Shortening season, bag limits urged for spring turkey season in Southeastern Oklahoma

by Ed Godfrey Published: May 9, 2010
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photo - Hunters are seeing and bagging fewer Eastern wild turkeys in the woods, prompting the Oklahoma  Department of Wildlife Conservation to ask state wildlife commissioners to close the first part of spring  turkey season in eight southeastern Oklahoma counties. Commissioners are expected to vote on the proposal at their June meeting. Photo provided by Steve Easom
Hunters are seeing and bagging fewer Eastern wild turkeys in the woods, prompting the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to ask state wildlife commissioners to close the first part of spring turkey season in eight southeastern Oklahoma counties. Commissioners are expected to vote on the proposal at their June meeting. Photo provided by Steve Easom

/> "This year I’ve got 26 or 27 turkeys, and I usually have close to a 100,” he said. "Twenty-six or 27 is what I would usually have after the first or second day of the season.”

While there were fewer gobblers, there were more hunters, Elliott said.

"I have a lot of hunters from Oklahoma City, Dallas,” he said.

"I don’t know what has happened to the turkeys. You used to drive through the mountains and see turkeys all over the place. You drive all day long now and never see a turkey.”

Hemphill said the population decline largely is due to untimely weather in recent years: drought and floods during nesting seasons.

But increased hunting pressure also plays a role, he said.

Oklahoma is not the only state where spring turkey season might be shortened next year.

Arkansas wildlife officials want to limit the spring turkey season to 17 days in its Ouachita Mountain counties, Hemphill said.

In other parts of the state, Arkansas wildlife officials are even considering a more dramatic reduction, a 10-day-only spring turkey season, he said.

Elliott said Oklahoma may not be doing enough.

"I would just as soon they cut the season out two or three years and let the population build up,” Elliott said. "And I love to turkey hunt.”

Gary Purdy of Enid, senior regional director of the National Wild Turkey Federation, thinks closing part of the season is probably a good idea.

"The Wildlife Department’s track record managing turkeys has been good, so whatever their paid experts believe is what we should support,” Purdy said.

Hemphill admits some hunters thought the Wildlife Department should have acted sooner.

"We thought things were going to get better,” he said. "They haven’t.”


by Ed Godfrey
Reporter Sr.
Ed Godfrey was born in Muskogee and raised in Stigler. He has worked at The Oklahoman for 25 years. During that time, he has worked a myriad of beats for The Oklahoman including both the federal and county courthouse in Oklahoma City for more...
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