Three weeks into the spring turkey season, hunting is still sparse due to the weather, officials said this week.
“The weather has been up and down – not real consistent,” said Game Warden Daniel Perkins. “It kept a lot of guys out of the field because the roads have not been accessible. Weather can play a factor in your hunt because storms can cause turkeys to leave their roost.”
Traditional statewide spring turkey season runs from April 6 to May 6 and was proceeded by a special youth season from April 2-3, officials said.
“A devout turkey hunter really scouts a turkey out,” Perkins said. “He’s going to know where they live and feed when they leave the roost.”
Turkey hunters often sit on the ground or on a short stool under a tree, nearly invisible under a total outfit of camouflage. They often choose at least one of the three basic methods to call a tom or male turkey into range during mating season; a box call, a slate call or a diaphragm.
“The box call is probably your entry level call,” Perkins said, “but an experienced turkey hunter will dabble in all three.”
These birds have some of the keenest eyesight in the forest, so hunter garb typically includes full camouflage with a hat, face mask and gloves.
During turkey season it’s crucial not to wear red, white or blue because it simulates the colors of a turkey from the neck up.
There are concerns about whether to sit on the ground or sit on something a little higher this time of year.
“For the southwest corner of the state, you do want to be wary of rattlesnakes coming out from their hibernation this time of year,” Perkins said. “A good gear tip is a snake boot that comes up to the knee or a low-profile chair that gets you off the ground.”
He also warned about ticks, which are especially bad this season and encouraged hunters to treat their clothes with repellent.
Hunters are limited to bow or shotgun for spring turkey season.
“They traditionally call it a turkey load, consisting of a little bit bigger shot,” Perkins said, adding that there are different regulations on firearms for the fall turkey season.
Although the spring season limit is three toms or male turkeys, according to Perkins, hunters must have a Oklahoma hunting license and buy a three $10 turkey tags.
But the daily bag limit varies from county to county.
“Call it a county limit – some have two toms a day and others have one tom a day,” Perkins said. “Spring season (limit) in Harmon, Jackson and Tillman counties is two toms. It’s important to know what your county limit is.”
He also recommended a courtesy reminder of a relatively new regulation.Turkeys must be tagged in a way similar to deer in that season and “checked in” or reported online.
“It’s a new change within the last year or two,” Perkins said. “The same field tagging applies to turkeys as it does for deer. Immediately attach your name and license number to the carcass. Another thing to remember is baiting is not allowed. Turkeys may not be taken within 100 yards of any bait.”
With short-range weapons like bows and shotguns, turkey season can be quite a challenge.
“You’re trying to get close enough to use a call to lure a tom away from a hen, but keep in mind they’re probably the best eyesight in the woods,” Perkins said. “Where there’s one, there are more.”
Once the birds in the area are alerted to danger it just might be a short day for the hunter.
“They’re not big on flying, but if they’re disturbed, they’ll produce a warning sound” followed by a flurry of their wings when they fly a short distance or run off, Perkins said. “If a hunter hears that, he’s probably busted and his hunt is over.”
For more information visit www.wildlifedepartment.com.
Reach Eric Steinkopff at 580-482-1221, ext. 2072.