HUNTING PREVIEW: Spring turkey outlook similar to 2013 results

Staff writerApril 6, 2014 

The Merriam’s subspecies is the most common wild turkey to be found in Washington, but hunters also can encounter Rio Grande and Eastern subspecies. The spring hunting season opens April 15.

NATIONAL WILD TURKEY FEDERATION

Turkey hunters heading out for the spring season starting April 15 should see bird numbers comparable to the 2013 season.

“The outlook for this year is pretty good. Any winter mortality of birds was minimal,” said Brian Calkins, small game manager for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. “Although, I wouldn’t expect any big increases in harvest from last year.”

While the 2013 harvest numbers have not been released, Calkins said a preliminary review shows the harvest of turkeys in 2013 was down a little bit from 2012.

“That was the case pretty much across the board; a little decline but no major declines in any particular area,” Calkins said.

Spring harvest totals peaked in 2011 with 5,551 birds killed. Since then, the harvest has declined.

“Some of it could be winter survival and breeding success,” Calkins said. “Some of it almost might be that we’ve expanded some of our fall seasons a bit. We don’t have a lot of data on that, but that might be a factor.”

While there are rule changes this year, Calkins said there are some new private properties enrolled in the state’s hunt by reservation program. They include several in Northeast Washington and one in Whitman County that is in a productive turkey area.

“Once the reservation locations are posted, they are available on a first-come, first-served basis,” Calkins said.

Given the success of the program, still in its first year, Calkins said the hope is to make it a drawing system.

“That way we don’t have people sitting at their computers at midngiht trying to make reservations on the first day,” he said. “That happened last fall. It’s a pretty popular program even though its just a year old.”

Spring season turkey harvest

YearTotal

20124,073

20115,551

20105,365

20094,617

20084,082

20075,302

20065,137

20054,730

20044,629

20034,465

2012 Spring turkey Hunting recap

Total Harvest: 4,073

Total hunters: 11,718

Success rate: 34.8 percent

Note: The 2012 harvest was down 26.6 percent compared to the 2011 spring season, when the harvest was 5,551 turkeys.

Jeffrey P. Mayor: 253-597-8640 jeff.mayor@ thenewstribune.com thenewstribune.com/outdoors

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