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Turnbull Wildlife Refuge

Our organization works with Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge. The

Manager/Deputy Project Leader, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, stationed at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge has attended

a board meeting supports our efforts.  He also provided a brief history of the refuge and explained how they work with private

landowners to improve habitat.  The first time hunting was allowed was in 2010 and 63 permits were given.

They had 35 elk radio tagged to determine migration movement.  Our local elk herd migrates between Turnbull,

our managed properties and other local areas. 


CPWMA has worked well with Turnbull's last two administrators. They have attended some Board meetings with good results.

We have also worked with WDFW and Turnbull biologists to determine carrying capacity and monitor aspen growth. Additionally, CPWMA, INWC and RMEF have performed telemetry work for Turnbull with graduate students and have

received recognition from Friends of Turnbull.

See our history.


Since about 50% of Washington is in private ownership, many public hunting opportunities rely on landowners

opening their lands. In Washington, hunters must obtain landowner permission to hunt on private land. Since 1948,

WDFW has worked with private landowners across the state to provide public access through a negotiated

agreement. Landowners participating in a WDFW cooperative agreement retain liability protection provided under

RCW 4.24.210. Landowners receive technical services, materials for posting (signs and posts), and registration cards.

We have partnered with Washington State Fish and Wildlife to participate in their "Hunting By Written Permission

Only" program. See the General Hunting Season section of the Hunting Opportunities page for more information.

WDFW LHP Program

WDFW has approved CPWMA to raffle Land Holder Permits (LHP). We are currently offering a raffle for 9 cow permits

and 2 bull permits. These permits are for the following:

Cow (Antlerless) - January - 3 permits available
Cow (Antlerless) - February - 3 permits available
Cow (Antlerless) - March - 3 permits available
Bull - January through March - 2 permits available

LHP Raffle prices will be $10 (per ticket) for a cow and $25 (per ticket) for a bull. See the LHP Raffle page on this site

for more information.

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Elk: The Rut

The following information covers the biology of the pre-rut thru to the winter season for the Rocky Mountain Elk.

Late June: It begins with the summer solstice. For elk, the daily decrease in daylight hours –as metered by the eyes and registered by the hypothalamus, which in turn is regulated by the pituitary – forecasts the hormone production that initiates and directs the rut. Most notably, in bulls, the testes begin to swell, fueling up for the action soon to come.


Early August: Among Rocky Mountain elk, visible rutting activity begins now, just before velvet shedding. Until now, bulls have been social and relatively at peace, with aggressive behavior limited to the head-up hissing display. If there is a dispute, generally it is settled by striking with the front legs, since velvet antlers are delicate and sensitive.

The neck mane has not yet started to grow; that must await the hormonal changes triggered by velvet shedding and will not be completed until sometime in November. Consequently, the Rocky Mountain bull elk ruts with a short mane.


Mid- to late August: With remarkable synchronicity, bulls now shed their velvet and become aggressive. Sparring begins immediately after shedding, and the first bugles sound. With the last days of August, bulls begin dispersing to their respective rutting grounds – places they’re familiar and comfortable with from previous ruts, and where cows are known to congregate.


Early September: With the onset of bugling, bulls begin perfuming themselves with pheromones by self-urinating and wallowing. A related ritual, commonly called horning, involves thrashing brush and young trees with antlers. Horning generally occurs during vocal or visual interaction with rival bulls, and serves to signal confidence and the intent to dominate. Preferred rub trees are conifer saplings two to four inches in diameter and seven to ten feet tall, from which bark is scraped, branches are stripped and the trunks are occasionally broken. Dominant bulls also horn trees as part of the self-marking ceremony prior to wallowing; often, dark neck hair can be found on these mutilated victims of the early rut.


Bull wallowing entails digging-out dry “scrapes”, or, more often, churning mud or shallow water into a froth, urinating on belly, under-neck and ground, and then rolling in the resulting muck. The object is to coat the neck mane with pheromone-laden urine and wallow mud, which is then transferred to nearby “billboard” trees or other vegetation by neck rubbing. Also during September, bugling increases and herding and courting behavior begin in earnest.


Mid-September: By now, dominant bulls are gathering and guarding breeding herds, all the while being harassed by off-prime, or “satellite” bulls, old as well as young.

To maintain his herd, a harem-master must distinguish himself, through both advertising (bugling, bluffing, horning, ritualized antler displays) and valor, so that cows will cling to him as an island of peace, where less competent and therefore less desirable bulls don’t dare venture. Even so, this is still the pre-rut, which technically continues until breeding begins, any day now. Now through early October, cows will come serially into estrus and seek to be bred by dominant bulls. Lesser bulls continue to be a bother to both cows and herd- masters, even as the physical condition of active herd bulls gradually deteriorates.


Late September: While reliable data are scarce, wallowing should peak in late September and continue, gradually decreasing, through late October. By then, some exhausted herd-masters may actually leave their harems in order to rest, abandoning unbred cows to younger males.


Early October: As fewer and fewer cows remain to be bred, bugling decreases.


Late October: By now, with rare exceptions, the rut is finished for another year. Cows regroup in winter herds, including calves and yearling bulls driven out during the rut. Bulls fall silent and become increasingly solitary, resting and feeding in an attempt to recover from rut exhaustion and battle wounds before the onset of winter. Many do not succeed, accounting for the high winterkill rate among prime males. Next comes moving to winter habitat.

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