Sunday, October 26, 2014

Nov. 1 Ushers in Fall Turkey Gun Season

 Hunters hoping to enjoy a wild turkey meal for Thanksgiving or Christmas will have their chance to
bag a bird during Oklahoma's fall turkey gun season from Nov. 1-21.
   Generally overshadowed by the more-popular spring turkey season, the fall turkey gun season offers the chance to pursue these elusive birds under different and oftentimes more challenging conditions than those found in springtime.
   Archery season for turkey opened Oct. 1 and continues through Jan. 15, 2015. The fall turkey season bag limit is one bird, regardless of the method of take.
   The Rio Grande subspecies of turkey is found primarily in the western two-thirds of Oklahoma, while the Eastern subspecies is mainly seen in the eastern one-third of the state.
   Turkey hunters in the northwestern parts of the state should get some opportunities this fall, said Steve Conrady, northwest region supervisor with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
   "In general, we probably had a better hatch this year than we've had the previous three years," Conrady said. "Our bird numbers ought to be pretty decent."
   Hunters are allowed to harvest one turkey of either sex, or just one tom, depending on the county in which they are hunting. In some eastern counties, hunters are restricted to using shotguns only. Other counties, mainly in the central and southeastern sections of Oklahoma, are closed to fall turkey gun season but remain open for archery turkey hunting.
   To learn the regulations pertaining to the sex of birds that can be harvested and the method of take, hunters should consult the fall turkey map on page 29 of the current "Oklahoma Hunting" regulations guide, available online at wildlifedepartment.com or in print where hunting and fishing licenses are sold.
   Also, all turkeys harvested must be field tagged and checked in via the Wildlife Department's online E-Check system. To watch a video that demonstrates how to tag a turkey, go online to youtube.com/outdooroklahoma and search for "field tagging."
   Rod Smith, southwest region supervisor for the Wildlife Department, said the population of Rio Grande turkeys continues to rebound in all areas after several years of drought.
   Smith said turkeys are transitioning this time of year from the nesting and brood-rearing activities of spring and summer to flocking up for winter. To increase the odds of success, Smith urged hunters to scout hunting areas just before the season opens.
   Conrady reminded turkey hunters to put safety first. He said a turkey hunter should never carry decoys over the shoulder but should always carry them in a bag to prevent other hunters from mistaking them for a real bird. Also, when any other big game gun season is open concurrently with turkey season, turkey hunters are required to wear a head covering or upper body covering of hunter orange.
   He also urged hunters to stay well away from roost sites, especially on public land. He said any hunting pressure near a roost site will almost surely prompt the turkeys to move from that area.
   Turkey hunters are required to have a resident or nonresident hunting license (unless exempt), and a fall turkey license (unless exempt). Licenses are sold online at wildlifedepartment.com/license.htm.