Hunters should find good numbers of wild turkeys when the season opens Friday, if they are hunting lower elevations away from the snow.
Mick Cope, upland game manager for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, said reports from the field indicate there are good numbers of birds. He added, however, that winter turkey surveys showed a reduction in birds observed per mile compared with 2010.
Hunters can pursue three subspecies of wild turkeys in Washington. Merriam’s turkey are found in northeast and north-central Washington. Rio Grandes can be found in the southeast corner of the state and Easterns are in the southwest corner of the state.
The northeast corner of the state, around Colville, remains the hot spot of hunters. Two-thirds of the turkeys harvested each year come from that part of the state.
While harvest data from 2010 is not yet available, hunters took 2,870 turkeys from the northeast portion of the state in 2009.
“Early season hunting may be hampered by snow remaining at middle and higher elevations. I expect early season hunters with access to low elevation lands (below 2,200 feet in northeast Washington) to be fairly successful. Hunters may find success throughout the season as they follow the snow melt up in elevation.
Season: Friday through May 31
Hunting hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset during spring season.
Restrictions: Gobblers and turkeys with visible beards only.
Bag/possession limits: A total of three turkeys in the spring season with the following restrictions: Only two turkeys may be taken in Eastern Washington and only one of those may be taken in Chelan, Kittitas, and Yakima counties (combined); only one turkey may be taken in Western Washington per year. Two turkeys may be taken in Klickitat County.
Costs: Small game license is $38 for resident adults, $20 for youth 15 and younger; primary turkey tag $17.30; additional turkey transport tag, $17.30 for adults and $11.30 for youth.
Reporting: Turkey hunters must report their hunting activity whether or not they harvest an animal. Hunters not reporting by Jan. 31, 2012, will be subject to a $10 penalty which must be paid before they can purchase a license for the following year. A report is required for each tag acquired. Hunters can file reports by calling toll free 877-945-3492 or online at www.fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov.