Spring turkey hunting season to open Monday



Washington’s general spring turkey hunting season opens Monday and continues through May 31.

Resident hunters need a $40.50 small game license plus a $15.90 primary turkey tag.

Klickitat and eastern Skamania counties have a stable population of wild turkeys. The harvest in the past three years was 447 in 2009, 863 in 2010 and 464 in 2011. Figures for 2012 are not available yet.

Non-hunters might be puzzled by all the strange buzzwords like beards, spurs and Jakes, so here’s some insight on turkeyhunt vocabulary.

Beard: Specialized feathers sprouting from the chest of male turkeys (and a few females). Beards resemble coarse hair similar to a horse’s tail. Mature, 2-year-old gobblers usually have a beard measuring 8 or 9 inches.

Jake: Turkey gobbler born last spring or summer. The immature bird, which tends to be more naive and easier to call, usually has a stubby beard less than 6 inches long. When a jake struts, the middle feathers of his fan are slightly longer than the flanking feathers.

Spurs: Spikes that grow on a turkey’s legs just above its ankles. Turkey spurs are used for fighting and grow slowly throughout the turkey’s life. Long spurs are prized by experienced hunters. A spur longer than an inch is considered good; longer than 11/2 inches, excellent.

Henned up: A gobbler accompanied by hens. Lone gobblers come more readily to a call than toms focused on breeding what’s at hand. To hunt a henned up tom, try soft hen calls in an effort to attract the hens. Where the hens go, the gobbler will follow.

Strut: Ritual display used to impress hens and discourage subordinate gobblers. A strutting gobbler puffs his feathers out and spreads his fan to make himself appear as big as possible.

Put a turkey to bed: After a turkey flies up to his roost at dusk, he will often gobble, to let nearby hens know where he’s spending the night. You can use locator calls at dusk to elicit responses from a roosting gobbler. A hunter who puts a turkey to bed knows where to start the next morning.