Posted by: columbiahighlands | November 25, 2010

Turkey day in the Columbia Highlands

In honor of Thanksgiving, we honor the wild turkeys of the Columbia Highlands.

Turkeys are not native to Washington, but since 1960, when the first turkeys were released in Klickitat County, the birds have made themselves right at home in the Evergreen State.

Three subspecies of wild turkey now inhabit the state, with the Columbia Highlands of northeast Washington home to the Merriam’s subspecies. Since their introduction to northeast Washington in the mid-1960s, the Merriam’s turkey population has steadily grown—and, since turkey hunting was introduced in 1984, so have turkey hunting success rates.

In fact, the far northeast corner of the state is the most productive turkey hunting region in Washington. During the Spring 2008 season, Population Management Unit P10—which encompasses Pend Oreille, Stevens and the eastern part of Ferry County—accounted for two-thirds of the state turkey harvest.

To boost your odds of hunting success, think like a turkey. The Merriam’s subspecies is native to the ponderosa pine foothills of the southern Rocky Mountains in Colorado, New Mexico and southern Arizona. And, like many species of game, wild turkeys are sensitive to habitat degradation—road-building, logging, and other development.

Plenty of unspoiled low-elevation public lands can still be found in the Columbia Highlands, particularly on the eastern ponderosa foothills and drainages of the Kettle Range. The Deer Creek, Jackknife and Hoodoo Canyon roadless areas offer great open ponderosa pine habitat, as does the Sherman Creek Wildlife Area north of Highway 20.

Although it’s too late to bag a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, several weeks still remain in the late fall general season, which continues through December 15. Recent heavy snows should have pushed turkeys to even lower elevations, which increases the hunter’s chances of putting a big bird on the Christmas dinner table.



  1. great post- happy thanksgiving!

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