Nov. 30. 

All permits are considered any weapon.

MANDATORY INSPECTION FOR MOUNTAIN GOAT KILL

A hunter who kills a mountain goat in Washington must present the head with horns attached for inspection within 10 days to a WDFW regional or district office or a location designated by a department representative. Call a WDFW regional or district office to schedule an appointment with a biologist for inspection. Inspection does not substitute for mandatory hunter reporting. For mountain goats, both are required.

2022 Mountain Goat Opportunities

Unit 2022 Tag Quota Harvest
success

Public land

%

N Lake Chelan (2-1) 1 100% 99%
S Lake Chelan (2-3) 1 100% 99%
Naches Pass (3-6) 1 100% 99%
Bumping River (3-7) 1 100% 99%
Chowder Ridge (4-3) 1 100% 98%
Lincoln Peak (4-4) 2 0% 81%
Avalanche Gorge (4-7) 3 100% 100%
Boulder R North (4-8) 1 100% 100%
Goat Rocks W (5-4) 1 100% 98%

Managing expectations

There are 12 different hunt choices to choose from when considering where to apply in Washington. There are only two hunt choices that have two or more permits available. The Avalanche Gorge Unit has the most permits up for grabs with a total of three. Given how hard these permits are to draw, it is a good idea to apply for the most number of permits you can when choosing which hunts to apply for. This will keep your name in the running further into the process and will likely give you the best chances.

Comments

50 states, 50 bucks, 50 points
THE Hunting App
Save up to 50% off in our memorial day sale