With Washington’s spring turkey season coming up – the youth hunt is this weekend – here’s what WDFW biologists in two of the state’s best region say about this year’s prospects, along with more info on the hunt.
“The winter in the valleys was very mild with snow rarely sticking for more than a week or two and quickly melting with our recent warm weather,” Annemarie Prince, District 1 wildlife biologist, said in early March for our April issue. “Therefore, I’m guessing the turkeys did very well this year. I’ve even seen them moving up and away from the valley bottoms a bit now that the snow line is getting even higher.
“If the snow continues to recede quickly, birds might be found at higher elevations earlier in the season this year than in the past. Flocks will still likely be larger in the valley bottoms, but some turkeys will move up with the snow line,” she added.
For WDFW’s April Weekender report, out earlier this week, Prince updated that with, “Turkeys are moving to higher elevations as the snow recedes. LeClerc Creek and Rustlers Gulch wildlife areas in the northeast district usually have a good number of gobblers. The winter closure gates on the Bisbee Mountain and Trout Lake roads on the Sherman Creek Wildlife Area re-opened April 1. The map below can help hunters looking for public land opportunities to locate good areas for turkey hunting.”
“Also, if you want to hunt private property, ask for permission now and not after the season has started,” Prince tipped early last month.
There’s not much if any Feel Free To Hunt land in this part of the state, but there are some Hunt By Written Permission and Hunt By Reservation properties. For details, see WDFW’s Private Lands access program.
Klickitat County is Washington’s second most popular spring turkey hunting region, at least in terms of hunter numbers, and if state wildlife biologist Stefanie Bergh’s mid-March report to us was any indication, there should be gobblers around to greet those who venture to the eastern Columbia Gorge this season, especially given two mild springs that likely helped reproduction and brood survival.
“The past two winters have been average/mild, so I would guess winter survival has been high as well,” she noted.
Bergh termed the Klickitat Wildlife Area’s largest unit – 14,000-acre Soda Springs along and above the middle Klickitat River – as “always a great place to go,” but there are other options as well.
“Anecdotally, every year we continue to receive reports of turkeys farther west in Skamania County, mainly at low elevations along the Columbia River,” she stated.
“DNR lands in both Skamania and Klickitat Counties, even as far north as Trout Lake, have turkey populations,” Bergh added.
“Securing permission to hunt on private land where turkeys persist will likely be the best option for a successful hunt, whereas public lands might take a bit more work and scouting,” she noted.
DATES, MORE INFO
Following the April 3-4 youth hunt, the general season runs April 15-May 31. With the new license year having just begun, don’t forget to pick up or print out your paperwork.
If you’re new to the pursuit and looking for some tips, or just want to brush up on the state’s gobblers and how to hunt them, WDFW posted a great multipart “Turkey Takeover” series here.
And we’ll give ourselves a plug: Grab a copy of the April issue of Northwest Sportsman for much more great gobbler gunning content from MD Johnson, Jason Brooks, Troy Rodakowski and Dave Workman.