Person standing in tall grass with rifle hunting for duck


We recognize that hunting is a healthy, traditional outdoor pastime, deeply rooted in America’s heritage. Hunting can instill a unique understanding and appreciation of wildlife, their behavior, and their habitat needs. As practiced on refuges, hunting, trapping and fishing do not pose a threat to wildlife populations, and in some instances are necessary for sound wildlife management. For example, because their natural predators are gone, deer populations will often grow too large for the refuge habitat to support. At Turnbull NWR, three different types of hunting opportunities are available


In an area of northeastern Washington known as the Channeled Scablands, Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge is an unusual mix of habitats, including wetlands, shrub-steppe, and aspen and ponderosa pine forests. It is also home to a large population of elk, which traditionally increased during hunting season. Because the refuge was closed to hunting, the elk discovered it was a safe zone. The large number of elk have taken a toll on the refuge’s landscape, especially the aspen trees. With the goal of moving some elk off the refuge and restoring habitat, the refuge opened to elk hunting in 2010. The hunt is limited by state lottery to approximately 60 permits during the state season. It presents a good opportunity for big game hunters. 

The refuge also is open during the state youth waterfowl season (under 16 years of age) at a few locations along Upper Turnbull Lake. Youth waterfowl hunting is also open on Saturday and Sunday starting with the regular duck, goose, and coot hunting seasons in October, as set by the State, until November 30.

A fall Turkey hunt started on the refuge in 2023 to provide additional wildlife-dependent recreation opportunities, manage turkey populations in line with State management objectives, and potentially reduce competition between turkeys, which are not native to Washington, and native ground-feeding land birds.

Accessibility Information

Equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from programs and activities of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is available to all individuals regardless of physical or mental ability. For more information, please contact the U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Equal Opportunity.


Hunter orange is required during the modern firearm elk season.


Persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on National Wildlife Refuge System lands must comply with all provisions of State and local law. Persons may only use (discharge) firearms in accordance with refuge regulations (50 CFR 27.42 and specific refuge regulations in 50 CFR Part 32).


Licensed motor vehicles are permitted only on public use roads and trails as shown on the map, unless otherwise authorized. ATVs, UTVs, ORVs are prohibited.


Elk Hunting

Permit Procedures

Refuge elk hunting is managed through the State managed Special Permit Application process. Annual seasons include Modern Firearm, Muzzleloader, Archery, Youth, Hunter with Disability, Master Hunter, and Quality Elk. Successful applicants are randomly selected for the 3 refuge elk hunt units by the Refuge Manager. Hunters are required to hunt in their assigned unit only.  


Scouting will be allowed one day prior to each season opener. Elk hunters may enter the Refuge no earlier than two hours before shooting time to 5 hours after sunset to retrieve their elk. Refer to State big game hunting pamphlet for specific hunting times.


Vehicles are limited to parking areas designated for the assigned unit. A parking permit must be displayed on the dash of the elk hunter’s vehicle while hunting. Motorized vehicles are permitted for the disabled hunt only. Hunters may use non-motorized carts only to help with retrieval of their elk.

Hunting Parties

Hunting will be conducted in accordance with all federal, state, and refuge-specific regulations. Each hunter is allowed one non-hunting companion to accompany them on their hunt, and up to three non-hunting companions for retrieval of elk. Companions must be with the permitted hunter at all times. 


Modern firearms are restricted to the Southwest unit. Archery and muzzleloader are allowed in the Southwest, Helm’s, and the Northeast unit. Hunters participating in the Master or Disabled Hunts have their choice of weapon in accordance with Refuge regulations. Method of take is in accordance to the State seasons.


Youth Waterfowl Hunting


Access to the youth waterfowl hunting area is allowed two hours prior to legal shooting hours to one hour after legal shooting hours. Refer to State migratory waterfowl hunting pamphlet for specific hunting times.


Waterfowl hunters must park in spaces numbered 1 through 5 in the waterfowl hunter parking lot, corresponding with the hunting site they wish to hunt. Access to hunting sites from designated parking is by foot only. Hunters requiring disabled access should contact the refuge manager.


Only portable non-motorized boats are allowed for waterfowl hunting.

Dog Use

The use of dogs is allowed when hunting waterfowl. Hunting dogs must always be under the control of the hunter or accompanying adult.  

Blinds & Hunting Sites

Hunters are limited to five fixed hunting sites. Hunting will only be allowed within 50 yards of posted hunting sites. Sites 1 through 5 are available on a first-come, first-served basis. No permanent blinds are provided for the waterfowl hunt. The construction of permanent blinds, pit blinds and tree stands, and the cutting/removal of vegetation is not allowed. All blind materials, decoys, and other equipment, including spent casings, must be removed following each day’s hunt.

