A tom turkey spreads his tail fan while standing in a meadow.
A tom turkey spreads his tail fan while standing in a meadow.
As the weather cools off, a turkey’s diet begins to shift. In early fall, turkeys turn to berries and other mast-producing shrubs. If you’re lucky enough to be hunting where Washington’s only oak species (Oregon white or Garry oak) persist, you might find that turkeys are after the acorns beneath them.

Five techniques to help you bag a turkey in Washington this fall

Helpful tips for hunting this sharp-eyed game bird

NOTE: Wildfires are burning in parts of Eastern and Central Washington, causing some trail, road, and campground closures. If you are planning an annual hunting trip or another outdoor adventure, first check that your destination is open. Stay tuned to local news sources for evolving information as conditions and closures can change quickly. Up-to-date information on wildfires in Washington is available on the InciWeb site. WDFW has created a webpage for our wildlife areas that are currently impacted and will keep it updated as we receive new information. Our thoughts are with those impacted by these fires as they work to recover.

Washington’s fall general season for wild turkey is coming up fast, so WDFW has gathered fall techniques here to help your season be a successful one. The season starts Sept. 1 and runs through Dec. 31 in most 100-series game management units. Visit wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations to see all fall turkey season opportunities.

Be careful of where blinds are placed. Sunlight that enters the blind’s openings can lead to reflections (off glasses, phones, cameras, etc.) or make clothing (including camouflage) appear lighter, contrasting with the outer blind’s pattern, and might blow your cover.

To find a roost, look for localized turkey droppings and feathers on the forest floor to start. Consider busting out a crow or owl call to get vocal confirmation on where the roost is; you’ll want to head out before first light to get the best response.

A tom turkey spreads his tail fan while walking in a clearing.
A tom turkey spreads his tail fan while walking in a clearing.
Fall turkey hunting is different from the spring because turkeys are no longer motivated by the instinct to compete for mates.

Once you know where the turkeys roost, set up not at the roost but in the area where they come to feed. Ideally, you’ll want to use a natural shooting lane (travel corridor) where turkeys emerge from their roost. Make sure your setup is on flat ground because turkeys won’t cross obstacles to follow your call. You can also set up in areas where birds have been dusting, which indicates that you’re in an area that flocks frequent.

A turkey scans its surroundings from a grassy hillock.
A turkey scans its surroundings from a grassy hillock.
If you purchased a turkey tag in the spring but didn’t harvest a bird, you can use that tag for a fall harvest.

Do you have other techniques you want to share with fellow hunters? Post them in the comments below for discussion. Please note that in Washington, it is unlawful to hunt turkeys with dogs, electronic calls, or electronic decoys. It is also unlawful to use baiting methods for game birds.

Remember that if you purchased a turkey tag in the spring but didn’t harvest a bird, you can use that tag for a fall harvest.

For more information on turkey hunting in Washington, visit https://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/migratory-waterfowl-upland-game.

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The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.

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