April 12, 2004
Contact: Mick Cope, (360) 902-2691
Spring turkey season runs April 15-May 15
OLYMPIA – With increasing harvests fueling their enthusiasm, turkey hunters will take to the field April 15 for the opening of Washington's month-long spring turkey hunt.
Turkey harvest continues to be high compared to a few years ago, said Mick Cope, upland game manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
While turkey harvest has increased in many parts of the state, more than 80 percent occurs in northeast Washington, Cope noted. Southeast Washington and Klickitat County are also productive, and huntable turkey populations exist in Yakima, Kittitas, Chelan and Okanogan counties and southwest Washington.
Participation in the hunt has increased, too, and Cope said hunters are contributing to the economic health of many communities. A study of the 2003 turkey-hunting season showed hunters spent an estimated $9 million while pursuing the birds.
"Besides increasing hunter success, Washington is one of the only states in the country where hunters can harvest three different turkey sub-species," Cope said.
Merriam turkeys are present in Stevens, Pend Oreille, Ferry, Klickitat, Yakima, Kittitas, Chelan and Okanogan counties; Rio Grande turkeys are in Lincoln County and southeast Washington; and eastern turkeys are present in southwest Washington.
Hunters can take up to three tom turkeys (turkeys with visible beards) per season. Two birds may be harvested in eastern Washington per year but only one of those may be taken in Chelan, Kittitas and Yakima counties combined. Two turkeys may be harvested per year in Klickitat County.
Cope has these suggestions for prospective turkey hunters:
- Always ask for permission to hunt before entering private land.
- Do not attempt to stalk a turkey; what appears to be a gobbler could turn out to be another hunter.
- If another hunter is working a bird, don't spoil it by calling or spooking the bird.
- Be certain that the gobbler is within sure range before taking a shot.
- Remember that turkeys can only be hunted with shotguns or archery equipment. Using dogs or bait is illegal.
A small game license is required for turkey hunting. The first turkey tag is included with a small game license, which costs $32.85 for residents and $164.25 for non-residents. Up to two additional tags may be purchased at any time during the season, at a cost of $18 each for residents and $60 apiece for non-residents.
Wild turkey spring season pamphlets are available online, at hunting license dealers and at WDFW offices.
Hunters must report their hunting activity and can do so by telephone (1-877-945-3492) or at http://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov/ on the Internet. The report information is used by WDFW to better monitor hunter effort, distribution, harvest and trends.
Hunters who are unsuccessful at harvesting two eastern Washington turkeys may apply for a fall permit. The application deadline is June 20. Hunt choices will be published in the WDFW Big Game Seasons and Rules pamphlet and will be posted on the WDFW web page.
Two Mason County residents have won WDFW’s annual turkey tag raffle. Karen Schiemer of Allyn and Chris Schreiber of Shelton each received three additional tags to hunt during an extended period from April 1 through May 31.