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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Field reports: Weather may boost wild turkey season

Wild turkey gobblers court their hens for breeding during spring. (Rich Landers)
Wild turkey gobblers court their hens for breeding during spring. (Rich Landers)

HUNTING – Spring gobbler hunting seasons open in Washington and Idaho on Wednesday and scouters are noticing a difference.

Turkeys in mountainous areas tend to follow the snowline up the slopes in spring as they expand their range from wintering areas.

This year the near-record low snowpack already has receded dramatically. Snow levels are higher than normal and turkey breeding groups are dispersing more widely than in a normal winter.

Hunters are likely to find turkeys moving off private land up onto higher public ground that was under snow on April 15, 2014.

The unusually spring like winter weather didn’t necessarily change the timing of breeding.

Paul Wik, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist in Clarkston, said even in years with normal winters, turkeys begin breeding before mid-April.

Dave Koehler, Idaho Fish and Game Department biologist, said mountain roads are opening earlier than normal giving hunters more access.

If good weather prompted some turkeys to breed a little sooner, that could be good for hunters, he said.

When breeding is underway by the opening of the season, many hens will have already started to nest, leaving toms more likely to come in hot to hunters’ calls, he said.

New rules adopted; 4-point buck rule ends

HUNTING – Proposals to restrict the use of bait for hunting were tabled by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission on Friday, but the panel adopted a slate of hunting changes including elimination of a four-point buck rule in northeastern Washington.

Some rules adopted by the commission in Tumwater will expand hunting by:

• Adding two days to mule deer modern firearm seasons. 

• Adding antlerless whitetail hunting in the northeast.

• Delaying archery elk season to start the Saturday after Labor Day to provide hunting in cooler weather. 

• Doubling spring bear permits in the northeast.

• Allowing muzzleloader elk hunters into in more game management units.

• Increasing moose permits to 170 from 136 as moose numbers are near all-time high.

The commission did not adopt a controversial proposal to restrict the use of bait when hunting for deer and elk, even states such as Idaho already do.

The panel directed the Department of Fish and Wildlife to work up new options for consideration next year.

A four-point minimum antler requirement for whitetail bucks in Units 117 and 121, adopted in 2011, was dropped.

Tufted puffin listed

SPECIES – The tufted puffin will be listed as a state endangered species in Washington, according to a vote by the Fish and Wildlife Commission Friday.

The native seabirds, once considered common in parts of Washington, have significantly declined.

Steller sea lions, on the other hand, were removed from the threatened list.

Snake springer date set

FISHING – Spring chinook salmon seasons will open in two sections of the Snake River in Washington on April 19.

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