It’s the midway point of Oklahoma’s spring turkey season, and the gobblers have been tough to call in by most reports.
“The gobblers are not coming to the call real well,” said Gary Purdy, president of the Oklahoma chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. “The guides I’m talking to in western Oklahoma say none of the birds are responding real well to calling. They are henned up pretty bad.”
Which is why Purdy suggests hunters should be calling to the hens, and not the toms.
“Call the hens, don’t call to the gobblers,” he said. “The hens will come, and they will drag the gobblers with them.”
Hunters, however, are still finding success, like Spence Laird of Edmond. Laird, his son Cashion and his father, Ed, each bagged gobblers while hunting in Woodward County last weekend, although they also found the birds difficult to call.
“They would talk back to us, but they didn’t come in strong like in years past,” Laird said. “It seems like most spring hunts they’ll run right to your calls and decoys pretty quickly.
“They would gobble but were still disinterested enough that they kind of still kept on the path they were traveling and would only stop, gobble and then keep meandering. Our calls only really slowed them down, not brought them right to us and held them.”
Rod Smith, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s turkey guru for Rio Grandes, said the season started slow but the hunting should improve soon.
“They’re on the verge of really breaking out,” Smith said. “I believe they are gobbling pretty good right now. They still may be pretty tough to call, the older birds especially.”
But as the hens start nesting, there will be lonely toms willing to answer a hunter’s call.
“A bird that didn’t respond early might do it anytime now,” Smith said. “As soon as we get some warm, sunny days, it’s going to be gangbusters.”
Purdy agrees the last two weeks should provide the best hunting of the month-long season.
“As the hens are leaving the toms, the toms are going to be lonesome and are going to come to the calls,” he said.
Meanwhile, the spring turkey season in southeastern Oklahoma opens Monday.
The length of turkey hunting season still is only two weeks in southeast Oklahoma as state wildlife officials try to rebuild the population of the Eastern wild turkeys, which dwindled because of the drought.
Jack Waymire of the Wildlife Department said the population has improved in the state’s eight most southeastern counties but “not like we would like to see it.”
The southeast region of the state had its best hatch last year since 2004, but “we went a long time without any hatches to speak of,” Waymire said.
“We’ve had very little reproduction the last several years. At least we are seeing an upswing finally. We need two or three more good hatches and then see if we can expand the season.”