MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Sports

April 26, 2013

Unseasonable cold has impact on turkey season

To say the weather in Oklahoma’s a bit fickle might well be the understatement of the year. The much-needed spring rains have helped fill ponds and reservoirs in our region of the state and ,hopefully, have broken the drought.

As with anything there are trade-offs.

Craig Endicott, big game biologist for the ODWC indicated wet, cold and windy conditions are “the three things you don’t want as a turkey hunter.”

Brent Morgan, biologist, oversees the Cherokee Wildlife Management Area and Camp Gruber. He told me the birds were just getting warmed up when the latest cold spell hit. Seems like the colder mornings get the toms fired -up. Morgan said he heard some birds on Wednesday so hopefully it’s a sign things will begin to improve.

Joe Hemphill, southeast region wildlife supervisor, added,  “Because of fluctuations in the weather, you’ll see and hear them one day, and not the next.”

Although I’ve observed a few birds, it’s nothing like we’ve had in the past.

Muskogee hunter Dwayne Daugherty harvested a long-beard south of Muskogee on Dirty Creek early in the season by making a hen mad enough to bring the whole flock within 20 yards. End of story.

My brother lives in Sayre which is located in the far western part of the state. Weldon and my two nephews have spent a considerable amount of time in the woods and glassing the canyons.

“It’s been an odd year,” Weldon Kilgore told me. “The birds don’t seem to be nearly as vocal for some reason.”

“We actually had a trace of snow on the ground this morning. Only in Oklahoma,” he quipped yesterday.

Having chased turkeys for 30-plus years, I’ve learned a few tricks. Many times the best hunting is between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.,when people generally leave the woods. But more importantly, that time of day is when the toms have broken away from their flock and are looking for more hens. Sit as motionless as possible. Make sure you are camouflaged-up from head to toe to blend in with your surroundings.

Remember, safety  is paramount. We still have a few days to get out and hunt.The season ends May 6.

According to the ODWC, the wild turkey in Oklahoma has not always been prevalent. At one time, the objective for turkey conservation was to restore decimated populations, but today there are huntable populations in all 77 Oklahoma counties.

Hunter’s dollars and the efforts of groups like the National Wild Turkey Federation — which actively fund and supports turkey conservation in Oklahoma-partnered with efforts by the Wildlife Department, has resulted in a very successful conservation story.

John Kilgore’s outdoor column runs Fridays in the Phoenix. You may contact him with news or other information at (918) 348-9431 or at jkilgoreoutdoors@yahoo.com.

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