Hunting Parties

Each hunting party must consist of at least one youth hunter under 16 years of age and one adult hunter, at least 18 years old, to accompany and supervise the youth hunter. Hunting parties are limited to four hunters, with no more than two adult hunters.


Shotgun only.


Turkey Hunting

Permit Procedure 

We require turkey hunters reserve hunt days in advance through the WDFW Hunt By Reservation Only online system


Turkey hunters, with the exception of disabled hunters, will only be allowed access to the Long Lake Unit by foot through the parking area gate on Mullinix Road. Turkey hunters with disabilities must apply to the Refuge Manager for a Special Use Permit in advance of their hunt date that would allow them to use a vehicle or e-bike (restricted to existing/maintained roadways) to access the hunt area.

Hunting Parties 

A maximum of two turkey hunting parties, with a limit of up to four hunters per party, are allowed to hunt during each two-day hunt period.


All shot used by or in possession of turkey hunters must be federally approved non-toxic shot. Hunters must pack out used shot shells and other trash.

Hunt Type

Season Dates


Hunt Areas

Other Regulations

Elk HuntSpecial permit seasons in accordance with State regulations. 1 elk

Helm’s – muzzleloader and archery only

Northeast – muzzleloader and archery only

Southwest – any weapon

See map below or view online.

Refuge authorization letter and parking permits are required. 

Hunters not using approved nontoxic ammunition must remove or bury the visceral remains of harvested animals.

Ducks, Coot, and Geese

State youth waterfowl hunt in September. 

Youths, under 16 years of age, and up to two accompanying adults on Saturday and Sunday starting with the regular duck, goose, and coot hunting seasons in October, as set by the State, until November 30.

State regulations apply.

Waterfowl hunting is allowed in Upper Turnbull Slough within 50 yards of designated hunting sites.

See map below or view online.

Youths under 16 need a State hunting license and migratory bird validation, but not a federal migratory bird hunting and conservation stamp (Duck Stamp).

Hunting party must consist of at least one youth, under 16 years of age and one adult, 18 years or older. All shot used by or in possession of waterfowl hunters must be federally approved non-toxic shot.

Turkey (Fall)Turkey hunting is allowed four days per week (Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, & Sunday) during the State fall season (typically Sept 1 - Dec 31).State regulations apply.

Fall Turkey hunting is allowed in the Long Lake unit only.

See map below or view online.

All shot used by or in possession of turkey hunters must be federally approved non-toxic shot.


Signs and Boundaries

Please respect the following signs

  • REFUGE PERMIT Hunting Parking Only
  • NO HUNTING ZONE Beyond this Sign
  • AREA BEYOND THIS SIGN CLOSED All public entry prohibited
  • PUBLIC HUNTING AREA Refuge Hunting Access Permit Required
  • NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE Unauthorized Entry Prohibited (boundary sign)

Applies to the area located behind the sign

  • Refuge Boundary: The entire Refuge perimeter is posted with the Blue Goose logo, National Wildlife Refuge Unauthorized Entry Prohibited, and Area Beyond this Sign Closed. Entry permitted in accordance with refuge regulations.
  • Public Hunt area: Access requires refuge permit. Consult Refuge Manager for current regulations.
  • Closed Area: All entry prohibited.
  • No Hunting Zone: Hunting, weapons, and game retrieval prohibited. Contact Refuge Manager or Law Enforcement for consent to retrieve.

Prohibited Activities 

  • Overnight parking
  • Motorized vehicles
  • Camping, fires, fishing, horseback riding, ATV, ORV, snowmobiles, bicycles 
  • The use of remotely piloted/controlled devices
  • Searching for or removal of any natural items including, but not limited to, antlers, skulls, plants, historic, and archaeological features protected by Federal law
  • Trapping and falconry
  • Motorized boats
  • Use of electronic or photographic trail monitoring devices
  • Marking or flagging any tree or other Refuge feature with reflectors, paint, or other substance
  • Permanent tree stands, nails, wire, screw-in steps, metal objects or other items that penetrate the outer bark of a tree
  • Possession of loaded firearms or a bow with the arrow notched within any safety zone or Refuge Closed Area
  • Possession of loaded firearms or a bow with the arrow notched within any safety zone or Refuge Closed Area
  • Possession of alcoholic beverages while hunting
  • Access to the Refuge from private property
  • Littering
Related Documents
Turnbull NWR - Hunt Regulations (508)

Web-friendly hunt brochure for Turnbull NWR.