Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Fall 2015

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Resource Management

Committee Chair

Rex Wirth

Second Committee Member

James Huckabay

Third Committee Member

Steven Hackenberger


Elk and deer are particularly challenging natural resources to manage due to their mobility and the impacts of other species and humans both direct and indirect. A man-made lack of natural predators has created a need for hunting in order to control the population expansions of herds. Such efforts face two major problems: mobility makes herds difficult to accurately quantify and hunting laws are challenging to enforce. Policies regarding the annual take and type of hunting have been based on the assumption that the primary factor motivating hunters is harvesting more animals. However, this study has found that the primary motivations are actually socializing with friends and family and enjoying the outdoors. The Washington Master Hunter Permit Program was created to provide further outreach to the hunting community than could be accomplished through volunteer efforts and general hunter training alone. Even though, the benefits of the program are based on the assumption that harvesting an additional animal is of primary importance, it turns out that it fits well with the primary motives revealed in the survey. The ethical obligations that underpin motivations for hunting are critical policy considerations in the effective management of elk and deer. The Master Hunter Program seems to be generating social capital by tapping into motivations that stem from ethical commitments that are present throughout the community and dominant in major sub-sectors. To the extent that these commitments are shared by the community at large, the program can develop a hunting community based on this shared morality that will reduce reliance on legal deterrents and lead to more effective management.