Call of the fall turkey

Written by Casey Kellas, The Observer October 11, 2013 10:56 am

Fall turkey season starts Tuesday and runs through Dec. 31. The season limit per tag is two birds of either sex. (ODFW photo)
Fall turkey season starts Tuesday and runs through Dec. 31. The season limit per tag is two birds of either sex. (ODFW photo)
 

Fall turkey season may get off to slow start 

The leaves are beginning to change color, the air is cooler and the weather has taken a shift for the worse. Yes, fall is here in Eastern Oregon. And fall in Eastern Oregon means hunting season.

With upland game bird season kicking off last week, the fall turkey season is set to begin Tuesday and run through Dec. 31.

According to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Biologist Jim Cadwell, the season might have a slow start this year.

“Because of the weather, birds are still spread pretty wide,” Cadwell said. “Snow in the high country hasn’t pushed any birds down. Weather is a big factor.”

Cadwell said turkey numbers this year are similar to last fall, but until the weather gets worse, birds will remain at higher elevations.

“(They will) until we get harsher weather and birds start moving more and concentrating at lower elevations,” Cadwell said.

Unlike the spring season when hunters are encouraged to set up before dawn, Cadwell said that hunters will have a chance to find success at any time of the day as long as they are willing to put in the effort.

He said that birds will be concentrated in the northern part of the county, including the lower-elevation reaches of the Mt. Emily, Sled Springs and Wenaha units. Birds will also be coming down the Catherine Creek drainage, Cadwell said.

Male turkeys aren’t looking for female mates during the fall months, so their response to calls can vary compared to the spring season.

Cadwell said using a decoy and not calling with it can be helpful to hunters.

He also encourages getting out and scouting for birds, looking for any signs or scat.

“It also helps if you can see where birds are moving to lower elevations, look to see where you can cut them off at,” Cadwell said.

And for those hunters who are looking to bag a bird to put on the table come Thanksgiving or Christmas, they are in luck.

Cadwell said birds in the area are healthy this fall.

“Birds are looking good,” he said. “We have no reason to believe they’re not healthy.”

The season limit per tag is two birds of either sex, while the daily bag limit is one turkey of either sex. Hunters may purchase tags at any time until the end of the season, unless the 4,000 tag limit is met.