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Landers: Elk hunting options abound near Turnbull

Outdoors editor and columnist Rich Landers. (The Spokesman-Review)
Outdoors editor and columnist Rich Landers. (The Spokesman-Review)

Big-game hunters still have a shot at getting a Washington special permit even though the May 18 deadline for submitting applications has passed.

Tickets for raffle permit hunts managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will be sold through July 13.

Many of these permits allow choice hunts for deer, elk, mountain goat, moose and bighorn sheep.

Raffles free applicants from the mercy of pre-set odds. The more $6 tickets you buy, the better your chances for getting, say, a coveted East Side elk tag that allows a hunter to shoot any bull from Sept. 1-Dec. 31.

For a shot like that, some sportsmen might be tempted to miss a few mortgage payments or put the kid’s college fund on hold.

Just remember to leave some cash in reserve: Divorce is not cheap.

The information on raffle tags is published on Page 83 of the current Washington hunting regulations pamphlet.

However, the information is incomplete regarding the new hunting opportunities on the private lands just outside Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.

The last entry under the raffle permit hunts mentions the Columbia Plateau Wildlife Management Association. The pamphlet lists the group as offering 13 antlerless permits and one bull permit (that’s a typo in the regs; it should be 2 bull permits) for a season running Jan. 1-March 31, 2013.

But that’s not even half of the elk hunting opportunity.

The Columbia Plateau WMA is a nonprofit organization with a board of directors that seeks agreements with landowners around Turnbull to allow controlled public hunting in Game Management Unit 130.

The group essentially is working with the state wildlife agency as a broker between the public and landowners.

The group was adopted as a partner by the Fish and Wildlife Commission in April. The acreage and other information are not yet showing on the Fish and Wildlife Department website.

Columbia Plateau WMA is one of seven cooperators in the Landowner Hunting Permit Program. The state negotiates with these cooperators to get public hunting access to unique or high-quality hunting opportunities.

In this example, the average elk hunter would have little luck getting access to private lands around the Turnbull area without the Landowner Hunter Permit Program through the Columbia Plateau WMA.

The program allows landowners to work with the department to set special hunting season dates on their property and have hunting opportunities on their lands customized.

In the case of the Columbia Plateau WMA, the state has designated the area will get 30 antlerless elk tags and three bull tags for 2012. These tags are split between the private landowner group and the Fish and Wildlife Department in this manner:

• The state took 15 of the antlerless tags and one of the bull tags and offered them in general special antlerless elk hunt lottery. The application period ended May 18.

• Columbia Plateau WMA received 15 antlerless tags and two bull tags, which it can raffle to raise funds for its own purposes. This is raffle is handled through the group’s website at The deadline for buying tickets – $10 for antlerless drawings, $25 for bull drawings – is Sept. 30.

Elk hunters who put in for various permits might find one big advantage to buying the more expensive raffle tickets from the Columbia Plateau WMA. If you were to fill your single elk tag in an earlier hunt, you could transfer the WMA access permit to another elk hunter with an unnotched tag.

One more hunting opportunity is offered by the Columbia Plateau WMA.

Note: The Columbia Plateau group is raffling 13 of the 15 tags it was given by the state. The other two tags are being used by landowners enrolled in the group.

Sign up by June 20 for a chance of drawing free hunting access dates the group is offering to private lands around the Turnbull area during the general hunting seasons.

Last year the group accommodated 115 hunters on a first-come basis. This year, because of increased interest, the group is choosing hunters in a lottery.

Hunters drawn in the lottery will pick their hunting dates at a June 30 meeting.

For information you can’t find on the website, call (509) 263-4616

Contact Rich Landers at (509) 459-5508 or email

Tags: outdoors

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