In case you didn’t know it, the turkey hunting season is upon us. In Oklahoma, turkeys are fair game on April 6. Bixbybulletin.com wants its readers to know that everything’s Jake. To that end, they interviewed Ron Smith, southwest region senior wildlife biologist for the Wildlife Department. “If you haven’t hunted turkey, you haven’t lived! Small heads. Big guns. Wonderful!” That’s me talking. Smith was slightly more diplomatic, if equally enthusiastic in his quote generation. And extremely informative for those of you unfamiliar with the sport who wish to be sound as if you are. Let’s talk turkey! “Two years ago we were seeing tremendous numbers of jakes in many places. It seems this year we are seeing lots of nice, mature gobblers. This could be the year a hunter could afford to be extra patient and wait for old big boy. I know I’ve seen at least a dozen long beards that have really got my attention where I hunt.” There’s more. Lots more!
“We are seeing early signs of toms starting to strut a little,” Smith said. “Hens are still in pretty large groups. I think with fair weather this week, birds will continue to break up and get more active.”
We have seen good numbers of birds in places that we haven’t before and received reports of smaller numbers in areas where they have been good in the past. In all, it’s not a long range movement; just usually across the fence a half mile from previous hot spots. I wouldn’t quit on the old honey holes but pay attention a little further out than usual.”
Free said hunters can expect tom turkeys to be “henned up” early in the day, so later afternoon calling could be most productive. But as the season progresses and warmer temperatures arrive, gobbling activity can be expected to pick up.
OK this isn’t jargon, but I like it.
“I always ask my kids, ‘If you were a coyote and wanted turkey dinner, where would you set up? Okay, go there,’” Free said. “If you are in the right spot, your calling will be good enough. On public land we like to set up where other hunters may push the birds in our favor. Another good tactic that has put more birds in the bag for us is, when you are ready to pick up and move to another location, set your watch and stay 15 more minutes. This will get you more turkeys, I guarantee it.”
Oh, and Johnny Herd, central region wildlife supervisor for the Department, has a word to the wise: gobbling toms and decoys may attract other hunters, He recommends that hunters observe appropriate safety measures. Enthusiasm diminished? Thought so.
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